30-Day Fitness Challenge Day Sixteen: The Four Miler

This morning I ran four miles. It’s been a long time since I ran that distance. I’ve been sticking to two- or two-and-a-half-mile runs, maybe three miles if I’m feeling good, for several years. Many moons ago, I was a longer-distance runner. From eighth grade through college graduation I ran the 3K, 5K, and 10K races for my track and cross country teams. After college I continued running for a few years and made my way up to a couple half marathons. But those longer distances started to hurt my knees and it became easier and easier to stay in bed or stay on the couch than get up and go running. I still loved being outdoors, but I loved sitting and reading outdoors rather than putting the time and energy into running. I ran occasionally, but not continuously and not for any long distances.

Then I turned 30 and I started to notice that my metabolism wasn’t keeping up with the endless ice cream and tamales anymore. I had to make a conscious effort to cut back on fats and sweets and to exercise more.

Some weeks I did better than others.Sometimes I’d notice the slightest rubbing together of my thighs, which sent me running to the closet for my running shoes. How does that not send everyone out on a run?

I did a year of fitness training to prepare myself for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I wanted to summit the mountain and I wanted to be strong and comfortable while doing so. After making it from the top I felt like I could do anything.

But I didn’t have another fitness goal in mind to keep me exercising. So I languished once again in heavy cream sauces. It wasn’t until I noticed my blood pressure creeping up a few weeks ago that I decided it was time for a new fitness goal. The 30-Day Challenge isn’t working for me in the way I started it but it’s morphing into a starting point for my next goal: getting back into half marathon shape. I checked out some beginner training schedules and my mileage is slightly below the first week base mileage so the first step is to reach that beginning base mileage and run it comfortably for a few weeks.

Last night was sort of a disaster, nutrition- and sleep-wise. I had my book club gathering, which meant margaritas and nachos. I managed to go easy on the margaritas and drink more water than tasty beverage. I went heavy on the all-fresh-veggie guacamole in an attempt to make up for the cheese and salt on the chips. (I also ate a small snack beforehand so I wouldn’t be ravenous.) I went to bed at a regular time, but both my husband and I slept terribly for the first half of the night. We forgot to turn on the fan and the heat and mosquitoes were awful. It took several hours before my husband broke out of the semi-sleeping trance long enough to get up and turn the fan on.

If I can get up and run this morning after such a bad night, I can get up and run almost any morning. The alarm went off and I rolled over for a few more minutes of snooze time, but my brained pinged “half marathon!” and I got up. I intended to run only three miles, but just before I left the house I double-checked my route on Google Maps and discovered it’s actually a four-mile run. I decided to go for it. The hill in the middle was hard, but for the first time in ages I picked up my pace for the flat stretch at the end and finished strong. It felt great.


I write about life in Africa at Where in the World Am I? and I blog gluten-free at What I Eat.

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