Tag Archives: 5k

ideal running conditions

If I’ve learned anything during this short foray into running, it’s that my body and mind depend on a certain set of conditions to be met before and during my run. Those precise conditions are something I’m still trying to nail down.

I had a wonderful 3.15 mile run on a nearby trail this weekend. It felt effortless and smooth. I took a few very short walking breaks but only because there are a few very steep hills on the trail and I didn’t want to expend all my energy climbing them: the breaks weren’t a necessity due to fatigue or breathlessness, a fact I’m proud of. I’ve been anxious to get back on that trail, and I did so today after work. This run felt laborious, difficult, and I was absolutely exhausted. I only completed 2.46 miles and I took a few extra walking breaks that I didn’t take on Sunday (but I did complete a mental and physical challenge: climb one of the steeper hills).

Last week I ate a lot of processed junk and drank a lot of beer, so this week I’ve been paying special attention to my diet: clean eating, lots of fruits and veggies, no beer. I thought this would help my run today, but it didn’t. I started to retrace my every motion from Sunday. What made that run different?

On Sunday, the weather conditions were perfect. It was about 80 sunny degrees during my mid-morning run. About an hour previous, I’d downed two cups of coffee so I was probably still feeling a caffeine buzz. Let’s not forget that it was the weekend so I’d slept a delightfully long weekend sleep. Perhaps most importantly, I hadn’t spent 2 hours in the car and 8 hours working prior to the run.

Fast-forward to today: it was cloudy, humid, and buggy. I had spent 2 hours in the car and 8 hours working before my run. And, though I’ve been trying to eat cleanly, I did eat a clif bar around 1:30 (which was the last time I ate before my run) and my body could have been experiencing a sugar crash by the time I went for my run at 5.

I’m a very calculated person and I refuse to accept that one day, I can run 3 miles effortlessly and three days later, I struggle just to get through the first mile. I’d like to get a discussion going, hopefully from both the running novice and the running extraordinaire: what are your ideal running conditions in relation to diet, drink, time of day, weather conditions, mood, etc.? How do you get through the difficult runs, if you have them? Am I the only one that experiences such inconsistency?

On Sunday, I thought I could easily blast through a 5k and potentially shoot for an eventual (in a year or two) half-marathon. Today, I don’t even know if I could get through a 5k in under 50 minutes. Are these simply the growing pains of the young runner?

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couch to 5k

I’ve mentioned on a few occasions that I am a really bad runner. I’m not sure what it is about running that is so challenging to me–I have no issue with walking or other forms of cardio like the elliptical or biking, but running is HARD. It has never been something I excelled in, even when I was at my most fit. Because I suck at it, I just avoid it. I can get a pretty satisfactory workout on the elliptical machine so I typically stick with that.

Until now! Dun dun dun…

I’ve decided that, since running is so challenging to me and makes me so sore the next day, that it must mean it’s a better workout for my body. A quick google search brought me to the Couch to 5k program, which (on paper) looks so easy! So I made a commitment to myself: I’m going to do this 9-week program. I can’t remember the last time I was able to run 3 miles without walking (if ever), and I think it’s a pretty good goal for me. I am never going to be an excellent runner and I will never run a marathon, but I think I can handle a 5k. I think it will be really good for me!

Conveniently enough, the amount of time it will take me to train for the 5k is the same amount of time we have until we go on vacation to San Francisco. So I decided to start a new tradition: vacay 5ks! My boyfriend initially thought I was nuts because who goes on vacation to pay a race registration fee and run? Vacation is supposed to be for relaxation, food, drink, etc. But I tend to approach vacation differently. For instance, while we’re in San Fran we’re taking a daytrip to Yosemite and our tour includes a hike through the Sequoias. When we went to Denver, we hiked through Red Rocks. When we were planning our vacation and hadn’t yet settled on San Fran, I researched hiking trails in Seattle (another contender on the list). I like to be active on vacation! I’m not so much a lay-on-the-beach type. So it makes perfect sense to me that we’d go on vacation to run. Besides, we’ll be arriving Saturday and the race is on Sunday morning. It’ll only take half an hour. It barely affects our day or vacation at all, and it will feel good! He makes us take tours of all the baseball parks when we go on vacation…so in turn, I get to dictate that we run. 🙂

So, I headed to the gym after work yesterday (yes! on a Friday!) and started the program. I’ve decided to start with workout 3 because I don’t want to be on a weird schedule where I start the next week’s workout at the end of the week. Workout 3 was a breeze and is the exact same as workouts 1 and 2 so I don’t feel too bad. The program specifically says not to skip ahead even if you find the workouts initially easy…but I worked out on the elliptical 3 times before starting the program, so I’m okay with my decision. I’m ready for Week 2!

I have to admit I’m a little self-conscious doing these workouts at the gym. Everyone knows that interval training is the best for your body, but I never see people doing intervals of walking/running on the treadmill. Most people start going, run for 30 minutes, and they’re done. But this program has me alternating between walking/running every minute or so, and I hate to think that people are judging me and thinking I’m just that bad at running. a) It shouldn’t matter what anyone thinks. and b) I am that bad at running so it shouldn’t faze me. I need to stop letting my fears of what others around me are thinking seep into my brain. I need to focus on me!

Also, I’m pretty sure when I run I look a little bit like Phoebe on that one episode of Friends. I’m not very graceful.

Week 2 looks like this and I’m excited to start on Monday:

I’m not very sore from my initial workout last night. A few of my muscles I hadn’t used in a long time were a little tender (like my calves/behind my knees) but nothing at all like I expected to feel after my first foray into running after a long, long hiatus.

However, I was a little out of it when I got off the treadmill. I went to get some gym wipes to wipe down my machine and accidentally started wiping down the wrong machine. About 10 seconds into it, I was looking at the machine and thinking man, this machine looks a lot cleaner than the one I was just on. And then I realized my iPod and water bottle were missing from the holder. And then I saw that I was two machines away from the one I’d been on! Oh. My. God. The icing on the cake was that there was a girl working out on the elliptical behind the treadmills and saw the whole. thing. Wow, embarrassment. I wiped down my machine and booked it the hell out of there. Whoopsie!

I’m excited to see where this takes me. I hope I can make it through the program and complete the 5k in San Francisco without stopping to walk. It’ll be a challenge because running on pavement is totally different than running on a treadmill…and San Francisco is hilly. Here’s to the challenge!

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