Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reflections on Four Weeks of Jogging

Since this past summer, I've been a casual runner (read: jogger).  At first I just ran as a way to burn calories to lose weight, but lo and behold it turns out I actually like it.  I tried running cross country when I was in middle school but I never trained right and didn't perform well and other things were more interesting at the time.  

Anyway, this year as one of my New Year's Resolutions I decided that I want to run a half-marathon.  Well, the real goal was "lose weight and get in shape," but I needed something a little more tangible and measurable, so half-marathon it is.  In order to really force myself to "step through the irreversible door," I figured signing up for a half-marathon and telling people I was going to do it would make me more accountable towards my resolution.  I like the 13.1 mile distance because it's long enough to be a hard endurance event without it being so hard as to require a lot of specialized training.  

First things first, I had to find a race.  I wanted the race to be close to graduation because I'm still not sure what I'm doing after graduation and I wanted my fitness to peak around that time.  I also didn't want to travel too far for a race, so I limited my search to Southern California.  With those parameters, I ended up deciding on the OC Half-Marathon on May 4th.  That gave me about 17 weeks to prepare.  After a little research, I found a 12 week training plan that I like here.  I wanted a few weeks of "building up my base" and figuring out my pace before I got really into training.  Since I was starting out 16 weeks before my race, I named the first few weeks -3 to 0 to show that they are preparation weeks.

So, this was all four weeks ago!  Somehow, I've managed to stay on track and have only skipped one planned run!  They say it takes 21 days to form a habit (which is probably not true, but whatever) so I've definitely made it past that first hurdle!  I feel like every day it gets a little easier to go out and run.  It's also been extremely encouraging to see myself improve.  I made a spreadsheet to track my runs and it's really awesome getting to see myself improve.  The first week I had to stop and walk in the middle of my runs, but now I ran jog a whole six miles without stopping!  I took a screenshot of my spreadsheet so you can see how I'm improving here.  

Surprisingly to me, I've found that I really enjoy running.  In the past, I've always given up on running and expected that I would hate it.  Now, I put on some good music from Spotify and spend a good 45 minutes to myself thinking and reflecting.  As an introverted only child, I've never minded time to myself, and I find the time alone quite enjoyable and relaxing.  Additionally, the increased fitness is definitely a plus.  I already feel better and more energetic and I'm only 4 weeks in.

All this progress so far has been really encouraging and motivating but I still have a long way to go.  My next goal is to break through the jogging/running barrier and cut another couple minutes off my average pace.  We'll see how much I can shave off before the half-marathon because I also need to focus on my endurance.

Anywho, I'm becoming a runner!  It's been a lot of work but I actually enjoy it so that has made it a lot easier.  I'll continue to post updates as I get closer to race day!

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