September 6, 2007 at 8:31 am
So, I’m running a 5K in eight days and it occurred to me that, hey, maybe I should, like, train for this, or something. I wasn’t even sure I could run 3.1 miles, so two weeks ago I hit the trail and was relieved to discover I could go the distance without sneaking in any walking breaks when the tree spiders weren’t looking. It took me 34 minutes, but that’s okay. It’s much faster than I’ve ever been able to travel three miles, at least without a bike or my mom’s car keys.
I looked over the 5K training programs on CoolRunning.com and printed out the beginner program. (Thanks to Debbi for the hook-up, who runs and runs and never loses weight but does it anyway because she is awesome.) I decided to start the plan at the end of week one since I’d already run a couple 2 and 3 milers during the week like the program dictated. Which means I’m only going to get to the end of week 3 of the 12 week program by the time the race rolls around. Oh well! That’s what I get for signing up for a 5K on a whim.
I was surprised that the 5K training involves running distances much farther than the race itself, like 5 and 6 miles. I’ve followed the progress of people who run half-marathons before and they have to slowly build up to the race length. They usually don’t run the whole 21K until race day. I guess with a shorter race you can run a little farther without exhausting yourself. Though “exhausting” might be a relative term.
Which is why last Sunday I ran four miles. Four miles! I have never run that far in my life. Ever. But I ran four miles! And I did not die! Though I was in danger of collapsing into the water fountain at the three and a half mile marker and drowning in an inch of backwash. When I finally ran past the last mile marker I was pretty beat. If a tiger had leapt out of the bushes at that moment, I would have just said, “Ah well, it was a good life. Go for the jugular, will you? I hear it’s quick and painless.” I did not have the energy to run for my life.
I would never have tried to run four miles if the training program hadn’t suggested it, but it did. And yesterday I ran another four. I kick ass! That’s what I find so exhilarating about running. I can do so many things I never thought I could do. It was probably only 18 months ago that I ran a mile continuously without stopping for the first time in my life. Now I can do four. In another year maybe I’ll be doing eight or twelve. It is amazing how adaptable the human body is. I know sometimes this is a source of complaint because your body becomes more efficient at doing exercise the more you do it. Thus it burns less calories and makes fat busting more difficult. But I’m glad my body is going to get better at running. If it was always going to hurt this much to run four miles no one would ever be able to complete a marathon. So, adapt body, adapt! Hopefully I will be able to finish my 5K in less than 35 minutes and there won’t be any tigers at the finish line, just men in kilts, though both are equally hairy.