Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fit and Fat

So. I've been running, for real, lately. The last two months I've been training for a 5k - not any particular race, and I am not sure I even want to RUN in a race persay, but just to give me some direction. I was inspired by a student of mine who has been training for a 1/2 marathon, and also by the fact that I have run, on and off (mostly off) for years, to no success, no improvement, no noticeable effect. This is because I would run to burn off steam after the fact - after work, after a hard day, not in any particular order or schedule, and not with any kind of plan. Now, I figured, if I follow a schedule, I can see gain and goals and work toward something.

And it's working. I started this with Becky before she moved, and have kept on doing it. The plan is called "from couch potato to 5k" and over nine weeks they take you through a schedule comprised of first walking more than running, then running more than walking, and finally, just running. Or jogging. Whatever. Moving at a heart-rate raising pace. And I'm doing that. I've been running 3x week for weeks now, not even sure how many, but a lot - two months, maybe? and today I ran for 20 minutes straight without stopping - about 2 miles.

2 miles. When I was at my "fittest" I couldn't even run a mile. My heart would pump too hard, my lungs would ache and my legs would turn to jelly. Now, the only thing that stops me is either boredom (meditation training has helped to deal with that) or sore calves (they are slower to develop than my heart and lungs, which are handling all of this just fine). I am estatic, slow to share the news, embarassed somehow that that is "all" I can run, that I had to work up to "that". And then, as I've been sharing, folks have been surprised: "I can't run for shit," "I could never do that," this from my skinny next door neighbor who is cute as a button and does yoga, daily.

The only thing is that I haven't lost any weight. That certainly wasn't my only goal, but I of course wanted it to happen - getting back to a size 12 would be a nice side benefit of not running out of breath (literally) in 5 minutes of activity. Instead, I've gained weight. There are other factors - meds, for instance - but other friends who have trained to run more than they were previously used to have told me that this isn't that odd, actually. The metabolism shifts.

Last night Amy and I went out to a cute bar for dinner and I felt very self-conscious, my size 16 awkward on a stool, perched to eat. It's because I am in Milwaukee, where I am *less* dressed up than in Madison, where I am often the person in the room with her outfit more together. Sigh. One step forward, two psychological steps back. I will persevere and keep running - no stopping that now, I need it for mental as well as physical health - but one little part of me, who occasionally rares up and gets angry about it, wants to know why. Why, after all this, can't I shed 20 pounds?

For now I will resign myself - no, wrong word - be ok with the fact that I may be feeling fat, but I am fit, for sure, moreso than ever in my life. Ever.


  1. Hey there, Miriam -- I was directed here by your Flickr page! I was just reading along when it struck me that you might find this blog interesting and/or useful. Perhaps you already know of it . . .

    Things here are fine, though my husband is in Philadelphia for the year and, I . . . well, I am not. Phooey.

    All best,

  2. Betsy -

    No! I didn't! Thank you! It looks GREAT. Exactly up my alley. Working out and eating well for HEALTH not for any other goal I think is the best way to moderate other "issues" - like weight. I really appreciate the link...

    So sorry you are apart for the year...That's hard!