2008 July 30
Shamed by the likes of people who bike to work and challenged by my assistant coach, I have decided to once again give running a try.
(Stop … stop that. Stop. Really. You look ridiculous all doubled over in laughter like that.)
Granted, what I do isn’t exactly “running” at the moment. It’s probably closer to “shuffling.” Perhaps “ambling.” I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. What matters is my assistant coach has convinced me to give the Cadillac Festival of Races 5K Run (PDF) a shot on Labor Day (and boy, will I be laboring — RIMSHOT!) by turning it into a competition, something I have trouble resisting. Since I would have to actually train for this race, it would serve the dual purpose of getting me prepared (or as close to prepared as one can get in a little under five weeks) for the race and providing me with exercise, something I fervently avoid when it doesn’t involve scorekeeping.
(No doubt there are experienced runners reading this all aghast and wondering why I think I can “train” to run a 3.1-mile race in just five weeks. Well, the truth is I can’t train to run a 3.1-mile race in five weeks. I can only train to survive a 3.1-mile race. Which is all I’m trying to do.)
Over the last couple of years, I’ve started and quickly abandoned something called the Couch-to-5K Running Plan, an eight-week method for
torturing unsuspecting fools getting the novice runner to a point where they are capable (allegedly) of running an actual 5K race. It’s designed to help one avoid the typical pitfall that often causes new runners to trip up (pardon the pun) — running too much, too soon. In fact, the first week’s three workouts (there are three per week) call for just a five-minute brisk walking warm-up, followed by 20 minutes of alternating jogging for 60 seconds and walking for 90. On paper, it looks pretty easy.
(Friends, we call the preceding sentence “foreshadowing” in the literary world.)
As I don’t have a personal trainer, and have no better knowledge with regard to training for a 5K than the aforementioned plan, I decided to go with it again. Last night, around 9 p.m., I set out for my first run. Er, shuffle.
The street I live on dead ends into another street, which runs uphill to the main drag into town. From that main street back to the street on which my employer’s building rests, is very close to exactly one half mile. From my house to the main drag is entirely uphill with a few flat stretches, and obviously reverse coming back.
I started off exactly as the C2t5K plan calls for, with a five-minute walking warmup. It took me down to the street I work on, then back past my street and partway up the biggest hill on the course (I’m going to refer to it as a course, because it makes me feel more important). I then jogged for 60 seconds. Once the first 60 seconds were up, I immediately began checking for pain in my left arm because MY GOODNESS I WAS DYING. I’d just JOGGED for a MINUTE, and I thought my chest was going to burst. I had a knot in the center and couldn’t catch my breath. I kept expecting a coppery taste in my mouth as the heart attack took hold.
I walked for 90 seconds and felt marginally better, so I jogged again. I felt even worse, if that’s possible. The 90 second walk went by faster than a jackrabbit with a jetpack as I approached the main street. I turned around for the downhill portion and noticed I had about 10 seconds to go before I had to jog again. I genuinely wondered if I could do it. As the final second ticked away, I picked up my pace into what could safely be called a jog, but might have been referred to by the casual observer as a “quick walk.” I did leave the ground, so we’ll stick with “jog.” I assume because it was downhill, I didn’t feel quite as bad as I had after the second jogging portion coming uphill, and after that next 90 second walk, I’d actually caught my breath and didn’t actively fear the jog.
The rest of the session was more of the same — I no longer felt like I’d have a heart attack, but I was definitely feeling exhausted. I finished the first mile in something around 16 minutes, so I knew my 25 total minutes would be up before I finished another mile, but I resolved to just finish a second mile and see how long it took. Since I alternated jogging and walking that second mile for the entire time (i.e., there was no five-minute warm-up walk), it took me about 14 minutes, as the 30-minute mark hit just as I walked up to my street.
Thirty minutes to traverse two miles. That’s around a 47-minute pace for a 5K, if I’m not mistaken (Ben will let me know). Forty-seven minutes is the kind of time you see from … well, I don’t want to insult any particular demographic, so let’s just say it’s not terribly good.
But it’s only Day 1 (of what should be … doing the math … thirty-four. Day 35 will be Race Day), and it’s not like I’ve taken good care of myself up to this point. Nutrition is a key; I’ve once again (for the millionth time) sworn off soda, and am trying to at least limit portions if not consume proper foods. You tend to look at food a little differently knowing you have to go out torture yourself on the pavement later that night.
I have running friends, and to a man (woman) they have all said the same thing — they didn’t enjoy it when they started, but now it’s a part of who they are and they look forward to “going for a run.” I believe them, and can only hope the same someday happens to me.
In the meantime, I’ll call it what it is each night:
“Honey, I’m going for a shuffle.”