Running down a dream

Blog, Sue Cloutier

Wow, it’s been almost a year since I’ve posted an entry here. Not a lot has happened to me since last May, so I’ll sum up quickly. I went to Comic Con in July with the DAM boys and had a blast, as always. I spent the fall and winter baking lots of goodies, especially cupcakes and fondant cakes. In early March, I started getting interested in the presidential race, especially about Ron Paul’s campaign. I became the town captain for the RP grassroots organization and in the county caucus, was elected delegate chair and we got more than half of our town’s delegate slots filled with Ron Paul supporters. Lately, I’ve been busy with work as usual, and started running again to burn off those winter pounds from all that wonderful baking. Which brings us to today, and why I suddenly felt like blogging again.

For the past couple of weeks, I discovered that I really, really love to run. I love it because I used to think I couldn’t do it, and it makes me feel great to try, and try, and find that I can do this. Nothing in my life has been as empowering as running has. The best moment for me was on a rainy day earlier this week. I ran well over my goal of 5k (with some walking breaks as I’m still a noob), but the best was running in the rain. It made me feel truly committed. I was doing this difficult thing (that was slowly getting easier) during a downpour, which would have been a deterrent in the past. I felt so liberated. And proud. The best part though, was that my motivation had changed. I first started running to get rid of a few extra pounds and simply to see if I could do it. Now the motivation is to run farther, with less walk breaks less often. To finish a 5km race. Then a 10km. Then a half marathon. The getting in shape is now a happy side effect of doing this totally fulfilling thing.

It hasn’t been easy. At first when I tried to run, I could barely continue for 30 seconds without feeling completely winded. It seemed impossible. Once I was able to endure a minute, then two minutes at a time, I had a new problem. Shin pain. It happened every time I ran, and the more I tried to push through it, the worse it got. This has been my biggest hurdle so far because I know that if you don’t let yourself rest when you feel that pain, you could develop stress fractures. I was terribly afraid that the shin splints would continue forever, and that really depressed me. I finally wanted to run. I didn’t want to let this be an excuse not to run. I was afraid if I took a couple days off from running to heal then I would either lose the little endurance that I built up, or worse, lose the desire to run altogether.

Well I got through the rest time by reading constantly about other runners’ experiences on reddit.com/r/running (also known as Runnit) and finding out how others dealt with shin splints. I bought some new sneakers and decided to work harder on my form when I felt fit to run again. I went to the gym, did some stationary biking and leg toning. Yesterday I gave Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred a try. That was a toughie!

Today I decided to try for a run in the new sneakers. I shortened my stride, being careful not to “stomp” my foot down. I let each foot push off the ground, which felt natural. My body was completely sore from yesterday’s killer workout, but my shins didn’t bother me at all! I managed to run for a couple of minutes at a time before having to walk. Not too bad. I know that once my muscles recover from Jillian’s abuse, I will have a much easier time running. I’ll be able to gradually extend my running times.

So now I can work towards my first goal: competing in and finishing a 5km race. I’d like to start a podcast with someone else who is interested in pursuing similar goals, but until I find that person, I can share my experiences on here.

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