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  • Writer's picturearandomwalkwithmj

Running with MJ: Reaching 5k

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Things that Make Getting Out for Hill Training Easier)

During this period of my training my goal was to increase from 3.5 km to 4.3 km, which is not a stretch, considering the distance increases I had been able to complete since I started. However, as you will see I ended up somewhere else!

The first week I planned to increase my distance to 3.7 km and add a 2nd hill to my hill training day. The temperatures had dropped and it was about 15C, which is a much nicer temperature for running. Though mentally the challenge to keep running was difficult, actual running was not.

On Monday I realized that my current route wouldn’t be long enough for next week’s 3.9 km runs. I have a 5 km route laid out but I didn’t want to end up walking a whole kilometre at the end, so I needed to come up with a longer route for the next couple of weeks.

The tree that they cordoned off where we were running. It had become dangerous due to the high winds.
Dangerous Trees

Wednesday brought about a new challenge – WIND! The day was super windy and although I only planned to do 2 hills the wind was forecast to be between 50 to 100 km/h and it was coming right off the North Sea. If I had paid any attention to the forecast, I would have completed the run on Tuesday. I also didn’t want to put it off until the following day. Needless to say, I once again recruited my hubby to get me through. Our first obstacle was that the clean up crew had cordoned off an area to tend to a tree that was considered unsafe.

There was a lot of sand blowing around and at times the visibility wasn’t great. It was hard to keep the sand out of our mouths and eyes. I don’t know if my photos show the extent of it, but I’m still learning how to use the camera. What I did learn that day is that blowing snow is nicer to run in than blowing sand.

wind blowing in the dunes
Wind in the Dunes
wind in the dunes coming off the north sea
Wind off the North Sea

When we were running downhill the first time the wind was howling at us and we had to keep our eyes closed to keep the sand out. The second time I actually had to run backwards as I couldn’t breathe with the sand blowing in my face. My hubby wasn’t happy we had ventured out for this run as he felt we had inhaled too much sand into our lungs. However, I was so glad it was completed, after all I had one more box checked off my to do list to get to 5 km of running.

For Friday’s run I was feeling motivationally challenged and even the thought of achieving another small objective towards my greater goal wasn’t encouraging. However, I just got out of bed and went. The run was going very well; I wasn’t even thinking about running for a change. The run was achieving what it was meant to do, clear my mind – like in the ‘olden days’ of running. My breathing seemed to be almost normal. Then with 600 m left I looked at my fitness watch and realized my pace was 9’9”! SO SLOW! I tried to pick it up for the last little bit of the run and ended up with an average pace of 9’01”. The sad thing is, I finished the week and accomplished all I really set out to do, and was enjoying my 3rd run of the week, but because I started tracking my pace too, I was disappointed.

This finished off week 10 of my running plan, meaning there were only 6 more weeks remaining. For the following week my plan was to run 3.9 km on Monday and Friday, and on Wednesday do my hill training.

On the Monday I set out for my first 3.9 km run. The temperature was perfect at 15C and, at this temperature, I typically run in running shorts and a tank running top. It was sort of funny as I ran into an elderly woman who was wearing a long winter coat, hat, and had her hood up. Maybe I was underdressed, but she was definitely over dressed.

I also ran into the Scottish Highlanders today; they were spread across the path and getting around them meant running around them through the forest or pushing through them. Thankfully the dune cleaning crew drove through them ahead of me and got them to move out of the way. I didn’t know how I was going to get past them easily. They are docile, but still really intimidating with their size and sharp horns. I had to go on a hunt later in the day to find them for some photos.

Anyway, the run went well. I had tried the new route and it was perfect for 3.9 km. I did find myself breathing hard on occasion and I wondered if I was running fast (I again managed to not look at my pace while I was running until the last 600 m or so – it isn’t supposed to be about the pace right now, right?). Turns out I was running my fastest long-distance pace so far! A much nicer feeling than the previous Friday when I was running so slowly.

On Wednesday I did my hill training – 2 hills again. Thankfully the wind was not so strong and I could do the run as I wanted instead of accommodating for blowing sand. My hubby came with me again.

On Friday, I woke up and thought ‘I could just skip today’s run, what harm would missing one day really do?’ When I feel like this I should just go back and reread my running blog, Running with MJ the First 4 Weeks, as it might make getting out there easier. However, I got myself out of bed, put on my running clothes and said to myself, ‘I’ll feel better in 45 minutes if I just do it.’ I headed out and the weather was perfect running weather. I finished my run and it was uneventful.

At the beginning of week 11, Monday September 7th, my daughter started her last year of high school. She had only been to school two or three times since the ‘intelligent lockdown’ started here in the Netherlands in mid March. It was a rather difficult morning for her and I, having to set an alarm to get ourselves out of bed. That was a bit of a challenge in itself, let alone completing my running goal for the day.

The plan for week 11 was to run 4.1 km. I used my 5 km planned route and ended up walking almost a whole kilometre at the end. Turned out, I really enjoyed walking after as it is a nice way to cool down and feel satisfied that I have completed my goal. The route also added about 750 metres more of fairly large hills, which I hadn’t accounted for.

For the Wednesday I added a 3rd hill to my hill training plan. For me, there are two things that make getting out for hill training easier:

1. I know it will be a shorter run than my other running days

2. In my previous days of running, hill training often ended with runners high and I love that feeling!

For week 11’s hill training I didn’t recruit my hubby – mostly because his schedule and mine didn’t coincide. Unfortunately, my pace really suffers if I don’t ask him to join me. Therefore, I’ve decided if pace is my concern, I need to bring my hubby along. As my concern at this time in my training plan was to make sure I accomplish my objectives rather than setting personal-best paces, I figured I could worry about it later.

At the end of week 11 I had completed over 10 km of running – 10.65 km to be exact. It felt like a successful week to me. Plus, for the following week I only had to add 400 m to my total running (no extra hills), which I felt should be okay. WEEK 11 WAS DONE!!!

When week 12 came and I set out to run the 4.3 km goal I had laid out for the Monday. The weather was beautiful and when I got out there, I wanted to stay out. I felt like I could even run the extra 200 m to get to 4.5 km, so I did – shaving another week off my training schedule! This meant I had to revise my training plan over the weekend – I love when I can shorten it!

This meant I only had 3 weeks remaining in my training plan when week 12 was complete. However, I was inspired by my success and wondered if I could add an extra 400 m instead of just the 200 m planned for the following week too? Or maybe even 500 m? This would allow me to complete my remaining training schedule in only 1 or 2 additional weeks. The problem was that I then would have to come up with some sort of training plan to make sure I continued running. My tentative plan then was to just run 5 km 3 times a week until January and then in January try to improve my 5 km pace.

Given my average pace in week 12, it looked like I should be running 5 km in about 42 minutes and 30 seconds when I reach my goal.

These photos show how the Dutch work so hard to maintain their environment. Sand removal is a big part of the budget of the city of The Hague. Not to mention that in the first picture you can see the industrialized Rotterdam harbour in the background.

On the Friday I completed my 4.5 km again easily, so I decided that I would do 5 km in week 13 – cutting out two more weeks of the plan and making the following week the last of my plan.

Week 13 arrived and I got up and out there not feeling up to a 5 km run, but I did it anyway!


That meant I took 2 more weeks off my initial training plan. My 21-week plan turned into a 13-week plan. Not to mention I had my fastest ‘long distance’ pace yet! Above is the real plan I ended up following. I was pretty happy with my accomplishments.

I also completed the 4 hills running day, but it was sort of a non event compared to reaching my 5 km goal. Looking back on it I only missed 1 day of my entire running plan, which I’m pleased with. Life is Good!

On the weekend I spent time deciding what my next plans for running would be. Here is what I came up with:

Long Term Running Goal: Get my 5 km distance to 30 minutes. I’m not sure how realistic this is but even if I just aim for that goal for 5 years, that is ok

January Running Goal: Increase my speed over a 5 km distance. I will time a 5 km run before Christmas and set up a plan for myself to decrease the time. The one problem I have is that everything I’ve ever read on running states that to increase running speed, longer distances are required. I am not really interested in running longer distances, so I will have to think about that.

Goal to Get Me from Now to January: Initially I had thought I would join a running group that runs every Thursday with a 5 km option and then a longer option. However, COVID cases started increasing in the last weeks of my 5 km plan and I didn’t think it was a great idea to run with a lot of other people right now. I have to come up with another plan.

Until my next running blog…hopefully then I’ll know what my plan will be.

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Jan 04, 2021

Yeah, the winds tough. I'll pm regarding a virtual running goal.


Jan 04, 2021

Hey MJ, it's so great to read about your running journey again. I'm so glad it's going well for you. If you want to do some type of virtual running goal with me let me know. I prefer shorter distances too, so maybe we can figure out our own personal time goals and check in each week. I had some set backs in the fall with my running and it's been feeling so great to get back to it again.

Also, I cannot imagine running with sand blowing in my face. Me, I'll take running in a blizzard any day over that! But running in the wind is tricky no matter what else it's blowing your way I guess.…

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