next step

I think I may have lost the ability to jog. It’s shocking, I know. I bet you’re thinking, “how is that even possible?” But don’t worry, this might not be as bad as it sounds.

Even as a kid, I liked sports and I liked to run. I reckon I preferred short distance running, though – you know, like 100m sprints. I didn’t have the endurance for the longer races. I do, however, remember finishing in the top 10 in my grade seven cross country race …but my primary school was pretty small (two classes per grade).

In grade eight, I was introduced to this thing called a “beep test”, where you run back and forth between two lines. Every time a beep sounds, you have to run back to the other side, and the interval between beeps gradually decreases. If you don’t make it to the other side before the next beep sounds, then you’re out (or maybe you have to miss two – I can’t quite remember). We did this, along with various other fitness tests, in our Physical Education classes.

I’m sure I got a decent enough score for the beep test but it was at least a little disappointing. I suppose at that age some kids have an inflated sense of their capabilities, right? Well, apparently I like challenges, and I must’ve seen this as a challenge. We had to redo the beep test every year, and I’m sure I was intent on improving (and very possibly intent on beating everyone else’s scores too).

Somewhere between this, and going through uni, I discovered the joys and wonders of long distance running. I was drawn in by how gloriously sore and exhausted I got after a long run.

After graduating from uni, and starting full-time work, I trained for my first 10km fun-run. I finished it in just under 1 hour, 8 minutes, which, at the time, I thought was good for a first effort, but have since come to see it as a bit mediocre. In spite of (or because of) this, I continued to run.

There is a training philosophy of sorts in running that says it is necessary to alternate between high intensity intervals, long slow distance, and something in between (I think it’s called a tempo run or something). In my informal training plan (which is to say it’s not really a plan at all), I incorporated a lot of long, slow jogs; and I think that’s how I managed to work my way up to doing a 10km run.

These days, however, I tend to run maybe 4-6km before calling it quits, and I’ve realised that, rather than being a result of decreased endurance, this might be simply because I no longer know how to jog.

I reckon this whole “losing the ability to jog” thing started this year – possibly several months ago. I made a note for myself that it’d be good to blog about, but I just never got around to writing about it …until now.

I think a faster pace just feels more comfortable and more natural. The only problem is that I couldn’t possibly sustain a running pace (as opposed to a leisurely jogging pace) for very extensive distances, and hence I tire after about 4-6km. But why would I need to go further if I’ve gotten the same satisfaction from that as I might from a longer distance at a slower pace? Right?

I ran 5.2km yesterday. I went for a rather circuitous cool down walk afterwards, and added a few other exercises in to complete the workout. This morning, I woke feeling more sore than I ever remember feeling before. (I did stretch yesterday but I suppose that can only do so much.)

So maybe this jogging thing doesn’t matter, or maybe I’ll get it back one day as my running habits evolve. Who knows. But I know that as long as I can run, I will run.

Random bonus story: It was also in these fitness tests in grade eight that I sadly found out that I couldn’t do push-ups. To be fair, they’d never gotten us to do push-ups in my primary school, and my parents wouldn’t have thought it was necessary to teach me how to do push-ups (which is fair enough, of course, and I’d probably have thought it stranger if they had tried to teach me).

Anyway, I pretty much struggled to do even one push-up; I basically just had the bare minimum upper body strength to survive day-to-day life, and anything beyond that was also beyond me. But, over the years, I worked on this, and now push-ups are easy. And, yes, I do them on my toes (not my knees).

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