When I set out to do my 5k training program I set a personal race day for July 4th. My plan started with Garmin’s 5k Coach before I switched midway to Polar’s running program. Well, yesterday was the big day (July 5th, yes a day late)! In this space I want to recap my training, the run, as well as my future plans.
Polar’s Running Program
For my training I used Polar’s running program, which created a (mostly) personalized 5k training program for me. Based on the input I chose, it gave me a regular set of workouts, even working around my off days (Sundays and Tuesdays). Throughout the plan there were several types of runs ranging from easy runs, medium, long, and intervals, all based on my personal heart rate data. It also included core and stretching exercises to keep injury at bay.
The plan ran for 12 weeks and I progressed fairly well. I found that given my weight and fitness levels, Zone 2 running is still very much a walk for me, as even a jog has me hovering at a high Zone 3 or low Zone 4. Nevertheless, I worked hard to stay in zone, even if it meant walking for portions of my workout. Over time I progressed and got better as a runner. I’m still not the greatest, but some progress is better than none at all.
As I look back at my training calendar, I can definitely see there were a few hiccups in my training, particularly around the time when I got rid of my car and started commuting to work by bike. My body was not ready for the extra training load, and so I had to adjust my running accordingly. Plus, in the latter half of June life got in the way (my wife is pregnant & is having a rough go of it), so that also had an impact on my ability to workout. Plus, I think I was sick for a couple days in there as well. But, overall, I count those twelve weeks of training a success.
Fleet Feet 5k Fun Run
One of the things I was not quite prepared for was running a 5k before my training was complete. But, June 5 was Global Running Day and my local Fleet Feet store hosted a 5k fun run. Since it was a fun run, I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to run with others and have it be my first unofficial race (even though it was just a fun run).
I started off running very well, at what I thought was a moderate pace, but I found myself getting winded after the first mile. From there, the rest of the run was a run/walk combo. I would run as long as I could, and then I would walk until I felt like I had recovered enough to run again.
All in all, I finished the entire race in just over 37 minutes. According to Strava, I completed a 5k distance in 35:46. That time was not bad considering my training goal had been to finish in 35 minutes. 46 seconds off my goal is nothing to sneeze at. It was a fun run and I was glad my family was there to support me. So, I can’t complain about this run at all, even if we did get soaked at the end.
4th/5th of July Run
A month after the Fleet Feet fun run, it was now time to run my official 5k race. Now, this was not a race in any sense of the word. It was simply me going out for a 5k run on a Friday morning. I had planned to run it on the 4th, but wasn’t feeling too great that morning & planned to do it in the afternoon. But, then life happened and the run didn’t. So, the 5th it was.
I had a feeling this run wasn’t going to go well for me. Over the last half of June I hadn’t stuck very well to the training plan, missing several scheduled runs. I knew this was going to have a negative effect on the end result. But, I went out there and gave it my best effort. My only goal was to get out there and complete the 5k, running the entire thing if I could.
Right before 7am I walked out the door to start my run. It began with a half mile warmup walk around the block. Once I reached the half mile mark I stopped the walking activity on my Polar Vantage V and began the 5k activity. From there, I jogged and kept going until my watch said I had reached my goal. For the first mile I felt great and my legs were good. By the second mile they were starting to get heavy and my heart rate was steadily rising. My only thought was, “how much longer will this take?” But, I kept going forward, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, never letting myself walk. My run turned to more of a shuffle, but it was never a walk. Once I hit the 3.1 mile mark, I was relieved and then took a slow stroll home to let my heart recover.
By time I was finished, my 5k time was right about 38:59. That’s a good 3 minutes worse than my fun run time. When I saw the time, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I’d been training to hit 35 minutes and I missed the mark. But, I didn’t let that get me down. I’d put on a couple pounds from poor eating, and hadn’t done my best to train in the weeks leading up to this run. The fact that I didn’t walk at all was a win in my book, bad time and all.
Now that it’s over, I can legitimately say I ran a 5k, and I can now run 40 minutes non-stop. Neither of those are things I could have said a couple months ago.
So, what’s next?
Run It Back
What’s next? Where do I go from here?
I gave myself a day to think about it, and the answer is simple: run it back! I didn’t reach my target, and I’m not ready to train for a longer distance yet, so the best thing to do is circle back and do it all over again. With that said, I’ve queued up another 10 week running program in Polar Flow that will take me until September 21.
My goal with this plan is to keep improving. I want to continue losing weight, improve my endurance, strength & speed, and become a more competent runner. And who knows, maybe I’ll be able to pull off a jog in Zone 2 by time I’m done. I think if I do that, I shouldn’t have any problem reaching my goal of running a 35 minute 5k.
Do I do it for speed? No. I don’t run for speed because I’ll never be the fastest runner. I do it to be the best version of myself, and I know I can do better than 35 minutes on a 5k.
So, here I am running it back to train for another 5k! It all starts tomorrow morning.
Look ma, I’m a runner!