From Couch to Half Marathon: If I Can Do It, So Can You
Plus proof that you can use ISBAR-Q for just about anything
By Susan D. Moeslein, RN, MSA, CIC
Infection Prevention Nurse Manager
Riverside Regional Medical Center
Editor's Note: ISBAR-Q is an acronym for Introduction-Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendations-Questions. As an evidence-based protocol, ISBAR-Q was initially developed by direct care providers to prioritize and standardize patient information particularly during patient "hand-offs" between shifts and departments. Its effectiveness in this application led to broader usage. Along with providing a tool to facilitate communications, the ISBAR-Q protocol is an example of Riverside's ongoing commitment to patient safety.
I'm Sue and like many people reading this, I am a "been there, done that" kind of episodic dieter and exerciser.
I had re-joined Weight Watchers to return to my lifetime goal weight last year and was stuck on shedding the last five pounds (often the hardest) in order to once again have free membership. I was walking with co-workers at lunch but realized – since my eating habits were right on track – that I needed to increase my physical activity even more. Basically, I was at a plateau.
Riverside Regional Medical Center Volunteers had a shoe sale and I picked up a pair of feather-light running shoes. That same week, I saw an ad for "America's Friendliest Marathon" in Richmond. This interesting convergence of events got me wondering.
I emailed Daniel Ballin with the following question: "Would it be crazy for a 50+ year-old woman at an undisclosed weight who can sort of run two miles slowly to consider running a half marathon?" I may have been hoping secretly for Daniel to tell me to take up speed knitting, but instead, he not only sent back encouraging words, he also sent me a training program called, "From Couch to Half Marathon," and told me what week to begin. The program had rest days in between running days, with the "long" run on the weekend which fit into my schedule.
So this is the part where I say, "If I can do it, so can you" and with some determination and work, I truly believe you can.
Here's what worked for me:
I discovered that if I was to get my exercise in, it had to be first thing in the day. What that "first thing" meant when I began running longer was setting the alarm for 5:00 a.m. Getting up that early had some downstream implications because I had to make sure I was getting to bed by 9:30 or 10:00 the night before. The earlier bedtime proved to be no problem, though, since I began to sleep very well with all the exercise and early hours. Running after work generally didn't happen because I often don't get out of work before 6:00 p.m. and then there's dinner and the rest of life getting in the way.
When I didn't want to exercise, I at least made myself just get into the clothes. That turned out to be pretty good motivation – if you're dressed you might as well go – because more often than not, I went ahead and hit the road.
I traded those feather-light running shoes for sturdier ones when rocks and acorns started hurting my feet. Having a good shoe evaluation (treadmill and walking across a squishy mat which left an impression) made me feel like I was actually a "real" runner and the shoe stability made a big difference in how my feet felt at the end of a run.
I got an inexpensive pedometer which I really used to time myself more than anything. I would map out my course using geodistance.com which gives you a very accurate account of how far you're running or walking.
Finally, I was realistic. I am in what I call my "not early 50's." I was an athlete in my very distant memory, but I am not the kind of person that likes to "feel the burn" or sweat particularly much. And to be completely honest, running over two hours is not particularly pleasant for me, mainly because I get a bit bored, even when I'm listening to my music. I'm still in pursuit of that runner's high I hear about, but as I'm not too speedy, it seems that the release of endorphins and the sense of euphoria that supposedly comes with it is just not going to kick in with me. But I keep hoping. And I keep going.
So did I make it? We'll get to that in a moment, but one look at my face on race day will tell you two things: first, I was absolutely thrilled to be there; second, I was pretty clueless on what was about to happen.
Prior to this big race, I had run a couple of 5Ks with my college-age sons, with each race having around 500 participants. On this day, I was running with over 8,000 new-found friends so that in itself was a big difference. My group was so far back from the starting line that by the time we began running it seems like the marathoners were almost finished. But I did keep moving (although at times I was passed by more than a few walkers) and I did finish.
As an aside, somewhere through all of this, I got my free membership at Weight Watchers again.
I have also figured out that even though I may be slow, it's also a fun way to wear a tu-tu (check out the photo) which we added for the Shamrock 8K in Virginia Beach. I ran it with my oldest son and a friend in memory of her father. Now I'm back in training to do the Run for the Dream half marathon this month.
Thinking that my running may also be helping others is a great source of motivation for me. And we all need motivation because it's always going to be tough to get out the door in the morning or whenever it is you exercise.
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