Run for it

Every so often after a workout, strong and accomplished during my cool-down, I’ll feel the lean, toned, powerful, fit body beneath all the fat. This morning I felt it as I strode back up the hill from my 5K training–a muscled stomach pulling my pelvic bones forward as my legs carried me solidly back home–and I was glad that despite the chance of rain, and despite wondering if my legs might be too fatigued, I’d decided to run today.

I’m into week 6 of Running Mate Media’s 5K 101 training program. This week consists of two 12-minute intervals of jogging each day. Last week I did three eight-minute intervals, and next week I’ll jump to three 12-minute intervals.

It has seemed during this program that Mondays, the first of three days of training, are always the easiest. Even though Mondays always involve a leap in intensity, I tend to feel energized throughout and almost overconfident when they’re over. By Friday, I can still do the workout, but there’s less excitement and more fatigue.

On Mondays, I’ve typically had two days of rest between training sessions. I usually try to go for a long walk or hike on Saturdays, but while that does work my legs, it doesn’t have the same impact as running. Sunday is my rest day, and I don’t work out at all. On Wednesdays and Fridays, of course, there’s only been one day of rest in between runs, and I’ve had cardio and strength training on those “rest” days. It’s possible that the continued effort begins to wear on me by the end of the week, and so the two-day break is what makes Mondays seem so easy.

However, this Saturday I actually participated in a 5K. It took about 50 minutes, so that’s roughly an average of 3.7mph, and I believe we ran about half of it, which is about the same amount of running I’d done on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This essentially means I had an extra day of running training last week…but yet again, today, Monday, I felt comfortable and confident and not at all overwhelmed by the jump to two 12-minute intervals.

I don’t want to discount the rest theory entirely, especially since I did have a day of utter rest after the 5K, but I think there may be another reason I feel fatigued towards the end of the week: boredom. I’ve never been the type to handle monotony well. By the time Friday rolls around, I have the music and the cues memorized, so it’s not as exciting as it is on Monday, when everything’s new to me. That may cause me to be more aware of how my body is feeling and less able to focus on the music or my pace or breathing.

Fortunately, so far I haven’t gotten so bored by the end of the week that I’ve given up. I’ve made it through each week of the 5K 101 program without stopping to walk when I’m supposed to be running, which means I haven’t had to repeat a week at all. I’m not sure I would have been that successful if there were more than three identical runs in a row, though.

The 5K 101 program only has eight weeks in it. Next week I’ll bump up to three 12-minute intervals, and the following week I’ll be running for a full half hour. That last week seems like quite the jump, but then, so does next week. I’m not sure how it’ll go, but I’m excited to find out.

I’ve been surprised at how long I’ve stuck with this training. I always hated running when I was younger. I’d get shin splints and stitches in my side within five minutes, and I’d be gasping and out of breath, and it always made me feel like a loser. I’m not sure what changed, other than perhaps I’m not trying to run so fast so soon. My pace is actually rather slow…but rather than worrying about that, I’m focusing on meeting the goal of completing this training program. Once this one’s over, I’ll find a new one to do–there are many running resources online now, available in iPhone applications and podcasts.

My running has jumpstarted my weight loss and fitness efforts, which had been stagnating since last Thanksgiving. I think having a real goal and a timeline and a guide through each step has truly helped, now that I’m beyond the point of simply becoming active. I hope to keep this momentum up through the rest of the 5K 101 program and whatever other systems I decide to try.


  1. I love this post! You're really doing a great job & I'm really proud of you for sticking with it.
    Can I post your article on my blog?

  2. Heather-
    I loved reading your post on 5K 101. I just finished the 8 week program on 11/24 and you took the words right out of my mouth! I am really excited for what comes next now that I've completed the program. I am still running using the week 8 program and I need to find something different to prevent boredom.
    Keep up the good work and your enjoyment for running. Let us know when you've finished week 8!

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