In elementary school gym class they used to make us run a half mile from the middle of a big field around a baseball field backstop, then around a tree stump some distance away and back again. It wasn't fun and I was miserable every time we did it and I've hated running since. I've always been more of a wheels guy — skateboarding, biking, and roller/ice hockey.
For whatever reason, I started running at the beginning of March 2021 - a year into the pandemic. Some part of me realized if I don't make a choice to be healthier, I'd just always feel like garbage. I turned 30 this year and don't want to get old and fat. I want to be able to run around and play with my nieces for years to come. So I set a goal of a sub-30 minute 5K. Runner friends told me that would be a good milestone to work toward. I hit that goal in just 8 weeks following a training program on my Garmin watch.
For context, I wasn't a fit guy at the start of this (and still am not). I'm 5'11" and was about 204 lbs when I started running. Below is a timeline of what it was like going from nothing to 5K and beyond.
Because I have a Garmin Instinct watch that I got for hiking a couple years ago, I'm using the Garmin Coach 5K plan with Coach Jeff Galloway. It's a 14 week plan with drills and it adjusts the workouts based on the progress you're making. At the time of writing this, I'm on week 9.
This was the training program's benchmark run on which the plan bases the rest of your workouts. The workout was to warmup/walk for 2 minutes, run best as possible for 5 minutes, and then cool down (walk) for 2 minutes. I got about half a mile in 10 minutes 52 seconds (nearly 20 minute/mile pace) with a combination of walking and running. I walked a lot and remember being unsure if this was going to stick.
The goal for this workout was 5 minute walking warmup, followed by 1.5 miles run/walk/run. Run/walk/run is what it sounds like - you just run, walking as needed to catch your breath. I did 2.3 miles in about 32 minutes with an almost 14 minute/mile average pace. I remember these earlier runs being really hard and being pretty proud of hitting 2 miles on just my third run.
The first couple weeks, my body wasn't used to the impact of running. My knees, ankles, and feet were not fully recovering before the next run. They weren't killing me though and I deemed the pain to be a "normal amount" so I powered through. After maybe the second or third week my body adjusted and I would recover in a day, just in time for the next run. Now, 9 weeks in I'm not sore at all (which means I need to start pushing myself further again).
I hit 3.1+ miles on my 5th run with combo of walking and running. It was cool, but I wasn't very happy with it because I'd walked so much. 3.5 miles in 40 minutes, average pace 11:15. In hindsight, this was a milestone and I should be less hard on myself. Just needed to get my pace a minute fifteen faster to hit my first goal.
I realized around this time that if I took a couple hits of my inhaler before a run, I'd have more endurance because I guess I was breathing more efficiently. Just a little tip for the other wheezers out there.
Broke my personal best distance here which I remember feeling great. Man I wish I'd been writing this stuff down while it was happening. 4.58 miles in 53 minutes 54 seconds with an 11:47 pace. Slow pace for sure, but the longest run by a mile so far!
Exactly two weeks after feeling like 4.58 miles was an eternity, I broke my distance record again with a 10K running 6.57 miles in 1 hour 11 minutes 4 seconds at a pace of 10:48. I also set my best 5K time here at 31 minutes 4 seconds! Getting real close to the actual goal here (5k < 30 minutes)! I think I experienced my first actual runner's high after this one. I cried for like 30 minutes afterwards and couldn't understand why. Felt good though!
I ran 5K in 29 minutes 53 seconds hitting my goal with a pace of 9:57! Hell yeah!!! This felt good, but not as good as the 10K which... scares me because now I fear I'm going to start craving longer distances to chase that high.
Something about exercising regularly (which I've not been accustomed to) makes you want to eat better so you don't feel like you're wasting your effort. I still eat trash once or twice a week, but on average I'm eating much healthier and as a result of the exercise/diet have lost about 7 lbs.
I'm hitting a 5K distance at least 3 days a week now. It's just my go-to run distance. I think I'm going to keep training to work up to a half marathon next. I'm doing another 10K this Friday, April 30th. I'm not worried so much about beating my time since 10K doesn't feel "comfortable" yet, but it would be nice.
I'm learning a lot about hydration and food as fuel. For example I learned the hard way that you can over hydrate before a run and then have cramps and be in pain for three and a half miles. Similarly, you shouldn't eat Taco Bell before a run - with any amount of buffer. I thought 4 hours would be enough time, but the gordita burps said otherwise.
Will definitely be posting more about running and specific bits of it now that this catch-up post is done. Still not sure if I "like" running, but I do like the feeling of personal growth it's giving me. I've got an appointment this week to get fitted for new shoes/insoles so maybe I'll write about that process next!