Couch-to-5K or 5K-to-Couch? Decisions, decisions.

Sep 13 2012

I really wanted to title this post “Butt Weight, there’s more!” Because it’s about running and why I run and my weight, and, you know, butt weight, there’s more. But then I thought that title might be mean to me, and I’m trying to knock that crap off. So, well, this is the conversation I had with myself abou tit:

But it’s funny!
But it’s mean.
Butt it’s funny!
Yeah. I totally saw that. Knock it off.
Fine. Forge tit.
I think you meant to type forget it.
Oops. Those t‘s and the tricky space bar always mess me up.
You’re the most immature person I know, Beth.

So I didn’t do it. Kudos to Mature Me! Woot!


A few years ago, the Couch-to-5K running plan changed my life, although, lately, I’ve been working very, very hard at perfecting my own special invention, the 5K-to-Couch plan.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Couch-to-5K is the remedial learn-to-run program for those of us who always, always came in last in the middle school, one-mile, around-the-track, yes-you-have-to-run-even-if-you-fake-cramps, President’s fitness challenge run. When I was a kid, I could take you DOWN in sprints. But an endurance run? Anything without the words “-yard dash” in it? Nope. None of that. Not even a tiny bit.

The President’s fitness challenge taught me one important life lesson: to detest running. And also to hate chin-ups, or, in my case, chin-up, singular, with my PE teacher lifting from underneath. Come to think of it, I hated all the kinds of sit-ups, too, where I wasn’t allowed to cheat by rolling on my back, lifting my feet, and pretty much just rocking on my hind-end in a general sit-up-like motion ’til that part of the class was over. So there were three important life lessons I learned before entering high school.

Honestly, the fitness lessons from early in life worked well for me until after college. I was neither in nor out of shape, thanks to an OK metabolism and a meh-attitude about buying bigger jeans. I got by fine. Then along came life as a mama and, as bonus gifts, I found myself with whole lotta extra pounds and no time to exercise. I know that sounds like an excuse, but I’d like to present to the jury infant twins, the need to advocate for my kids with special needs, a desperate sleep deficit, and pots full of room temperature, off-brand mac-and-cheese that weren’t going to eat themselves.

I started running when my youngest turned two.

I know. WHAT?

But I did.

At that particular point in life, I was beginning to suspect that it was a bad sign to find myself regularly out of breath while walking to my mailbox, so I thought I might give running a try.

Desperate times, friends.

You guys, C25K starts with 2 minutes of walking and 60 seconds of jogging, and then it repeats, and I will NEVER forget those first 60 seconds because I was ECSTATIC to discover my body could do that. Sixty seconds! IN A ROW!

OK. I just reread that, and I think maybe it sounds sarcastic or like I’m making fun of me, so let me just say. I’m not. I was stunned. Amazed. Thrilled. Hopeful. And I was not more proud even when I crossed the finish line of my first 5K race, slower and more pathetically shin-splinty than any of my friends. The truth is, no accomplishment, no completed goal, can match the terrifying courage required to take that first, lonely step. That step is success.

Over the last year, trying to juggle a job, kids, marriage, and increased writing put running on the back burner. I wasn’t happy about it, but I was intentional about it. I sacrificed my body on the altar of Other Things, and I was OK with the choice. For the short term. But I knew all the while, from the beginning ’til now, that it would have to change.

It’s a funny thing, making real life choices that cause various measures of good and harm. It’s the constant cost/benefit analysis of being human, I suppose. Magazines, movies and books rarely tell us that every decision comes with a cost. But, of course, when you’re a mama and you choose every day between reading another Dr. Seuss book and allowing yourself to go potty, you know it’s true. (You also know you can read Dr. Seuss to your kidlets while you’re sitting on the potty because you’ve tried it and the cost is only dignity which is probably long gone and an easy price to pay, but still… decisions = paying a price. Sure enough.)

So it’s time. My brilliant 5K-to-Couch plan is at its end, and Couch-to-5K is coming back. In part, I’m making this change because it’s time to be a better mommy, and running, it turns out, delivers a mind-blowing endorphin release that ushers me back to gentleness and kindness from moody, mama angst. My kids need me to run.

Do I regret my time with 5K-to-Couch? Nope; I refuse to regret doing what I needed to do.

That’s the thing I’m learning about this life. It’s not about making it perfect or even about balance. Not at all. This life with kids is too extreme — too full of rapid change — for perfection or balance to grow deep roots before they’re dislodged by another lifequake. And that’s OK. It is. We mamas learn to manage every day with new rhythms, using what works and discarding what doesn’t. Today, running is my rhythm.

These are my feet, under my desk.

And they are not going to run themselves.

So off I go, friends, to tackle C25K.


Here’s to life, and to new old rhythms.