Five, two, five, as in five minutes, two minutes, five minutes, as in the first set of time increments for day one of a ten week plan to get a person off of a couch and prepare said person for a five kilometer run. The plan is called “Couch to 5k” and it is now my plan, as just about a half hour ago I suited up and completed the first day. Actually, I walked five minutes, ran three minutes, and then I walked about ten minutes. As I was running I felt as if I could run farther, as my aerobic fitness is a bit better than that of a genuine couch potato, but I decided I would stick close to the plan, as I realize that a part of the preparation for running in a race is not just aerobic fitness, but also overall fitness of muscles and joints, which is precisely where I don’t want to push myself.
As I turned forty a couple of years back, I was warmly greeted by plantar fasciitis (basically, an inflammation where the ligaments at the bottom of the feet connect to the heal), which I finally overcame through megadoses of Advil, a round of cortisone shots in my foot, and a season of wearing Birkenstocks. In my youth I was diagnosed with Osgood Shlatters disease (yet another inflammation, but this time due to tiny microfractures at the point where the tendons connect the patella to the tibia). This, though ameliorated, is something that abides. In a previous season of my life, when I was running rather regularly, I would often experience a pinched nerve in my right hip. I share all of this to say that as much as my mind says “yes” to running, my body, in various ways, says “no”.
And yet, my body will not have the last word on whether I run. So, I have decided to ease into running by sticking moderately close to the ten week plan, and I have heard that I would do myself a great favor by visiting a local shoe store that specializes in running, where a professional staff can analyze my gait and prescribe the best running shoe for me, which apparently goes a long way toward preventing injury.