Runningfilter: A minor miracle of transformation. I could barely run at all, but last night I ran 2 miles. Why might this have happened, and have you ever had a similar experience?
In late April or early May, I started a run/walk couch to 5K program. As I progressed, I was repeatedly disappointed with my results and frustrated by setbacks. For some reason, I could not run for more than 6 minutes, tops, even after being on the program for several months. After 6 minutes, and more often, 4 minutes, my chest would feel like it was going to explode, and I would run out of breath. This continued happening no matter how many times I ran a week. In addition to that, I kept getting shin splints and the pain would keep me out of the program for days at a time. Finally, I said fuck it, gave up running, and joined Crunch.
That was in late July. Yesterday night, I wanted to work out but didn't want to go to the gym, so I decided to try running again. I stepped out the door and started jogging at a medium pace. Five minutes in, I realized I had been running for five minutes. "Hmm," I thought. "This is interesting. Last time I ran, I couldn't make it four minutes without a problem, but I just passed five, and I'm feeling fine." Ten minutes in, I thought the same thing. Fifteen minutes in, I was amazed. I thought "let's try and see if I can make it to 20". Twenty-five minutes later, I stopped running. Not because I felt bad, but because I didn't want to push my luck. I was not heaving and gasping for breath. In fact, I felt great. I checked when I got home, and I ran around two miles. And my shins felt fine.
I have never run a mile in my life. Not even in gym class. In high school, I weaseled my way out of the dreaded Mile. Knowing I was allergic to dandelions, I rubbed a big bouquet of them on my face and purposely suffered an asthma attack. (true story!) The last time I tried running, in July, I couldn't make it four minutes. I couldn't make it around the track at the park. And I would have gotten shin splints almost immediately.
What gives? It was like waking up and discovering I could fly. Two miles! I wasn't exhilarated til much later, after I stopped being confused. What could have possibly happened in those two months?
Here is my list of possible factors in this miraculous transformation:
1) I quit smoking (i was a light smoker, a pack every 2 weeks or so) in March of 2009. However, ten years ago when I did not smoke, I had similar shortness of breath when running, so I do not think smoking is the only issue. But, perhaps my lungs have repaired themselves more since July.
2) I suffer from allergies and I live with a cat who exacerbates them. In August, discovering that my lungs were working at a much diminished capacity, my allergist put me on Allegra and a nasal inhaler and I banished the cat from my bedroom. This has greatly improved my sleep (I used to wake up coughing every night). Perhaps this has helped my breathing.
3) I make it to the gym at least twice a week, sometimes three times, and when I'm really good, four. I have been for the last couple weeks training on an elliptical machine on a pretty grueling setting. Perhaps this was the conditioning that got me in good enough shape to run for over 20 minutes.
4) I have radically altered my diet to be pretty low cal. This started in late June if I remember correctly. For the most part, I only eat vegetables, yogurt, and low cal grains during the day, then a sensible dinner.
5) When I was running the Couch to 5K program, I obsessively checked my stopwatch and flicked from mp3 to mp3 on my iPhone. This time, I put on a nice long mixtape and didn't worry about time or changing tracks. I just settled into the rhythm of the run, and was startled when I happened to notice how long it had been. Perhaps I reduced the stress factor, and was able to relax and just run.
I can't wait to try and repeat this experiment. But I'm still baffled as to how I did it. Has anything like this ever happened to any of you before? Do you have any ideas how it might have happened to me?