Walk, Run, Couch to 5K



We all know that exercise is the best *free* activity to combat depression. Ok, maybe most of us do. I for one have had an on again off again love affair with exercise. I was in grade school when I started running. Those first attempts had me wheezing alarmingly on the side of the track after a few hundred feet. I didn’t have asthma like my younger sister did; I did have something going on though. My heart raced on it’s own. Doing a google search, I’ve pulled up this information about heart palpitations. When I was a kid in grade school, a trip to Dr. Menk was in order. Dr. Menk was a general doctor, an old fashioned man, who I secretly wished was my grandfather. I loved going to his office where everything, I mean everything, was antiqued. The rolling Victorian couch, to the baby poop colored patient table, and including the secretary with the outdated Beehive hair-do. The only thing modern was the candy bowl with a never- ending supply of Dum- Dum lolly pops. Even to this day, I can not pass by a candy jar that hold the elusive cream soda flavored dum-dum. Forget about the other 199 flavors that company creates, cream soda is the best!

Dr. Menk took an EKG. It was my first experience in knowing that this body could have defective issues. My heartbeat showed up on a long piece of paper. Back then, I could practically get my heart to race on demand. It worked when I was hooked up to that machine and Dr. Menk smiled. Dr. Menk gravely reported to my mom, no more sports for a while. There was probably a reason for the heart racing, but mine was chalked up to being a nervous child, one that shouldn’t get too excited about things. Anyone who has children know , children at any age under the age of 25 are excitable! Getting out of bed is a drama in itself! My running days were forced into a hiatus until middle school. By this time I was getting a heavy dose of my mom’s condolences, not just with running but with math and a few other things that are buried under ages of experiences. She would say, “It’s ok if you can’t do this (right now). Someday you might be able to.” As a pre- teen, all I heard was “you can’t do this”, which in turn made me march out and do that very thing to prove her wrong! I am still a determined first born “A” personality, under the guise of a diminutive, soft – spoken, empathetic, adult. I have had to have control and world domination was at the top of my day dreaming reality back then. 

Daydreams were my saving grace. A love of books and the written word had me inventing my reality at every turn of the page like Ralf in the movie A Christmas Story.


With an active and complex imagination I became Zola Budd Pieterse; a running machine. By high school I was running cross country races, a solitary sport that reaped silent recognition. My picture, entombed in various yearbooks from 1981- 85; forget grades, I was a experienced, ‘average’ runner with some fame around campus. In the 80’s the modern woman was working a sucessful office job and the shampoo commercial’s told me I could have a career, look like a runway model, cook, clean and take care of the kids…. yes we were poised to be superwomen, borgs if you will. Any time I wasn’t running, I was reading and daydreaming during those years, a borg prepper wanna-be. I could do it all and wanted it all, by god I will HAVE it all!


After I graduated from high school, running to a back seat to under-age drinking and menal retail, service work. I took a certificate course in my senior year and became a hairdresser by the time I graduated. In between being a hairstylist, I also worked a variety of service related, retail jobs at fast food establishments and grocery stores. I was well on my way to make millions, get married and have babies. The millions were never made; however, I did get married by the time I was 20 years old, divorced by 24 and pregnant and remarried by 25. The rest is history; another 21 years have passed and running has been something I do at least 3 to 6 months each year, like a faithful dog, running is always there. I usually start my routine in the cooler ‘winter’ months; it’s easier to haul the extra weight for a few miles in cooler weather. A couple years ago someone came up with the gradual walk, run, race, Couch to 5K program. What a godsend this program has been. I basically walk and gradually run until I get my body adapted to endure 3.1 miles of a healthy jog, give or take ( some years less, some years more), and then I quit. One day I wake up around month 3 of my established routine and think, “I made this goal, now it is time to quit”, and I promptly stop running. I am in decent shape until May or June then the weight starts appearing and muscle tone gradually disappears. 

2014 is the year where things will be different. I will implement the SMART plan, an idea mentioned in a little book called, This Year I Will… by M.J. Ryan. The subtitle states ” How to financially change a habit, keep a resolution, or make a dream come true…”. M.J. Ryan is also the author of a book called The Happiness Makeover.  The chapter titled Create a SMART Goal begins on page 91. SMART is an acronym (duh) for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time- Bound. The basic assumption is that a goal is in mind and you make a plan using this method on making that goal a reality through small, deliberate steps. It can be applied to anything you really want to see manifest. In desperation I started walking several times a week back in November, when I decided mental help therapy or mind altering doctor prescribed drugs were not something I could afford. I can’t even afford a nightly bottle of cheap wine, my go-to therapy only a year ago. That factoid aside, this is a new year and I am working on a new and improved ME. That deadly habit along with a few others are what I USE to do to get through the day/ night/ week. No more. 

Although I was reluctant to move to this town.



… I have finally become comfortable with the situation and venture out almost daily to my haven in the city, Eagle Lake Park. The park is surrounded by busy streets, cars mask the noise of the birds, a mere 10 or so acres nestled in a city that never sleeps. Clearwater has some impressive public parks. The government invested well in the green space that fights with ancient mom and pop’s, fortune teller businesses, hookah lounges, liquor stores and a plethora of bar and grill establishments that tout Greek, German and Polish dishes. I grew up in Kissimmee, the town whose motto is “The Gateway to the Worlds”, a nod to Disney World, SeaWorld and many other amusement parks. A tourist town not unlike Clearwater, it has parks, but of the after-thought variety. Definitely not impressive like the ones here in Pinellas County. Eagle Lake Park has approximately 2.5 miles of meandering cement walkways that traverse around two beautiful lakes with wooden fishing docks that beckon you to reflect life’s beauty in the water. The scenery is relaxing and inviting. Being a creature of routine, I have driven the 4 or so miles to the park 3-5 days a week for the last 2 months. Routine is my friend, SMART plan in hand, knowledge firmly under my belt, and experience, motivates me forward. Yesterday I gasped through about a mile of warrior like, Zola Budd, impressive running. Soon I will look like this, sans steel cut man beside me…



…well, that is to say, if I continue to get out the door… 


A father and his two young kids enjoying the day… idyllic.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s