When I made my goals for 2020, the biggest was focused on running. I wanted to really commit to running this year the way I did back in 2011-2013. Back then, I completed Couch to 5K in my living room – it was a big living room, with lots of space to run circles – and then transitioned outside. It took about 15 months to get to where I could run a full 5K, which I finally did at the end of March 2012. My plan for 2020 was to follow the same process: C25K indoors, then outdoors, then beyond (since I’ll probably never run an actual 5K in the 30-min run time given at the end of the program). And then instead, on January 1st, Jason and I went down to a nearby park and completed Day 1 of C25K.
The program is eight weeks long, but I didn’t complete it in eight weeks. Not even close. This is not due to repeating weeks or anything. Mostly it’s due to two factors: 1) weather preventing me from using the specific park where I completed these runs, and 2) my lack of focus when it comes to exercise. I love too many kinds of fitness, and I’m happy to flit around from hiking to yoga to running to dancing to strength training. Sometimes it got hard to fit regular running in when I was doing so many other things! Additionally, I did some running outside of the C25K workouts, including several 5Ks, interval training, speed work, and indoor runs while I watched craptastic TV.
In the end, though, I got it done. May 30th – 33:22 min nonstop run – two miles total. Not a 5K. Not fast. But the longest nonstop run in both time and distance that I’ve done since 2014. I did the entire program without first doing it indoors. Plus, I could have easily continued running for another mile on that last day, a full 5K, if weather and circumstances hadn’t dictated otherwise. I’m more than 50 lbs heavier than I was when I first ran a nonstop 5K, and being able to run this whole thing while carrying so much extra weight makes the accomplishment feel that much greater.
Jason completed that first day with me back on Jan 1st. He completed the last day with me on May 30th. The rest of those runs I did alone, as work/time/schedule/etc conflicts made it impossible to train together. (Plus, Jason doesn’t really like exercise or running, and he can walk at the same pace I run…) It has been wonderful to have someone support me throughout this process.
I’m not sure what’s next. It’s summer now, the days of misery, and I’m not going to be able to do a lot of outdoor running over the next three to four months. Really wish I had a treadmill (or access to one) now, but I guess we’ll see how it goes. Who knows? Maybe even if I don’t go out for long runs, I’ll mix up my walks with some run intervals. Maybe my next goal will be to run in my neighborhood instead of at the park, an intimidating prospect due to body image issues. But something I can learn to be comfortable with, if I try hard.
Things I learned over the last five months of Couch to 5K:
- it’s a lot easier to jump from five mins to twenty mins nonstop running if you’re not pushing for speed
- pushing for speed generally feels much worse than staying at a steady pace for my body, even if that’s super slow
- “max heart rate” actually means something now that I’m over 40…
- stretching immediately after a run is more effective and feels so much better than waiting until I get home
- Buff makes awesome masks that I can still breathe in while running, when necessary
- I don’t like virtual 5Ks and I really miss in-person events
- people are really kind when I post pictures and slow pace/times on public social media, and not once have I had someone say something negative to me about running slowly or my obese body
- there are some really good social communities out there for slow runners that are so welcoming and open and accepting!
- it’s good to try out new brands of shoes (I fell in love with Hoka One One after using Saucony for years)
- I don’t actually need size 8.5 to 9 running shoes. If properly fitted, I fit into my normal size 7.5 to 8 – as long as I get shoes specifically meant for wider feet! (Also, getting fit by the Fit ID 3D scanner was far more accurate and efficient than I expected! Thanks, Fleet Feet!)
Today is Global Running Day. It’s burning up outside and it has rained a lot which means muddy trails and high humidity (as of 6:40am, 73 degrees with 97% humidity, ugh…). Still, I plan** to go out and run. I’m going to go to my favorite trails and run a route that I used to run back in 2011 to 2014, exactly one mile. Maybe I’ll choose to go longer once I’m done. But I know I can run that mile. I know my body can handle this. I’ve learned that my body can handle ANYTHING.
**unless it actually starts storming before I can, which is a possibility. In that case, I’ll just have to do my running inside and postpone this route-run until another morning.