I remember having to run in gym class in high school. I hated it. I hated that burning sensation in my lungs and I hated turning purple. Years later, I did some breathing tests at my allergists office but the damage was already done. It would be a very long time before the word running, when associated with my name, would elicit a reaction other than "yeah, right!". You may even be able to find places on this blog where I said i only run when someone is chasing me. Well, call this a self improvement exercise.

Yesterday, I bought my first pair of real, grown-up running shoes:

Pretty sweet, huh? So anyone who knows me even remotely may be asking "what the heck happened?". Well, I'll tell you.

A few years ago, I lost a significant amount of weight. Let's just say that Kirstie Alley isn't even the second best looking spokesperson for Jenny Craig (I kid, of course...kind of) though she's lost more than I did...I'll give her that much. I found that the more I focused on excelling at work, the less I focused on leading a healthy lifestyle (and nobody was going to stop by my office to tell me to stop working and start exercising). One day, I was in the midst of a conversation with someone and something they said really hit me hard. When it comes to making big changes, I'm all in or all out. Suddenly, I was incredibly motivated to take some control of my health.

That was 3 or 4 years ago (I can't believe I am blogging about this) and I've really changed my eating habits (I'm all about the whole grains/lean proteins/low-fat dairy/lots of fruits and veggies thing), but the exercise thing was nothing I ever really embraced other than my time on the treadmill in my guest bedroom. I could clock the time, but I wasn't improving. So this past March, I started my personal training sessions at the Pro Club with James (cardio and strength training...whee!). I remember one of the first things I said to him was "please don't make me run!" and by the end of the first hour I recall him saying "we might just get you running at some point" and me thinking "nice try, but I don't think so". Of course, I had to decide for myself that I was going to do it. I'm sure that's no surprise.

Once I started really exercising, my focus was on my heart rate and by focusing on that, I can keep myself from turning purple (my target heart rate range makes me turn a nice flushed shade but nowhere near purple). Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have found that the more I exercise, the more work I have to do to get my heart rate up. I guess that's called improved fitness but it also seems like a cruel irony. Speed walking on the treadmill turned to intervals on the treadmill, which turned to working out on the elliptical, increasing time and level. And still it requires more work to get my heart rate up. Now I think I am ready for running, especially now that I want to increase the amount of cardio I do. So I picked up a guide to starting a running program and was off to get fitted for my cool new kicks. I'm pretty excited.

I'm not sure why I am sharing all of this other than the fact that blogging about it means I have to actually do it (and to answer the few follow up questions from friends on how my training sessions are going).