a peek inside the fishbowl

30 Jun, 2010


Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

That girl who was grinning like an idiot and punching the air along the woody pathway on Richmond Road west of Broadview last night was me.

Finola insists that I call what I’ve been doing RUNNING. It’s the hip new term for what used to be called jogging. I am having trouble wrapping my head around this. I can’t honestly call what I do jogging OR running. I am basically dragging my sorry butt around my own neighbourhood, making a total spectacle of myself in the name of fitness.

Two things inspired me to do this:

1) I’ve been following Ginger’s blog for awhile now. I don’t even know how I found her. She’s a sweetheart, and writes about many issues in a genuine and articulate way. She was a school teacher in Texas but is now home with her adorable twin toddler boys.

Sidebar: It’s funny, this blog thing, because I was reading her blog before her boys were born and I’ve been watching them grow up ever since. It’s a strange experience, isn’t it, watching kids you don’t really know get older and finding yourself saying things like “aren’t they getting big now!”

Anyway, yes, Ginger challenged herself to run 500 miles (!) in 2010, and was recently interviewed on the 500 miles in 2010 blog. You can read the interview here.

2) Ms. Direction. The lady I’m writing about is a runner, the kind of runner I will never be, but her story was inspiring enough to make me wonder what I was missing.

Both these women gave me the kick in the pants I needed to try to run slog.

I downloaded a really great app for my iPhone called Couch-to-5K to help me along with interval training. It is basically a timer that tracks my progress. It tells me when to walk and when to run – in a very friendly voice – while my own music plays in the background. It also tells me when I’m halfway (THANK GOD) and when my workout is complete. If I could add anything to this program I would ask the developers to throw in a couple of encouraging messages like: YOU CAN DO THIS, or DON’T QUIT, or REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE DOING THIS.

I asked myself that a lot during last night’s slog. And the night before last, because I really didn’t feel like torturing myself. WHY AM I DOING THIS? I asked myself over and over again, especially as I clutched my side and limped along during the “walk” portion of my program.

Here’s what I came up with.

  1. 1) My goal is a small one. I want to be able to run for 12 minutes. When I was in elementary school I was never able to do the 12 Minute Run for our annual Canada Fitness event. THIS IS MY CHANCE TO DO IT.
  2. 2) If I can run for 12 minutes it stands to reason I can probably run 5K. I don’t care about time, I just want to be able to run this distance without stopping or collapsing.

To summarize: I run because I can. And I want to see if I can do it.

Weight loss has been unintentional. My clothes are fitting a little better right now. Last week I jogged in an older pair of yoga pants. I must have been quite the sight … periodically hoisting them up with one hand while I held my iPhone in the other. (Yes, I need one of those fancy holsters.) My size 31 jeans are falling off my hips (Seriously, I can pull them down without undoing the button.)

I know my mother is reading this post and is rolling her eyes (hi mom) and getting her Outlook fired up in order to whip off an epistle about how terrible running is for your body. I can predict what you’re going to say mom. You think that my ovaries are going to drop out of my body and that I’m destroying my knees. What I’m doing really isn’t damaging at all. It CAN be, if you run a marathon without having trained for it properly, but what I’m doing is basic cardio. Slogging.

There is a great thread on Ask Metafilter about running and what it will do for your body. There’s a lot of great tips in there. Like for example, the importance of having a great pair of running shoes. (Which I desperately need.)

I dropped my gym membership to save a few bucks this summer. So this, along with my daily pushups, will have to be a good substitute.

I’ve graduated to week 3, day 2 of my C25K program, which basically means I’m doing two sets of 90 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking and three minutes of running followed by three minutes of walking. The first time I did my second three minute run I was practically sobbing; a mixture of extreme fatigue and total elation. I wiped my nose on my arm and tried to spit a much needed spit. I am an embarrassing spitter.

My hips are hurting a bit, but that’s about it.

I know the secret to running: it gets easier. The second time I did my two sets of three minute jogs it was a TINY BIT easier. I still cried. But it wasn’t as bad. When I started this whole thing I could barely run for 60 seconds, and there I was, doing three whole minutes. Woot!

Other discoveries I’ve made along the way:

  • If you travel too far in one direction you will eventually have to go back.
  • Music helps. Music is fuel. Listening to your laboured breathing will just make you miserable.
  • Running outdoors is much harder than running indoors on a treadmill
  • I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough on the elliptical trainer at the gym
  • I have never sweat so much in my entire life
  • I love my sports bra
  • I don’t understand people who can run and talk at the same time. I figure if they’re chatting they are not working hard enough. Or maybe they are a special breed who have oxygen to spare??

Emma wants to come with me next time I go out. I am keenly aware that I will have to put on a brave face for her sake. She has already declared that running is “easy.” Ha. 

Anyway, if you see me limping around Westboro please know that I will eventually graduate from slogging to jogging. I may even find myself running some day… even though the sad reality is that I might always look and feel like a mad rhinoceros and not a graceful and fleet-footed antelope like some of you runners out there. :)

29 Responses to "Slogging"

1 | Kaitlin

June 30th, 2010 at 9:37 am


That’s so fun! the Hintonburg Community Association is hosting a 5K in July; it’ll be my first event…but I need to keep training (hi, ultimate three times a week).

I also need better running shoes. Right now, I have cross-trainers. Not a fan.

2 | Stephanie

June 30th, 2010 at 9:39 am


I did the C25K using the app and ran my first (and only) 5K in early March. It’s a fantastic app and I was shocked at how quickly it builds up your endurance.

I haven’t run a step since that 5K since I didn’t really like running (Ok, fine, I HATED it – I would rather spend my cardio hours on something I enjoy), and it was ridiculously hard on my knees (even with appropriate shoes), but it was nice to prove to myself I could do it.

The best advice I got, though, was to pace myself. I am used to hockey, which is like interval training. Go all out, rest up, go all out, etc. I had to get out of the “leave it all on the ice” mindset; I couldn’t do that with running as I needed a pace that I could sustain. Once I slowed my pace down a bit, I was amazed at how long I could run without walking.

Keep it up!

3 | Alex

June 30th, 2010 at 9:51 am


I hear you… and congratulation on the couch2k5 program. I started “running” irregularly for health reason too a couple of years ago, and I’d say two things: no, it never gets easier (at least for me)… I still find it hard to run even long after the first time… And yes, your mom is right about the knees :-( For the first time of my life, 2 weeks ago, after a 7k/46 min run (i.e. quite slow!) my knee started to hurt and I am now healing a tendonitis…
So one advice might be to practice diverse sports on top of running like biking and swimming which are not as hard on the knees (and overall, not as hard as running IMO).
Anyway, congrats again!

4 | Meagan

June 30th, 2010 at 10:42 am


Re: running while chatting

You should be able to chat while running – if you can’t, you’re pushing yourself too hard.

5 | meanie

June 30th, 2010 at 11:00 am


that’s awesome! sometimes my 8 year old tags along on my runs on her bike – it actually really pushes me to go faster. and it’s a great little chunk of time for just the two of us.

6 | andrea

June 30th, 2010 at 11:50 am


Meagan – That might be true if you’re a runner who’s trying to biuld distance, but I’m just trying to build! :) Besides, if I don’t push myself, how will I get anywhere?

7 | Finola

June 30th, 2010 at 11:53 am


Three things Andrea:

1. You go Girl! You are running in every sense of the word!
2. “weight loss was unintentional”. Well now I am just jealous and mad. I trained for, and ran a half-marathon and I gained 2 pounds. Bah.
3. It IS called running. I just had to reiterate :)

8 | EmmyB

June 30th, 2010 at 12:22 pm


Not fair about the weight loss part – I just get hungrier and better able to justify having icecream.

Definitely, if you can’t talk, you’re going too fast. You might want to consider joining us on Sunday mornings, it’s not too far away, and is a great group, at all levels:


9 | andrea

June 30th, 2010 at 12:34 pm


Finola: you have 2 extra lbs of lean muscle whereas I jiggle as I jog.

10 | andrea

June 30th, 2010 at 12:36 pm


EmmyB: I forgot to mention that the benefits of running your solo intervals is that it’s less embarrassing if/when you sweat and snort and spit and cough and cry. I’d rather blog about it than have someone be an actual witness! :)

11 | lacoop

June 30th, 2010 at 3:13 pm


That was a great blog! It really made me laugh. :-)

Running is natural for us…it is what we have done throughout our evolution. Sitting at desks…now that is unnatural and hard on your body (you might not think so, but you are slowly shortening muscles with all that sitting).

Give it some time…after a while, your body will want to run. The trick is to find your pace.

For shoes, we always go to Bushtukah. They have a good selection, and there are staff to help you find the correct type of shoe (very important).

12 | Laura

June 30th, 2010 at 5:09 pm


Haha! Your post cracked me up but also inspired me to get out there and try ‘slogging’ again! Last month I started the walking then running thing and thought I might die! Then I went with a friend who was chatting the whole time while I was just about dying and it just made me feel like I should just give up! I think I’ll try again now and not be too embarassed to be the woman further west coughing, spitting, crying and snorting. ;) Thanks for the motivation.

13 | andrea

June 30th, 2010 at 5:14 pm


Laura, if I can slog YOU can slog.

14 | robyn

June 30th, 2010 at 5:42 pm


Good for you!

I was bitten by the running bug last year and am still hooked – I ran my first 5K in May, and I’m training to do a 10K next spring.

I was never a runner before that, and it took me a good six weeks of slogging through a C25K-like program before I thought anything but “can we stop yet? How about now? Now?” but once you reach a certain tipping point, you wake up in the morning and you have the itch to just … go.

My best tip: Invest in new (and really good – no skimping!) running shoes and you (and your feet) will thank yourself for it for many months.

15 | Connie

June 30th, 2010 at 7:02 pm


Can I ask what sports bra you are loving so much? Looking for a kick-ass bra for running… Thanks!

16 | Betsy Mae

June 30th, 2010 at 7:56 pm


Yoga and running are two things on my list (not calling it a bucket list, hate that). I’m afraid/insecure/whatever you want to call it to do either. I hope I will step outside of my comfort zone one day.

Yeahhh Ginger!!! You’ve inspired someone, how good does that feel??? I found Ginger in your comments quite some time ago, now isn’t that neat?

BTW I’m glad someone else got you to say ‘run’ instead of jog..and I doubt you are slogging my friend, you should be VERY proud of yourself!.

17 | andrea

June 30th, 2010 at 8:04 pm


Thanks for all your comments everyone! Shoes are definitely on my list.

Judging by the huge number of hits this post received I’m going to assume that (a) you found this very amusing and (b) a bunch of you are runners or wanna be runners. :)

Connie: I wish I could tell you! I tore the tags off of it the second I got it home and can’t remember the brand. I got it at Marianne’s. The salesgal and I went through every single sports bra in the whole store before we found this one!

Betsy: Just do it. :)

18 | Laura

June 30th, 2010 at 9:29 pm


I say way to go! Inspiring post. :)

19 | Ginger

June 30th, 2010 at 9:35 pm


First…thanks for all the super sweet things you said about me!

Second…I have a hard time saying or even thinking that I am a runner, but I have some really great supporters who are long time runners who insist that I too, am a runner. (If they saw me they might not think that!)

Third…I think it is awesome that Emma wants to go with you. That is why I am doing it. I want it to be a normal and natural thing for my boys to exercise and stay healthy and fit. One day I hope my boys want to run with me…maybe even in a race!

In response to Betsy Mae’s comment…The fact that Andrea found ME inspiring is beyond words. Andrea inspires me all the time and just…wow. In my head, Andrea, you are a celebrity and if I ever have the chance to meet you I am going to be so nervous! :) But, several people, both online and in my actual life have told me that I have inspired them to get out there and do something. Some are running. Some are walking. I should write a post about all of my feelings when it comes to this…the fact that I have inspired people to be active blows my mind.

Andrea, I like your word, slogging. I tell you, that is exactly what I am doing every single time! I am so excited that you are along for the journey. I think my next one will be your pushup challenge…or maybe the sit ups challenge on the same site…or maybe both! :)

20 | Nadine C.

June 30th, 2010 at 10:42 pm


I feel so guilty now after reading this ! I wish I had the determination… My 9 year old started running 3 km last month (to train for next September’s cross country) but I can barely finish 2km without turning the same colour as Barney Dinosaur!!! So we’ve decided that she should go run with her dad who has done the marathon scene for a while now. I do have the good shoes and the perfect bra, unfortunately I don’t think that I am designed to run. So I have gone back to speed (medium speed) walking and for now, that seems to do the trick . I really wish that I could run though. Oh and I guess I’d have to go alone, my daughter loves to have dialogues while she runs…

21 | Stefania (Ingredients for Life)

July 1st, 2010 at 6:54 am


That’s great about the running. Yes, you should be pushing yourself. You should be able to talk but not exactly wanting to (It’s a sentence here and there but not like a casual conversation over coffee). That’s one of the first rules taught at the Running Room where I instructed the Women’s Only clinic. Secondly, get a pair of running pants. Yoga pants are meant for yoga and not the up-and-down motion of running. They’re going to fall down.
Keep it up. You’re an inspiration to your children and you should be proud. You’re going to have fab abs. :-)

22 | Stefania (Ingredients for Life)

July 1st, 2010 at 7:07 am


I forgot to mention that if you’re going to run on the treadmill then make sure it’s on at least a 2% incline (higher depending on your fitness level). Running on a treadmill is different especially because you’re in a controlled environment.

Have fun!

23 | Mandy

July 1st, 2010 at 4:45 pm


I could never talk while I was running last summer and this summer I “can” talk but most of the time I just don’t want to.

24 | andrea

July 1st, 2010 at 5:03 pm


I went for a slog with Emma today and although I liked the company I’m not sure she’s going to go out with me again. Turns out it was harder than she thought. Conversation was limited to things like “10 more seconds!” :)

Also, re: sports bras. I forgot about this past post on the topic. Lots of good recommendations there.

25 | Chantal

July 4th, 2010 at 9:59 pm


I did the couch to 5K over the course of a year (I quit when I got pregnant with D2) and once I was running the full 5K I loved it, but getting there was hard. I think the thing I loved the most about it was that I proved to myself that I can come to what seems like an insurmountable obstacle and I can move past it. I can do it. Running was amazing for me in that way. As a child/young person I was not physically active at all. My face gets very red when I exercise and it embarrassed me, and I never wanted anyone to see me look like that. Now I am an adult, I don’t care. With D2 6 months old it is time I get back to running. I will probably start next week… ya, next week :)

BTW I always ran with a friend, and we usually chatted. It was like therapy and it helped me feel like the run passed quicker because I was distracted. Of course she never quit running (and is now at the 1/2 marathon level), now when I start up again I will have to run alone :(

26 | andrea

July 5th, 2010 at 8:07 am


It is a good feeling isn’t it, to be able to prove that you can do something … to be able to coax your mind and body into doing something that’s really hard.

I can see the benefits of running with a friend but I’m just as happy being out there alone with my music.

Last night my training included two five minute intervals. Going into it I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. In fact, I thought a jump from three to five minutes was nuts.

And then I realized I was thinking about it all wrong. I was only hurting myself by my negative thoughts. I changed my “I can’t do it” to “I have to do it.” And I did! I finished the level.

Mind you, it wasn’t very fast. But STILL.

27 | andrea

July 5th, 2010 at 8:09 am


re: running as therapy
I wanted to add that after Sarah was born I got the exact same benefits from speed walking. I lost major baby weight and it helped clear my brain in a big way. Interval training programs like Couch-to-5K can be used for walking too!

28 | Chasing those little white balls >> a peek inside the fishbowl

July 20th, 2010 at 6:50 am


[…] the sport up myself. There is some really swanky gear out there! (But I’m sticking to my slogging for […]

29 | Off the couch. Almost 5K. >> a peek inside the fishbowl

September 1st, 2010 at 7:46 am


[…] called C25K (which stands for Couch to 5K). I haven’t written much about it here, other than this post, but I wanted to write an update because I’m into my eighth week and frankly, I’m so […]

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  • a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Look who I found! - a peek inside the fishbowl: […] He (or she) was just hanging out on a hosta. He’s the only one I’ve seen from our brood. […]
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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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