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Slow down, you’re moving too fast

by Karen on February 25, 2010

Almost two months ago, I started training to run my first 5K. I started out strong and motivated, but instead of getting easier, it’s been getting harder.

For the past few weeks, motivation has been a problem for me. As the runs became longer and more intense, my drive to get myself into the gym every night started waning. I wasn’t progressing in the Couch to 5K program as quickly as I wanted, and I was dreading my workouts instead of looking forward to them.

Last week, I came close to giving up. So I decided I needed a new game plan.

Couch to 5K is based on interval training with a blend of walking and running. It begins with equal intervals of walking and running, but as your training builds, the walking intervals decrease and running times increase. I was doing well in the sprints, but as the running intervals increased, I started to struggle.

This week I wanted to increase my endurance, and so I decreased my speed a little. I’d been setting my running pace at the same miles per hour from the beginning, but I realized that the speed that worked well for shorts sprints during interval training was too fast to sustain on longer jogs.

Sure enough, my endurance was much better at the slower speed. I made it through my first long run without walking on Monday, and last night, I ran a mile straight without walking for the first time. (YES! PROGRESS!)

So I’ve changed my game plan. Couch to 5K was a fantastic training plan for me in the beginning, but it’s not working for me anymore, so I’ve developed my own training plan. I’m focusing on distance and endurance instead of speed.

I have about a month to build from a 1-mile run to 3 miles for my 5K at the end of March. With each workout, I’m going to increase my distance by a quarter mile, but my pace will remain at a relatively steady jog. As the jogs get easier, I’ll gradually increase my pace. My goal is to run the entire 5K in under 40 minutes. That may seem slow to seasoned runners, but it would be a victory for me.

It’s a relief to realize that I’m not failing just because one training plan didn’t work for me. It doesn’t matter how I get there as long as I accomplish my goal.

My problem was that I was trying to do too much too fast. I wanted to see results overnight, and when it didn’t happen as quickly as I wanted, I came close to giving up. But I reminded myself that running is a discipline that takes time and dedication, just like saving money or getting out of debt. It’s about making progress little by little, step by step. It’s important to keep the ultimate goal in mind, but you also have to keep all of those little steps in mind to motivate yourself. You have to celebrate each little step as it brings closer to your goal.

My motivation is renewed, and I’m ready to try a new approach.

Photo by chezdom

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