Still running, and meeting goals

Part 1: getting to 5k

Back in February I wrote a piece about running. At that point I had just transitioned from running increasingly long intervals broken up by walking recovery to running nonstop for 25 minutes. I had just completed a 2.2 mile 25 minute run1, and I was looking forward to completing a 5k run within a few weeks.

In reality I decided to push myself, and ran my first 5k 4 days later. I thought it would take between 35 and 40 minutes.

But I finished my first ever 5k in just under 35 minutes, at an average pace of about 11 minutes and 15 seconds a mile. It was a huge milestone for me. I had pushed hard and almost didn’t make it, but there I was.

My nothing to 5k program had worked, and it took less than 3 months.

Part 2: getting sick

After that first 5k I kept running. I started trying interval training, with a long run to get warmed up and a little tired followed by fast intervals at about 9 minutes/mile. It seemed to help, and by March I was running 2 miles at a time in under an 11 minute pace.

But partway into March I caught my worst cold in years. I ran on March 5, and then didn’t run or do much else again until the 26th. On March 5 I was running more than 2 miles in less than 11 minutes a mile. On my first run back 3 weeks later I didn’t even make it a mile and a half before I had to stop. I had lost almost 30 seconds a mile too.

It was hard. I felt like I had lost a lot, and running was more difficult than it had ever seemed before.

But I kept at it.

Part 3: a second 5k, and a breakthrough

By mid April I was running strong again. I was homing in on a 10 minute mile, but not quite there. I got back to running faster than 11 minutes a mile and on April 20th I went for my second 5k.

I upped my pace quite a bit. My first 5k took almost 35 minutes, but this time it took just over 33 minutes. My pace dropped from 11:15/mile to 10:40/mile. And I felt good.

Three days later I ran 2 miles at a 10:30 pace. It hurt and I felt sick, but those were the fastest 2 miles yet. I was pretty happy.

I didn’t realize it then, but I’m pretty sure this was the breakthrough. Two days later I ran the same 2 miles at a 9:45 pace. It was such a huge improvement that I thought the GPS in my phone must have been wandering and overestimating my distance. But I took a route I knew was about 2 miles, and it looked good on the map.

Since that run I’ve only had one slower than 10 minutes a mile, and several around 9:45 a mile.

Part 4: my third 5k, and a major goal met

This morning I left on another 5k. This one with a very important goal in mind. In my February post I said that my goal was to do a 5k at a 10 minute pace. Based on the last week of runs I knew I was ready to take a shot at it.

This morning I set iSmoothRun’s coach to a 5k distance at a 10 minute/mile pace and tried to hit that goal. I started out well, gaining nearly 30 seconds on the goal time within the first mile. But my route is mostly uphill on the way out, and at the midway point I was closer to 15 seconds ahead.

I turned around and headed back towards home, trying to keep my pace up. The coach kept giving me valuable feedback (“Faster!” she would call out) and I made it to 2.5 miles with about 20 seconds on the overall goal.

I was feeling pretty beat though, and I was slowing down. But I kept going.

And a block from my apartment the coach said I was done. Just over 5k in 31 minutes. 9 minutes and 57 seconds per mile.

I know my phone’s built in GPS is not an official meter, but it’s good enough for me. I said I wanted to be able to run a 5k at a 10 minute pace, and I did. And I bet I can improve on that even more.

I don’t know what new goals I will set now, but I think it’s time to enter some official events and get some official times.

— Steve

  1. All of these links include a 5 minute warm-up walk and additional cool down time at the end. I use iSmoothRun during these runs, and it reports the statistics of the running interval separately from the overall track log. All run and pace times are based on this.

Posted on 04 May 2013