My journey as a long distance runner who started the sport later in life.
We are nearing the end of another Lifetime Wellness Challenge, the first one I have undertaken in the Buddy Challenge, an opportunity for a partnership instead of individually or within a group of six. My buddy has been my husband, and we have spent the past eight weeks eating more vegetables, exercising more, and making good choices in general towards improved nutrition and fitness. This plan meshes well with race training because both the Running Room training plans (10K plus) and the LWC call for exercise five days a week. Even if I don’t feel like going I have at least two monetary reasons to guilt me into lacing up.
In any case, the final week of LWC calls for a fitness test, the same one we undertook in Week 1, so that we can see if we have improved our fitness. It’s nice when achievements are measurable; numbers are concrete verification of all the hard work (or lack thereof). I know that my husband’s fitness test went well and that his mile was faster than it had been, plus he made improvements with all other indicators. As I laced up this morning what wasn’t clear to me is that I had made any real improvements. I have been feeling like I am on a plateau for quite a while. I am approaching middle age, I have been battling back the weight I put on when I was young, and even if you lose the weight what no one ever talks about is all that loose skin you are left with. So out the door I went, feeling like a dumpy, middle-aged woman who has maxed out.
My most historic timed mile dates back to March 2013, when I had to walk most of it and it took me 12:36. I was basically starting from scratch after having babies and taking a long break from running. It was an LWC team of six challenge that had me even bothering to time a mile. I am Canadian and all my previous running had been measured in kilometers. I think we can all agree that there’s not much point to a timed kilometer; it’s almost over before it even begins. In any case, I used to be faster than 12:36, but I have no idea by how much. By the end of that first LWC challenge I had shaved a lot of time off my mile, getting it down to 9:37. I really haven’t stopped running since then, but I have obviously taken big breaks, most notably for that time I fell and sustained three spiral fractures to three phalanges close to the knuckle joints of my hand. Any frequenters of this blog will know about that, because that’s why I originally started to blog.
By October 2013 I had the mile down to 8:26, but the end of that LWC challenge saw my time rise back to 8:42 by November 2013. You can see why I might feel as though a plateau was taking hold. November 2013 was the month of my first post-babies half marathon, so it was hard to imagine that my timed mile had gotten worse, but it had. My fall was in January 2014, and so how much could my mile have possibly improved what with all the surgeries and post-surgical moratoria on running? I started the most recent Buddy Challenge in September 2014 with my mile at 8:22. I was pleased that I managed to regain what I had lost after Fingergate. I am happy to report that today I ran that same mile route in 7:39, shaving about 40 seconds off of what I thought was a solid plateau. I felt like I was going to die for most of it, but I didn’t stop, I merely slowed, and I think that’s what did it for me. My husband said I even beat his timed mile on the same route by one second, so I am stoked since he is a fairly sport guy and always has been. Here are my stats for the run. The vertical line denotes when I started my timed mile, and that is why my cadence is blue for that run segment. I really did push myself for that mile.