On Distance PRs and 30 Day Challenges

The first week of June is in the house! It’s a big week, what with my one year follow-up doctor’s appointment happening on Thursday morning and my tattoo shop 2 Ton Gallery‘s annual Ballyhoo event taking place this year in the form of daily giveaways for the entire week. I’m excited to get my blood work results probably next week and even more excited to finally finish up this 5k-to-10k thing. More on that….now:

Sunday was huge for me. I “slept in” until about 8:15 and a short while later had my running shoes strapped on and was clad in a new tank Erin bought me and was heading out for my Sunday morning long run. I typically pound the pavement at Carl Cowen park, literally seconds from my house, but Sunday was likely going to be my longest run yet so I opted to park at a nearby elementary school whose sidewalk conveniently connects to a sidewalk that runs along a fairly busy highway. I’ve found that no matter how I vary my course at Carl Cowan, the scenery is still pretty limited and I get bored. When I get bored I start thinking about things I shouldn’t think about – mostly how tired I am. I was hopeful my new location would remedy this.

I stepped out, felt the sun on my face, a bit of cool breeze on my arms and hit it. First, a quick warm-up walk around the school’s short track, a small tour around the playground and then back to my car where the sidewalk began. “Run” said the voice on my phone so run I did. I ran at a comfortable pace, uphill and downhill, breathing just right, feeling great, though sweating hard running in the beating sunlight. Knowing I wouldn’t have to keep an eye on time (sometimes my app doesn’t alert me when I need to switch during intervals) I kept my phone in my pocket in an attempt to resist looking to see how much time I had left. I promised myself a sneak peek at it, though, once I reached the bridge – a landmark quite a ways down the road I felt was a reasonable distance.

When I got to the bridge I turned around and started my trek back but not before reaching into my pocket to check my phone out. Time? Not even half way. Distance? Almost, but not quite 2 miles. I was confident I had gone at least 2.5. Suddenly I started to get tired. I was able to avoid checking my phone again until I got back to the school, assuming I was close to 4 miles at that point, which I was, but my ultimate goal was 5 miles. I hadn’t quite reached 4 just yet and time was ticking. The heat was now sweltering (seemingly) and my legs were tired. I ached hard and I slowed down to a walk as I headed toward the other direction on the highway.

And that was embarrassing. I was supposed to hit 5 miles during this run and now I was walking. I was confident I was supposed to hit 5 miles two weeks ago and missed the mark thanks to a shoddy run. Now I was doing it again. I picked up the pace as best I could and made a few short laps up and down the sidewalk in front of the school until time ran out. I made my cool down walk back to the car and when the workout was complete I had merely reached 4.83 miles.

I went from embarrassed to pissed. I wasn’t about to quit when I was that close so I started a “free run” and monitored my phone closely as I began a lap around the school. Goal distance: 0.17 miles. I ran 0.085 one way and then turned around to come back, landing right at 0.17 at my car – it only took an extra minute or two but I had done it – 5 miles total on Sunday – a new distance PR. I had completed week 6 of 5k-to-10k.

Next week’s long run will likely take me only another quarter mile past 5 and the week after that another quarter. I’ll still be about a half mile short of 10k when the program completes but I’ll be so close it would be stupid to end it there. After the program’s 9 weeks are complete I intend to hit the 10k goal at least every other week during the long-run, time and pace be damned, until I’m able to do it. It can be done and I will do it.

In other things I will do: The folks over at Eat This, Not That along with Degree and the folks at Galvanized have developed and released a 30-day fitness app 30 Day Fit Moves Challenge. I only saw Eat This, Not That Tweet about it over the weekend and thought it seemed pretty fun to do. Where this is unique is that while it’s a 30 day challenge it doesn’t appear to have any real fierce demands on the working person. In fact, the intent of the app is to give you a single exercise to do every day for 30 days that takes less than 5 minutes to complete. That’s it. 5 minutes per day. While that isn’t going to help much for someone like myself that already has a pretty grueling 60 minutes per day, 7 days per week exercise schedule, it will help someone I know.

Erin is close to finishing her Masters program (yay!) and one of her goals after completion is getting fit. I respect her for admitting that fitness isn’t a priority now (I have a fierce pet peeve that involves folks pretending fitness is a priority when their actions prove otherwise) and I admire her for the tremendous amount of work she’s been able to complete in her studies up until this point. She has the ability to stick with something and I’m going to help her shift that focus onto her physical well-being later this year. To get her warmed up, though, I’ve started getting her out to the park on Saturdays for 45 minutes of basketball followed by a short 15 minute walk (soon to be bumped up – Erin, if you’re reading this, please be aware and I love you).

She’s agreed to do this 30 Day Challenge with me and to be honest, that was my ultimate goal – this challenge isn’t for me as much as it is for her. Yes, the workouts are really too brief to make much of an impact, but I think the focus is actually setting a routine – forcing yourself to realize you do have time in the day, albeit a small amount, to work on your physical well-being. And assuming we complete the 30 day challenge (we will) then what? Another 30 days? Why not? You get the picture…

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