Waiting for Spring

It may be spring on the calendar, but we are still experiencing winter like conditions making it challenging to run on cold days. Some days I struggle with my motivation to go out in the cold. I have a difficult time deciding what to wear. I seem to over dress and end up feeling too hot after about ten minutes or I do not put enough layers on and I freeze for the entire run.

At the moment, I feel comfortable doing a 40 to 45 minute run, with some walking breaks, three or four times a week. On non-running days I hike in the woods for at least two hours. The ground is still covered in snow and I  walk on the snowmobile trails. However, this is going to change soon as it warms up and the snow begins to melt and the paths become wet and muddy. 

Spring – waiting for the snow to melt!

In April I would like to increase my running time to 50 minutes without walking breaks. I think this will be possible as soon as the weather improves and I can ditch the layers, gloves, and running jacket and  start wearing more comfortable clothes.

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I am a slow runner

After eight years of trying to get faster I have finally accepted that I am destined to be a slow runner and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. At 56, I want to celebrate that I can still put on my running gear and run around my neighborhood for 40 or 45 minutes.

There are benefits that come along with being a slow runner: more time to enjoy the scenery, no pressure to reach speed targets, reduced risk of exercise-induced injuries from over training, prevention of ailments associated with inactivity, increased energy and improved mental and emotional well-being.  

Accepting that I am a slow runner means that I will continue to do my best and strive to maintain my fitness and health without focusing on getting faster. Running is difficult. At times it is miserable, uncomfortable, awful and painful. It would be easy to stay at home or just go for long walks or do some hiking without pushing my body to run. However, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I venture out of my comfort zone and complete a run. In my mind, it is much better to be a slow runner than not a runner and as long as my body keeps moving I am a runner.

Rock ‘n Run 5k

Two days ago I took part in the 5K  Rock n’ Run  in Miramichi. I joined  a running group a couple of months ago, started training, and finally the big day was here. I was excited and determined to do my best and put my training to the test.

Pre-race photo (Lori me, Sheri, January and Holly)

RoutThe Miramichi Rock n’ Run for all three events (half-marathon, 10K and 5K) starts at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Henry Street, near Queen Elizabeth Park (town square), and continues on Pleasant Street to Hennessy Street where runners turn left towards the Paul Hayes Memorial Building and then make their way onto the Miramichi Bridge. The turnaround point for the 5K is in the middle of the bridge and from there the runners head back towards Pleasant Street and then via Jane Street to the finish line near the town square. The other two events continue across the bridge, follow their respective routes, and then also finish at the same place.

Pre-race GoalMy objective entering the race was to finish in less than 35 minutes. This seemed like a reasonable goal considering that most of my training runs over this distance recently have been between 34 and 35 minutes.

Race – For the first part of the race, it was difficult to establish a comfortable pace, but when the runners approached the uphill section onto the bridge putting some distance between participants, I eased into a comfortable pace. By the halfway point on the bridge I realized that I had overdressed and wished I had worn shorts instead of running leggings. Although I felt hot and sweaty my legs didn’t feel tired, so I knew if I could keep moving I would reach my time goal.

For the first half of the race I ran with January (group member), but she increased her pace slightly and I could not keep up. I didn’t panic and instead focused on my breathing, determined to make it to the 3K mark without walking. At about the 3.5K mark I took a 10 second walking break and again at about the 4K mark. Then, with less than a kilometer to go I could hear the organizers announcing the names of racers and times as they approached the end of the race. Suddenly, finishing in less than 33 minutes was a possibility, so I sprinted towards the home stretch. Actually, it felt like I was sprinting, but in reality I may have been stumbling to the finish.

Then, I met up with my training partners from the running group who finished before me. They had awesome races and were pleased with their times. We enjoyed some refreshments, waited for the walkers to finish and then made our way over to the photo platform and selected signs for our group photo.

We all finished!

Result – In the end, I crossed the finish line in under 33 minutes. I was delighted with the results and happy to collect a finisher’s medal.  (Time: 32:21, Age Group: 3/11, Overall: 75/153)

Happy to be done!

t-shirt and finisher’s medal

Opinion – The event was well-organized and the volunteers on the route did a fantastic job directing runners, supplying water and encouraging everyone to do their best. The refreshments supplied at the end of the race were tasty and a welcomed treat after an early morning run. My only concern is that there were no recycle bins available for the plastic water bottles and they ended up in the regular garbage cans – a lot of plastic could have been kept out of the local landfill by providing recycle bins.  The signs and photo booth are a nice addition to the event to create fond memories for participants.  Overall, I would recommend this event to other recreational runners and walkers.

Training Update – One Week before Race

One week before my first running event in over four years and I do not feel ready. Two weeks ago, the weekly group run on Monday evening was a struggle after working all day. The pace for the first couple of kilometers on flat terrain in the park was too fast for me, so when we started on the uphill section that leads to the road through the village my running quickly slowed to a fast walk.  I never recovered and completed the distance by jogging and walking.  Then on Wednesday I ran with a member from the running club who is quite a bit faster than me and this was a complete disaster. I could only manage to run a couple of minutes at a time, followed by walking. On Friday, I did a practice 5K and each kilometer was slower and tougher than the previous. By the time I hit the 4K mark my legs felt like I was dragging lead weights and I had to walk for a minute before starting again. In the end, I was happy when I finished 5K in just under 34 minutes.

Running with a group is great, but I have to remember to focus on my pace and not on keeping up to the others. Starting out too fast makes the middle and end a struggle.

This past week, the Monday group run was a bit better because I slowed down and concentrated on not going too fast at the start. I only needed a couple of walking breaks and was able to finish running rather than walking. My Wednesday and Friday runs were more or less the same.  

Tomorrow our running group is meeting some runners in Miramichi and we will do the 5K course as a practice run for the Miramichi Rock N’ Roll race on Sunday. Tomorrow I am concentrating on a slower pace with fewer walking breaks in preparation for the real race. Then I will do individual training sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, rest for two days, and hopefully be ready to reach my time goal of 35 minutes or less on race day.

Join a Running Group for Motivation

This past winter I worked ten-hour shifts on a construction site and this hard, physical labor in the sub-zero temperatures left no energy, need, or desire for exercise at the end of the work day. 

After a long pause from running I struggled to find the motivation to restart, so I joined a local running group this spring and this has reactivated my interest in running. The group meets every Monday for a training session and during the week some members get together to workout. There is a good mixture of levels, from complete beginners to experienced runners. Having some running mates has helped ease my return to running and my desire to set some short-term running goals. 

My first goal is to take part in an organized, timed running event after a four-year break from competition, so I signed up for the 5K at the Miramichi Rock N’ Roll event on June 24, 2018. I participated in this event in 2013 (5K in 31:04), but to expect a similar time from six years ago would be completely unrealistic.  Although I do not feel ready my second goal is to make it to the finish line in about 35 minutes. This would be a major accomplishment.

Running Update – End of Summer 2017

Two days ago, I took part in my second Terry Fox Run in Renous, a small community, located  in central New Brunswick. The weather was perfect for running – cool and cloudy, but only a few people showed up for the event. The participants could choose their distance from 1 to 5K  and I decided to do the full distance. The race started at 1:30 and I was really surprised that no one was running – every one walked at a leisurely pace and so did I.

At the end of the walk, every one stood around and the organizers announced the 50-50 draw winner, and the winners of the Chinese auction prizes. I went home empty-handed. This was by far the most boring running event that I have taken part in and next year I will select a Terry Fox event that attracts a crowd. 

Later in the afternoon,  I went out for a long, slow run on the trail near my place. The trees are changing colors and the leaves are gently falling to the ground and the birds are moving south – all the signs of nature indicating that summer is drawing to an end and that I should prepare a fall plan for exercise. 

 

Running Update – Summer 2017

My spring training slowed when I landed a part-time job (20-30 hours a week) at the garden center in town. Physical exercise was a big part of the job – watering, rearranging plants, trimming shrubs and trees, dead-heading flowers, sweeping up debris, and loading soil for customers. When I wasn’t busy doing these chores I had to operate the cash register. Overall, it was enjoyable, but physically demanding work which left me exhausted at the end of my shift, so I limited my running to 3 miles every second day. I also had to work on the weekends which meant missing out on local running events.

The garden center closed a couple of weeks ago and now my training is back on schedule. Last week I did a couple of 3-mile runs and two longer sessions of 4 miles each. Although my focus is on distance rather than time my pace has gradually improved from over 12 minutes per mile a few months ago to slightly less than 11 minutes.

This week I did my first 5-mile run this year, with a fairly decent pace over the first half and then a dreadfully slow pace for the second half. The main thing is I did 5 miles in less than an hour! Yesterday, I set out to do four miles, but my Garmin battery went dead before I hit the 2-mile mark, so I slowed down, walked some, took some photos, ate some blueberries, and jogged home.