My First Running Classes – Don’t let the Turkeys get you down

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Central Park 01
Central Park 01 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many years ago, after reading a few running books, I decided to attend a local running class in Central Park in Manhattan. I had it in my head that I would finally learn how to run. I had been running since Elementary school and I was good at it. But time had taken its toll on my body and my running style, so I got myself signed up for the class so I can work out my running issues and learn how to train myself to run better.

The class was an exciting place for runners. They had beginners (Newbie runners to low mileage runners), Novice (Runners who run more than a year to runners who have run a race before), Intermediate runners (Runners who run 20 plus miles and can run an 8 minute mile pace), Advanced runners (Runner who compete or can run faster than an 8 minute mile pace). I was not in the advanced group by a long shot. I never felt that I was ready for that group even now.

I started in the Beginners group just to see how I fit in. I was awesome. I could do everything that the teacher/coach asked the class to do. Running in this class felt fabulous. We ran short distances at an easy pace. We learned how to breathe, and how to go fast and slow when doing sprints. We even learned how to run uphill. All elementary old running styles that I no longer use as I found that they do not suit my style of running. The techniques worked but they seemed limited. There was no substitute for experience.

The beginners class was fun but too easy so the teacher suggested that all people who normally run go to the Novice class to see if they fit in there.

The next week I went to the Novice class twice and it was quite good. The class was more of an effort, but still easy to perform. We learned how to place your feet when you run, and how to run and accelerate uphill. We also went over all of the skills from the beginner’s class but this time we ran 3 miles each time we went out. I stayed in that class for the entire session. Practicing drills and learning exercises to strengthen my legs and stretch. All of these things are important in learning how to run but I had one more goal in mind and I felt I was ready.

I was going to run in the Intermediate class to see how I fit in there. This was a gamble for me, I thought. I could run an 8 minute mile pace, but for how long did they run at that speed. Was it 3 miles or was it more like 6. I was about to see. I started out in the back running so that I could keep up. There was one main coach, the owner of the running school and then there were many sub coaches who help this very large class. It was thrilling and exciting to go running with this large class and I was quite happy until I realized that we were going to be running for about 5 miles then doing sprints. All was well for about 3 miles and then I started to panic. This is about the time I realized that I have an issue with running under duress. I hyperventilated. I was very ill suddenly and I started to slow down.  The coaches urged me on and I started running again. It just took me a longer time than most of the class to get to the track, as I was recovering from my anxiety. Well, that did not go over very well with the main Teacher so he kicked me out of the class and asked me to go back to base for the day. I was mortified. This was my first major failure in running.

I sulked back to base, but surprisingly the class made it back to base a short time after I did. I guess they did not do more than a few sprints. That class seemed very short. I went home in silence.

I got over this incident when I realized that my anxiety over this class was exaggerated because this was a group situation and I was still very self-consious over my running style. I needed to embrace my running style, my speed, and my insecurities and get a coach. First, I joined a team. They accepted me as I was. Then I got my own private coach. He was very focused on my running. I was just as focused and after a year with him, I improved. There were no anxieties, as this class was all about where I was and there were no requirements except to have to come on time. It took a long while but it was all worth it. I found out that I was a runner who started running slowly and increased speed the longer they ran until fatigued. The calmer I was, the better I ran. I also run on my midsole mostly, which was not the older method of running, but is now the preferred method.

Lesson learned. If you want to run better, focus on where you are now with someone who can help you. Don’t add any extra pressure on your self with false requirements that may not suit you and your running style. Why did I say, “don’t let turkey’s get you down?” Well, I was down but when I thought about it I realized what I needed. Anyone can be an Intermediate runner , you just have to be comfortable with your running style.

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