Tagged: painful

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.

Ouch! That Doesn’t Feel Right

With the pride of completing the first day of interval training fresh on my mind, there were visions of mastering my first 5k in less than two months.

Unfortunately, those visions lasted less than 24 hours.

That Doesn’t Feel Right

The next day as I walked into work, something didn’t feel quite right with my right foot. Initially it was just a little twinge, but the pain increased throughout the day.

I am not sure what exactly happened, but the pain is across the top of my foot right at the base of my toes. Unfortunately, the location means it is difficult to walk as each step has been painful.

Over the last two days I’ve had more of a hobble than a walk – much to the amusement of our kids.

When I shared the news with Running Wife, she asked if I was walking on my toes while on the elliptical as she had experienced something similar.

To be honest, I really couldn’t answer her question. The unexpected difficulty of that first day of interval training meant I was spending more time just hanging onto the elliptical, and I wasn’t giving too much attention to how my feet were positioned!

Slight Setback

The hope was that a day of rest would clear things up and I would be back on track. Unfortunately, things were still painful yesterday and I decided to give it one more day of rest.

On the bright side, I’ve found myself anxious to get back on the elliptical and keep moving forward.

In the past, something like this would be the impetus for excuses and I would be back to sitting on the couch watching the boob tube on a nightly basis. My eating habits would slowly revert back to snacking on crappy food and I would be right back to where I had started.

But this time something is different.

This has been a slight setback in my schedule, but I actually want to get back at it and stay on track for my first 5k. The thought of the next workout is one of anticipation as opposed to dread.

Shift In Mindset

It wasn’t expected to happen so soon, but I have had a shift in mindset – one where exercise excites me and I am mentally committed to treating my body right; both from the perspective of exercising as well as the food that I am eating.

Did I mention I ate a handful of grapes as a snack last night?

It is amazing to experience how one’s mindset can have such an impact on the way that you approach a challenge. With the mindset that I had just a month or two back, this pain in my foot would have derailed all of my plans and that 5k would be nothing but a memory.

Now, it is nothing but a small pebble on my road to success.

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!

OMG, I’ve Been Kerrigan’d

A couple of short days ago, I took the first small step towards my goal of running a 5k race with Running Wife in two short months.

And when I woke up the next day?

In Pain

Oh, it hurt!

Okay, I admit that it is a little mean to reference the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, but the way I felt the next morning was like someone had beaten my legs senseless – so it kinda fits.

However, the thing that felt the worst was my feet. It is quite common for me to have pain in my feet, particularly my heels, even when I’m not doing anything at all. My guess is that it may be plantar fasciitis or heel spurs; I say guess because I’ve never bothered to have it checked.

I’m going to share a little secret with you – I don’t like going to doctors.

Fortunately, by the time I was up and moving, things started to loosen up a bit and then the sense of accomplishment began to set in. (After the embarrassment of being so sore after walking for a measly 2.5 miles of course.)

Give me more!

After taking a day of rest, which was thoroughly enjoyed, I jumped back on the horse today and logged another 2.6 miles. In these early stages of transitioning from being sedentary to something resembling normal activity, my goal is to walk every other day and then slowly add in alternating periods of jogging / running and walking.

One thing that has been helping my motivation, and transition, is to reserve my favorite shows on the DVR for my time on the elliptical. It is amazing – and a little sad in a way – that losing yourself in a TV show can completely block out the unpleasantness of exercising!

While I know this is extremely premature, but even after only two days of walking I have also found myself subconsciously making healthier choices when it comes to what I am eating as well.

Last night, while burning the midnight oil on a project (better sleep habits on to do list), I began to get hungry. Typically, I’d grab one junky snack, and then another – and maybe another after that.

But not last night.


Instead I cut up a cucumber!

Now, it wasn’t completely healthy as I did sprinkle a little of my cajun seasoning on the cucumber slices to give them a little kick. But considering the choices that I typically make when it comes to snacks, this was definitely progress!

After all, if I am going to bust my ass walking – and eventually running – I don’t want to waste all of that effort by eating a ton of crap afterwards.

Progress baby!