Saturday, September 11, 2010

Structuring a Running Program

So, I've been thinking that I have to take this running thing (and cross-training, in general) more seriously. Running is my main focus in this for a lot of reasons: it's an activity that can be done without too much logistical worry, if I can't make it to a gym, I can go out the door at work on a lunch hour, I can use the treadmill at home, or whatever. I feel that it can have a high return of benefit for not a huge investment of time. In other words, you can get a lot out of running for a half an hour. It makes your legs strong and is one of the best things for cardiovascular/aerobic conditioning. And mostly, I really like how I feel when I'm running consistently.

One of my big problems is motivation. I've always struggled with this and getting geared up into a running program for me is particularly tough because it takes me a long time before I am able to run an interval of more than a minute or so at a time. Getting to a point where I can run, say, five miles will take months. Maybe a year. At least historically that's been my experience and that was when I was starting out in reasonable shape. So, the fall-out factor for me is high, it's easy to get discouraged and give up. It also takes me a long time before I'm mostly enjoying the running, I may have a moment of bliss here & there, but runner's high? Nope. That's months & months or work and pain down the road. The only runner's high I'll be feeling is the rush of euphoria once the run is over, although sometimes that is enough of a payoff to keep me going.

So, overall, I like the idea of running, I like the potential benefits, I like the way it makes me feel (both physically & mentally), it is the activity that is probably the easiest to insert into my busy schedule. But I recognize that it is going to take more commitment, planning and mental toughness than I've been expending thus far. So, when I saw that the Y was offering an intro running class ("Run a 5K in 8 Weeks"), I thought that maybe this would help put some structure around my desire.

Today was the first class and I feel like it went pretty well. It's a bit tough to commit to be be at the Y every Saturday morning by 8 AM, but once I was out and about, I actually preferred the early hour. Most of all I liked the company and the camaraderie of the other women in the class (interesting that there were no men). There were about 10-11 of us in varying states of fitness. I would say that I am at the lower end of the scale, although, at each run interval, I was always one of the runners at the front (competitiveness maybe?) For today it was fine, but as we progress through the weeks, I'm sure the disparity in fitness levels will sort the group out more. The goal for today was to run one interval (one lap) around the indoor track alternated with an interval of two walking laps, x 10. When it was finished, we had covered a total of three miles. This was easy, so that was a relief, but I know that it is going to get progressively harder each week and if I'm not doing the necessary work during the week, I'll fall behind very quickly. I am hoping that this will help motivate me to keep going during the week on my own. I want to feel confident going into each class that I'll be able to keep up!

Anyway, so I'm encouraged so far. I hope I can keep my enthusiasm going. I'm also hoping to have a decent enough running program established that I can carry it through the Winter a little more easily. January is a tough month to be kicking off a brand new running program, after all. I am also hoping at some point that it will help me start to lose some weight and that it will also benefit my riding.

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