Tagged: 5k

Critical Lessons Learned At First 5k

Do Over

June 1, 2013 – The day I learned a few critical lessons about running a 5k, and wish I could do over.

When I registered for my first 5k, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Remembering back to Running Wife’s first 5k, the vision in my head was that it would definitely be difficult but that ultimately it came down to just putting one foot in front of the other until the finish line.

Boy was I wrong.

Well, I was right that it was difficult but I was completely, 100% without a doubt, wrong in my simplistic thinking that it would be a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Shame on me too, as the primary reasons that I had such a hard time were things that I was aware of beforehand, but somehow thought I would be impervious to for no real reason.

#1 – Running On Elliptical ≠ Running Outside

Oh man, I was warned but scoffed at Running Wife.

Yeah, yeah. I knew that running outside was going to be different than running on the elliptical machine, yet I grossly underestimated just how different it would be. The majority of my training leading up to the 5k was done on our elliptical machine, and I was cruising through 3+ miles without a problem.

It actually felt good!

As race day drew closer, I started to mix in some sessions outside to start preparing for what it would be like. It was definitely harder but I thought that I would be fine on race day. Based on my scientific calculations, I estimated that I would breeze through the first 1.5 to 2.0 miles and then might need to slow my pace.

Well, let me tell you…I was not fine and after the first 1/2 mile, if my pace would have slowed any more I would have been going backwards.

There truly is no comparison between running on the elliptical and running outside, and I learned a true respect for that fact. The hard way, unfortunately.

#2 – Don’t Blow Your Wad Too Early

That sounds dirty, huh.

A lot of the information I had read about preparing for your first 5k stressed the importance of setting a reasonable pace at the start line, as one of the most common mistakes was starting too fast and being completely out of gas half way through the race.

Again, I had this information but inexplicably ignored it completely.

Maybe the rush of heading off with the pack of runners in my wave clouded my judgement; or maybe it was a deep desire to impress Running Wife with my athletic prowess. Whatever the reason, by the time we curved through the first few turns and the long straight-away, I was gasping for oxygen like a fish out of water.

My wad was blown and we were barely into the race.

Despite thinking that I was setting a reasonable pace at the start, I clearly had no point of reference and started off way too aggressively. As we passed through the first obstacle, I honestly felt like I would be getting carted out of the venue in an ambulance.

Wait a second…obstacle?

#3 – Keep It Simple For Your First 5k

Completing the trifecta of mistakes, I brilliantly selected an obstacle laden zombie 5k run as my first ever race.

Now, I don’t know if you have ever done one of these, but let me explain.

Throughout the course there are strategically placed obstacles; think Dirty Girl or Mud Run but without as much mud. In case that isn’t enough, they also have zombies roaming around the course waiting to “infect” you by stealing the three flags you are given at the start. These zombies come after you and you need to dodge, duck and roll away from them to stay safe.

Yeah, I was infected by the third obstacle! (And then became a human shield.)

The hilarious part is that before the race, I was visualizing myself finishing the race with at least one flag and earning the Survivor medal. Not. Even. Close.

In hindsight, I should have planned better and participated in a plain old vanilla 5k race for my maiden voyage into the race world. You know, the kind through the paved streets of a local neighborhood where the homeowners sit out in their lawn chairs and cheer you on.

Had I not committed mistake #1 and #2 above, maybe the zombie run would have been okay for my first race. But when you combine all three things together, I didn’t stand a chance.

So What Does It All Mean?

Looking back on the experience, I think I can safely say that running sucks!

No, really. 🙂

As much as I’d like to say that I loved the experience, I really didn’t. However, I think a lot of that has to do with how ill prepared I really was and the fact that it was a somewhat embarrassing display of fitness on my part.

But ultimately, deep down in the depths of my being, I honestly don’t think that I will ever love running the way that Running Wife does. She thrives on running; can’t run enough. She has done so many 5k races, 10k races, and a half-marathon that I can’t even count them – and she wants to do a marathon.

Maybe I will feel differently when I run a standard 5k race; you know, the kind without obstacles, zombies and who knows what else.

Somehow I doubt it though.

That doesn’t mean that I am hanging up my running shoes, just that I don’t think I am going to make a sport of signing up for races and running like crazy. I’ll continue to incorporate running – or maybe I should say jogging – as part of my exercise routine, but I’m not going to enjoy it!

Stay tuned to see how this plays out, as once I get in better shape and can handle a 5k run better, maybe I will get addicted to the thrill of finishing a race and striving for new personal records.

Just don’t hold your breath.

Outside vs. Inside

When starting the journey from couch potato to 5k, the plan was to stay inside and use the elliptical machine until I had a few weeks under my belt and felt a little more comfortable being back in the swing of things.

I should have stuck to the plan!

The False Reality of Inside Exercise

Alright, so I might have only logged 5.1 miles on the elliptical since making my commitment to participate in a 5k but I was feeling pretty good about myself. The two workouts this week had both gone well, and I felt really good after each one.

I was even enjoying a little TV while I exercised, and wasn’t experiencing any pain in my legs or lower back (carrying around this much weight isn’t easy on the body) during or after each workout.

Now, I’ve heard more than a few people tell me – and I’ve read a number of articles that share the same message – that running (or walking) on a treadmill or elliptical is nowhere near the same experience as getting outside on the road, sidewalk, path or whatever and trying to go the same distance. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I even knew that this was true.

However, something about the combination of my wife, RW, asking me to head out into the warm sunshine for a walk and the masterful job I had done during my first two workouts, made me think that I was ready to conquer the world.

The Outside Just Slapped Me in the Face

We laced up our shoes and hit the sidewalk for our walk.

RW asked, “What are you thinking? Do you want to go around the block and come back?”

“Puuuuh-lease! I was thinking we’d walk down to the school and do the loop around the park”, I replied.

She knew. She knew the outside was about to kick my tail.

RW smiled, and we headed off.

She casually mentioned that just the loop around the park was a little more than 1.5 miles and we were looking at at least another 1 to 1.5 miles round trip from our house to the loop.

I nodded my head, in part because I was already feeling winded and didn’t want to huff out a response.

Before the annoyingly smug voice from Run Keeper could even tell me that we had traveled 0.25 miles, my lower back was screaming and both my calves and shins were on fire. This couldn’t be possible. There was something wrong.

I’ve been doing 2.5 miles on the elliptical without any problems other than some sweat dripping in my eyes.

My pace began to slow.

Clearly the loop around the park was off the table.

Jokingly – although deep down I was dead serious – I said to RW that we could walk down to the loop and then she could head home and get the car to come back and pick me up. Ultimately we ended up getting to the main intersection near the park and then we turned back towards home.

Along the way, I resented the young girl and the older man that jogged by us with ease.

1.08 Measly Miles of Humble Pie

I had no reason to resent that young girl and older man, but at that moment when the curving, dipping, and rising sidewalk so readily humbled me within twenty short minutes, it felt wrong that they could be jogging so effortlessly – and with smiles on their faces!

RW commented that when she first started about two years ago, she felt exactly like I do now where even a short distance feels impossible. But now she is like that young girl and older man, running 7-8 miles in the hour that it used to take her to walk about 1-2 miles. As much as I understood that, it was still difficult to see that the success I felt on the elliptical did not translate at all to being outside.

She knew it too, and tried to warn me.

As humbling as today may have been, I also learned a valuable lesson – I cannot only train inside on the elliptical and think that I will be able to finish the 5k.

I need to keep pushing myself to go farther on the elliptical to build up my overall conditioning, but I also need to mix it up and get outside to experience what it is really going to feel like once race day arrives.

As much as it may have hurt my pride to only go 1.08 miles today, I still got out there and walked 1.08 miles today! It wasn’t easy; I was out of breath, sweating and hurt all over but I did it!

And now I know I can do it, I can do 1.08 miles outside in 20 minutes and 13 seconds. Next time I can push myself to go a little farther, or a little faster, or both.

But clearly, outside is much harder than inside!

What Have I Done?

The morning of March 30, 2013 will now and forever be known as the day that I signed up for my very first 5k run.


That might not seem like such a big deal, but once you’ve read our story you will understand that this is quite a step for me personally.

No more excuses

Blindly throwing oneself to the wolves might not be an approach that works for everyone – heck, it might not even be an approach that works for me – but the time has come to eliminate the excuses and get my ass in gear.

And what better way to do that than the impending doom of race day?!?

Having a date circled on the calendar, one where I have already made a financial commitment to race, will either serve as the motivation I need or will lead me to curl up in the fetal position and whimper for days on end.

You know what’s really scary? I hate running!

No, seriously.

I despise it.

Walking is tolerable, but running is just pure evil. I’ve never enjoyed it, and I am convinced that I never will. However, I am willing to give it a try and see if it will ever come close to becoming the passion that it has for my wife (if you’re the betting type, me curling up in the fetal position and whimpering is laying 2:1 odds).

Extra cheese

Speaking of my wife, her birthday is coming up in about two weeks and one of the things that she asked for as a gift was to be registered for the 5k race that I mentioned earlier.

After scratching my head in bewilderment as to why anyone in their right mind would want to get something like that as a birthday gift, I knew it was something that she wanted to do and therefore, against everything I believe to be right, I registered her for the race as one of her birthday gifts.

Then it hit me…

I had an opportunity to not only get her what she asked for, but also to do something that she is always asking me to do – get out there and run (or walk) with her!

Super cheesy? You betcha!

But I know that she will love it, or at least she better because I hate running!

By the way, I haven’t mentioned this site to her yet – and won’t until her birthday since I just shared one of her gifts – but hopefully both of us will look back at this first post as the beginning of a husband and wife that enjoy running together…running spouses!