Getting better, faster. Slowly.

Just about two years ago I started my journey to lose weight. I decided it was time and I had to get healthier so I could keep up with my son (read more here).

I never used to step foot on a treadmill at the gym because, frankly, running was too hard. I could just lift weight and, hey, muscle weighs more than fat! That’s obviously why I’m not losing weight as fast as I would like…I’m just getting stronger and getting more muscle. That’s the sort of crap I used to sell myself.

Then my good buddy started to drop weight by running – and he wasn’t fat — by running. So about this time two years ago I set off on a couch to 5k running program.

My first 5k was the Super Bowl Sunday 5k in Highlands Ranch. It was the morning after a blizzard and it was still snowing during the race and we ran in the snow. It was a mess. There’s a picture of me running in it in the collage on my “About Me” page.

I wasn’t able to run the entire 5k without walking and my goal was to be able to run the Cherry Creek Sneak 5k without walking. I missed that goal, too, but I didn’t let it deter me. I wasn’t able to run an entire 5k outside of the gym or outside of running at my house until the Race for the Cure in 2011, nearly 1 year after I started the couch to 5k. Until then I think I got caught up in trying to keep up with other runners and I ran out of gas during the race. Running isn’t simply running; you need to listen to your body and run your own race. This is something I have had to learn and am still learning.

Here are some of my race times from my first few races:

There is my first 5k race time: 44:24. Nearly a 15 min mile, but that was in snowy conditions. I improved by August to cutting my 5k time to 38:10, but I remember struggling in that race. Then I was able to complete the Race for the Cure in September of last year and my confidence changed. Now I knew I could do it. The Turkey Trot last year — a 4 mile run — I completed in almost the same amount of time it took me to complete my first 5k! Then came the Sunday Bloody Sunday which is an obstacle course and I was able to do the running part of that race easily. The BolderBoulder is a 10k and I ran that without issue and I ran in an Easter race this year and nearly broke the 30 minute mark in a 5k.

The improvement is there and it has come with hard work. It isn’t immediate, but it comes. You must push through those times when you doubt yourself.

Yesterday I ran the Turkey Trot again. I KNEW I could beat my time of 44:43 from last year, easily. I was hoping to do it in about 40 minutes: a 10 minute mile pace. When I run 5 miles around my house it usually takes about 50-53 minutes but the hills around my house are much, much more significant than the “hills” at Wash Park.

Around the 2 mile mark yesterday my right side started to hurt, bad. This is new to me. I have run quite a bit over the past 2 years and I don’t recall my side ever hurting. I slowed my pace just a bit and after a little bit it stopped hurting. But then it started to hurt again near the finish line. I was starting to get concerned that I wouldn’t beat my goal of 40 minutes.

I smoked it! I nearly averaged a 9 minute mile, which is easily my best mile time in any race to date. Maybe there IS hope of me getting down to a 25 minute 5k time!

As I said above: learning to run your own race is a skill and it takes time to develop that skill. Well, I started to really enjoy passing people, walking and running, around that 1 mile mark and I am guessing my pace was faster than it should have been which led to my side hurting.

I learned two things yesterday: run your own race (I learn this nearly every time I run a race) and to push myself as it’s only 30 minutes of work. As I rounded one of the corners and could see the finish line my side was hurting, but I decided to step on it anyway as it was only another 10th of a mile left or whatever.

Pain is weakness leaving the body.
No one has ever drowned in their own sweat.
Getting better through hard work.

If you are trying to lose weight; start running. Start now. Today. Get the couch to 5k program and STICK WITH IT! Don’t give up. I distinctly remember the first time the couch to 5k program I did called for 10 minutes of running and I couldn’t do it. I had to struggle to run for 10 minutes straight. Now I can run 6 miles (or more).

Always remember that it took x years to get where you are today and to reverse that condition of your body isn’t going to happen over night, just like I didn’t get excessively obese over night. Progress will come, you will get better. Slowly.

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