I've finished my fifth week of training/running. So far. So good. I'm still running. At this stage, that's the goal.
My daughter calls this stage of a runner's life "the time of low-hanging fruit." In my last post, I agreed with that, in this post, I issue a protest: The fruit is not that low.
Today I planned out a 5K practice run on the campus of Cal State Fullerton. In two weeks, I'll be running on campus again, this time participating in my first 5K race, the iCare. It's a very small event as far as number of participants, but for me... it's my first 5K race.
Back in the day... school days... I ran to win. But these days, I'm running to get fitter. Five weeks in, I can tell it's working. I'm gaining in strength and stamina. (And I haven't hurt myself -- much.)
My plan for today was to try to run for three minutes and walk for two over a 5K (3.1 mile) distance. The run portions were slow jogging, but not my slowest. At the end of each of the three minutes runs, I was sucking wind pretty good. At the end of the first mile, I was wondering if I could maintain the pace for two more miles.
This is low-hanging fruit?
I did enjoy the flatness of the route. I did attempt to look around at the lovely trees and landscaping. I learned how to squeeze the water bottle while running rather than trying to tip my head back. I learned that a visor is a better option that a full cap to keep my head from overheating. And I finished mile two.
Although the campus is flat, there is an ever-so-slight incline north-to-south, and the final mile was due south: aka downhill. I used my watch to time my mile splits instead of my cell phone: that worked. I was pleased to see that I was still making 12 minute miles (5 mph), even with the 3:2 run:walk ratio. I trekked through the last mile, and I cut the last walk/recovery portion to make sure I broke the 38 minute mark. I finished with an unofficial 37:12: a new Personal Record. (Bonus: my time was in the ballpark of my co-workers' from two weeks back.)
I took a long time to cool down, enjoying the afterward. I found myself less tight, more flexible, than I've been in years.
Seven hours later, as I sit writing this, I'm surprised how good my legs feel. At this point, I feel like I'm developing heart and lung capacity. And that's a good thing, because if these are the days of low-hanging fruit, I'm not even going to think about when things are going to get hard.
But I don't think my daughter was saying things were going to get hard, she was just pointing out that these are the days of big improvements. I'm looking forward to a time of well-earned plateaus: a time of running three times a week for thirty minutes at a clip without any major sucking involved.
That level of fitness should outfit me with the baseline needed not only enjoy running, but for enjoying the many other activities that require decent levels of strength, balance, flexibility, and stamina.
That's the goal, but it's the journey that needs to be savored. Journeys should lead to new commencements. But only for those who trek on!