After losing weight by eating clean and tracking everything that entered my mouth on My Fitness Pal for six months I signed up for a month of boot camp with a friend. I hadn’t exercised at all – zero, zilch – in those six months but I could do anything for a month, right? Oh. My. Gosh. I found new respect for those ladies! On my first day, in January, the trainer had me fun a mile outside by myself while the other girls ran while passing a medicine ball down the line in the opposite direction. One, it was cold. Two, I had no one to cheer me on. And three, it was COLD! I am fairly self-motivated but this tested the limits. She told me where to turn around. Maybe I could cheat and turn back sooner. Nope! I was going to stick it out. Lungs burning I had to start walking after the first ½ mile. But I couldn’t let the trainer see me walking (right?) so I picked up the pace around the last curve back to boot camp. She clicked the stopwatch and said “12:48”. Almost thirteen minutes. Seriously. I was embarrassed and annoyed. She must have seen the disgust in my eyes because she gave me a pat on the shoulder and said “Don’t worry, most people drop minutes off their mile time in a few weeks.” I know she was trying to be encouraging but all I heard was “you better get faster if you want to hang with us”. Isn’t it funny the pressure we put on ourselves? I finished out the month of boot camp and vowed never to go back. No more burpees for me (so I thought). A week later I ran a mile just to see if I could do it. I ran the whole mile in 9:46. The trainer was right! So I made a goal – complete two 5Ks and one small triathlon by the end of summer.
Cut to April 2013, I started training for a 5K in memory of a friend who passed away from esophageal cancer. Walk, jog. Walk, jog a little longer. I was never able to run the complete 3.1 miles before the race but came close. Pacing? Non-existent. I could run 2 minutes at an 8 min/mile pace then slow to 11 min/mile, then walk. I started the race with two friends and clocked the first mile in 8:46. Four minutes faster than my first mile run in a few back in January! Of course I had to stop and walk a little here and there but my win for the day was that 8:46 minute mile. I completed my second race a few weeks later – walking and jogging.
That left the third stage of my summer fitness goal – complete a small triathlon. I searched through Team Magic’s (link) website and found a tiny TRI-it-on all girls triathlon for beginners interested in the sport. Full disclosure, I completed a sprint TRI in 2007 at Old Hickory Lake. There’s nothing quite like being kicked and slapped while trying to swim almost blindly through a lake. Remembering that “Come to Jesus” moment I had when I paused during the swim to catch my breath and get a visual on the buoys I choose one with a pool swim this time around. I adapted a training schedule to my work schedule of 24-hour shifts and completed around 85% of the training days. My shins hurt, it rained (and I hate treadmills), I was exhausted after work and I was gaining weight. I had the best of intentions to continue eating clean but that started to slip during boot camp and even more during TRI training. I needed comfort food. After a long shift with little rest all I wanted was a spinach & bacon soufflé AND an asiago breakfast sandwich with egg whites and my bed. I love me some bacon and white cheddar cheese; it has been my downfall. I digress but you get the point. I was exercising and eating like crap.
In mid-August this year I completed the girls TRI-it-on Triathlon. I came in 12th in my age group of 26 competitors – 8th in the swim, 10th in the bike and 24th in the run. I was happy with my swim, had fun in the bike and totally crapped out for the run. I took a little longer in T2 and grabbed a sip of water after putting on my socks and running shoes. I was developing a serious headache. A quarter of the way into the run my head was pounding, my heart rate 207 and I could barely catch my breath. I slowed to a walk. I could hear the other thin ladies huff as they passed me. I was in their way. Don’t get me wrong. It was largely a fun and non-competitive environment except for the serious athletes but it’s hard to keep up with those weighing 60 lbs less than me. I jog/walked the rest of the race and of course ran across the finish line. I finished. I felt accomplished yet totally disappointed in my run. Twenty-fourth out of 26. A 12:10 minute mile. Room for improvement.
So what about you? How did you build up your running stamina?