Numbers stress me out. Similar to my aversion to tracking my size by the scale (I prefer a tester skirt), I track the minutes that I run by songs. You see, I have never been a runner. In fact I have always hated, yes, hated running. I felt like I couldn’t breathe as every second seemed to take a minute. It was painful. But oddly, not so much physically painful as it was emotionally painful.
For a short period I had a trainer. He told me that the only way I could improve my cardio ability was to run. I cancelled the next session. But eventually realized that I was being ridiculous. What was my drama with running anyway? He put me on a treadmill and timed it out, counting down from 10 minutes, letting me know the second each minute was completed as if to minimize my stress and illuminate my progress. Each time he shouted out that another minute had gone by, instead of feeling relief, I felt like my throat was closing. After a few minutes it would wear off and I would get back in the grove of whatever song was pumping on my workout mix. “5 minutes left” he would then belt out, derailing me once again. When he called out the final minute, it was as if, hard and fast, I could not take one more step. I pulled the emergency cord and stopped the treadmill, disappointed in myself for being unable to complete the run.
After that first agonizing session, we realized that it was less the run and more the time component that I couldn’t handle. The next session he timed with a stop watch in his hand, but didn’t should out the minutes and I just listened to the song, running along just fine during the 3 song duration, except for when I saw him look down at the stop watch out of the corner of my eye, then I would be stuck wondering where I was in the timing, was I almost done, how much longer, as, simultaneously, my throat felt like it was closing. I got through it. Barely. That last minute, as he stared at that damn watch the entire time, I had to pretend I had blinders on- like a race horse, forcing myself not to see that he was staring at the clock.
The following week I told him that we needed to find a new technique. I asked him not to look at his watch even once. Instead I had made a new workout mix that, each third song, totaled 10 minutes. I ran the full 3 songs just fine. I even ran a 4th just because I was feeling fine and totally forgot about the time. Now, I time myself based on songs. Even if I am just on a walk, I will challenge myself to run for 1 song. 1 measly song- how hard can that be? Almost every time, that song turns to 2, oftentimes 3. The other day, it was 7! And I was just fine. But here’s the best thing- If you run your 1 song and you can’t muster the energy or drive to endure a 2nd, that’s great- you’ve already accomplished your goal! And if you keep up your walk, maybe do 1 more run after your heart rate regulates, turning your average stroll into an interval workout that will help you to burn even more calories, build your endurance, and even strengthen your bones!
So, if you’re stressed by the idea of running 10 minutes, don’t! Run 1 song. As that song is coming to an end, see how you feel and decide if you can run for 2 more, setting a 3 song goal. At the end of song 2, gauge how you feel. Maybe you are up for 5 songs? The key is to create a workout mix filled with music that makes you move, plus make sure that there isn’t a lengthy break between each song. Anything that can distract you from the music can derail your cause. Today just might be the day that you are finally able to embrace running… and like it!
Here’s what I have on my workout mix:
Dirty Little Secret- The All-American Rejects
Rag Doll- Aerosmith
The Boys of Summer- The Ataris
Womanizer- Britney Spears
Crazy Bitch- Buckcherry
Ain’t No Other Man- Christina Aguilera
Girls Just Want to Have Fun- Cyndi Lauper
Listen to Your Heart- DHT
Lose Yourself- Eminem
Brain Stew- Green Day
Hot N Cold- Katy Perry
Money Maker- Ludacris
Hot in Herre- Nelly
Killing in the Name- Rage Against the Machine
Addicted- Saving Abel
Untouched- The Veronicas
La La- Ashlee Simpson
Do Me!- Bell Biv DeVoe
Hey, Big Spender- “Greatest Hits of Broadway”
Footloose- Kenny Loggins
Baby Got Back- Sir Mix-a-Lot