My journey as a long distance runner who started the sport later in life.
I can remember quite well those first few run/walk sessions in late Fall 2004 along the Barrie, Ontario waterfront. Walking two minutes and running only one minute sounded pretty easy, and I managed, though I was obviously out of breath and practically begging to walk at the end of every run interval. Thankfully there weren’t many of them, and it was only three days per week. After that first time I knew I would be able to make it.
The change to so-called 1:1s the next week was a little more challenging to think about, and as the running time interval crept up by one minute every week I came to dread how it would feel to run for just a little bit longer each time. Could I do it? I was usually towards the back of the pack, and I struggled, especially with the switch to 4:1s. I found that change particularly hard, though I can’t really say why for sure. Breathing always seemed to burn after a while, but I didn’t quit. Other people were running, right? Why couldn’t I?
The next change that was particularly tricky was from 6:1s to 8:1s. I couldn’t believe that the run interval would now increase by two minutes. Who designed this program anyway? I actually love the Running Room, but when I was first starting out and there was so much doubt I really questioned that two minute jump. It was a mental leap for sure, but physically it really wasn’t as bad as the change to 4:1s had seemed. I was pleasantly surprised by my body’s ability to adapt; I could now measure my progress and I was enjoying that it was tangible. Plus, it was getting colder and running outside in the cold was really invigorating. It gave me a lot of the feelings that tobogganing had given so many moons ago.
I don’t think it ever got easy, not in that initial “Learn to Run” training session, but 10:1s became possible, and then it was a matter of how far we might go. One doesn’t get very far running two 10:1s, but we began adding a third ten interval and got very close to 5K. I was told that I was ready for my first 5K race, and I was encouraged to sign up. There was always so much support and encouragement, and I started to really believe in myself and my abilities, so I signed up for the Santa Shuffle 5K (December 4, 2004). It wasn’t chip timed, but it was still a race and I was as nervous as a teen on a first date. My brain kept questioning: Could I really do it? As it happens, I could, and my approximate finish time was 32:10.