Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Beginning is Always the Hard Part

You may be asking, as I did, why the heck does this guy want to run a marathon, anyway?  It's a fair question.  I've never been into running before, in fact, I've never been all that much into exercise in any form.  I'll play tennis occasionally, but that's about it.  And when my weight was at its highest, well, forget about it.

But here's the thing.

As I've mentioned before, losing weight was a pretty daunting challenge, especially with the amount I had to get rid of.  And once I met my goal, it almost felt like something was missing (besides my enormous gut).  I needed a new focus, a new target, something that would build upon my newfound fitness level.  But what to choose?  As with most meaningful goals, I wanted to do something that seemed extremely difficult, but not ridiculously impossible.  For example, climbing Mt. Everest was completely out of the question.  I'm not a fan of bitter coldness, I don't particularly want to spend thousands of dollars on equipment and travel, and let's face it, I'd probably get killed. 

Crossing the line at the Hesperia Days 5K
So I thought about running.  I could start off with a mile, and gradually increase distance and/or speed.  It seemed like I could work at my own pace, set intermediate goals, and increase my fitness at the same time.  I talked to some people at work who were runners, and a couple of them said, "A half-marathon would be a pretty good goal.  A few months of training and you'd be ready."

Something about a half-marathon as a final goal just didn't sound right to me.  Almost like it was a half-assed commitment.  After all,  Nike's slogan isn't Just Do Some of It.  John F. Kennedy didn't challenge our astronauts to go half way to the moon.  No, if I was going to do this, it was going to be with one giant leap, not merely one small step (rest in peace, Mr. Armstrong).

Which is not to say that I was planning on running a marathon the very next weekend, however.

My mind made up, it was time to put together a course of action.  I did some research online, and the general consensus from the sites I visited ( is a good one) was that a beginner could properly train for a marathon in about four to six months.  Keep in mind that at no point did I have "winning a marathon" in mind, not even a particular finishing time.  All I knew was that most marathons have a time limit, and I had to beat that.  If I came in dead ass last, so be it, as long as I crossed the finish line before they shut the course down.  One website even had a suggested training schedule, including miles per week and how to break that down day by day.  So I adopted a plan that seemed to work with my lifestyle, and went for it.  The first week, it was three miles twice a week, five miles once a week, and then the long Sunday run (six miles).  The next week, the Sunday run increased to seven.  By the time February rolls around, the schedule will be five miles twice a week, eight miles once a week, and fifteen to twenty miles on Sunday.

Slogging through a 5K Mud Run
I started out by running 5K (3.1 miles).   The first few times, I couldn't even run the whole way, I ended up walking for stretches at a time.   By the third time out, though, I managed to eliminate the walking entirely.  From that point on, I determined that no matter how far I planned to run on a given day, I would run the entire distance.  No walking allowed (except to "refuel" with water, Gatorade, or delicious energy gels, which we'll talk more about some other time).

And a funny thing happened.  I'm a competitive guy, so eventually the whole "I can beat my last time" thing came up.  I figured out that I could probably run a 5K in under 30 minutes.  This isn't a particularly impressive mark, by the way.  The world record is fifteen minutes, and most experienced runners can clock in at around twenty.  But I'm trying to be realistic.  And so far, my personal record (or "PR" if you're a running geek) is 28:34.  My other targets are a 10K in under an hour (current PR is 58:20), and a half-marathon in about two hours and fifteen minutes.

As for the marathon, I seriously just want to finish it in one piece.  But I think between five and five and a half hours is realistic.

So far, I'm feeling pretty confident.  Last week I ran five miles on Tuesday, a 10K (6.2 miles) on Wednesday, eight miles on Friday, and fifteen on Sunday.  So now it's just a matter of building up leg strength, and stretching the limits so I can eventually get to the full 26.2 distance by May 5.

Next time, we'll talk about all sorts of really cool running gear, garb, and gadgets.

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SherilinR said...

way to go with picking an achievable goal that pushes you without killing you!
i've always been anti-running myself, but have recently decided that it's time to get over that and maybe start adding some jogging into my workout routine. feels kind of intimidating because it's outside the comfort of my nice warm house. people could see me if i feel the need to lie down in their grass and pant for a while.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

I admire your dedication.

So. Cal. Gal said...

Running, hunh? I swim. Not that I could compete in the Olympics or anything. But it's low to no impact and you don't get all hot and sweaty. I'd rather get hot and sweaty in other ways. ; )

Uhh, anyway, congrats on building up your running times! I'm sure you'll do great! Btw, can you, sometime, post a typical meal plan for your day? I'm trying to lose about 30 lbs myself and that Nutella just keeps calling my name.

Suldog said...

OK, the running I can see, but running through MUD? Damn. That has to be at least twice as taxing as a regular run. And, yuck.

Anyway, I'm proud of you, man. This is really very cool stuff. And if you ever run Boston, I'll be there on the route with a sign saying, "(whatever number you get) Is My Hero!" And the post-race meal will be on me.

Bella said...

why the swamp mud? Was this put in the course on purpose? that'd ruin a good pair of runners. ugh

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Bella - It was a mud run, that was intended on the course. We didn't wear our best shoes. :) Plus, you had to duct tape them on so the mud didn't pull them off. Not the most comfortable run in the world, for sure.

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