I haven’t posted in awhile, but this past week was a break through for me. Ever since I started running this past January, my runs have always been run/walk intervals. Prior to July I hadn’t been following any plan, just whatever one I made up for that day! I even did run/walk intervals when I completed my first half-marathon this past July. After running the half I decided I was going back to square one. I was going to start an official run/walk program like Couch to 5k so that I could build a solid running base. I wanted to be able to run without walking, but didn’t think I would be able to do it without starting over and building a solid base.
One day when I was talking about one of my runs on Facebook, a friend told me I needed to stop walking. He told me walking was my crutch. I didn’t necessarily agree with him. I was out of running for a little over two months with an IT band issue. This was only about my sixth run after starting up again, and even on my one minute running intervals I was questioning how I made it through a half-marathon. I didn’t think there was any way I could run without walking. My friend told me I needed to go out and run until I could no longer run (it didn’t matter how slow I was running), but once I stopped that was it. I would need to walk the rest of the distance. I would need to continue doing this on every run until I could run the entire distance. Another great piece of advice he gave me was that you either run for time or distance, but never both unless you are in a race. So I had a challenge for my next run, and I am not going to lie, it scared me. I told him I probably would only be able to make it two to three miles, and in my head I was thinking “crap, I don’t know if I can even make it two miles without walking.”
It was time to run. I knew that in order to have any kind of endurance I was going to have to start really, really SLOW.
So I started out as slow as I could go without walking. I made it a mile, and I had to stop for a minute to stretch my calves as I was getting shin splints. For me the first mile of any run always seems to be difficult probably because the body is just warming up. I think this particular run was supposed to be four miles or so. So as I started up again I kept thinking how am I going to make it another three miles. I DID IT! I ran 3.75 miles without walking. I think I was speechless. I didn’t even think I was going to make it two miles, and I did almost double. I was stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I even had even to negative splits which has never happened. My pace always get slower towards the end of a run. I remember the first time I ran outside, it was about 2.3 miles, I didn’t run the entire distance, and I am pretty sure I never wanted to run outside again.
This past Sunday I went for my last long(er) run before the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Mile this Sunday October 2nd. I was aiming for eight to ten miles, and I was hoping to run the first six to eight. I made it 5.16 miles (4.93 running…the first .29 were my five minute warm-up) before I faced my worst race fear…having to poop! Yes, you read that right! I have had GI tract/digestive issues my entire life. They are only exacerbated by the fact that I refuse to use public bathrooms, unless I have to pee, in which case I squat. So the thought of having to use a porta-potty during a race disgusts me even if it is just to pee. If it happens, it happens and I will have to suck it up because I won’t be sneaking off in the bushes. In order to avoid this, I just take an Immodium or two or three before the race begins. Before leaving the house Sunday my stomach wasn’t feeling well, but I thought I would be okay. Turns out I was wrong!! In fact, at one point (while I was calling for someone to come pick me up) I actually had to sit down because I was afraid if I didn’t I was going to poop my pants. So I am hoping I got that fear out of the way, and everything will be good on Sunday! So I didn’t make my distance, but I had another victory. I ran 4.93 miles without walking! I still can’t believe, I, did that. I’m still slow, my pace actually slowed down after the third mile. Right now I am not worried speed, and I won’t worry about it until I can run a decent distance without walking.
He was right, walking was my crutch. I realized that the reason those one minute running intervals seemed so hard is because I was running too fast for my body. It wasn’t a sustainable pace for me, but I figured since I was only running a minute I better make it fast. What I realized in these last runs is that anytime it starts getting difficult and my breathing is labored, I need to slow down regardless of how slow I think I am going. That is how I am going to make it without walking. Start doubting your limits, you might surprise yourself!