Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Up and Running

As a kid I loved to run: the feel of the wind in my face, my hair flying and swirling behind me, the road quickly disappearing beneath my feet. But all in very short distances. Sprints. Much more than 200 yards and I would wither and collapse.  I had no endurance.

I've been working out for over 6 months now and gradually my endurance has increased.  Little by little I have incorporated more and more running into my exercise plan. I started out just walking.  Then I began adding a few minutes of running into the walk. And it has increased from there.

I have found that if I hold back and only jog, not sprint, that I really do have the endurance.  It was really hard to train myself to pace my running and not use up all my energy and ability in the first 100 yards but I have gotten to the point where I can run more than a mile without stopping.

The first 100 yards are always great.  The wind in my hair the road rushing by. But by a 1/4 mile I'm miserable.  My muscles are reminding me that they're there and my lungs are gasping for air.  It is at this point that I have to be committed and remind myself that I can run, that I have run much longer distances and that I have strategies to cope.

I always spend the second 1/4 mile running through my coping strategies.  First I have to think about my breathing. I count my breaths and time them with my paces.  Two steps, breathe in; two steps, breathe out.  It takes at least 5 full breathes, 20 paces, to get myself to the point where I can do it without consciously willing it. When I can breathe again I move onto my next coping strategy: relaxing.

The last 100-200 yards of my first half mile are always spent relaxing. I think about my shoulders and pull them down from their shrug.  I will my shoulder blades back down my back to rest closer to my waistline.  I unclench my fists and my jaw. I align my torso with my hips and knees so that I feel a balance in my step and not like I'm about to fall forward, being careful not to straighten up too much losing my forward momentum. And then of course do my best to relax into the stride and enjoy the run.

By 1/2 mile down the road I am always feeling better and like I could go forever.  The other day I was very proud of my 7 minute 30 second mile.  The fastest mile I have EVER run in my ENTIRE life. However, on my longer runs I am finding that I am hitting a wall at about 1.5 miles or 10 minutes. At this point I start thinking about when I will stop to walk and I start obsessing over needing a quick breather.

The only coping strategy that I have developed to get over this 1.5 mile/10 minute hump is showing off.  Yes, I admit, my pride is my coping strategy. If there is another runner, biker, walker, or driver on the road I tell myself "I can't stop running now or they will see me stop." Obviously this only works as long as there is someone else around.  Once they are behind me or out of sight my body (or perhaps it's my mind) gives in and I stop.

I will continue working on my endurance, both body and mind, and hope to get to the point that I can run an entire 5K (3miles) without stopping within a month's time.  I am using the Cool Running Website to help me do this.  They have a Couch to 5K guide that I am adapting. I have started myself on week 5 (kinda) based on the amount of running that I have been doing previously.

Here is my plan for the next four weeks of running.

This week:
Tuesday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then: Jog 5 minutes, Walk 3 minutes, Jog 5 minutes, Walk 3 minutes, Jog 5 minutes, Warm-down walk 5 minutes or until I get home.
Thursday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then: Jog 8 minutes, Walk 5 minutes, Jog 8 minutes, Warm-down walk 5 minutes or until I get home.
Saturday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then: Jog 8 minutes, Walk 5 minutes, Jog 8 minutes, Walk 5 minutes, Jog 8 minutes, Warm-down walk 5 minutes or until I get home.

Next week:
Tuesday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then: Jog 5 minutes, Walk 3 minutes, Jog 8 minutes, Walk 3 minutes, Jog 5 minutes, Warm-down walk 5 minutes or until I get home.
Thursday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then: Jog 10 minutes, Walk 3 minutes, Jog 10 minutes, Warm-down walk 5 minutes or until I get home.
Saturday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking. Walk 20 minutes.

Week Three
Tuesday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then: Jog 10 minutes, Walk 3 minutes, Jog 10 minutes, Warm down walk home.
Thursday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2-1/4 miles (or 22 minutes) with no walking. Warm-down.
Saturday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). Walk 20 minutes.

Week Four
Tuesday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). Warm-down
Thursday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes). Warm-down.
Saturday-Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes). Warm-down.

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