Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Running: Progress

"Things do not change; we change." ~Henry Davit Thoreau

Well, yesterday I talked about my frustrations with learning tennis so I thought today I would like to spend some time reflecting on another activity in which I have made great progress over the last year or so.  Running!

When my sister and I very first started training together for an August marathon in the beginning of 2010 we would get pretty winded just walking for 3 miles!  A regular paced walk at that, no speed walking for us, we were barely mobile, or at least it felt like it!

Eventually we worked our way up to a run/walk pattern.  As we got closer to our marathon date in late August we started doing more and more of our workouts on treadmills at the gym, too hot in the middle of the Arizona summer to run outside (I have been having a wonderful winter of outdoor running however unlike most of the rest of the country, do you hate me?).  I remember doing work outs on the treadmill and trying to keep up a 4.5 mile an hour run for 5  minutes and it was hard!

Looking back on those first months of training it is almost a miracle that I stuck with it.  It was so hard for me and looking at other runners on the treadmills around us at the gym did not really help.  I felt so slow and out of shape!  Thank goodness I am so stubborn and picked such an aggressive and necessarily long-ish (trained for 8 months) term goal.  If I had picked a 6 week couch to 5k program I think it is pretty likely that those 6 weeks would have been it for me and running.  It took me a while to get comfortable with running and learn how much I really love it.  Once it stopped sucking so much that is.

Last night I decided to do a 4 mile fartlek (speed play) style run, with some 'pick-ups' of faster paced running, some slow running, some regular paced running all mixed up together.  Walk breaks are still very much a part of my training plan.  It is more important to me to get in quality miles than it is to run a certain distance without breaks.  I feel that this is really the best approach for my conditioning.  So I thought I would take at least one walk break at the two mile mark, and maybe one every mile depending on how the workout went. I ran this workout around my neighborhood on a half mile loop.  The short loop is nice to help pace this sort of workout and then I don't have to worry about cars or traffic lights.

It went really well.  I ran at an average of 4.6 miles per hour, for 57 minutes!  A whole lot better than trying to keep up 4.5 for 5 minutes!  And even more than that, I didn't realize until I got home that I forgot to take any walking breaks!  I forgot!  A year ago you better believe I never forgot to take walk breaks.  I was thinking about the next one before I even ended the last one.

This is not a unique experience for me anymore.  Running comes so much easier than it used to.  Sometimes I still feel insecure because I am still a pretty slow runner.  But looking back on how far I have come over the last year it's hard not to feel really amazing about where I am at!


  1. This past weekend I did my fourth triathlon; it was a super sprint tri at my Y, and was the one I started with, last year. I used a very slow-and-steady training, also with lots of walking. I tried not to pay attention to longer/faster runners, and just stuck to the plan. Slow is the way to go...because now I love the exercise and am encouraged by continual progress. But, more than getting better, I just enjoy the challenge and seeing how all the exercise plays off of each other.

    I'm not sure I'm up for a marathon yet, but I bet that slow approach will work the same magic. Keep on keeping on!

  2. Hi Brenda! Congrats on your 4th tri! That is amazing to me! I can stay on my feet and keep moving for really long distances, but the biking and swimming completely intimidate me!

    Thanks for stopping by :)