I’ve been running

I decided to start running late last November. I don’t think I had any specific reason, but a few weeks before I started I played a pickup football game with my cousins and realized just how far out of shape I was; it was far more than just being overweight. I could hardly breathe partway through the game and the next day I was still and sore all over. I had a great time playing but it would have been much better if I could run.

I picked up an inexpensive pair of shoes and started looking at the common couch to 5k training programs on the internet. I chose a fairly simple one with straightforward progression and an iPhone app. The app is literally just a set of timers and voice prompts, but it is enough. I record each run using RunKeeper to better track my progress.

When I started a run was a minute of run time followed by a minute and a half of recovery time. And it was hard. Really, really hard.

Although I cycle a lot it’s clear that cycling and running are very different activities. Weight does matter on the bike, but realistically the bike carries most of your weight and you just have to supply the momentum. I could ride 40 miles in any given day but couldn’t run for 5 minutes.

But in a couple of weeks I had progressed from 90 seconds to 3 minutes of running at a time, then 5, then 6, 7, 8, and 10. By 2 and a half months I was stringing together a 10 minute run with a 15 minute run with only a few minutes to recover in between.

And today I got rid of the recovery time in the middle and did 25 minutes nonstop. 2.2 miles at 11:30/mile.

I know that probably won’t impress any of my running friends, but less than 3 months ago I couldn’t go 2 minutes at a stretch. At the new year 4 or 5 minutes was nearly impossible. Now a 5k (3.1 miles) is definitely in reach. I finished tonight’s run and easily had a few more minutes in me.

I’ll give it a few more weeks of increasing the time until I can do a 5k nonstop. Based on my average running pace on RunKeeper that will take about 35 – 40 minutes on nonstop running. And I think I’ll get there fairly soon.

I honestly didn’t think I would improve this fast. Some days, even earlier this week, have been brutally hard and left me unable to meet my goal. But the good days are enough and I’ve kept at it.

In fact that’s the most important thing to me. I have stuck with this so far. I wasn’t sure I would when I started, which is why I haven’t written about it until now. My sister Annie, a dedicated and very fast runner, was good motivation, especially on the hard days.

And except for those times when I’m out of town I’ve been able I go out 3 times a week every week, and every week is better than the one before.

Once I hit a 5k, at any pace, I’m going to work to increase my speed and lower that to a 5k at a 10 minute pace. From there I don’t know where I want to go yet, whether a 10k or trying to get my mile pace down. I might work on pace first, and then work on a 10k after that.

Do me a favor and keep an eye on my RunKeeper page, and nag me if I start to slack. I’ve done well so far but support never hurts.

— Steve

Posted on 12 February 2013