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“I started running at the age of 45 – now running is my passion!”
This is my running log and it proves: If I can do it, you can, too! I started running when I was 45 years old – and I hadn’t done any serious sports since my late teens. Running has become my new passion, I absolutely love it !
I’ve always been jealous of runners. To me, they radiate a tremendous sense of freedom. It’s like they’re not limited by anything.
I met Karey on the web when she started making plans for Real Women Running and that rekindled my old dream about becoming a runner. I did a bit of running in my twenties, but it faded out, and my attempts later over the years never became anything. I guess I smoked too much! I’m experienced enough to know my tendency when it comes to any kind of exercise: I start with enthusiasm and after a month or two something happens that makes me take a break – and eventually quit. Or, I might start again, but get discouraged because I find myself back on level zero. I’m also so self-conscious my extra kilos and my age that I feel embarrassed trying to run. Like a whale on land, a huge monster gasping for air. Add to that I live in the Greek countryside, where no one runs (actually, on one of my former attempts I was stopped by a farmer who wanted to give me a lift and who wondered if I was late for the bus since I was running?). The women here who do any sports go to the gym. And I hate the gym!
My goal is to get into an exercise habit that will last me a life time. I’ve been walking regularly for years and I do a lot of gardening, but I want to run. And I’ll treat that old dream seriously this time.
Karey is more than willing to help. She sends me her 12 weeks “If you can walk, you can run program”, and I commit to write a weekly report. No way can I skip out after two weeks now! I also decide to ask some girlfriends to join, as I hope I won’t feel as embarrassed as I would do if I was alone. Also, I hope, we’ll support and encourage each other. Irene and Sapphire are thrilled! So here we are: Irene, a 38 year old private nurse and artist, Sapphire, a 38 year old lawyer and me, Tove, a 43 year old writer.
Running log week one
We are married, we have kids and we work. So problem number one is deciding on when we shall go for a run. Originally I had asked Sapphire because our sons go to tennis together three times a week. We could drop the boys off, go for a run and then pick them up again. It’s just that Sapphire has a toddler boy, too, and who’s going to look after him? Her husband is at work and she doesn’t want to ask her mother in law to baby site again. Also, it gets dark at half past five-six, and it’s too far to drive into down where we find the only lamp lit training field in this area. All three of us occasionally work in the evenings. Then of course there might be a sick child, or some kind of family obligation that gets in the way. Recognize the situation?
Karey recommends training every second day, but that’s immediately voted down.“Let’s go every day when we can. There’ll always be one day when one of us can’t go,” the girls insist. And that’s the good thing about being three or more: If one can’t go, you’ll still have company.
Our running track is a field by the beach. There’s actually quite a few people there, either walking or running. What a difference it makes being with your girlfriends! Instead of feeling self-conscious we have a good laugh! I haven’t got around buying a watch yet. I brought my kitchen egg timer instead, only to discover it doesn’t ring. But from the car park to the pile of earth that we immediately baptize Mount Everest is approximately four minutes walking. Running from the mountain to the cypresses outside the beach bar must take approximately one minute. Actually, we find very quickly that it’s easier to go by signs in the landscape than the clock. “Only a little bit further, to that path crossing!” “Come on, let’s see if we can run all the way to that tree!” The baby-sitting problem is solved by Irene or me bringing one of our sons to walk the baby in the push chair while we run. The field is so flat we still can keep an eye on them. One day Irene and Sapphire go to the football field and just leave the toddler walking while they run – as the place is fenced there is no danger.
Week One is great! I find it much easier than I can remember. I wake up in the morning and look forward to the afternoon run. We have fun!
Running log week two
Maybe it was the enthusiasm of week one, because week two starts heavily – while we expected the opposite. My legs feel like timber, Sapphire is complaining about stitches and Irene says her knee hurt. I’m a bit worried about Irene, as some years ago she fell down from an olive tree and had a complicated leg fracture, which took nine months to heal. She says she’ll be ok. Karey says breathing techniques can help Sapphire for the stitches. I use to do some very basic yoga most mornings, but this morning I have skipped the yoga and maybe that’s the reason for the timber leg feeling?
“You shouldn’t try to run. Walking is much healthier!” says our sons’ tennis coach one day Sapphire and I drop them off. The coach starts telling about her exercise program and invites us to join. “No way!” I answer. “I’m bored walking. I want to run!” At the field we meet my old neighbour running. He’s older than me. “You go, girls!” he shouts to us. I find it very encouraging to see him, as I know that he wasn’t that fit last time I met him, in the summer. If he can do it, we can!
This afternoon, Sapphire had to bring the toddler (and we didn’t manage to get the older boys to come baby sitting). So she does more walking than running, Irene and I run and walk a bit forth and back to keep her company. Today we all feel fine, though we started a bit too late and it gets so pitch dark that we hardly can see the road and end up walking carefully for the last five minutes. Next day is a great day. We do the whole stretch in 22 minutes and decide to go for an extra round, though we walk more than we run. Feeling like champions afterwards. Irene and I decide to go for a run on Sunday morning, too. The beach is so lovely in the morning, but we have to drag ourselves our two rounds. Maybe it was too early?
Big test next week, as I have to go to Norway. I’ll bring my shoes along and I’m determined to run even there. Sapphire and Irene have got strict orders to not slack down while I’m away.
Running log week three
Despite the long journey to Norway and only staying there for a week I’m determined to continue running. I’ve brought my shoes, and one of the first days I put them on and set out – with my mobile phone as a timer, as I still haven’t got around to buying a watch. I start off fine, but after about ten-fifteen minutes my calves are really hurting. I don’t know why – whether it’s running on asphalt (until now I’ve been running only on gravel) or simply because of the long flight and bus trip. In the end I just give up and walk. My only satisfaction is that at least it’s not my breath stopping me!
My calves feel like timber logs for days – and I don’t do any more running attempts. But running is on my mind all the time. I’m determined not to quit. I do a lot of walking and since my mum’s little town is situated on a hillside I choose the steepest roads to make it as tough as possible.
I visit sport shops and feel like an alien until I realize I can pretend looking for Christmas gifts. So I finally get my watch. I had planned to get a sports bra, too, but seeing only tiny sizes on the hangers in the shop I get so discouraged that I don’t even ask if they have anything in size gigantic. Pretending to study kids’ fleece jackets while secretly listening to the discussion between the shop sales woman and one customer about training – they both obviously run and discuss different places in the area where they like running. They both look very slim and fit, which is even more discouraging.
On the airport on the way home I treat myself to a glossy fitness magazine. It’s a very inspirational read – especially the article about this stressed career woman who after a break down started running – following a running program – and who’s all on about the meditative aspect of running. Somehow I really can identify with her. Back home in Greece I call Irene, whose leg has swallowed up like a balloon and who says she hasn’t had that much pain since she was operated. No more running for her, but she says she’ll come along for the walk as soon as her leg is better. I speak to Sapphire, too, who’s running madly between work and sick kids. It’s freezing cold and windy. “We’ll start again when the weather is better,” she says. Not me, I’m ready to continue right now. But when I unpack I discover I’ve forgot my running shoes in Norway.
Running log week four
The expense of new running shoes is something I would have wanted to avoid just before Christmas and this, together with the freezing cold, would normally have been enough for me to make an excuse and leave the running program for after the holidays. But knowing myself and my old patterns I also know that if I take a break now I’ll probably not start again. I’m 44 years old and though I remember reading about this woman who started running marathons at the age of 75 I still think of this as “now or never”. So I buy the new shoes – and smuggle them into the house so my husband won’t see them. With an extra layer of clothes I’m ready for a new run. I’m a bit self-conscious now that I’m at the beach alone, but comfort myself that no one will recognize me with that thick wool cap and the scarf wrapped around my neck and face. Besides, it’s so cold that there is hardly anyone here – despite being an incredibly beautiful afternoon, the air crisp and clear and the sun shining from a bright blue sky.
Having a proper watch makes all the difference! I’m going for the two minutes run, three minutes walk. I’m struggling and feeling like a heavy sack of potatoes, but it’s easier to push myself now that I can see the seconds moving. Only 35 seconds more, 14.., 5..Done!
The winter sun casts my shadow on the white piles of gravel along the path. I look like I feel, moving slowly against the wind. But at least I DO IT! And finishing the first run-walk segment that is in the program makes me feel tremendously happy and proud. Yes, I CAN!
I read about running and training and realize that Karey is absolutely right: Your body needs a day’s break between training sessions. I have two more runs this week. First on the beach, where I drag myself along and push myself to manage the two minutes running, still with a huge feeling of satisfaction when I make it. The next time I come down to the beach the waves are going white and there is a strong, freezing wind that penetrates my clothes. I jump back into the car. I’m tough, but not that tough!Up in my village it’s much more protected. Actually, any runner would love it here: beautiful country roads that slope between vineyards and olive groves. I’ve been walking here a lot, but I’d be dead with embarrassment if any of villager saw me trying to run, gasping for air and pushing my heavy body forwards. Well, I decide none of them will be out on this cold afternoon. Four minutes walking from my house takes me to a gravel road that is hidden from the village by olive trees and which is just the perfect place for my training. Not only that, it suddenly feels much easier and when I finish I feel really encouraged. It works! The rest of the day I’m high on endorphins. I’m already looking forward to next time.
Running log week five
Not much to report this week. I’m dragging myself along. Two minutes running, three minutes walking. I’m saying to myself that it’s ok that I stay put at this for even months – it’s still better than not running at all. Karey’s plan says to take it from two to three minutes, but there’s absolutely no way I’d be able to do that. And I can’t imagine I’ll ever be.
However, at the end of the week I decide to try for two and a half minutes of running and ditto walking – but only two sessions. To my big surprise I easily make it!
Running log week six
For some reason it seems easier when I run at the hidden road between the olive groves close to my house. Maybe because it’s slightly sloping? I find a stretch where I’m absolutely sure not to be seen and decide to run forth and back here. I start out with two and a half minute and it goes dead easy. I have absolutely no problem doing four rounds with two and a half minute of running and same walking – I have quite a long walk back home to the house, but still run the last minute or so. Something has happened. I feel so much lighter. It’s like the heaviness is gone. Maybe it’s just my body getting used to this way of moving. I’m watching a reality show on TV where 16 nerds who never have done any sports are picked out to form a football team, trained by a top coach and former professional player. He says that these guys don’t have a relationship with their body, they simply don’t understand how it works – and that part of the training is simply to get used to moving. I feel really inspired watching the show. I’m thinking that is it – I just have to get used to running.
Next day, I start painting the house, and click – there goes my back. I’ve had back problems since I had a bad fall twenty years ago. Some extra kilos, especially on my tummy, doesn’t help. From time to time my back collapses. Sometimes so bad that I can’t stand, but crawl on all fours from the bed to the toilet. Every time I swear now I’ll start taking care of it – but the intention lasts only as long as the pain is there. On the next running day I walk the same distance with my trekking poles. It’s not the same. I have this inner fear that this is gonna be it, now I’ll stop – and I don’t want to! I want to be a runner. It’s like Karey says, it’s a kind of identity. You look upon yourself differently. And I will look upon myself as a runner.
Running log week seven
Back still shit. I can walk, but not sit. It makes me in a bad mood. I have skipped one running day. Went for a walk with the trekking poles again, but it was freezing cold down by the sea and I hadn’t dressed properly so I only did half a round. Feeling low and like a loser. Getting my period doesn’t help. I’m into the couch, wine and comfort food – no running for me.
But in the night I lie half awake, half dreaming and I suddenly realize one thing: I have back problems not running. Running might not hurt. I know that the only permanent solution to my back problem is getting more fit, lose some weight and get stronger stomach muscles.
Next morning is Sunday and I get straight from bed into my track suit and drive down to the beach. It’s a stunning morning, the sea and sky overlaps each other in different shades of blue. I do the four minutes walking for a warm up and start carefully to run. No problem! I have decided to go easy for two and a half minute and not push myself, but at two minutes and 10 seconds a man walking his dog shouts something to me and I get distracted answering and suddenly three minutes have passed! Wow! Can I do another three minutes? Yes, I can! And another? Yes! And another? YES, YES, YES!! I RUN more than I walk! I’m euphoric. And my back feels great. I get so warm from running that I can do some really good stretching and that really, really helps.
Repeating twice this week and I start feeling like a proper runner…
Running log week eight
There’s been a major shift in my attitude: I suddenly start looking upon myself as a runner. I identify with other runners, I’m not embarrassed any more and I don’t care really what other people think. I don’t any more feel like a sack of potatoes trying to move forward. I feel like a runner – even if I’m still at only three minutes running before two minutes of walking. Like a “real” runner I even get injured – for the past few times my ankle has felt a bit funny after I come home from a training, but I haven’t paid any attention to it. Suddenly I realize it’s the size of a balloon! It hurts and I have to be very careful when I put my foot down. I call my physiotherapist friend, who also runs, and she tells me to keep the foot high, put on ice and not run until I get well. “Do you have proper shoes?” she asks. Karey asks the same: “Are your shoes good? Did you get them from a shop where they know about running?” No, I got them from a shop where they know nothing about running. I just said I wanted running shoes, tried on a pair of a well known brand and as they seemed ok, I bought them. I’ve only had the shoes for a month, but they’ve widened out, especially the right one, and give no support any more. I doubt these shoes were ever meant to run in. 100 euro down the drain.
Running log week nine
I’m limping around with a bandage around the ankle, getting more and more frustrated for every day. One inner voice saying: Never mind, go running anyway. The other voice saying: Don’t be stupid, be patient!
Patience is not one of my virtues…
I start reading about running shoes – and discover a new science. First of all, what kind of feet do you have? How is your arch? Do you over pronate, under pronate or don’t pronate at all? I have absolutely no idea, and the more I read, the more confused I get. Are you a man or woman? I didn’t realize that even running shoes are made in male and female versions. My problem is big feet, European size 42, and here in Greece I can only get shoes made for men. Now I really regret that I was too embarrassed to walk into a proper sport shop in Norway and get my running tested when I was there before Christmas – you’ll need an expert to judge your feet and running style. Here I won’t be able to find anyone who does it.
I go to the shop and get a list of what shoes they have, then start reading shoe tests on the internet. Which makes me even more confused. A brand one person finds fantastic the other person hates. I finally settle on a pair that feels ok, and hope they will keep me going until I go to Norway at Easter and can get a running test. They cost a fortune and again I smuggle the shoes into the house so my husband won’t see them.
Sunday morning: I wake up before dawn, excited because I finally feel well enough to take the new shoes for a test. I’m down at the beach by the time the sun rises. There is no one there, except two men fishing. I’ve been warned and triple warned about taking it easy, so I walk five minutes to warm up and run three minutes. And that’s it. But what wonderful three minutes! The only sounds my shoes tap-tap against the road and the quiet waves washing over the sand.
And the ankle feels fine. So cross your fingers, girls!
Running log week ten
My ankle still hurts, so I take it very easy. I feel it really important to still be able to run for three minutes without stopping, but I only do it twice and do some extra walking. Easy does it, ankle gets better. Funny, this does make me feel more like a “proper” runner. Injured, needing to recover. Like that happens to people who do not run!My new running shoes are better, but not perfect. I start to understand how incredibly important the right pair of shoes are. Some might feel good for you, but horrible on another runner’s feet. I still haven’t found my dream pair.
Running log week eleven
For the past two years my husband and I have been building a guest house and a restaurant in our little Greek village. Finally it’s opening night at the restaurant. I’m on my feet from seven in the morning to one at night, and on again next morning for almost the same amount of hours. I can’t believe it’s possible to have legs that hurt so much and still be able to stand and walk on them!
I realize that if I ever will give up running it will be now. I’m so physically tired, that I don’t know how to make it. Still, an inner voice reminds me that it will be better. I do some training sessions, though one day I get out of the car, walk for two minutes, decide I can’t do it and drive back home again. I don’t even feel guilty about it. In Norway, where I come from, we say that “the doorstep mile is the longest mile.” Once you’ve crossed the doorstep things get easier. If I don’t feel like going for a run I say to myself that I can always change my mind once I’ve crossed the doorstep. And so far that only happened once.
Running log week twelve
Routines are getting better at the restaurant, but for me this change in everyday life also forces me to change my exercise program . I used to go early to bed and rise at dawn. Though I go for a run one morning once I wake up, it’s not at all like it used to be. I’m simply too tired. I get enough hours sleep, but my body still hasn’t adjusted to the change. Or maybe I’m not a night owl?
The ankle is fine now, but being forced to take it easy has been a setback. Karey tells me that Tami is ready for her first run and Karey will run along to support her – it makes me feel so jealous! I still run for three and a half minute and walk for one and a half and it feels like I’ll never progress. I keep telling myself that it’s better than nothing and even if I stay on this three-and-a-half-minutes for the rest of my life it’s still better than not running.
Big fun is that I need to put a belt on my tracking trousers as otherwise they tend to slip down! I have no doubt lost quite some weight. Or can it be that my clothes expanded in the laundry?
Running log month four
Spring is here and so incredibly beautiful. One day I realize I have stopped looking at the watch every few seconds and actually just run – though the sight of wild asparagus or poppies starting to flower makes me stop. One of the attractions of running is that you can just put on your shoes and get out of the door. There are loads of new ways I can take and I find that I run for longer and longer distances when I try a new and exciting route. One day I make it 12 minutes straight. A proud moment!
Running log month five
Staff trouble at the restaurant keeps me sleepless. I’m also working hard to get my rental rooms ready for the summer. Getting up early, painting, digging in the garden, cleaning – all hard physical work before the restaurant work in the evenings. I’m dead tired and very stressed. To me now it’s not about breaking running record or pushing myself. It’s hard enough to stick the routine of getting out and work out at least three times a week. Motivation is very low, sofa is very tempting.
Running log month six
The stress stuff has been sorted out, I get enough sleep and motivation is back. An inspiring running magazine sent to me from a friend and a new sporty haircut help on motivation! So does a new route – I suddenly find I have run 16 minutes easily. So why do I stop to walk? I think it’s just psychological, because I have no problems continuing another seven-eight minutes after a minute of walking. I try to leave the watch at home to see if it helps, but no way. It’s like I “need” my small walking breaks. It doesn’t really matters. I am progressing in my own tempo.
I do feel great, though! So much more energetic. I find I need less sleep. My friends say my skin looks much fresher and healthier. And of course it’s the weight thing…I dug out a pair of trousers that I haven’t been able to get into for years. What a triumph to be able to close the zip! Though I think I’d rather throw out the old stuff and go shopping for something new, I definitely deserve it.
Running log month seven
The summer is here. Full working activity on the beach, as beach bars and restaurants are been fixed for opening. I actually have several attempts of kamaki, men trying to pick me up. As none of them looks like Daniel Craig or Clive Owen it’s just annoying. I discover I have an audience when I’m stretching…and decide to wait to stretch until I’m back home. Heat is starting to bother me and I start checking out treadmills. Uough…pricy!
Running log month eight
It’s very, very hot. Temperatures reaches 42 degrees and I forget about running. It’s very easy to forget..maybe because a good friend (also a runner) is staying, and we simply drown all our healthy ambitions in sunset drinks and tons of wine…Guests staying at my place actually go for a run, so despite the heat it’s is possible. But not for me…I have too much alcohol in my blood. Though I do Pilates. One day I even go on a long mountain walk.
As my friend has left, temperatures are dropping and I start getting sober I also start thinking about running again.
Now, where did I put my shoes?
I can’t believe it – I’m still running! Running has become my new passion. I love everything about it !
When I found my running shoes after that summer with too much booze and went for a run again, I discovered to my surprise that I was much more fit than I thought I’d be. That motivated me to continue, though I must admit most autumn I trotted along at my own pace, and sometimes even walking more than I’d run. I’m a lazy person and I easily cut short a few minutes.
The absolutely highlight this autumn was our family holidays in Prague. We lived close to the old fortress Vsherad and the first morning I got up early and had a run on the top of the fortress wall – with river Vltava like a shimmering silver belt below and a stunning view to the whole of Prague. It was fantastic! It felt like the best version of both me and my life – may my life always be this fabulous!
Back home motivation was low. Not that I stopped running, but I needed something to push me further. Then I came across Running Made Easy a fabulous book by journalists and runners Lisa Jackson and Lisa Whalley. I had a heavy cold when I was reading the book, and when I finally got well I couldn’t wait to spurt out of the door!