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!