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Training Day

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.

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Debbi • September 6, 2007 at 8:49 am

Just so ya know … your body will still hurt for a day after you run eight or 12 miles. I’m still surprised by this; you’d think that along with the increased stamina would come some relief from the muscle discomfort. I think maybe the elite runners don’t feel this soreness, but we mortals do. Stretching afterward helps a lot, but of course you never feel like stretching afterward. Also ice baths are supposed to be good. I’ve made it into a tepid shower, but haven’t graduated to dumping ice into my bathwater. Yet.

PQ – I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t feel like stretching afterwards. I know I’m supposed to but I never have.


K • September 6, 2007 at 9:20 am

Well, before I ran my first 5K I had NEVER run more than about 20 minutes without stopping for walk breaks. And I didn’t make the whole thing without stopping – but I’m still glad I did it.


AKS • September 6, 2007 at 11:17 am

End of March, I could barely jog 2 miles, huffing and puffing all the way. Then 4 months later, I ran a half-marathon without walking. I think that’s why running is so great. Your body knows no limits, only potentials.


Laura • September 6, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Cool! We are running a race on the same day– I’m doing the Komen Race for the Cure in Evansville on 9/16. Running a 5K in 34 minutes sounds impressive to me! I just wrote in my blog today that I had to slow down to 12 minute miles to get in a full 5K without walking.

I am seriously contemplating running the Indy 1/2 marathon in May… wonder if I’ll see you there? ;-)

PQ – I have seriously been considering it, but my book comes out around March/April and I don’t think I’m going to be able to promote it and train for a half-marathon without killing myself in the process.


sj • September 6, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I’m curious what weight you were when you started running. I would like to run, but at 324 I’m afraid my knees would be wrecked. any suggestions?

thanks! great site by the way – very inspiring


d • September 6, 2007 at 12:22 pm

PQ — I know of a blogger who wrote a book. In order to hype the book, he had a secret URL where he put up a “secret blog” and then did, on an honor system, a thing where if a reader preordered his book on Amazon, and emailed the blogger and said s/he ordered it, the blogger would email the reader the secret URL.

Maybe you could do something like that for your book to try to capture the “readers of your blog” market?



Israel • September 6, 2007 at 12:27 pm

yeh, i feel the same way about my knees. although i try to make sure to do some strength training for m legs and knees. at 345 lbs i can run for 3 miles 21 minutes with no pain. i stretch too.


JEM • September 6, 2007 at 12:35 pm

Running is kinda like my worst nightmare…I try to any other kind of exercise before running. I think I may give it a whirl again though. At one point I was following the program couch to 5k. It was good…I just hate running, but it is the best free exercise that you can do anywhere.


FDR • September 6, 2007 at 12:36 pm

Hey! I came across your page by complete accident, but still read through 2.5 yrs of archives and loved it all! I think you’re hilarious.

If you’re ever interested I could probably help explain why you’re plateauing at this weight right now, and help you get past it. I’ve never been obese, but I did put on 20 pds at one point which has caused me to basically read the entire contents of the health industry in a 7 year span. If you’re not interested I am going to at least suggest reading http://www.mercola.com if you don’t already…it’s a holistic take on weight loss and what eating healthy means! Good luck on reaching your final goal, and congrats on making it this far!


Katharine • September 6, 2007 at 2:15 pm

You so rock, PQ! You are one of two bloggers who inspired me to change my lifestyle. Thank you! I’ve just lost 17 pounds in 5 weeks. Only 125 more to go! ;-)


sherijung • September 6, 2007 at 2:17 pm

You might want to check out Jeff Galloway’s training info–he advocates running with walk breaks (the ratio of running to walking depends on your current comfortable running pace). It really doesn’t affect your overall running times very much, because you run faster for shorter amounts of time which compensates for the walk breaks. The advantage is that you don’t end up being so sore after your run. I still train by running a 5K weekly with no walk breaks, but I do the walk breaks on my longer training runs when I’m trying to extend my distance.

I did the walk break thing on my first 5K race in July, and was pretty amazed by how many people I passed up on the last half.


Mia • September 6, 2007 at 2:19 pm

Good luck on the race! I know you’ll do fine!


Chubby Chick • September 6, 2007 at 3:36 pm

Congrats on being able to run 4 miles! That is a huge accomplishment! One of my dreams is to one day be able to run 1 mile. You are truly an inspiration! :)


TeaMouse • September 6, 2007 at 5:02 pm

You Rock! It is my dream to run. I of course can’t do it yet. I can only run a few steps. I’ve been overweight for too long and with 100 pounds to go it’s too difficult. I find it so inspiring to hear of you doing things like this – it gives me so much hope that I too can do it one day.

I think running would be so freeing!


trish • September 6, 2007 at 7:32 pm

I’ve been running with a women’s marathon training group for about 20 months now. And no – we are not elite athletes – just regular 40 and 50 something gals who like the companionship and the challenge. Some are thinner and some are less thinner – but we all are committed to having fun and finishing each run upright and smiling.

We train with a run walk program — starting with run one minute and walk one minute….working up to running 10 minutes and walking one. It is an accepted form of marathon training and execution – you get it done, you recover and it allows you to keep going. We do this for traiing and for running 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and full marathons….. it works!

So don’t be afraid to add planned walk breaks – you’ll feel stronger and faster at the end of your run than if you tried to just tough it out.

good luck and keep running – it really does get more fun – especially if you can create a group to gossip with along the way (also a good test to see if you’re improving — the more you can talk – the better you’re breathing is getting!)

Cheers –



Marianne • September 6, 2007 at 7:37 pm

Great post, PQ. I’m suffering through the very beginnings of Couch to 5K and right now it feels like I’ll never be able to run for a long time, so this was some well timed inspiration.

Thanks for the linkage, too! :D


Heather • September 6, 2007 at 8:32 pm

Most half marathon plans have you run further than 13 miles — if it’s not a “just finish” plan, it should.


Janet • September 6, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Could you respond to sj on Sept. 6 who asked at what weight you started running?


Jenny • September 7, 2007 at 12:42 am

Running burns fat, don’t worry about that. And your body will adapt. Have fun training… for me, it’s nearly all the fun.


Kyle • September 7, 2007 at 4:49 am

Congratulations, running 4 miles is no small feat!

And now my friend, you see why running is so addictive! Without even saying, ok, I’m going to lose weight, I started running, got totally hooked, lost 50 lbs and kept it off for the past 4 years.

Of course now that I live in Chile which isn’t very runner friendly it’s a lot harder :(

so anyways, point of this comment…

Kudos to PQ!!!!


PastaQueen • September 7, 2007 at 8:12 am

sj & Janet – I think I was around 230 pounds (and 5’9″) when I first attempted to run on the treadmill. I did not go for very far and I listened to my body so I didn’t overexten myself. I’m pretty sure attempting it at 300+ will probably hurt your knees. I’m not an expert though, so proceed at your own risk! I’ve heard the Couch to 5K plan is good is you’re thinking of taking up running, but it’s probably best to check with a doctor or a professional of some sort as to whether it’s a good idea for you.


Kyra • September 7, 2007 at 8:19 am

Good luck with the race! Your time is actually great – everyone runs faster and harder on race day so you’ll surprise yourself!


psychsarah • September 7, 2007 at 9:32 am

PQ-Good for you! I ran a 5k last fall and I felt very accomplished-I was always the kid who did anything possible to get out of running in gym class! I did have to stop and walk a bit, because I started running with someone who was way faster than I was used to, but I still finished in 33 minutes. Props to you for giving yourself another challenge!! Good luck!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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