Today was W5D2 for me, which involves 2 8-minute runs with a 5-minute walk in between. I was dreading this day because 8 minutes seemed like an ETERNITY compared to 5 minutes. But I knew I wasn’t going to make progress by staying on day 1 indefinitely, so I just tried to prepare myself for the torture. I’m so optimistic, aren’t I?
I decided to do today’s run at a local park that has a walking trail that is 1.3 miles long and is not completely flat (although the maximum grade is only 4%). The course I’ll be doing for the 5k in May is comprised of “rolling hills” (not really sure where in Humboldt even HAS rolling hills, but whatever), and so I knew I’d need to do some training on incline surfaces. It was sunny, about 76 degrees and slightly windy, and when I got out of the car the loveliness of the weather welcomed me and actually made me slightly excited about the run. Then I started my warm-up walk, and before I knew it, the time for the first 8-minute run arrived. It just so happened that the run began right around where the first downward slope occurred, so I enjoyed a nice, breezy pace for a few hundred yards, until the trail sloped upward. I instantly felt the difference, and my calves tightened up. I have hardly noticed my calves in past training runs, but today they were really tight, I’m guessing because of the inclines. I jogged on, passing 4 minutes, then 5, and then I started feeling tired.
Running is as much a mental activity as it is a physical one. I don’t know if I felt tired after those 5 minutes because I was genuinely tired or because I knew that was the longest I’d ever run, but I had to repeat Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ to strengthen me) to myself every few seconds until I got to the end of those 8 minutes. I have never been so relieved for a recovery walk! But like always, it went by much too quickly, and even though I didn’t feel ready for the next 8-minute run, I started out again. During the previous run, my heart rate was consistently in the upper 170s and low 180s, and while for the most part I felt okay, during the second run I didn’t feel okay at all. I tried doing the talk test, and I could barely gasp out Phil. 4:13, and my HR didn’t dip below 180, so I decided to stop jogging after just 3 minutes.
I was SO disappointed that I didn’t finish. I began wondering if I would ever be able to run for more than a few minutes at a time, if I would ever even be able to run 1 mile, much less 3. Shouldn’t my endurance be improving by now? I feel like I’m stuck, or even moving backwards in terms of progress, and that’s really discouraging. All of these thoughts were running through my head, and at one point I thought I might cry out of sheer frustration.
However, I decided to attempt one last 5-minute run so that if nothing else the total amount of running time would still be 16 minutes. So I began jogging again, and I had to cheer myself on almost immediately. I was hot and could feel the heat in my face, and my legs felt like lead. I told myself I would run to the next bench I saw, or for 5 minutes, whichever came first. Turns out 5 minutes and the bench came at the same time, and then I told myself I could run to the end of the trail marker, and then 6 minutes passed, and I told myself I could surely go 2 more minutes.
SO I DID!
I ended up walking/jogging 3.9 miles in 50 minutes, which is a 12:49 mile. I’m happy with that. My goal when I do the 5k is just to finish in 40 minutes, and while that is a really slow pace, for me I think it’s realistic. I know that no matter what, even if my calves tighten up and my face feels like it’s on fire or I just can’t run a single more step, I’m going to finish that 5k. Even if I have to walk part of it, I will not be ashamed of that. I need to stop beating myself up if things don’t go perfectly. I need to remember that it’s amazing that I’m running at all. I ended up running for a total of 19 minutes, something I never thought I’d be able to do!
On day 3, which I will do on Saturday, I’m supposed to run for 20 minutes straight. I still have no idea how in the world I’ll manage it, but I know if I can’t do it, it won’t be for lack of trying!