I did it. I didn’t set out to do it yesterday, but it happened and I’m really happy about it. I ran 5+ miles on a run, and I didn’t die.
When I set out for my run in the late afternoon, I had 3+ miles in mind. My normal comfortable run is 3.5 miles, so that was probably what I was going to do. However, when I hit the 1.5 mile mark, I decided to go a little further. When I hit the 2 mile mark, I decided to go for the extra half mile. This is important because to get back home on the route I like to take, that would mean another 2.5 miles to get back home. When I got to the 2.5 mile mark, I was feeling great and headed back. I didn’t feel any discomfort until about 4.25 miles when (and this is no joke) my nipples started burning. My shirt was so drenched with sweat that it became heavy against my skin. My running made the shirt rub against my chest, which in turn rubbed against my nipples. When I got home, they were on fire.
More notable than my burning nipples, however, was the fact that I didn’t have any other discomfort. I felt good, my legs felt good, and upon looking at my heart rate during the run, it only went up to 147. That’s really good! That means I didn’t push nearly as hard as I could have.
All in all, it was a good run. I felt good during the run and didn’t have any muscle pain or difficulty with my breathing. As I joke on Facebook, I didn’t die, either. That’s always the best part.
A common mistake that nearly everyone I know has made when getting into exercise is doing it too much. Being motivated and wanting to make progress quickly is something we all go through. I wanted to hit the road every day when I started running again, but this time, I let my brain override my overwhelming desire to get out there every day and I sat out every other day. This turned out to be the single most important key to my success in being able to continue running without injury for my first three months of running.
How I started back into running
The only plan I had was for 30 minutes of nonstop running. I didn’t care about my pace or speed: just shuffled along for 30 minutes. Looking back, it was a laughably slow pace, but I did it; I made it all the way through without stopping.
I continued by increasing my pace every time until I started noticing that the distances I was running were creeping up. I hit two miles, then two and a half, then three… and I was up to four and a half when I got sick and had to stop running for nearly two weeks.
That two week break was hell for me. There’s no other way to put it. I wanted to get out there so badly to run. I had time to think about what was compelling me to go, and I think it came down to the following:
I had begun to enjoy running. It was something I was looking forward to every other day, and not being able to do it actually made me feel anxious.
Didn’t want to lose progress. I had been increasing my pace and distance nicely, and I was very proud of the progress I was making. I was feeling good after runs, and sometimes, even during them. I didn’t want to go back to when runs were difficult.
Had a 5k coming up I was training for. I was hoping to be in as good of shape as I possibly could before the run. With the cold hitting me when it did, I was unable to train until a week before the run.
Where I am today with running
Now, I’m back to my regular running. My last run was 3.53 miles at a 10 minute mile pace. It’s not my fastest, but it was comfortable. I will not push myself; I will do as I did before I got sick which is to allow my body to gradually get used to the distance and increase the pace enough to remain comfortable. I’m not competing with myself or in any hurry. I do push enough to keep improving, but I’m not looking to win any races, so I’m allowing my body to make its increases naturally. I am also making sure to take a day off between runs. This seems to be helping so much with regards to the progress I make. By giving my legs time to heal and strengthen, I am better able to get back out and run a little harder each time.
This isn’t a novel concept. It’s what I’ve been taught since I was in the Marines: a run/rest cycle is important to safely build muscle and stamina.It has been working for me for the past three months. I recommend you try it yourself.
This morning, in an uncharacteristically cold 39 degree morning in The Woodlands, TX, I completed my first official 5k run: the Jingle Bell Run benefiting the Arthritis Foundation.
We got there at 7 am and while Sherry went to the area to wait up for some employees of hers to show up, I waited in the car to keep warm. It was VERY chilly out there, and with the wind chill, it felt like 24 degrees!
I headed back into the cold to stand in solidarity with her at around 7:30 am, and I kept warm by doing push ups. I did 70, and yes, it did warm me up!
After getting the preliminaries out of the way, the run began and I started off strong with a first half mile pace of 8:16. I kept below 9:10 for the first two miles and let my pace slow a little for the final mile to a 9:42 and a 9:30 with the last little bit down to a 7:31 pace. In the end, I finished at 27:37.5 with an average pace of 8:55/mile. These are all personal bests for me, and I’m very proud of the numbers considering I had to lay off running for almost two weeks. Had I not had that break, I’m sure my time would have been much better.
But, it is what it is. I’m proud of my accomplishment in running a 5k after starting running exactly three months ago today. Sherry and I were talking about how she ran this last year (she had a personal best today as well!), and when she suggested that I run this with her this year, I told her back then, “I don’t think I’ll ever do one of these.” After today’s run, I told her about some more that are coming up that I want to do.
It was a good time, and it felt good to be out there among the other runners. I haven’t run with that many people since I was in the Marines. It felt good to be back.
I run three to four times a week. I’ve reached most of my running goals rather quickly, and at this point I am just running and building my stamina and speed slowly and naturally. I used to have a goal of running every day, but I’ve decided that if it happens, then it happens. If not, running three or four times a week is probably enough. I also do fifty push ups before I run, and I try to increase it by 5-10 whenever the current number of push ups I’m at starts to feel too easy. I have a goal of 100+, but no timetable.
I firmly believe that I’ve had such success with running because I’ve taken it slowly and let my body dictate the pace and distance increases. I haven’t gone out and pushed myself hard, and when I felt a little off, or while I got sick two weeks ago, I held off from running. Returning to running was a lot easier than I thought it would be, and the body bounced back quite well. Monday night’s run was very enjoyable after running only once the week prior and not at all the week before that. I was very worried it would be difficult or that I would be out of breath. Neither were true.
I think it’s important to take into consideration your current physical ability and take it slow. I was told by a wise Gunny back in the Corps that you want to get out for 30 minutes of solid activity. Build the pace and distance each time within that 30 minutes. Once you are fully active in that 30 minutes, expand the workout as needed. That’s what I’ve done, and I’m really happy with the results. I never went out there to push myself super hard, and as a result, I’ve successfully avoided injury so far.
In past attempts to reintroduce an exercise regimen into my life, I have always ended up injured and unable to continue. This made me depressed and always led to me gaining weight. This time, I was smart about it, took my time, took it easy, and let the increases come naturally. I can’t be happier with my results.
My specific plan was to start with a slow jog. I jogged for 1.63 miles in nearly 30 minutes. My success for that run was that I jogged the entire time without stopping. I increased my pace and distance with each successive run, and I gave myself at least one day and sometimes two to recover between runs. Nearly three months later, I’m running over 3.5 miles with every run sub-10 minutes (and nearly sub-9’s) for each mile. The best part; I do so without really getting out of breath or over-exerting myself. These are comfortable runs that I enjoy.
Running used to be hard for me because I didn’t enjoy it. Now that I do it regularly and have learned to enjoy it, it’s become something I look forward to. It’s a part of my life, and I’m happy when I’m running. I find that I am less stressed after a run, and that overall, I’m a happier person because of it.
How much exercise is enough? As much as you feel is enough to meet your goals, whether they are physical or emotional. I can’t tell you what that is for you. You need to get out there and figure it out by doing.
The last 5k I ran was when I was a Corporal at NCO School at MCAS El Toro when I was 24. We did it as a formation run, and we finished in under 24 minutes. We then ran back as individuals to “pick up” other runners and help motivate them to the finish. It was a good time, and one of the rare times that I remember a run being fun in the Marines.
Fast forward 25 years and I’m about to run a 5k on my own volition and I’m actually looking forward to it. Sherry and I will be running the Jingle Bell Run tomorrow morning in The Woodlands, TX for the Arthritis Foundation. So many in my family and my wife’s family have been affected by Arthritis that it only makes sense for Sherry and I to run and try to raise some donations to help fight it.
I am honored and humbled by the donations received for tomorrow morning’s run, and I’m thankful to those who donated. I’m going to do my best in the morning and try to set a good time for me to work on in the coming months/years as more of these 5k’s come along.
I did bang my knee pretty hard against a printer today, and it is a little sore right now, but I’m hoping that time and if necessary, some Motrin will help make it feel normal when it’s time to run in the morning. Otherwise, I’m really looking forward to it. I have warm running clothes I’ll wear, and the only real dilemma I’m facing is whether I should run with my Bluetooth headphones (as I always do) or without. I haven’t quite decided yet. I guess I’ll see in the morning.
Wish me luck! I will be posting with a post-run report tomorrow!
I was able to get out and run tonight. After not running this morning and agonizing about it all day, I made the decision to hit the road and get my run in. I’m glad I did. It was a bit cold out, but the rain had ceased for a bit. I took advantage of it and ended up having a great run.
My first mile pace was really good and slowed with the second and third miles, but overall, I finished with a decent pace that I’m happy with. Since I was only able to run once last week and not at all the week before, it felt good all things considered.
Now, my legs feel pretty good. I was expecting them to feel like concrete again, yet it didn’t happen. They actually felt decent. Even my breathing was good. I just wasn’t as fast in the second and third miles, but I didn’t feel like dying, either. Just a good, comfortable run.
I plan on running again Wednesday morning (giving myself the every other day schedule for now) and I have the 5k coming up on Saturday morning, so I’ll likely not run on Friday morning to prepare for the 5k. I’m going to try to go fast on that one to see what I can do. I am sad that I lost two weeks of preparation, but at least I am feeling 100% so I can do the run on Saturday morning.
I had every intention of running this morning but the weather had other ideas. It was 49 and raining, and not just a sprinkle. The skies opened up and were dropping as much water on us as physically possible. There was no way I was going to go out into that.
I’m still getting over this bad cold and the last thing I wanted to do was to give my body another shock and prolong what is hopefully the end of this cold. So, I stayed in. It was hard to do, and there were moments I almost suited up and went out anyway, but I listened to my head and not my heart.
It’s hard when I was only able to run once last week and none the week before. Fortunately, I know I will be able to get back out there this week and run. I will surely be a little sore afterward, and my time may drop a bit, but I will be able to complete 3-3.5 miles and I’ll feel better afterward. I just have to wait.
If it’s not raining when I get home from work, I will run today. If it is, I will try again tomorrow morning. Either way, a run is happening soon. Just not this morning.