I am a runner. I have run two marathons. And for the most part, we runners like to stick with what we know. Aside from a few laps in the pool and some periodic ab workouts, most of my marathon training is simply running. I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon twice but because of the difficulty of my semester, I cut back and only registered for the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon this spring. When I signed up for the half, I thought about how much easier it would be to train for in comparison to training for the full. But I also had my reservations that I wouldn’t be in as good of shape as the previous two years.

But all of that thinking went out the window about a month ago when my most physically-fit friend asked me to join her in the Insanity workout program. It was the week after Christmas break and the guilt of Christmas cookies and second helpings was weighing on me – literally. So I eagerly agreed.

For those of you in the dark, Insanity is a nine-week program that includes a variety of cardio workouts. And like so many other workout videos, it’s not without its army of beautiful people screaming out encouragement as you lie there on the floor after one “girl” push-up. As a runner, this does not sound like my cup of tea. But I was desperate to shed those holiday pounds and not look like a “wuss” in front of my fit friend, so I gave it a try. We decided to follow the training calendar that comes with the DVDs and do the workouts in a racquetball court at the rec. (This is a safe place because there is only one tiny window in the door, so people can’t watch us flail around like idiots.)

Days one and two were awesome. My muscles were fresh and although my form was terrible, I managed to keep up and at least attempt my own version of every exercise. Over the next three weeks I’ve paid for how good I felt those first two days. My runner’s body is screaming, “Why are we moving laterally and doing push-ups?” Even my joints are angry with me, and I am reminded every time I change position. They crack so loud it sounds like a gun went off in the room. I’m tired. Insanity seven days a week on top of my normal running is wearing me out. It also doesn’t help that some days our workouts take place at 6:30 a.m. because of our busy class and work schedules.

Despite all the sore muscles and exhaustion, I can’t believe the improvement I’ve seen. I’ve graduated from girl push-ups to actual push-ups and my form and speed have improved drastically. Even my friend noticed my progress! (She’s improved too, even though she was already a beast at it.)

On top of all that—my running has improved as well. My training mileage isn’t all too that yet since I still have a few months before the half, but I can feel myself getting faster and my core stronger. My fear of not being in the same shape as the previous years has been erased. Adding Insanity to my daily routine has definitely not made this year’s training any easier than before. I still have a month left of Insanity and it gradually gets more intense, so I can’t wait to see what other improvements I make before my big race on May 4! I hope I can make Shaun T proud!