Running with MJ, the First 4 Weeks
Updated: Nov 21, 2020
I have returned to running! I set my long-term goal to run 5 km at whatever pace will get me there safely and comfortably. My plan has lots of daily and weekly goals in it to keep me motivated and incorporates my memory of the running training I took over 20 years ago. Rules such as start slowly and don’t increase your distance by more than 10% a week, which I took to heart. Though if you look at the plan the leap from week 1 to week 2 is much greater than 10%. Also, my plan would take me 21 weeks to complete! It felt like a long way to go.
The first 3 weeks were something I had accomplished many times in the last 20 plus years. I rarely got past it and often ended up running for 3 minutes and walking for 1 for weeks or months before I became frustrated at the lack of improvement and stopped.
From my house I had set out a 3 km circle route through the dunes where I live. The idea was I would do the 30 minutes of running and walking and if I wasn’t home yet, I would walk home whatever distance remained. What mattered was that I did the 30 minutes of running and walking. My thought was that the 3 km distance was what I would be able to run in 30 minutes by the time I reach that goal at week 10.
My first run reminded me of the mental challenge of actually getting out and doing the run and that restarting running after the 2 minutes of walking for 9 times was probably the most difficult aspect. Physically however, it felt good to be out again, and challenged. I like the feeling after I’ve had my heart rate up and accomplished a physical goal. Not to mention the area I run in is a runner’s dream, not wilderness, but a treed park in the dunes along the North Sea. A safe area to run but also the closest to a natural environment available here. Oh, and shockingly hilly for The Netherlands, given the dune environment.
I was using a fitness watch to record my time and distance. However, it also records heart rate, and pace, which have turned out to be more useful tools for monitoring my success than I imagined.
The 2nd week of my plan came, and I set out with the aim of running 2 minutes and walking for 1 minute for 30 minutes. That still meant the mental challenge of 10 starts and it wasn’t sticking to the 10% weekly increase, but a 50% increase. However, again, this was something I had accomplished on and off in the past 20 years.
Along with the mental issues of restarting, this time I had the added issue of actually breathing hard and getting my heart rate up. For each run time I had to talk myself through the last 30 seconds. It felt so difficult to keep going when it is so easy just to stop. However, when I got home after my runs, I was so happy I had completed the run. It provided me with inspiration to continue the following week.
Another less difficult issue arose for me after completing week 2; my 3 km route wasn’t long enough. I needed to make it longer for my next challenge. At home, I mapped out a new 4 km route for the next week, with the same thought in mind - I would do 3 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking for 28 minutes and then just walk the rest of the route.
With my new route in mind I started week 3 of my plan, and I only had to go 28 minutes, not 30. In addition, the mental challenge had changed, I only had to start 7 times in total!!! There was also the added bonus that my actual increase in running time was only 1 minute in total. Oh, and the weather was still a decent temperature for running this week with projected highs of 19C or 20C. There was nothing to stop me. The week came and went, and I had completed what I had set out to do and found myself looking forward to the new challenges that week 4 would offer.
Okay, week 4 was a bit of a dud, and I have no excuses other than laziness. The goal was realistic and again the number of restarting times had decreased. Everything should have gone smoothly. However, I only managed to complete 2 of the 3 days and I just didn’t feel like it. It is disappointing to look back on the week and wonder why I didn’t do it. I wish I had as then I would have completed my objective for the week. However, now I know what a disappointment it is to look back at the times I failed, when I probably didn’t have to.
Hopefully week 5 brings more success.