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Running – “The most expensive free sport in the world!” or “Running, the love/hate sport!”

Running – “The most expensive free sport in the world!” or “Running, the love/hate sport!”

on Oct 28, 2014

So I just bought my 5th pair of running shoes.

Who knew, that me, a guy who wore the same shoes for 5 years until I literally wore through the soles until you could see my socks peaking out the bottom would eventually be buying a new pair of shoes about every 6 months.   It all started with this stupid running thing.

Really, a few years ago, I was the guy that swore I would only run if something were chasing me.  Even then, it would have to be something with lots of fur, sharp pointy teeth, razor claws and probably some pretty hanus drool.  At this point, I would attempt to run from said creature, only to have my heart explode, my legs fall off, and then I would die a horrible sharp, pointy, drooly death.  I was resolved to this fact.  I knew my fate, if perchance, I were to happen upon a creature and I was okay with that.

Then I met Princess and Biker #2, the runners.  (I know that Biker #2 implies a cyclist, and she does cycle, but her primary sport is running.)  They were convinced that they could turn me into a runner.

Princess would state that he used to say the same thing, that he would only run if the cops were chasing him.  (I am less afraid of cops than I am of giant sharp drool monsters, FYI.)  Eventually they wore me down and I decided to try to do a 5k.  3.1 miles.  This was further than I had ever run in my life, but it seemed like an obtainable goal.

Okay, well, not really.  I had never even run the full mile in school because I had no idea of how to properly pace myself or to run properly so I would sprint the first 100 ft, get out of breath and say screw it and walk/jog the rest of the mile and complain the whole way about how stupid it was.

So, a 5k.  Why not?  What is the worst that could happen?

I needed a plan, so I grabbed my smartphone and found the “Couch to 5k” app.  “The idea is to transform you from couch potato to runner, getting you to begin running a 5K or 3.1 miles and on a regular basis in just two months.”  This seemed perfect!  I downloaded the app and fired it up and went out for my first run!

The “Couch to 5k” program starts you out easy.  First, you do a 5 minute, brisk, warm up walk, then you alternate 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes.  Seemed pretty easy and doable… here is how it went.

Walk out the door:

“Ok, 5 minute brisk walk.  Easy!”

5 minutes later:

“Maybe this won’t be so bad, that felt good.  60 seconds of running, piece of cake!”

60 seconds later:

“Not to bad, I am a little winded but now I get to walk so, no big deal!  Still feeling good!”

90 seconds later:

“Ok, I feel good, I got this, run another 60 seconds.”

60 seconds later:

“Ok, I am a bit more winded now… but I have a whole minute and a half to catch my breath.  I will be ok.”

90 seconds later:

“That was 90 seconds”  I am still out of breath!  I think this thing is tricking me… oh well time to jog, I guess…”

60 seconds later:

“Did this stupid app swap the times and add time!?  What the hell!?  My knees are tired, I am out of breath, my feet hurt, this sucks!  Crap, I still have to walk home.  Uphill!  I didn’t think that through very well.”

So at this time we should note that I gave up and walked home.

We should also note, that it was only 5 minutes into the 20 minutes I was supposed to be out there doing the program… I was discouraged.  I was beyond discouraged, I was downright pissed off!  How could I be so horrible at something that should be a natural evolutionary trait?  I remember when I was a small child of 5-7 years of age I would run around everywhere pretending I was the roadrunner from Looney Tunes with no problem, now, some 25 years later I couldn’t run for 5 stinking minutes!  Stupid running.

I tried the “Couch to 5k” thing a few more times and eventually gave up.  It was not working for me and I was ultra discouraged that I couldn’t even pull out day 1 of the program.  Unfortunately (Or I suppose fortunately, now that I look back at it.) I am more stubborn than sensible a lot of the time so I was not going to give up.  I was just going to use a new tactic.  Technology!

Before we get to the technology portion of our story, I would like to discuss what brought us here in the first place.  Princess and BN2 informed me that I should probably get some good running shoes.  Good running shoes were determined to be not the $30 Nike shoes on sale at Big 5 that week.  I was told to go to Portland Running Company and they would hook me up.  I was skeptical at first, but since I was determined and wanted to do it right I decided to go invest in some running shoes.  (Okay, I will admit, I was hoping that magically getting correct running shoes would make everything fall into place and suddenly running would be easy and enjoyable and I would frolic down the streets with a smile on my face and all would be right with the world.  Reality, it turns out, does not work that way.)

I made the trek down to PRC and had one of the best shoe buying experiences of my life.  I expected them to size my foot and hand me some shoes and I would be on my way to running bliss.

It went down a little different than that.  They measured my foot.  Had me put on some different socks and then got me a “neutral” shoe.  Then they took me outside, had me run down the sidewalk as they watched me, took me back inside and said that I have “over pronation” and I need a support shoe.  They then brought out several pairs of shoes for me to try, had me run in each one and had me pick which one was most comfortable.  So, $130 later, new shoes!  Bam!  I was going to be an excellent runner!

So next, I decided that to be a true runner and to be good at it, I would need a fancy GPS watch.  Both Princess and BN2 had their fancy Garmin FR-610’s.  Maybe if I had the fancy GPS watch, running would be easy and fun and… well you get the idea.

Timex Global Trainer Speed and Distance with Heart Rate GPS

Timex Global Trainer Speed and Distance with Heart Rate GPS

The Garmin watches are a bit spendy and at the time I didn’t have that kind of money to throw around so I went for another option.  I found the Timex Global Trainer Speed and Distance with Heart Rate GPS Watch!  It was half the price of the Garmins and seemingly had all the same features, so I ordered it off of Amazon and impatiently awaited for it to arrive.

Bam!  Technology!  This would make me a good efficient runner!

Once it arrived I was excited to get out and run with it.  I got it home, got it all set up and went outside to go on my first run.

After about 20 minutes of standing around, it found a GPS signal.  That seemed odd, since Princess and BN2 never seemed to have to wait that long.  Maybe it was just the first pairing that took that long.  But now I had a fancy GPS watch.  Running would be easy!

You can probably guess how this went.  Running was not easy.  It still sucked, I ended up getting shin splints because I was running too fast, I was still sucking wind, getting side aches and just overall not really enjoying it.

I felt lied to!  Betrayed!  It wasn’t getting better!  Again, however, I am stubborn so I kept going.  I ran my first 5k and enjoyed it, even though I walked most of it, and overall kept trying.

There are some good parts to this story.  I learned that I could train to my heart rate.  That seemed to be much better for me to start out with since I could watch when my heart rate was starting to rise and notice how I felt and then slow down until it was back in the zone I wanted it to be in.  I used this method for quite a while and it helped a lot.  No more shin splints since I slowed down.  I still wasn’t convinced that running was the best thing ever but it was getting better.  I kept going!

During all this I was really more into cycling, but did the occasional 5k because they were fun and I really wanted to improve my health and fitness level.  I had changed my diet during this time and that combined with the exercise made me feel better and lose weight.  There were some definite benefits, and that was reason enough to keep going!

During all this time I upgraded to the fancy Garmin FR-610 and now have the Garmin Fenix-2 (It does just about everything but tell you what you had for breakfast, but I think there will be an update for that soon!)  It also turns out that it should not take 20 minutes to connect to the GPS satellites and you get what you pay for.

I have purchased 4 more pairs of running shoes, running shorts, tech shirts, paid for races, bought a hat, socks, jackets, Body Glide, headphones, music for running to, a fuel belt, water bottles, and am going to probably invest in something called NipGuards in the near future as it appears that your shirt will turn into 60 grit sandpaper on longer runs and shave your nipples right off.  (Nobody wants to finish a run with bloody nipples… ok so that may have been TMI… sorry.)

Overall, a sport that should be free has cost me quite a bit of money.  Was it worth it?  Yes!  Do I actually enjoy running now?  Yes!  Do I still have days where I hate it and think it is the stupidest thing I can do ever?  Most definitely!  I am much better and do enjoy it on a regular basis now.  I am currently training for a 1/2 marathon in December, (13.1 miles, you know, cause why not add 10 more miles to that 5k!) and after that I will be training for an Olympic Distance triathlon in the summer.  (You know, more of that more stubborn than sense thing going on.)

The most important thing I want everyone to take away from this is not that running is stupid expensive because it doesn’t have to be.  I am just one of those people that wants all the good stuff and enjoys stupid gadgets and data logging and lightweight brightly colored clothing.  The only thing I would say is a necessity out of all of these things is the correct shoes.  In the long run (Pun maybe intended.) that will be the best investment you can make.  All the other stuff is just added stuff.

PhotoGrid_1414437399667The other very important thing I would like for people to take away from my experiences is, don’t give up!  Running is hard!  I will be the first to admit, there were many times I wanted to throw in the towel and say “screw it” and go back to eating chips and salsa on the couch and never run again.  Then there are days like yesterday, where I ran 7 miles, felt great and got to spend time outdoors on a beautiful day, making my life and my health better.  I can also say that you bond with and inspire other people in a way when you become a runner that cannot be found in other activities.  Maybe it’s because you have all started small, and suffering and have overcome it, or maybe it’s because of something else.  All I can really say is, it’s worth it.

If any of you reading this would like help getting started, want some inspiration, or even want to go for a run sometime, let me know!  I am here to suffer alongside!  It will, however, cost you $5, this running thing is expensive!