Today I had a reader pose the question to me about my training and how I go about it… Wow. That’s a long story! Here goes…
When I started running I did it just so I would push myself. I had always admired runners and thought it looked like a pretty inexpensive sport to partake in. Once I got going a little and started sampling different exercises, I realized that I would ‘dumb down’ most exercise opportunities until I wasn’t breaking a sweat or breathing hard, but running is always running. No matter what, no matter how slow you go, you always have that little skip/hop in there that gets your heart pounding and lungs breathing deeply. Then, once I saw the calorie burn that a 270 pound woman gets from running for ten minutes I was sold! I decided that I needed to go longer and farther distances to maximize my calorie burn, and that’s how I was born a distance runner. I don’t care much about speed. As long as I’m under 12 minute miles, I feel solid, but if I can get farther than six miles I’m impressed!
I’ve never followed a plan. My running has always been intuitive. In the beginning, like four years ago when I just first started, I would run almost every day. I might take a day off a week, but I ran or rode my stationary cycle for at least 20 minutes per day. 20 minutes was really pushing it for me then, too. Don’t worry if you don’t have endurance yet; over time it will come if you just stick to the plan.
Your plan. And what is your plan? Your plan should be one that makes sense, isn’t intimidating and works for you. I needed to work out daily otherwise I worried that I would fall off the wagon. That one day off would turn into two days off and so on and so forth. I didn’t want to break my stride and stagnate so I just kept moving. When I first started, I looked at some training plans but they all looked intense. They started out with running a whole minute or quarter mile, walk for too short of a time, then repeat. Erm, nope. That was not going to work for me. At all. I was so out of shape. So inflexible. I had no muscle tone. I decided that, like Katie from Runs For Cookies, 30 seconds of running the first day followed by 29 minutes and 30 seconds of walking sounded right. The next day I ran for a minute and walked for 29. Each day I added a little more and a little more until one day I just kind of wondered if I could run a mile. I did. It was a huge moment for me; such a victory! It took me less than two months to build up the stamina and confidence to go from hardly being able to run 30 seconds to being able to run a whole mile without stopping!! From there I knew I was unstoppable.
I registered for my first 5k that was to be in July or August of that year. I trained my butt off, running mile after single mile, sometimes two miles, but the three miler remained a huge challenge! It was my opus! I made it to three miles a time or two, but when I finally did my first official 5k it was hard on me! I was worn out, tired, exhausted but exhilarated. I felt so empowered that I was able to run that far.
If you’re like me, distance becomes addictive. If you’re like me, once you discover that you’re capable of an impossible task you chase it even harder. I realized that running distances is impressive to me, so I set out to impress myself by running even farther. At the end of that summer I had managed to run my furthest distance of right around six miles. When I told a friend that, she said that I needed to sign up for a half marathon, then… Ha ha! I added and added little increments day by day until one day I met the goal and then I just let it all be. After my 5k and 6 mile challenge I stepped back into a more passive running role. I started running two miles since it took me around 20 minutes to complete just to get my workout in and calories burned… But I got bored. Without the races, without the challenges I started to lose interest in running. It became a job, and a boring one at that! I love the online comic The Oatmeal and the author, Matthew Inman, is a Washingtonion so last spring when he advertised a race locally I got all jazzed up and rushed over to sign up, only to find it was limited to 10k, 1/2 marathon and full marathon. Yipes. But with the carrot of an actual blerch, couches at the aid stations, chocolate cake and mystical purple drink dangled in front of me I decided to take the leap and take on the 10k. It wasn’t too bad. Then a friend posted about running a half marathon six weeks later, and after someone had once told me that if I ran six miles I could run 13.2, I drank the koolaid and signed up without thinking. What can I say? I was riding high on my six mile victory!
I hardly trained. I managed to squeeze in an eight mile run, once, and two six-seven mile runs, but that was it. I was ill-prepared but had a lot of confidence and moxie! I was doing it! And I did! I limped across the finish line with blisters on my feet and swollen, stiff thigh muscles. But what I took from that was that there is always more left in my tank until there isn’t. I can run 13 miles in a row without stopping, with very little training under my belt. I like knowing that. I’m capable. This weekend I ran quite a lot and I feel like it’s something I can and should sustain with the race schedule I have coming up. I’ve signed up for a lot of 15k’s!
- Sunday: 10K/6.2mi (Better half race)
- Monday: 5K/3.4mi (in my kitchen😂)
- Tuesday: 8.8mi (neighborhood run)
- Wednesday: 10,000 steps/rest day
- Thursday: 5K with Gigi
- Friday: Zumba
- Saturday/Sunday: planning on 9 miles one day, six miles the other day depending
My goal these days, I suppose, is to run 2-3 times per week with distances of 3-6 miles runs plus one longer (7-10 miles) run per week. Add to that my Zumba Wednesdays and Fridays and I have a whole workout week planned. You see, what I realized after running the half is that running 13 miles is hard. Running ten miles that dat, though, was doable, so running nine miles (15k) is comparable to that. Six miles (10k) is fun, now. Three miles is a dash. In comparison to where I was when I started, I think my self-prescribed training plan worked pretty well… I recently read an article that was talking up the 5k as an awesome run that people bypass on their way to distances of glory. It makes sense to me in a big way and I decided to let longer distance goals go, for now. I do appreciate the shorter distance and, right now, I don’t have time to train properly for a half marathon… But I do wonder what my future holds and how far I will end up running in my lifetime.