Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It's been 12 weeks since I started my training program for the half marathon in Prague.  On Saturday morning, March 27th, at 11 am my foot will be on the starting line (well in the back of the pack) and I will run my first 13.1 mile race.  A flat fast 1 loop course in the heart of the city around the river, the race is suppose to have bands/music every kilometer and beer at the end (what more can you ask for).  But, as every cliche sport movies, or your old high school/college coach tells you, it is not about the destination but the journey.

My journey involved a 12 week training schedule that I started January 4, 2010.  Beforehand I was working out, trying to shed some weight from my frame and build a decent mileage base.  But once January hit I knew I had to get on a training program and then, well, stick to the damn thing until race day appeared.  I found a schedule that was do-able for a scared first timer whose longest run ever was a 4 miler, once, when I was "attempting" to train for a half marathon right before I left for a 3 week holiday to Thailand.  Needless to say a bad case of travellers diarrhoea on the way back and a long, hard, cold Michigan winter nipped that idea before it ever really got started.

But this time I told myself that I just had to suck it up and do the damn thing.  So run I did, along with the strength training and rehab on my hip.  With each mile I put in I discovered that I cold actually run!  It is an amazing feeling to know that the thing I see "other people who are smaller/faster/younger/older than me" do I can also do myself.

Through running I rediscovered my non academic side - the side of me that just likes to be active for active sakes.  To be sweaty and so physically exhausted that by 8pm on a Saturday night my bed looks a hell of a lot more enticing then a pub/bar, nice clothes, or makeup - and I don't feel "lame" or bad about it.  I found a new spark in life, even through the stress of fieldwork, reports, talks, and now the dreaded data analysis and write-up phase to come.  And you know what...it's kind of nice. It's nice to know that I can release from stress by putting on my trainers and going outside for a run or hike rather than sitting in a pub or in my living room drowning my sorrows in a pint, seeing the pounds pack on around my waist, and then having some more cause I feel overweight.

Now, I am not saying all is perfect in the little land of England - but it is stable and I like that.  Writing down in my running journal every run gave me a sense of accomplishment and as the weeks went on I could see my mileage slowly improving along with my times.  My feet felt lighter and my waist smaller.  The puffiness in my face began to disappear, wiping away the relics of a year of bad habits.  I found out over these past 12 weeks that I can start, and now finish, a running schedule.

So after Saturday I'll enjoy 2 days more in Prague, come back to Bristol and move house, prepare an article and a talk, and find another race to run.  Keeping the balance between career and personal life is hard at best, but I realised with the right training plan in hand all things can be possible.

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