Free from the Couch – Week 8

Week 8 is the last 3 lessons of Couch to 5K, and the final ramp up to running 5K in 30 mins. Since lesson one, this helpful little app has slowly been building me up to getting a 5K run in less than 30 minutes. During the final week, it has you running for 25, 28 and then 30 mins at full running pace.

The 25 mins run was the toughest for some reason. My first mile was around 10 mins with the second mile around 9:30 and the last 0.6 miles at the same pace. Overall time was 9:39 per mile for 2.6 miles.
The 28 mins run was slower still. A first mile of 10:10 seconds (truly pedestrian) and a further 1.8 miles at just slightly less than 10 mins, for a 2.8 mile return on 28 minutes.
No more Couch
Today was the final lesson – I had to hit 3.1 miles, and had to run faster than any previous time . After 1 mile, I hit 9 mins 3 seconds, and the second mile amazingly 8 mins 50 seconds, with only the 3rd mile being slow at over 10 mins. Overall I managed 3.1 miles in 29:30, so a good 30 seconds to spare. But there’s still a lot not going right.
In the first two runs this week, I lost control of my breathing and heart rate within the first 5 mins, killing my first mile time. In the last run (this evening) I got a side stitch after about 1.8 miles, which really killed my pace to virtually walking speed; hence the 10 mins+ 3rd mile. Funnily enough, I am not hugely tired in the run, but I am finding that my mind is drifting at times and my breathing becomes very shallow, leading to the stitch and/or breathlessness.
So after 8 weeks, and quite honestly not truly believing I’d get here after my very first post I am in reaosnably good shape to run 5K in 30 mins or less. I now have about 6 weeks before my first race, and to knock off 4 and a half minutes from my time – which means upping my average pace by about ¾ of a mile per hour.
Plateaued at 6mph? 
Easier said than done… Well tonight I celebrated with a bacon cheeseburger and beer! Next run is couch free.

Returning to the Wall

3 days ago, for the first time, I was unable to complete one of the workouts. 2 miles @ 9:27 was enough for me to hit the quit button and cut the run short. I felt like Casey Seeger (C-gar!) in An Officer and a Gentleman where she is unable to get over Sgt. Foley’s wall. Today, I returned. Veni, vini, vici.

Even though I defeated the wall, it seemed difficult. Again after just over two miles, I got cramp in my shoulder (of all places) and a stitch started forming in my stomach. I saw the quit button again, but this time didn’t reach for it.

So what’s going on?

Well, for the last 7 weeks, I have trained my body to run for about 20 mins, and hit about 2 miles. Even though in the early workouts, much of that was walking, the conditioning psychologically has been “2 miles” or “20 minutes”, whichever comes first. Even the loop I have slowly carved out in Red Hook is, more or less, 2 miles. I can break it up into manageable chunks; just this road, just this corner, OK half way, now just head back, just one more corner. I’m always ready for the finish line, and not really focused on the run itself.

At this point I am torn, as I only have 3 workouts to do, I really ought to finish. However I should also break out of this repetition before I decide this is only routine. Perhaps 2 weeks of doing 2 laps (which would be 4 miles) at a much slower pace before going back to 3.1 miles and getting my 5K time. At this point I am not sure.