Run for Your Life

posted in: Fitness | 0

No, I never thought it would happen to me. In fact, I have repeatedly insisted on the detrimental effects of running on the human body.

But guess what? I became a runner.

What a psycho, right?

I wasn’t sure at first why I even agreed to it, but when one of my biker buddies, Ilker, asked me and Omer to join him in the Istanbul Half Marathon, something made me say yes. And then something made me want to go run that same day.

I have been pretty intense with my fitness lifestyle for more than a year and a half now, and it has included lots of different disciplines: weight lifting (my favorite), bodyweight training, tabata, mixed martial arts, yoga, acro yoga… And then all my extreme sports besides that. But I have been complaining to Stani, my first trainer and a model of mental discipline, that I haven’t been able to keep motivated these past three months and I have not been able to keep to a proper routine. When Ilker set the half marathon target in front of me, it was a chance for discipline and routine. I just had to grab it.

Any athlete will tell you, it’s amazing what having a target does to your ability to perform.

AND having someone to push you.

Of course my lack of routine coincides with my lack of a personal trainer these days– a cost saving measure since all my disposable income is currently being readily funnelled into my motorcycle or into my extreme sports. So having someone else who shares your goal, who is checking your progress, AND who you don’t have to PAY to do that? Well, that’s just a gift.

Running wasn’t my thing, but dedication to fitness goals IS my thing*. And whatever you say about running, the mental stamina it demands is impressive.

So, I decided to give it a try.

The next morning I got up at 04:00, thirty minutes earlier than my usual predawn training time. That’s how excited I was. All summer long, my predawn training three times a week with my PT included, among other activities, 3-4km of jogging. At the time, it had been torturous because of the heat but also because my body was not yet used to the discipline of running. Besides expanded cardio endurance, running requires the development of different muscles. I had progressed, but it wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t enjoyable. Running remained something I really had to push myself to do consistently when PT was not running alongside me. The longest I had ever run was 4K and it was nearly unbearable.

But the morning after I committed to the half marathon, I set out early and was shocked at how easily my body kept in stride. No breathlessness. No complaints from my leg muscles. No pain in my knees. It was the hardest I had pushed myself without a PT standing over me, but it was enjoyable. And the endorphin rush afterwards was incredible.

I decided that maybe running was something I could try, at least through April. Just to reach a new goal. I started researching. After one of my Instagram posts with my stats from my morning run, high school pal Ted contacted me. With 10 marathons under his belt and currently training to qualify for the Boston Marathon, he had loads of advice he was happy to share with me: how to choose shoes, how to run to avoid knee injury, how to develop good form… Most importantly, how to go from being a non-runner to a runner. He sent me a program to follow that included very gradual progressions in distance and speed. Between that and the program from Adim Adim that Ilker suggested, I’m making great progress.

I was starting to feel pretty confident that a half-marathon wasn’t actually a ridiculous goal. I was further encouraged by how well my first trail run went on last Saturday’s snowy morning; Ilker and I ran the Belgrade Forest course, a 6km gravel footpath around a lake with some slight hills. I was going for a little added distance, not speed, and despite one big hill and stopping a few times to pet Belgrade’s many dogs, I still managed to keep my pace around 7:40. Not great, but respectable for a non-runner. Of course he did 9km in the same time I did 6, but I did okay.

So now my running schedule is 4 days a week– 3 weekday mornings from 05:00-06:00 and one weekend morning long run (and other kinds of conditioning on non-run days). On week 1 I ran a total of 21km and walked 6km. In three months’ time that distance will have doubled. Wow.

At the end of April, the half marathon around Istanbul’s historic peninsula will take me on a 21.0975km journey of endurance that I never dreamed I would be making.

Funny, the unexpected turns life brings…




*This month I am doing a 30-day challenge: every day 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 100 squats



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