Monday, December 31, 2007

Under the Wire

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with one of my very first Maggots, someone I ranked up near the top of my Successes list, when she said something that made my blood run cold:

“So I’ve been running regularly for a year and a half now, and I never want to stop … even though I’m no good at it.”

“Say what?”

“I just kind of suck at running. I still can’t run for the whole half hour.”

I was stunned. Here I thought I’d taught her so well, and she’d been ignoring my second edict:
Everyone makes the same mistake when starting out: going too fast. When you start, you need to go SLOWLY. So slowly that you could probably walk faster. So slowly that you will feel humiliated if you see anyone you know.
“You idiot! You’re going too fast!” I said. She looked skeptical. So I slapped her upside the head and told her to start doing it right. And now she can run the whole half hour.

She’s a stubborn sort, but it made me realize that I must not have emphasized this point enough.



Am I making myself clear?

Someone asked if I ever get in a slump, and the answer is, of course – especially during the winter, and especially if I’ve been sick and off my schedule. The one and only solution is to put on my shoes and get my ass out the door. Once I’ve got that first run in, the next one is exponentially less painful. So far this winter it’s happened twice in a row, and it was really annoying to have essentially wasted my first couple of getting back to it runs.

I really hate winter.

Christmas was okay. We had it here for the first time ever, and it was less onerous than I expected to put up a tree. HellBoy was pretty angelic, for him. Chanukah probably helped soften him up. (Yes, we do both. And by “we” I mean me and the rat in my pocket.) My stepdad did crack everyone up when he declared that he’d found HB’s theme song: Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” HB himself agrees that it’s appropriate, and learned the words after hearing it twice – not that the lyrics are particularly complicated. (Petty doesn’t seem nearly as convincing singing it as HB does.) (Get this: lately HB’s been staying up later than we do. We tell him to stop jumping on our heads and go play in his room, and he goes … somewhere. Not for very long, and he can’t unlatch the gate to the downstairs, so I don’t think he can do much harm.)

My folks came here, which was pretty nice. My parents don’t usually push my buttons, partly because I’m a tad insensitive and my mother is a tad ... vague. However, my mother does have this way of looking at me that I know means “I’m worried you’re too busy.” I know the look means this because from time to time she actually says “I’m worried you’re too busy” when she looks at me that way. And I am, but – where to trim things down?

Here’s a start: we hired a new physician who starts this month, and I gave myself a 20% lighter clinic schedule. I didn’t exactly get permission to cut back my schedule, so we’ll see how long it takes before my bosses notice. Then we’ll see what I’ll do if anyone does notice …

Here’s to less guilt in 2008.


Anonymous said...

This seems like a silly question, but when running, are you supposed to land heel first, toes first, or on the whole foot? And does this change with speed? Or change as you get more tired? And is it the same for men as for women?


Anonymous said...

I love your blog, and I was wondering if you'd answer a running question: can someone like me who is both fat and out of shape learn to run? And if the answer is yes, will doing so irreparably harm my knees?

DoctorMama said...

Pat -- it does change with speed; sprinters usually run on their toes, but if you run for any distance like that you'll probably get sore, so heel first is better. Generally, you should run in the most relaxed way possible. Same for men and women.

anon: yes yes yes. and no no no. Being fat and/or out of shape just means you have to be EXTRA careful about going slowly. Being fat means you have to get sturdy shoes. And studies seem to show that while people with bad joints do not make good runners, running does not CAUSE bad joints. (Being fat does give you arthritis, especially in the knees -- so better to start running now -- SLOWLY.)

Erin said...

Less guilt sounds like a lovely idea. And more running, at least for me. My major resolution (aside from reducing my family's carbon footprint) is to take more time for myself to exercise, primarily for the stress reduction. Running time is so peaceful, and I desperately miss it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about running today, Sarge. I just got my warmly dressed butt outdoors -- 23 degrees and blustery -- and did my slow 30 minutes as the sun set.

--A maggot

Anonymous said...

Doctormama, thanks so much for answering my question above about running while being out of shape! Do you think that the "Couch to 5K" program is a good way to start?

Anonymous said...

Anon: fat people can run! I'm living proof... or rather, I WAS. When I started, I was about 225 lbs (I'm a 5'8" female). I have since pared down about 50 lbs. (largely due to the running, although, as always, YMMV). As long as you go slowly and don't press yourself past the point where things hurt, you'll be a-okay. The mistake more ample folk make with exercise is the same one we tend to make with dieting... the assumption that if we can't do EVERYTHING right away, we shouldn't bother doing ANYTHING. You can't instantaneously become a macrobiotic vegan, and you can't immediately run a marathon. Everything takes place in little steps. When I started, I wasn't able to go for more than 30 seconds or so. Now, I'm running for the whole half hour, and it fucking rules. Certainly took long enough, but it was SO worth it.

K said...

Less guilt - what a lovely idea!

mary said...

i love your blog! (sorry, but i hate running)

happy new year!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog last summer, and I took your advice and started very very slowly. I never thought I could run, and yours was the best advice I got to encourage me to start. So, thanks so much! Now I can run for 50 minutes, but I only cover a little more than four miles. Any advice about how to speed up? I find that if I try to run faster then I get exhausted and have to stop after 2 miles.

Val said...

Hey, don't knock goin' slow!
But I was quite proud of myself for increasing my pace to a 12-min mile this past month...

Katie! said...

Congrats on your new lighter schedule! I love hearing people (especially female docs) talk about lightening up and being more balanced. It gives me hope that I'll be able to do that someday.

Happy New Year!

winecat said...

Less guilt - Here, Here.

Blatantly Unoriginal said...

Running leaves me drifting off to other thoughts in my head. So. Yeah for all of you who can actually do that.
As far as guilt free 08..what a great platform to get behind.
I nominate dr. mama for president on that point alone!

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:51, THANK YOU for leaving that comment. The negative chorus in my head keeps telling me I'm too fat to exercise--how stupid--but I crave the stress reduction and smaller butt that come with being in shape. I'm really embarrassed to start, but your post was inspirational. Did you really tire out after 30 seconds? What did you do then? Wait till the next day? Run another 30 seconds, rest, and repeat for 30 minutes? Yeah, really basic questions, but I have never been an exerciser and really really don't know where to start. ("Just do it" doesn't help--just do what, exactly? and how? and what kind of shoes? I ask). Plus I'm not sure what is good pain and what is bad pain.

Good luck with the "no guilt in 08" campaign! said...

11:51 Anon: NOBODY's too fat to exercise! If you can move, you can do it. Thus, the only people excluded are the comatose and those 1,500 lb. people who're permanently welded to their couches. Nothing - not losing weight, not smaller pants, NOTHING - will make you feel better about your body than moving it the way nature intended.

When I started, I'd run for as far as I could before it hurt, I got winded, etc. At first, this was literally thirty seconds. After my little burst of running, I'd walk for a bit, let my body calm down, then run for ANOTHER thirty seconds. Rinse, repeat. I'd do this for thirty minutes a day, every other day. It's been a year and change, and I'm now running for thirty minutes at a go. Compared to where I started, it practically feels like a SUPERPOWER... but it was only achieved by going out consistently, and not getting discouraged at the slooooow start.

YOU CAN DO IT! E-mail me if you want any further info on Running for the Larger Gal.

Anonymous said...

OK. Now where's the photo of HellBoy with guitar playing his new theme song? (I don't feel bad asking about this since you're going to have so much more free time now.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Sarge - You seriously made a huge impact on my life with the running. Did my second 5K this weekend and didn't walk for the whole thing! Thanks!

bon said...

OOO! Me too! Started running a few months ago at a whopping 275 lbs, am now down to around 250 and rocking steady. I LOVE running! But yeah, if you run at this weight, ya gotta go get the good shoes, but I can do 40 minutes nowadays no problem... feels like I could run forever once I get past the first 12 minutes or so.

Truly... am fat, old, arthritic lady and convinced that the human body is built to run.

Anonymous said...

This is gonna run (ha) long, I fear. I WANT to run, I just don't like it, it feels so hard! Is it the speed thing? I had our 4th baby 10 months ago, and still have 30 pounds to lose. I homeschool. I've had 4 c-sections. I think I'm not just some weenie. But I don't know how to get started with running, go only as far as I can, and still lose the weight. Don't I need certain amounts of time daily/weekly to achieve the weightloss? I just turned 37, am feeling so flabby, old and generally gross, and thought I'd try to train for our Peachtree Road Race in July, here in Atlanta. How do I go from 0 to 10k in 7 months? Can you please tell me in baby steps how to do this, and lose the weight? I am following Bob Greene's Best Life Diet, just good healthy foods and calorie counting and adding a bit extra as I am still breastfeeding. I think going from this out of shape to the Peachtree would be such a kick, but I don't know how to start. Yesterday was just Day 1 of any exercise in 18 months (sick pregnancy). Can you advise, pretty please?

am posting "anon" just because I can't remember my google password!

Anonymous said...

Ooohhhhhh! I just got off the treadmill (don't know if that's allowed, but with 4 children at home all the time it's what I've got usually)! I RAN (slow, slow, so slowly and turtle like, but picked up my feet consistently) 23 minutes, or 1.25 miles without stopping! Without stopping! I haven't done that in, well, YEARS. Maybe I can do that Peachtree! Old grannies on walkers, toddling children and 3 legged dogs could've passed me, but I was RUNNING. Finished up last 7 minutes with brisk walking. Can I do this 5 times a week, and add strength training, crunches, whatever?

Thanks so much for the word about SLOW. I had no idea, and have always started out just at a good brisk, hoofing it pace, only to wear out after about 4 minutes. I am GOING to do this.

debangel said...

Today was the perfect day to find this post! I'm a never-runner and this morning I started the Hal Higdon novice-level course because I want to run a full marathon in September. I SUCKED. 1.5 miles, which is less than half than I can do at a sharp incline on a treadmill. But I felt really good once I stopped coughing. It seems like the cold air (well, chilly, I am in soCali after all) was making me cough as much as my lousy cardio conditioning. I'll try going more slowly tomorrow.

And for all you busty girls, I can highly recommend the orthopedic-looking yet totally awesome Enell sports bra. I am a 34FF (small ribcage, big boobs, therefore hard to fit in a bra)and the size 1 has me doing jumping jacks for the first time since I was a teenager!

Thanks for the encouragement, Doctor Mama!! I am going to work with LUNGevity and raise money for lung cancer research for this race and reading what you wrote definitely gave me a boost!

Keri said...

I found your blog and starting running, and it's been great - only one problem. I live in Australia and the sports bra's over here lead a lot to be desired. So I've been running wearing two bras in the meantime, and found a great site through a link on here and ordered a "last resort" bra.

I'm now able to run for a full half hour, and I've quit smoking in the process. Hurrah!

Anonymous said...

One of your readers recommended this blog since I'm just starting to run. Well, after this week, I'll start running. (It's a long story. See Anyway, thanks for the encouragement. I look forward to becoming a fellow runner!

Anonymous said...

Today, you have another old (66) maggot wiggling. I jogged very slowly with my voice coach's recording teaching me proper breathing technique. I was out for twelve minutes and only walked for a minute and a half. I had already walked a 1.7 miles earlier in the day, and I will try to hit the treadmill later. Since we live in So. Cal. I have no excuses about the weather, but it is getting dark. Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Wondering if you have some advice on son turned 10 yo in December and is sporty. We already do pretty long (50+ mile) cycles together, but what about running? There are 4k races around the city which we could enter, but is it too much for his developing joints at this age? He's just joined the cross country club at school, which has one training session per week on a lunchtime. This would be a way of getting me running - I am definitely NOT a lone exerciser - whilst spending some time with my boy.


Alice said...

I have been reading your blog for a while, and a couple weeks ago I went through a painful breakup (it was a long time coming), and today I said to myself that instead of mopping in front of the computer, I shall go run instead.

Ran I did, for 12 minutes continuously at a painfully slow pace. Not bad I think for a person who absolutely hates running, and is usually out of breath 2 minutes into runs.

I think I just might continue this. Thank you for inspiring me and teaching me the trick to start off.

I will continue to report back!

-Maggot A.

DoctorMama said...

Maggots -- You're making me happy.