If you follow me on Strava, you may have seen I’ve posted a couple of runs recently. Was I being chased? Are my bikes broken? Are your eyes playing tricks on you? No, I actually did run.
You may also think that I simply went out and ran 5km no worries, but that is very, very far from the truth. Being able to run that distance has been the culmination of months of consistent progress.
At the beginning of the year I set myself a goal to be able to run 5km again. This was mainly for the “bone density” benefits but also just to prove that I could. You would think this wouldn’t actually be that much of a challenge. I’m a fairly competent cyclist and can smash out some fast, long distance rides. I also dabbled in a bit of running before I picked up road cycling (over a decade ago).
Running again should be easy, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong.
First time out, I laced up my shoes and ran. In my very “all or nothing” way, I had every intention of simply going out and running 5km no sweat, but it was not going to be that easy! I quite literally got a quarter mile – less than half a kilometre – down the road and had to stop. My legs ached, my lungs were devoid of oxygen, and my heart was thumping at max BPM. I had to have a little sit down. I was well and truly humbled. Then with my tail firmly between my legs, I walked back home…
I felt pretty defeated. About a week later I picked myself up from that initial defeat and set three running goals for the year, starting with something “easily achievable” and working up to a more lofty third target:
1. To be able to run 5km non-stop and not feel like death
2. Complete a 5km run in under 28 minutes
3. Beat my all-time 5km PB of 25 minutes 50 seconds, set in 2011
After “doing my own research” on the Google, it became apparent you’ve actually got to work up to these things. In fact, quite slowly if you don’t want it to impact your other activities (such as cycling fast). I wanted to add in some run training with as little impact on my cycling as possible! That was apparently going to be the hardest part.
So I scaled it waaaay back. I starting by simply walking the dog a little faster, mostly because I was too self conscious to go out run/walking by myself. With the puppa in tow, I slowly added a gentle 30 second jog every five minutes. Over the following weeks, I increased the run and decreased the walk. Eventually I could run for two minutes, then five, then ten. You get the idea. It was slow but steady progress.
After around two months of consistently getting out 3 times per week, I reached the point where I could run 5km without stopping, if very slowly. After that first 5km non-stop run my confidence grew. I started heading out without the dog and the “speed” came with each subsequent run. I went sub-30-minuntes, then sub- 29. I was also feeling far less fatigued after each run.
This week, I finally smashed that third goal and set a new all-time 5km PB. I lopped over ten seconds off my long standing best, running 5km in 25 minutes 38 seconds!
I’ve hit all three of my running goals, going faster than I did in 2011.
I guess that means I am fitter now than I was a decade ago! And you know what? It felt great! I’m not sure what’s next. I’ll need to decide how hard I want to push my running. Maintain my current form? Or go faster? Or perhaps further? So far, running hasn’t impacted on my cycling. I think to progress further, I would need to dedicate more time to it, taking away some saddle time.
Cycling will always be my number one sport, so we shall see…