No longer a couch potato

Elissa Herbst (left) and running buddy Amanda Harper
Elissa Herbst (left) and running buddy Amanda Harper

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) This Couch Potato has officially completed a 5K! I started a journey back in January to train for the Gazelle Girl 5K with a Couch to 5K running program. There were a lot of ups and downs, but here’s what I learned along the way.

The Goal

My main goal was to feel better. Mission accomplished! As difficult as it is to drag myself out of bed when the alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m., by 6:30 a.m. I’m smiling and full of energy. Whatever else happens during the day, at least I got in a workout. I must admit, I didn’t really lose any weight, but that’s okay. I see more muscle definition and I learned that I’m more capable than I realized.

>>> Read: Coach Potato to 5K

The Obstacles

There were definitely plenty of things standing in my way, but I gave myself a little slack. If the kids didn’t sleep well on Tuesday night, I would put off my Wednesday morning run until Thursday. Feeling rough on Friday? I’ll carve out some time on Saturday. I made it work for me and I held myself accountable without being my own warden. It was the only way I could make it work.

So how was the Race??

Part of the WOTV 4 Women team at Gazelle Girl
Part of the WOTV 4 Women team at Gazelle Girl

It’s such a great atmosphere at Gazelle Girl! I had never even seen a big race before, so I had no idea what to expect. I met my friends and coworkers at Calder Plaza, so I admit I was a little nervous heading over there by myself. I didn’t really know what to bring, so thank goodness they had a bag check there. It was so exciting to head out past the start line. The first mile and a half was really smooth! Beyond that, it got a little difficult and I was anxious to see the first aid station. I have no shame to admit I walked in a few spots – this was my first 5K, not a world record attempt! I walked at the aid stations so I could drink my water, then kept going. The last quarter of a mile was the hardest. I was starting to feel pretty gross. This whole time, I had this idea in my head that I would sprint toward the finish line, arms in the air and head held high. In reality, I plodded along and crossed the finish line at my regular pace. But my head was still high. I finished in 31:42. My goal was 35 minutes, so I’m pretty darn proud of that!

The Next Steps

A lot of people ask me if I’m “a runner” now. No, I don’t think so. I don’t love running. It’s a little too punishing for me. After all of this, though, I can say I understand why runners love it so much. There’s a wonderful simplicity to throwing on a pair of shoes and heading out the door. No gym membership, no video to cue up, no equipment needed. You can go as short or as long as you want. I appreciate that about running. I might head outside for a mile or two sometime, but I don’t consider myself “a runner.”

What I’ve learned is that I have really enjoyed being active again. I feel better, I act better, and I know I’m treating my body better. I’m keeping up with the exercise, but I’m switching it up a bit. I’ve always enjoyed aerobics and I’m mixing in some strength training, too. Now that the race is done, it really is time to commit to my new lifestyle. There is no magic date anymore that I’m working toward. It’s just life, and I’m going to live it as fully as possible.

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