The Road to a 5k : Running into 2018

A few months ago I made a commitment to being healthy. It started with adapting my diet to the life-changing Keto way of eating and evolved into hiking and eventually running. At the start of 2018, I decided I wanted to do more than jog about the block. I wanted to run a 5k.

Running a 5k is a huge goal for me.  First of all, I have exercise-induced asthma – not the greatest start to this project! Secondly, even when my asthma wasn’t bothering me I had not run in close to 15 years unless you count chasing after kids.  I was a total couch potato… but I didn’t want to be like that anymore.

Why Choose Running?

My family is on a budget. Running is one of the few activities that don’t require much of a start-up cost. You don’t have to join a gym. You don’t have to join a sports club. You don’t really need anything but a pair of shoes and some sidewalks. Furthermore, I knew my lungs would benefit from it, as an asthmatic I know my asthma is better when I am in shape and I was tired of huffing and puffing just from taking the garbage outside.

And at the same time, my husband and youngest daughter had started showing an interest. I like doing these kinds of things with my family. It’s a bonding experience.

The Starting Line

Although my goal was to run in a 5k, when I started out it kind of seemed like a pipe dream. I could barely run to the end of the road and my road is not very long.  How on earth was I ever going to run 3.1 miles? It was a question that took a bit of research. There are plenty of programs and Apps out there for starting runners. Programs like ‘Couch to 5k’ and some app where zombies chase you if you slow down.

They seemed to work for a lot of people but they weren’t quite right for me. I think that is the secret to running, learning what works for you… and it might take some trial and error. You might even find yourself switching programs halfway through and that is completely fine. In the end, running is a sport you do for yourself and once I embraced the idea that I didn’t have to keep up with my husbands times or distance but simply work at my own pace things became much easier.

I started out with interval training. In the beginning, my goal was to run for 30 seconds and then walk for 4:30 seconds repeated six times. It didn’t sound so bad. Surely, I thought to myself, anyone can do something for 30 seconds! It was a lot harder then I thought but mentally I could keep telling myself that it was ‘only’ 30 seconds. I even found a neat little app that would alert me when my time was up. Still, I felt like I was dying the first few times I did it.

That was going to be a reoccurring feeling I was soon to learn. Obviously, I couldn’t run a 5k in 30-second bursts. The goal was up the running time and lower the walking time until you were always running. It was a slow process but the first time I ran a quarter mile without stopping I felt amazing. I felt I had accomplished something that I never really thought I could do.

And that feeling repeated itself for every milestone. My first mile. My first mile and a half and just a little while ago my first 2 miles. My times are still slow but the fact that I can run that far without stopping is still mind-blowing to me. And if I can do it – then anyone can.

Where am I at now?

After a while, I moved away from the interval training. Once I could do a half mile without stopping I started running just a little bit further every time I went out. I would do a half mile one day and then .6 miles the next. Mentally adding on .10 of a mile every day wasn’t all that terrible. It was a struggle but it was doable.

This is what worked for me and some days I had to stop and just accept that today wasn’t going to be a day I could add any distance. I had to remind myself that it didn’t matter if it took me months to reach that first mile, or that I had been stuck at a mile and a half for three weeks straight. I knew I was getting better, my asthma doesn’t bother me near as much as it used too and surprise! I actually looked forward to running.

Currently, I can run 2 miles without stopping. I try to do this at least three times a week and for at least one of those days when I am feeling good and the weather is nice I walk/run the last mile and a tenth to clock the entire 5k Distance.

What have I learned So far?

  • Get Good Shoes! – Seriously I cannot stress this enough. Remember when I said that running doesn’t have much of a start-up cost, this is one of the mandatory ones. When I first started adding distance to my runs I would come back with sore hips, sore shins, sore knees. You name it, it was awful and it almost made me want to give up on the whole idea. Maybe I was just too old to start this running thing. But then, my husband got a new pair of actual running shoes and since they had a buy one get one deal going on he grabbed me a pair too. I love them, I will never wear regular tennis shoes again! My Underarmour Charge Bandit 2’s are amazing. All my running related aches and pains pretty much melted away when I started using them. They were worth every penny I spent on them.
  • Find what Motivates you – My husband likes to run with music, for him the keep him mentally distracted from the ‘how far you still need to go’ challenge. I like to run with my dog, he’s a young Golden Retriever and prior to running, I was always feeling guilty because he wasn’t getting the exercise he needed. Now even when I don’t feel like running, knowing that Connor looks forward to it gets me out there anyway.
  • Run for you – Stop comparing yourself to those around you. Everyone is different. My husband is running 8-minute miles, my 5-year-old daughter can clock a faster mile than me and does so during her fun runs. None of that matters, just concentrate on doing your best.
  • Don’t Quit – So you had a bad day and barely made it a quarter of your normal distance before stopping. So what. Just go out and try again tomorrow. Not every day is a good running day. Don’t be afraid to take breaks either, if you need to stop and walk a little bit or you just don’t feel like running, that’s okay. It is okay to listen to your body and rest when you need to.  Just make sure you go out and try again tomorrow.

Where do I go from here?

I am hoping that by the end of summer I will have completed my first 5k. I need to add another mile and one-tenth to my distance if I want to run the entire thing – and I do.  I am positive now, however, that I can and will be able to complete this goal. If you had told me this several months ago I would have said you were crazy. But I have learned that we really can do anything if we put our minds to it.

At some point this summer I will write a post about completing my first 5k. Just wait and see. I bet you can do it too.

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