Hit the Ground Running

Accomplishing goals in unexpected ways

Online CommunityBy Scott Johnson

January 2014 — Last year flew by faster than Clark Griswold going for a new amateur recreational saucer sled land speed record.

At some point in 2013 I told myself I wanted to learn how to run, and that I wanted to incorporate running into my exercise toolbox. Basketball is a constant for me, and 2012 brought a year of learning to cycle (I completed a 102-mile ADA Tour de Cure ride) which yielded many extra benefits, so it seemed that adding another exercise skill would be a good thing to work towards for 2013.

I accomplished my goal in an unexpected way. But looking back on how the year unfolded for me, I smile with appreciation over how all of the pieces fell together for me.

For the first three-quarters of the year I didn't have much of a plan. I had a good pair of running shoes, some motivation, and I even lucked into getting a really nice used treadmill for my house.

I ran sporadically but I didn't enjoy it or look forward to it. I felt good when I was done, but something was missing. There wasn't any structure and I didn't feel like I was making any progress. I tried buying one of the smartphone training plans, which helped a little, but something was still missing.

Then I got the invite...

Peter Nerothin runs an incredible group that is all about helping people with diabetes get active. It's called Insulindependence and they are awesome. They empower people with diabetes to try new things and be confident about getting active through education and peer support. I'm a huge fan.

Peter asked if I would come to Philadelphia with Insulindependence to run an 8k race.

8k is just under 5 miles. Yikes. A race? Oh boy. At that point I was struggling to finish a hard 2 miles and could painfully complete 3 miles if I was really feeling motivated.

My inner voice was saying, "C'mon Scott, this is exactly what you need — you said you wanted to learn how to run in 2013! This is how it will happen!" So without hesitation, I said yes.

A few days later I had a training plan from Insulindependence in front of me that detailed 8 weeks of training in preparation for the race, and on the first day of the first week, I jumped in with both feet.

The first few weeks really sucked. But by the third week I felt a change. It wasn't as hard anymore. After another week or so I was feeling so good that I cranked it up a notch and started doing my running homework immediately before playing my routine basketball. Again, it was really hard for a little while, then again, I felt a change. Not only was the running getting better, but I started to see my performance on the basketball court improve. Motivation to the max, yo.

I followed my training plan exactly, not even missing a single day. I knew from my experience with the long bike ride in 2012 that my training would see me through the big day, and that it did. Race day came and I had a great time. I even had the honor of running with Gary Scheiner and his son for the whole race — how cool is that?

The inspiration of the Insulindependence marathon and half-marathon runners from that weekend combined with the motivation of feeling so awesome on the basketball court (from all of the training) convinced me to commit to running a half-marathon in 2014.

I'm all set to go, full steam ahead! But not so fast…

I recently spent a couple of weeks in Vienna, Austria working with my colleagues at mySugr. While there I had an opportunity to pick the brain of a big running enthusiast who gave me some very important advice. I think it came at the perfect time.

I learned that one of the biggest mistakes new runners make is pushing for speed way too early. He said that muscle gains and cardiovascular improvements generally happen pretty fast, which naturally makes new runners start pushing themselves to run faster.

But the muscles and cardiovascular fitness improvements happen too fast for the rest of the orthopedic system (tendons, ligaments, etc.) to keep up with. That part of the body doesn't grow and respond as fast, so pushing for speed so soon almost always results in an injury.

His advice? Keep a reasonable pace and push for distance first, speed later. It's a long-term game according to him, which means you might need to spend a year or more building a solid foundation that will carry you for many more.

I'm sure that running advice is almost like diabetes advice — everyone you ask has a different opinion. Some people do some crazy things and it works just fine for them. But if his advice keeps me injury free while I learn more about it, then I'm perfectly fine with that.

So what if I have to set aside a little more time to do my running. That's better than injuring myself and not being able to run or play basketball.

Looking back on how running came to be a part of my life in 2013, I can't help but smile at how it all came together.

My goal for 2014? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Read more of Scott Johnson's columns here.

Visit Scott's blog. 

dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: February 04, 2014

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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