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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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{ 7 comments }

1 frugalapolis February 25, 2010 at 8:45 am

Don’t give up. Running is fun and gets your endorphins pumped up to make you happy. Do you have a friend or family member to train with? Even if they don’t run, they could ride bike next to you to keep you going. Its also a lot more fun to run outside, rather than a gym. Just bundle up and its great to sweat outside when its cold.

2 Brittany February 25, 2010 at 11:05 am

Woo hoo! You can do it! You’re right, it’s all about taking it in manageable steps. My approach to races has always been similar to yours.. don’t worry about times yet. Just try to run the whole thing and finish it. You can always worry about times next year when you have a base upon which to improve.

And it’s going to be so worth it. When you get to that finish line, you really are going to feel so great and proud of yourself for sticking with it! It’s a rush. (And hopefully you’ll even get a cool free T-shirt and other goodies to boot!) Good luck with the rest of your training. Meanwhile, we will be here cheering you on :)
.-= Brittany´s last blog ..An Altered Outlook on Money =-.

3 Karo February 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Nothing wrong with finding your own pace and your own way. I was just starting to learn to run when I injured my knee last summer, and I’m still recovering, but looking forward to trying again this summer. You know what works best for your body and your goals, so as long as you keep at it, you’ll get there.
.-= Karo´s last blog ..Minimalism is a Big Idea =-.

4 Amy February 25, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I did my first 5k about 6 years ago, and I am working on my 3rd Half Marathon and a full Marathon this fall. There is this great thing that happens at the race…race day magic. What is impossible when you are alone, becomes totally realistic when you are surrounded by people that are suffering along with you. Keep going, you will be sooo proud when you finish.

5 Stacey February 25, 2010 at 6:49 pm

You should take your pup running with you! Maybe he’ll inspire you. ;)

6 Karen February 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Stacey – I have tried to run with Howie, and I actually find he can be a little distracting. :( He’s great walking on a leash, but when I start running with him he gets too excited and starts pulling. I need to teach him to be a good running dog, though!

7 The Non-Student February 27, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I think that workout plans, just like diets, are not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Good for you for adjusting and sticking with it.
.-= The Non-Student´s last blog ..Learning the Ropes of Business Travel =-.

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