Running Against the Wind: Behind the Scenes of 5K Training

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pavement pounders
In another lifetime known as high school, I was an athlete or at least masqueraded as one on occasion. I played varsity basketball, by which I mean I practiced with the team and warmed the bench. A nine-year stretch of softball came to an end with a broken nose during freshman year P.E. And though I took up track for two years, staking a preposterous claim as a 100M hurdler and mid-distance runner, it's rather laughable now to think any track team actually took me.

When my friend Nikki encouraged me to join her in Couch to 5K training for next week's Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Color Run, I figured that I'd take another turn at pretending to be an athlete. We've been running since January. Our first training session, we ran in intervals of 90 seconds at a time; today, we ran 32.5 minutes. Next Saturday, we'll attempt the 3.1-mile course in Piedmont Park.

Our trek from a minute-and-a-half intervals to half-hour runs hasn't been without lessons. So here they are:

Running solo
1) While many runners have assured me I'd get "the bug" and become a runner, so far, the only bugs I've gotten have been the occasional flying insect dive-bombing me while stretching.

2) Without a running partner, I'd be sunk. I'm too paranoid to run with headphones on because I'm certain I will be captured from behind and loaded into a windowless kidnap van.The few times we've had to train separately, I've hated every. single. boring. painful. step.

3) If you're going to run on Milledge, be prepared for the college students to lap you. And give yourself permission to call them "show offs" after they pass by.

Coldest training day of the year
4) Campus is not flat. Not at all. Which makes it particularly vexing on the coldest, windiest training day we had. Also, hills make me curse roundly.

5) Running in the rain to demonstrate dedication to training results in a chest-thumping sense of accomplishment and a chest-congesting case of bronchitis.

6) Passersby may be startled when you yell "walking man" at the crosswalk in hopes of not having to stop.

7) The difference between how fast we run, how far we run, and how much weight I'm losing in my mind is vastly different from reality. So far, I'm quite certain we appear to be nearly geriatric in our pace, haven't hit the 3.1-mile mark, and I've gained two pounds.

Lest you think I'm all cons and no pros, I am proud of what we've accomplished. Three months ago, I wasn't sure I could run 30 seconds much less 30 minutes. We've stuck to it and supported each other through the particularly painful milestones. I'm in better shape - despite those extra pounds - and can tell a difference in how I feel. And next week, I know I'll be covered in paint and smiling as we cross the finish line - whether we're running, walking or crawling.

And then, I might just go back to the couch. At least for a few days.


Anonymous said...

I just started week 4. I am determined to do it though runner I am not. Have fun and thanks for supporting CHOA

Heather said...

I tried the Couch to 5K program too...and never caught the bug, especially once my running partner moved away. In fact, the only thing I caught was a painful stress fracture that that left me hobbled for 6 weeks. So my hats off to you for sticking with it. And good luck in the race!

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