After 55 years, I know myself pretty well. Therefore, I knew that my new fitness venture would involve some enticing temptations...and that I'd need to resist the urge to submit.
The new venture is my decision to try implementing the Galloway run/walk/run program. Previously I've stuck to having both feet on the ground all the time, but after deciding that it was indeed fun to do a race last week (aided by the Diva Half Marathon bling and doing the race with Spark Friends), I knew that I needed to have some structure going forward. "Just Do It" was fine for my first HM because it gave me a flavor of the social and logistical aspects of racing. But it certainly isn't something that would be sustainable nor particularly good for my aging bod. Better that I actually prepare next time and have goals beyond "finish race in less than 3.5 hours while course is still open."
I had read about the Galloway program earlier this year and purchased his beginner book, but at that time I was fully invested in preparing for my backpacking trips. The Galloway concept was very appealing to me because I've never really had an interest in becoming a normal runner, and many other interval programs (like C25K types) are designed to ultimately eliminate the walking. I loved the idea that I could keep my walking intervals and not only that, I'd find they'd help me recover faster and even race faster! Meanwhile, I had no desire to experiment with running until I was safely through my summer trips and then my son's early fall wedding. After coming back from Sunday's HM, I spent this past week re-reading my book and preparing for today: DAY ONE.
The book presents a very conservative and gradual approach to run/walk/run intervals. It also contains some great advice which helped me overcome my "urges." Just in case I was tempted to ignore that advice, I got some more real-life, practical advice from Spark Friend and Galloway advocate Catherine.
Urge #1: Do too much too soon. My cardio-vascular system is really, really strong. There's something to be said for hiking mountains at high altitude, carrying a backpack. It allowed me to make it through a half marathon without getting exhausted, and I was breathing a lot easier than many on the course. But as I'd read in Spark articles and as reinforced by Catherine, my musculoskeletal system will take far longer to acclimate to running than the cardio side of things, due to the nature of the high impact. I have to continue to remember that it's a lot different than my hiking, even if it doesn't feel strenuous to me. Catherine referred to "hardening my joints" and that made a lot of sense to me. I do believe that my arthritic knees should be able to run since they're able to withstand the force of rocky uphill and downhill climbs with pack, but they need to be "broken in" slowly.
Result: I started my program with a five minute walking warmup, and then began 15 seconds run/1 minute walk intervals. That's actually on the high end of the suggested starting point (5-10 seconds run/1-2 minutes walk), but I thought it would still be conservative enough for me. What I found was that because I knew the run was short, it let me concentrate on having good form instead of being worried that I'd poop out or get sore. So I concentrated on a small, low gait with good turnover, straight posture, and relaxation. I did twenty minutes of my run/walk intervals and then went back to a walk for five minutes at the end, for a total of 30 minutes.
Urge #2: Become a running gear geek in the first week. I have a tendency to go "all out" in preparing for any new venture. I often research and equip myself far beyond my needs as a beginner. Mostly this hasn't been a problem because I've always enjoyed the things I pursued and gotten good use of gear. Regardless, I decided to take the advice of my Galloway book and use a simple interval timer and make sure my shoes fit. Period.
Result: I don't have a Garmin yet, LOL! (Maybe for Christmas?) I have plenty of technical clothing from hiking, so I didn't have to search very hard to find something to wear. I already had a "two timer" interval app on my iPod and an iPod arm sleeve from March 2011 when I was early into my Spark weight loss and had an unsuccessful foray into running with the C25K program (and ended up irritating my arthritis in both knees so that I was limping for several weeks and had to endure the laughter of my orthopedic surgeon who made fun of me). I actually wore my Salomon trail shoes and Injinji toe socks when I did my HM last weekend, since they say to never try anything new in a race - and I knew my feet could travel 13.1 miles in those shoes since they had done it so many times before. But early this week I did indulge in proper running shoes and got Brooks PureCadence shoes, which I broke in all week by slowly increasing "foot time" without running in them until today. They felt great!
Urge #3: Don't have a plan. Figure it out as I go and put a plan into place later. The Galloway book suggests that I plan and record everything I do. I have always been successful in tracking my food and fitness with the easy-to-use Sparkpeople phone app. But writing down the weather? How I felt during the run? The time of day? And more?? I'd seen examples of the extreme detail of a runner's journal and wondered if I would be motivated to do that.
Result: I jump-started this effort by getting the Galloway journal. It's nothing that I couldn't just write in a plain notebook or on my computer or a phone app, but I figured that by having my "official" journal, I would make sure to include all the pertinent data without missing anything, and then eventually it would become second nature to track those things without a categorized "cheat sheet" for each day. I couldn't wait to get home after my run/walk today and make my journal entry. It somehow seemed special that I was doing it by hand instead of typing.
I'm taking it slow and easy. Jeff Galloway says that if I can make it through a successful three week startup program, I have an 80% likelihood of going for six months. And people who keep up with their program six months are far more likely to keep up their program for life.
I think that becoming a run/walk/runner and enjoying periodic races will mesh well and complement my love of hiking and backpacking. I'll let you know how it goes! Variety is the spice of life!!