Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Coerced into training for a 5k

on January 2, 2009

I have never been a runner.  I have said many times that I would only run if I was being chased.  Even when I was on the Track team in middle school I didn’t run unless I was forced to.  My event was the high jump.  I did have to run the mile at one track meet and I came in 2nd to last.  I thought I was going to die when I was running that mile.  I was also in very good shape when I was a kid, so the thought of running as an adult seemed crazy.  And yet, here I am…

My friend Holly at work told me that some of her friends had talked her into training for a 5k and she wanted me to do it with her since she knew I would help keep her on track.  At first I told her no way in hell.  Then, somehow she made it sound like such a good idea.  Get in shape, lose some weight, what a great sense of accomplishment, etc. and I came around.  Why not?  I have been trying to lose weight since about May and have made some progress, but I know that I will only go further if I add exercise.  So, my journey to becoming a runner began.

We found the couch to 5k running plan on coolrunning.com and it seemed like a nice easy progression.  Holly wanted me to sign up for a 5k in December and I said no way.  It was mid November and there was no way I was going to try and participate in a 5k with 4 weeks of training especially with the Holidays mixed in.   I said I would do a 5k in February since that gives me time to complete the couch to 5k program.  The program is 9 weeks, but I expected to have some breaks with Thanksgiving and Christmas mixed in and I have.  I have also been dealing with knee issues since beginning the program.  My knees have been messed up since I was about 14.  I had to take about 2 weeks and back off on running and start cross-training to feel comfortable with running again with little to no pain.  I am happy to say that as of right now I have been running again without my knee brace and have not had pain during or after the runs :).

My first training session was on Nov. 15th.  All three sessions of week one are the same:  5 minute warmup walk, and then 6 intervals of jog 60 seconds/walk 90 seconds with a 5 minute cool down.  When I did this for the first time I thought I was going to die by about interval 4.  I couldn’t believe how difficult 60 seconds of jogging was.  I also never realized how many freakin’ hills there are in our neighborhood!  I couldn’t do all 6 intervals and it was frustrating.  I was defeated and determined at the same time.

My second training session was just as hard and I wasn’t able to complete all of the jogging intervals.  At that point I knew for sure that I was going to have to repeat weeks.  

My third training session gave me hope.  I was able to complete all 6 intervals of jogging.  I did want to pass out after interval 6, but I did it.  

After week one my knees were killing me.  I hadn’t bought new running shoes yet and it was very stupid of me to run in old walking shoes.  I was even preaching to Holly about how important shoes are.  Lesson learned.  

My knees put a halt to the training and so did the Thanksgiving holiday.  However, it was good that I took the time to heal and buy some new shoes.  I also finally started riding the recumbent bike again.  I figured since I couldn’t run I could at least ride the bike to help keep my endurance up.  Also, I have read that cross-training is a good way to avoid injury.  I have to whole heartedly agree with this.  I think the bike has strengthened my knees and quads considerably.

I started week 2 of the training on Dec. 8th:  5 minute warm up with 6 intervals of 90 seconds jogging/2 minutes walking and a 5 minute cool down.

The first training session was really hard and I couldn’t complete all the intervals.  The second training session I forced myself to complete all the intervals and it felt good to say I could do it, but I was so out of breath at the end of it.  I knew I was going to be working on this week for a while.  I stayed on week 2 for a couple weeks.  

I took a week off from running since Christmas was so busy with family, etc.  I did keep up with my cross-training though.  I knew since I wasn’t hitting the treadmill or the road I should at least push myself on the bike and I did!  I did several rides of either 5 or 10 miles on the bike with a decent amount of resistance.

Now I am on to week 3 of training:  5 minute warm up walk and then 2 intervals of 90 seconds jogging/90 seconds walking/3 minutes running/3 minutes walking and a 5 minute cool down.

My first training session for week 3 was on Dec. 28th.  I was scared to death of the 3 minute runs.  After the 90 second runs and how I felt with those I just didn’t think 3 minutes was possible for me.  I was shocked when I was able to complete the first 3 minute run.  I changed a couple things with this training session.  I changed the route that I run outside to limit the amount I am running uphill.  I also slowed my pace down a lot.  I knew that if I could only get halfway through the run I would be very discouraged.  So, I figure doing it slow is better than not doing it at all.  Unfortunately, the second 3 minute run was just too much for me.  I had to start walking at about 2 and a half minutes in.  I was still very proud of myself though.  

My second training session for week 3 went much better!  I completed all the runs and then even added a 3rd 2 minute jog in at the end!  I never thought that I would be able to run for 3 minutes after that first training session of 60 second jogs.

My third training session went really well.  The last 3 minute run was a pretty big push.  I was going uphill for a good stretch of it and I wanted to quit.  I still have to concentrate really hard on controlling my breathing.  If I don’t then my breath gets away from me and I really do have to stop.  Once I got up the hill though and started going downhill I felt like my legs were just carrying me and I could do it.  

I think I am going to attempt week 4 tomorrow.  I don’t know if I am ready to move on, but I will give it a try and see how it goes.  Week 4 scares the crap out of me.  It goes like this – 5 minute warmup, jog 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, jog 5 minutes, walk 2.5 minutes, jog 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, jog 5 minutes and then a 5 minute cool down.  Those are some long runs with very short recovery.

I will try using the little engine that could strategy.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

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