Saturday, May 1, 2010

(Probably Not) Born to Run

About a month ago, I began jogging. Or maybe I should say returned to jogging after a long hiatus (like, since high school, really). Kyle started it by doing the spring post-season running program with the Truman swim team, and after a few weeks of watching him get regular kid-free time to exercise, I decided I wanted a turn for that, too. So one day I just put on my shoes and took off.

Here's the thing, though: I stink at running. I always have. In high school I went out for track, mostly because my father did track and field in high school and college and was pretty good at it (actually, maybe I shouldn't talk in the past tense; he is still pole vaulting at 55 in the state Senior Olympic games). He was very excited to see me doing track, and would even take me up to the school on the weekends to practice. But at the first meet I ran the 300-meter low hurdles and was so exhausted that at the last hurdle I stopped, put my hands on the hurdle, and stepped over. I could hear my dad calling, “What are you doing?!” in the stands. And so began my illustrious running career. I ran for 2 seasons in high school, but was never very good and had some serious shin splints, so eventually I quit. I went back to it for a few months at a time, once in graduate school (until my running partner revealed she had an eating disorder and needed to quit) and then again before we had the kids (until heavy Daniel in my belly made jogging VERY uncomfortable), but it never stuck.

Because of jogging's and my sordid past, I spent a few weeks on the fence before deciding to begin my current endeavor with it. Really, I have a number of excuses for not jogging, which include:
1.It hurts. It hurts my lungs, it gives me perma-blisters on the arches of my feet, and leaves me with sore muscles the next day. And I am a giant baby about being uncomfortable.
2.Sometimes it is very hot outside. Or very cold. Or raining, or windy, or the sun is in my eyes. Maybe to avoid the heat I will have to get up very early in the morning.
3.All logical running routes from our house begin with going up a hill. Not a good hill, like one that would allow me to say something like, “Yeah, I've been adding some hills into my workout”, but a slight incline that is just enough to make me feel winded right off the bat and gets me thinking “Wait... why am I doing this?”
4.Well-endowed women with short little legs are not built for running.
5.Sometimes circumstances require that I bring along 2 dogs (who insist on frequent stops to sniff at or pee on stuff) and/or push a double jogging stroller with 65 pounds of kid in it, which intensifies excuse #3.

However, there are a number of things I do enjoy about jogging, which include the following:
1.It is cheap. Free, really, if you don't count the running shoes I would have bought for walking anyway. And I am very thrifty.
2.It is fast. Compared to walking, I can burn WAY more calories and exercise the dogs just as much in far less time. I am also pretty Type A, so this is fairly appealing.
3.It is a good stress-reliever. Since we live near edge of town, there is a nice mix of residential areas and cornfields. It's very wholesome-feeling to run past vast rows of crops, with the sun coming up in the distance, with Polyphonic Spree singing Light and Day on my iPod. Speaking of the iPod...
4. I can listen to whatever music I want. Kyle insists that good running music is angry, but I disagree. My workout playlist is a ridiculous assortment of silly, frequently misogynistic music that Kyle wouldn't tolerate and that I would NEVER play for my kids. That's right; it's okay if the Blackeyed Peas want to know what I'm going to do with all that junk inside that trunk, because in a couple of songs Sir Mix-a-Lot will tell me how much he loves my Oakland booty. I enjoy hearing the Beastie Boys scream “Whaaaaaaaaaaa!” really loud, and I want to hear a chorus of “Zut, alohrs, non! Zut, alohrs, non, non!” at the end of Tangerine Speedo.
5.After all, any jogging route that always begins with a slight uphill always ends with a slight downhill, and if I'm lucky Eva will yell “Whee! Fast, fast, fast!” as we speed down it.

So for now jogging is winning over not-jogging. I am even thinking about entering some formal 5K runs this summer, or that local 8K in August. But I think that's it for me. For now I am going to appreciate my willingness to enjoy doing something I am so not-good at. I have enough stress in my life to add competing with other people or feeling the need to push myself faster and faster. Whereas Kyle likes to come home after a run and calculate his distance, time, and speed, I feel pretty indifferent about my run statistics. So don't look for me to post the data from a Nike sport gadget-thing on facebook anytime soon. But for the record it would look something like this:

Erika Sterup plodded around for 3 miles and some change at a speed barely faster than walking today. She feels pretty good about that.


  1. Awesome Erika - a workable exercise routine (with children in tow) is SO hard to achieve. So, I am bit jealous. . . can't wait for my jogging stroller to arrive this week. Maybe I'll do a little jogging behind it, not just walking, even though I hate running.