I started training last week for a 5k run this fall. Its the second year in a row I left the couch after a long cold winter and headed out the door. This year I’m 15 pounds lighter and hopefully maintained a small measure of conditioning from last fall.
My early conditioning plan is to walk/jog three times a week for 20-30 minutes with at least one rest day in between. I’ve chosen Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays as my workout days. Since I’m in my 60’s, I want to test my joints and ligaments by alternating jogging and walking laps on a 400 meter track. Once I build up my distance, I plan to head out on a scenic cross-country route on a woodland trail.
Last Tuesday was my first workout. The weather couldn’t have been more challenging; a cold, stiff northern wind with 40-degree temperatures surely taxed me mentally. I spent most of the time muttering and trying to talk myself out of completing the 25 minute workout. Thank goodness for I-tunes. Thursday’s workout fared much better. An overcast sky and southerly breeze hiked the temp to 74 degrees. Such is the weather this time of year in Upstate New York. Saturday it was back in the 40s and I had to resort to dog walking. Brody pulled me around the neighborhood while I held on to his leash.
For starters I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it feels to walk anywhere and everywhere with a normal gait. The tightness in my legs has abated. Hallelujah!!
During my brief sabbatical I purchased a pair of Asics gel running shoes. Unfortunately, there was virtually no arch support in them. My wife will tell you I’ve been known to watch an infomercial or two on the TV when I’m bored. Being bored, I managed to find one for a pair of Copper Fit balance insoles designed by an orthopedic doctor. A couple of clicks later on the computer and they were headed my way. I found them to be a nice compliment to my Asics.
Down to more serious business. Summers here in western NY are known more for their humidity than their heat. This past week we had a 6 day stretch of temps in the mid 90s. I walked four of those miserable days; Day 1 (4 laps); Day 2 (5 laps); Day 3 (6 laps); Day 4 (8 laps). The last day I pushed myself on the second and third lap to test my legs. My best lap walking was 3:48 (minutes:seconds). I still have a long ways to go before I’m running like the wind.
Following the advice given by my chiropractor, I am resorting to walking workouts. That being said, I am still hurting from whatever it is that is I did to my body. Stiff hamstrings and sore knees impact my ability to have a pleasant stroll let alone walk with the goal of running a 5k.
After a couple extra rest days, I carefully set out on walk number 1. It seemed reasonable to shoot for 4 laps, walking at a casual pace. Casual, there is something odd about the word being used in the same sentence as an all-weather track. As I traversed the rubberized surface, a voice in my head repeatedly whispered, “Hey this is a track dummy, pick up the pace!”
Even though my legs were tight and stiff the entire time, I managed to cover the distance in 20.5 minutes. The next morning my legs were not telling me I made a huge mistake so I tried walk number 2 the next day.Because the stiffness in my legs hadn’t abated, I limited myself again to 4 laps. My competitive nature coaxed me to walk a little faster for the first 3 laps before slowing down on lap 4. My time was a little better, finishing in 19.5 minutes.
I will be stretching over the next 2 days to see if I can make the stiffness in my legs go away, otherwise it’s back to the chiropractor. Hopefully, this tired old boat of a body can be restored.
My goal for week 1 of the couch to 5k experience–test my body and my lungs. Having run 50-100 miles a week during cross-country season (several decades ago), I wanted to know what, if anything, I had retained. I decided to quantify my ability using a 400 meter track within walking distance of my house.
This Couch to 5k plan schedules 3 training days per week with recovery days in between. Because I was “testing” my body, I disregarded the suggested workouts for week one. Workout 1 lasted 30 minutes. It included walking to and from the track and jogging 400 meters (twice). I took a walking break in between each lap. My body didn’t have much stamina I’m afraid, even though I’m an avid walker racking up 10-15,000 steps a day. Still, I considered it a victory to be able to jog for 400 meters. I had a chance to fiddle with my stride and control my breathing.
Workout 2 also lasted 30 minutes. This time I managed to squeeze in three 400 meter jogs, spending less time walking in between. Workout 3 lasted almost 40 minutes and included four 400 meter jogs and walking breaks. At no time did I find myself gasping for breath. BUT my 60 year old body gave me some strong feedback!
As I sum up my Week one experience, two things immediately come to mind. First, my body does not react to the stress of jogging like it did at age 20. Though my mind remembers things like stride, pace and breathing, there is a gap between form and function. Secondly, aches and pains at my age are more worrisome than when I was young and spry. They must be listened to and taken care of. Translation: I pressed too hard on my third workout knotting up the tendons and ligaments in my legs.