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They say that you never forget your first “time”

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where you were. - Who you were with - How you felt afterwards.

My first TIME was on Thanksgiving Day in Northern VA. I was there alone, but surrounded by 1000 people and my TIME was 30:51.

Yes, I’m referring to my first 5K 25 years ago. A recent thread begun by PDQ on the Master Runners Team sparked this memory.

Actually, it wasn’t the time that was significant or even memorable. In the 40-44 age group, my 9:57 min pace wasn’t going to get any attention. However, I was very proud of myself. That was a “sub-10” min mile pace and when I started, I could only run for 30 seconds.

Most everyone is familiar with the Couch to 5K programs. The ones here on SP vary from 5 to 8 weeks in length. My self directed program took me 6 months. That’s 26 weeks of very gradual improvement. That must qualify me as the Queen of Gradualism.

I wasn’t a “couch potato” to begin with. I was always active and fit, just carrying some extra weight as I crossed into my 40s, and I had never run before. Walking, biking, swimming, aerobics yes, but running - NO. I even regularly used the weights machines at the gym. Running just never crossed my mind.

Then my younger daughter joined her HS cross country team and I was curious to see how far I could run. I don’t know how FAR it was, but as I mentioned above, after 30 SECONDS I was done. How could this be? Why did the act of running tire me out like that? Looking back, perhaps as a pear shaped person, hauling my rear end off the ground repeatedly took a different kind of effort that my other activities lacked.

I found this unacceptable and I wanted to improve. I realized that I was able to continue the 30 sec run/4:30 walk intervals repeatedly for 30 or 40 total minutes so what if I increased the run time by 15 seconds each week and decreased the walk accordingly?. I knew nothing of Jeff Galloway and his program. This just seemed like a reasonable, gradual plan to me.

I ran/walked every other day and even if I felt like I could increase faster, I didn’t. I stuck to my very slow, gradual progress. Nothing hurt. I was happy and getting better with every week. After all, the Olympics weren’t beckoning, so what was the hurry?
My first 5K was a personal triumph.

I continued to run over the years. I never got much faster, but I was happy with where I was. By then I had discovered Galloway and used it to increase my distance with my max distance being a half marathon.

Then my 5K times began to get slower, little by little. To be expected right? I was getting older.

I couldn’t turn back time but what if I dropped some weight? My body used to be happy 25 pounds ago, so why was I dragging it around now? Enter SparkPeople and another program of gradualism. It took me 11 months to reach my goal weight. Once again, dropping weight slowly with modest calorie deficits per day was a reasonable plan for me. Turns out that the Queen of Running Gradualism was also the Queen of the Weight Loss Turtles

Guess what? I can still run a sub 30 5K and while there may not be a lifetime PR in my future, I intend to keep seeking best times for this century.

I know my weight loss isn’t in the same league as the many amazing stories here on SP. That’s one reason it took me nearly 3 years to find my voice and actively participate.

My point? Don’t worry about taking it slow, in weight loss or in gaining fitness. You may never be spotlighted as a success, but it’s a pleasant journey and you can arrive at your destination smiling in the knowledge that you know how to stay there.
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