Why I've learned to Run
Most of the people I know, including members of my family would say something like:
Why do you run?
Where do you want to go?
Don't you have a car?
Take a bus.
And my family saying:
You are not strong enough. You don't have black hair.
You are not even 180 cm (5.9) tall.
39, is that a shoe size for "real" people? (41 is American size 8)
Yes, it took me long time to learn to run.
I ran 5 km for the New Year's race in Copenhagen on December 31st 2016. I ran 5 km in 25.23. My personal best.
I ran 5 km in BMW City race in Copenhagen on May 10, 2017 in 23.51 minutes. My personal best. I can't run 1 km much faster than 4.30 and I ran this race very close to that time - 4.47 in average per 1 km.
I guess, I've learned to run, and recently I got a reminder on my Facebook wall that it was not always like that.
I posted my personal best on a treadmill a year before the New Year's race. I was much slower when I ran outside.
1 km in 5.46 on a treadmill. A record! Personal best. Wow! I was not able to run 1 km faster than 6 minutes when I was running outside.
I was thrilled back then. I tried to run many times in a park, beach or a forest, always stopping after 200-300 meters. I managed couple of times to run around 700 meters on a treadmill. I was struggling both times, not only with heavy breathing but also me thinking after only minute or two: "Oh, this is boring. Stop."
I could not really understand the "boring" part, I'm used to waiting. 5 minutes is nothing.
I wanted to learn to run. 5 minutes is not a long time. I wanted to be able to concentrate and persevere. Decide, plan and execute a "run" or any other "project" that takes more than 5 minutes.
The bottom line is I was terrible at running. How are other people doing it?
What is so special (read "terrible") about me. Why can't I do the same?
Each time I went outside to run, I had to stop after around 300 meters. My pulse was skyrocketing. I was out of breathe. I also took account of my own thoughts. I was thinking: "This is enough. Stop. There is nothing there. Walk like a normal person." Each time I stopped, I felt like a "normal person".
I felt like I was held by an invisible thread in by back. Like I was on a leash made of my own thoughts and I could not come further.
I was thinking, the pulse and breathing will get better, but I need to solve the "leash" problem.
And I did.
I found a 200 meter running track at the nearby sport facility. It was just what I needed.
I tried to run 200 meters. I started with all my power, sprinting. I got out of breathe after 150 meters. But I managed to run the whole 200 meters. The track was round and it meant that I was already there, finishing at the same spot as I was starting at. It was a running track. It was not made for walking. Nobody walks on a running track. That would be stupid.
I decided to do that more. Sometimes I even ran 200 meters, took a break and ran 200 meters one more time.
Then there was a day when they were repairing the 200 meter track. I didn't know. I came and saw the workers. What was I supposed to do?
I decided to take to the nearby park and run. I started running. I was running around 100 meters, approaching a corner of the park. I could not see the path beyond that point for the trees and bushes. I got scared. What is behind it!? Am I going to fall and heart myself?! I slowed down. I was running at around 6.30 min/km pace.
I completely forgot that I passed the 200 meters. I tried to be calm: "Of course, the trail just continues and you can run around the park and be back where you are now".
I continued running, I got an eye on a sharp corner at the remote part of the park and decided to run in that direction. Then I saw another one, and another one. I was thinking "There are no holes. It is not dangerous". After 700 meters, I decided to speed up. It was too boring.
On that day, July 1, 2016 I ran 2 km in 12.38. I ran the second kilometer faster than the first one. Amazing.
I was still bad at running though. But, there was hope. After this day, I began running 1, 1.6 (a mile) and 2 kilometers.
Why was I afraid? Who knows. I used to run on inline roller-skates. I used to ski. I've never had that problem before.
I didn't die. I could feel the 2 km run in my legs. They were heavy. I was not planning to run in at least a week or two. But, I wanted to run more and I knew I could do even better.
I'm using an app - Endomondo to save my accomplishments. I have a dear friend that likes every single time I add a run. She is the greatest. Yes, "likes" help. I like the things she does too.
2 kilometers. Should I stop. Is that "It"?
When I looked at races for amateurs - they were all 5 km or 10 km and more. 2 km is considered as a race only for children.
I wanted to go even faster. I wasn't sure how though. I spent a lot of time in my career "looking" at SharePoint and "imagining" how it works, so I could build custom applications on top of it. I decided to do something similar with running.
I decided to take a walk at Inner City lakes in Copenhagen, a very popular place for running, and take a look at people "doing it".
What I saw was a lot of different people of all ages. They were all running. Some slow and struggling, some fast and elegant. They've all had running shoes and running clothes. No super powers. Well, maybe some of them :-)
Then I noticed people in running shoes and running clothes that were walking. I was thinking, wow, walking is not forbidden. In retrospect, I have no idea why I was thinking that walking was forbidden.
I continued my walk, and I noticed that walking "runners" sometimes start running again.
Another thing that I noticed were the "slow runners". Some of them were so slow, taking small steps on their toes. I think that I was walking faster than most of them.
Right there, I had a plan:
Walking is not forbidden. when you can't run, walk, then run again. Run slow if possible.
On July 31st, 2016, I decided to run around Inner City lakes. A 6.3 (4 miles) run.
I tried to run the first 2 kilometers, and then walk. I walked the most of the 4th kilometer and I felt fresh to run the 5th. In overall, I run 5 km in 33.23. I walked the 6th kilometer. I felt that my legs got enough that day.
I continued running after a week. My time was sometimes better, sometimes worse. I felt I was doing more running than walking each time.
I noticed that each time I started to run, it felt like I was going to die right there on a spot, each time I ran. The feeling usually went away after 700 meters. I asked my friend and she told me that it was normal. I had to properly warm up before I run.
I started to warm up, quick stretching and listening to the music while moving my legs and arms like I'm running.
It helped. It also helped knowing that it was normal and it will stop after 700 meters.
I wanted to run the whole 5 km distance. I signed up for a Color Run in October. Fun charity 5 km run where they don't take time.
And I ran. Got a medal :-)
I was running! :-)
I had to buy proper shoes though.
I went to a "running shop" just next to my running trail. They have a treadmill for people to run and try their shoes before they buy them. The treadmill was there couple of years ago when I came in for the first time. I was looking at a woman running on a treadmill. I was thinking: "I'm not even able to run that long, so I can try the shoes..."
This time, I had no problems running on a treadmill.
I got to choose between three pair of shoes. The first pair had a thick sole. I could not hold a balance. The second pair were too wide. I could barely keep them on my feet while running. The third pair was just right. I bought them. Size 40.5.
I went out to run the same day. I improved my time by a minute that day.
My old shoes weren't bad. The new ones are just better.
I continued running. I got concerned about the cold winter months. How am I going to run in that weather? I've seen people run in the coldest, windiest rainy evenings, you can imagine.
"They decided to run every Tuesday at 7 PM. No matter what." is the answer I got.
I decided to try. Stay outside. Not necessarily in rain, but...
And I stayed. I found out that there is a hyper-warm collection of running clothes.
I managed to take two, sometimes three shirts on and two pairs of tights. It is important that that they are warm, breathable and sweat-wicking, that I'm not too cold in beginning and don't get too hot when I run.
Too hot, too cold...I know I sound like a spoiled brat, but my time improved by almost 2 minutes when I finally got it right.
I signed up for a New Year's run. It was at 9 in the morning on a relatively nice winter day. 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit) and 10 m/s wind.
I looked at the last year's results. I hoped to be able to run in under 30 minutes. That time would put me in top 30 for women my age at the time when I signed up. Oddly, I was also in top 30 for women younger than me.
And I ran on December 31st. In beginning, I felt like I was going to die. Like I'm too slow. A quick look at my watch told me a different thing. I was running my best. I still wanted to give up. I struggled. I ran 5 km in 25.23.
The race was not the same place as I usually run, so it is hard to compare how much better I was. There are no streets, stairs, people walking in all possible directions, trawlers, birds, or hills in a race. I think I ran almost a minute faster than my personal best.
I did 8 minutes better than the first time I ran on July 31st. I came as 103 overall and lost the 4th place by a second for women my age.
I was thinking. I'm running. I'm running. I did it.
Can learning to run help my career? Problem solving, persistence, endurance, stamina, and not to mention good physical health...
And not to forget - the mindset. Because, in recap, I could only run 150 meters for not so long time ago.
To be honest, I'm not sure. Most places I've been employed, the idea of doing any kind of exercise was not a good thing. Like they weren't doing a good job in using my skills and time, so if I wasn't tired lying flat on a couch when I was off work, they weren't doing their job right.
Anyway, it is not true for all places. For all companies. A lot of people are outside running. Lot of people are at the gym. Yet, most of my colleagues, IT consultants and developers do an hour a year of exercise. Many of them bought Microsoft band 1 or 2 and use it to track how they sleep. Something to track. Sleeping is important. But, it is not a Olympic discipline. It's not a sport. I tried to use both Band 1 and 2 at the 200 meters track. They both registered only 180 meters. My old sports watch 190 meters, so I use the watch.
Although I managed large important projects and traveled a lot, I noticed that managers disliked my strength and ability to plan and cope with issues and problems. They seem to prefer people that break. People that run 200 meters, have a hard time and stop. Oh, I have small feet...
As self-employed, I hope to translate the long term planning into my projects and future. Definitely!
As a human being, I don't like the fact that other people want to decide what I'm capable of and what I should and shouldn't do in my free time.
Am I going to run a longer distance?
I already did. Last month, I ran 5 kilometers and I decided to continue. I continued. My pace went up from 5.30 min/km to 6.30 min/km and I ran 10.3 km. I stopped because I knew that my body is not used to it.