March 2008


I set out from my house around 2 pm, excited to run outside in the balmy, 50 degree weather. I didn’t really have a route in mind, so I just moseyed towards the lakefront, thinking I would just turn around halfway or try to make some kind of loop. Rather than heading straight East to the lake, I turned South for a block or two, and right when my five minute warm-up walk was ending and I was about to start running, I came over the top of a small hill, and there in front of me–like an oasis in the desert– was a running track! A deserted, rubbery, oval-shaped running track, just waiting for me to run on it! I ran around the track in one direction. I turned around and ran on it in the other direction. I ran the outside loop and the inside loop. I tried to avoid stepping on a goose or any of their leavings. I thought “race, race, race!” in my head.

I got bored of the track right around the time a man with a stopwatch and some track and field supplies showed up and started setting up near me, so I jogged across the grass and back to the sidewalk, onward! I jogged in place while waiting for the light to change. When the light finally changed, I sprinted across the road, kicking up my heels in glee, hoping that the people in the cars weren’t checking out my butt, or if they were that it looked good. I got some new grey running pants from Target, and when I checked myself out in the full-length mirror, I thought “daaaaamn girl, looking fine!” but I know that what looks good standing still doesn’t always looks as good bouncing and shaking and jiggling across the road in front of traffic. Either way, I didn’t get any comments or whistles, and continued to scamper on my way.

I started feeling really tired about 20 minutes into it, my heart and lungs were really burning and working hard. I pushed through and made it to the end. I even stretched a little while holding on to a park bench, and did THREE push-ups on the park bench (the high, back-rest part of it) and three dips (also on the high part). Oof-dah. I need to start on some weight training to increase my strength, BIG TIME.

I power-walked home, chanting “fit-ness, fit-ness” in my head and grinning ear to ear.

Using the Couch to 5K plan is the first time I have ever stuck to a workout plan, EVER in my life. I really like putting the burden of deciding how much to do onto someone else, and trusting the training plan to WORK and prepare me for each subsequent week of training. So far it’s been an incredibly positive experience. I only have two more weeks to go before I “graduate” from the C25K program, and if I keep going with running every other day, I will finish… April 5th! My race isn’t until April 19th, so I will of course need to keep training to be ready– I want to smile across the finish line, not grimace in pain! PLUS since I’ve been doing the C25K plan by time and not distance, and because I am running at a relatively slower pace, I need to train myself to run a bit longer to truly be ready for the 5K distance race.

I am already looking forward to future running goals– I’d like to run a 10k race this summer, and maybe even a half marathon someday! I have printed out Hal Higdon’s 10K race training program for novices, and I will start following that plan as soon as I reach the end of the C25K plan.

It’s funny, because I consider myself an independent lady who likes to do things her own way, and in her own time. When it comes to running I’m just the opposite. If left to my own judgment, I would decide that running 25 minutes straight isn’t possible, feasible or fun. But when the plan says run, I run. I believe in the plan. I’m not ready to be without one.

I ran on the treadmill at the gym this evening. The run started out well, the first five to ten minutes were great. My heart rate stayed relatively low and I felt really HAPPY, I actually had a big grin on my face. Every so often I would catch a glimpse of my reflection in the glare on the TV screen, and smile at myself. Looking like a real runner! The next fifteen minutes were more challenging. I started feeling hungry and exhausted, and I really had to push to make it to the end of the 25 minute run. I am a little tiny bit sore from Saturday’s extra-long outside running extravaganza, and I have a few small blisters on my feet from my new (cushy, awesome, Nike) running shoes. The last five minutes or so were intense, very sweaty, very hard-core. I caught another glimpse of my reflection in the TV screen, and you know what? I looked TOUGH! 🙂 Looking forward to starting Week 8 on Wednesday.

but did that stop me? No! I had a crazy, kinda fun, strange, different, new personal-record breaking run tonight. I showed up at the gym around 8:15 pm, thinking that it was closing at 9 and I would have just enough time to get my 25 minute run in. As I was walking up to the doors, I noticed a person standing there in running clothes, stretching. “Gym’s closed!” he shouted at me.

“What? That sucks! What am I supposed to do now?” I asked him.

“Run outside? That’s what I’m going to do…”

“But, but…..”

So, I changed my shoes and left my gym bag in my car, and jogged off into the sunset (actually the pitch black evening) with my new jogging buddy, Zach. Zach proposed a route (to McDonalds and back) and we took off running. Talking kept my mind off my muscles, and Zach timed our run using the clock on his cell phone. Not wanting to look like a TOTAL wuss, I ran a little faster pace than I usually do, and within ten minutes or so I was feeling several side stitches, my lungs and heart were burning and I got that metallic “pushing myself” taste in my mouth. When I started to slow down, Zach would run in front of me a bit until I caught up. At some points he literally pushed and pulled me along by grabbing onto my jacket.

We reached McDonalds in about 15 minutes, tagged the sign and immediately turned around for the run back to the gym. After about ten more minutes of running, I felt like I was dying. I knew that it was probably around the 25 minute mark and time for me to stop and cool down, but Zach insisted that I keep running, and after a few more minutes it didn’t hurt as much. When we got within a block of the gym I announced that I was going to walk the rest of the way to cool down, but Zach said “No, let’s sprint!”

“I can’t sprint. This IS sprinting for me. I can’t go any faster than this,” I replied.

“Yes you can. Ready… GO!” Zach shouted. And you know what? I RAN!!!!

I shouted “FINISH LINE!!!!” and BOUNDED the last block as fast as I possibly could. I tagged my car and squatted down, gasping for breath, but smiling. Zach checked his watch– 9:03. We had been running continuously for 37 minutes!! Now that I’m home, I traced our route on Gmap-pedometer and discovered that we ran 2.9 miles. I was secretly hoping that we had run a full 5K distance, but 2.9 continuously is a new record for me (by a lot!) and running 37 minutes is DEFINITELY a new record for me (previous longest continuous run was 25 minutes!). I feel amazing right now– strong and powerful. I KNOW I can do that race on April 19th, I know that I can run longer and faster than I think I can.

I’ve been trying to convince all of my friends to start running, and I even posted an ad online looking for a running buddy at a similar pace. Today was the first day I ran with a buddy, and even though it was a complete stranger, having someone to talk to while I ran, and someone to nudge me when I wanted to stop, and someone to encourage me when I thought I couldn’t go any further made a HUGE difference in my running experience. I don’t know if Zach wants to be my regular running buddy (I think he probably wants to go a bit faster than we went today), but I really, really want to find a running buddy. Even for just once in a while. Especially on these longer runs– having a companion helped me so much! I’m secretly glad the gym was closed, and proud that I didn’t let that stand in the way of getting a great workout in. YEAH!

in my blogging, but NOT in my running!!! Since the last post I’ve held myself to my personal commitment to run every other day. I completed Week 6, and today I ran Week 7, run 1. It’s been going well, although running 25 minutes straight on Tuesday and then again today seems to have made my calves a little sore and tight, and I’m feeling a tiny little twinge of shin splints. Tiny!

In other great news– I weighed myself this morning and saw a very exciting new number in the tens digit of my weight. I’ve officially lost ten pounds, and I haven’t seen this particular number in the tens digit of my weight for probably about eight years. My personal reward for reaching this milestone is a session with a personal trainer at the gym. I signed up for it today, but the trainer is out of town until March 28th, so it may be a while before I actually have my session. I actually signed up for two sessions; a fitness assessment and a training session. Having at least a week before the fitness assessment session will just give me a bit more time to improve my fitness before it goes into my permanent record at the gym. 🙂

Last bit of exciting and awesome news, I promise: I signed up for a race: I will be running a real 5K race Saturday, April 19th at 8 am. Very excited, nervous, apprehensive, and newly rededicated to training. Eek!

It’s Friday. I just ran for the first time this week. Crap.

Since starting the Couch to 5k plan I have been very disciplined about always fitting three runs into a calendar week, always leaving at least one rest day in between. I don’t know what happened this week… well, I do. I’m feeling a bit burned out at work as the end of the academic quarter approaches. I am babysitting twin seven year olds ’round the clock all week, which cuts my “free” time down to nil. The extra-curricular activity I advise had two big deadlines this week, with lots of extra hours spent working on stuff. I have a final project due for my photography class, and I have hardly anything to show for it. Energy has been low all week- PMS didn’t help any. So those are my excuses. I also think that NOT running may have contributed to the “bleh” feeling I’ve had all week.

The run itself was fine. I washed my fitness clothes for the first time in… a while, and everything was tighter. The sports bra was much more supportive, but everything else just felt clingy! I drank two bottles of water during the run– I need to start taking better care to hydrate myself throughout the day leading up to a run so I don’t feel super super thirsty like I did today.

Spring break starts Wednesday, and I’m issuing myself a personal challenge: Run every other day. No matter what. No exceptions. If I can do it, I will make up for this nearly-lost week, and continue to improve cardio fitness. If the weather is nice, I’ll run outside. Maybe I’ll even put out feelers for a new running buddy, since my first and favorite running buddy has been sidelined by a persistent injury (heal fast, L Runner!). After reading about push-ups in the New York Times, I’m inspired to start working up to doing push ups. Right now I can hold a plank for about, oh, two seconds before I collapse into a pile of pudding.

See you Sunday for Week 6, Run 2! I promise!

It was super hard! But I totally did it! I did it! I did it!

I went to the gym this morning, hopped on the treadmill and jogged very, very slowly for 20 minutes STRAIGHT without stopping!!!

I still can’t believe I did it. Less than six weeks ago running for sixty seconds felt nearly impossible. I remember asking my running buddy, who held the timer, “How much longer?” after running for 45 seconds, because it felt like it had been forever, my feet, legs, and lungs were all on fire and my heart felt like it was about to explode.

I feel super good about the Couch to 5k program right now. I’m aiming to run every other day. That way if I have to push a workout back a day or even two days, I can still get all three workouts into a calendar week.

My endurance has increased incredibly, and I feel like it will keep increasing as I do the program. The only thing that hasn’t increased, and has in fact DECREASED is my running speed. I am now jogging at 4.6 mph on the treadmill, which equates to a 13 minute mile. I can run faster than that for a little while, but I tire out really quickly. Once I reach the first goal of running steadily for 30 minutes (a HUGE accomplishment for me!) I will still need to work up to either running faster or running longer if I’m going to be able to run in a 5k race. Running 5k at my current pokey pace would take just over 40 minutes.

There is another training program that I’ve read about online that several people have used in order to keep progressing after completing the Couch to 5k program called “Becoming a one hour runner.” I might start in on that one after I finish this program (four more weeks!!).

Just to reminisce a bit: I have just completed week five of the program. Over the past five weeks I have trained for 30 minutes, three times a week without exception. I have increased my endurance from barely being able to sustain jogging for sixty seconds to being able to jog for 20 minutes without stopping. I have lost NINE POUNDS of fat and lowered my overall body fat percentage by three percentage points. I have a long way to go, but I also have a lot to be proud of. I’m patting myself on the back right now.

Looking ahead: Monday! Week 7 (!!!!!), warm up, then run 5, walk 3, run 8, walk 3, run 5, cool down. 18 total running minutes. Easy peasy!

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