Monday I went out for a short jaunt. My main goal was to run at a sustainable pace for as long as I could, just to see exactly how bad my fitness level had gotten in my four week hiatus. Ugh, it was bad. Half a mile was all I could take without walking, which is a far cry from the three miles I was at before. (Granted, it was humid, but still.) My legs could take more, but not my lungs (so maybe it wasn’t a sustainable pace then, but I can’t go much slower).
On Wednesday, I decided it might be fun to run with a group, so I went to run with the East Nasty Running Club. Specifically, I went because their Potato to Tomato (Couch to 5k) group was joining them that night, so I figured I would at least be able to join in with them. They separated themselves into a number of subgroups from fastest to slowest. I wasn’t sure if they would be doing different run/walk ratios or different pacing or what. Figuring these people had only been running for eight weeks, I picked something in the middle, which turned out to be group 5. We did a quick walk warmup, then a 30 second run interval. “This isn’t too bad,” I thought to myself. “Maybe I should have gone to a faster group.” Nope. After that one interval, they started running around a 10 min/mile pace and didn’t stop. I tried to keep up, but after three quarters of a mile, I had to walk. That was way too fast for me right now. So group 5 passed me. Then group 6 passed me. Eventually I was just running solo, with groups ahead of me and after me. I’d stop to walk for a bit and the groups behind me would catch up, then I’d run and catch up with the group ahead of me. So much for actually running with a group. I’ll try that again when I can actually run.
Also, we were running a slightly modified version of the Tomato 5k route. The only thing I really learned is that I never want to run the Tomato 5k. My friend Laura had warned me the day before that it was practically all uphill. I laughed and said, “It’s a loop. How can it be all uphill? At least half of it has to be downhill.” I have no idea, but the thing was nearly all uphill. It was like some M. C. Escher route. You’d run up a hill, hit a level spot, turn a corner, and then continue uphill. For. Ever. I don’t even understand the elevation map for it, which shows the route as fairly level with a few mild rolling hills. Lies. I’m tempted to go back and run it in reverse to see what happens, but I’m sure it would continue to defy physics and be completely uphill that way too. And these are the first hills I’ve “ran” since I started back. That, coupled with the awful heat and humidity, meant this 3.1 miles were slow going. I finished in a little over 40 minutes, which is the slowest 5k time I’ve had since April. But the good news? My hip flexors didn’t hurt at all. Nor was I in pain the next day. Yay!
Friday’s run went much better. I got stuck in horrible traffic on my way home from work, so by the time I got there and changed into my running clothes, it was about 20 minutes before sunset. I set Nike+ to tell me when two miles was up, but I was running a loop that I knew was around two miles, so I don’t really know why I did that. Anyway, I ran as long as I could without walking, which turned out to be about 0.65 miles, so that’s an improvement over Monday’s run (about one minute longer). Slow and steady! I did a few quick intervals before I hit the one big hill on the route. I tried running up it, but ended up walking most of it. I did a couple longer run intervals toward the end, including one 3 minute run interval around a 10 min/mile pace, which made me happy that I still had the energy for that. And look how well I did with my pacing compared with last week!
I decided to something a little different on Sunday. Since I feel like I’ve regressed so much since I got injured, I made an interval workout called “Catchup to 5k”. It basically consisted of a summary of weeks 2-5 of Couch to 5k (which you can see below). I used RunKeeper to audibly tell me what interval I was supposed to be on, and it also recorded my times per interval. “Steady” is my running intervals and “Slow” is walking. I find it kind of funny that I run faster on my 3-5 minute intervals than on my 1.5 minute ones.
I made it total around an hour, which I knocked out 4.5 miles in. It started raining towards the end, which felt fantastic. Overall, I never felt really winded on the running bits, so that’s good. I never walked when I wasn’t supposed to, and, in fact, I ran a couple times on my walking parts (mainly if there was a downhill…just let gravity do its job!). The best part of the whole run? One of my five minute runs landed on the Hill That Shall Not Be Run (17% grade at its steepest), and I ran up the whole thing. First time ever.
Since I handled weeks 2-5 without dying, I’ll probably start back on Couch to 10k around week 6. And just go as far as I can on it until I start half marathon training next month.