Today in my training for the 5K in two weeks, I moved from treadmill running to running outside. Not only that, but today's training run is the biggest hurtle in the Couch to 5K running program. The dreaded "Week 5 Day 3" -- running continuously for 20 minutes. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but "Week 5 Day 2" is two 8 minute runs with 5 minutes of walking in between. Kind of a big difference for those of us in the limited running ability category. But... I did it! And I did it on my first run outside! I have to admit, I was pretty intimidated by everything I had heard about adjusting from treadmill running to running outside. And it didn't help that Eric ran right before me and came home complaining about how much his legs were hurting. I can't recall the last time I ran for 20 straight minutes, and am not sure I have ever run this far outside without walking in my entire life. That's a pretty big accomplishment, right?
Observations from my first run outside:
* I found myself able to think about something other than running! When I run on the treadmill, I become obsessed with the amount of time I've been running (or the amount of time I have left). The time obsession kicks my panic response into overdrive and I start to tense up, worrying that I won't be able to run as long or far as I'm supposed to. Outside, I spent time worrying about being hit by a car (surrounding neighborhoods don't have great sidewalks/bike lanes), looking at horses, enjoying the sunshine on my face, checking out upcoming terrain... even composing this blog! I was able to really listen to and appreciate the music on my IPod, which hasn't really been happening often when I run on the treadmill.
* At first, I thought I couldn't do it! Those first few steps were scary. And I'm not just talking about the familiar "I really should have gone to the bathroom before I started this!" thought. I expected the same result I have had over and over when it comes to running. In short, I expected to run one block and then feel like I couldn't breathe or lift my legs. But then I made it through that first block and I remembered I've been practicing for this! I may not have great form, and I may not have been running very fast, but I was doing it!!
* I set smaller goals for myself. I think my dad probably gets the credit here. I don't have a specific recollection of him teaching me to do this, but a vague sense that he did. Or maybe it's just because he ran when I was growing up. Anyway, I do well when I get to accomplish something, so I like setting small goals along the way to the end goal. And that is what I did today. Once I survived that first block, I set a goal about a half a mile away. And then I didn't think about it again until I got there. When I got there and realized I could breathe and move and keep going, I was really proud of myself!
* I knew I could make it! I didn't run wearing a watch on purpose so I wouldn't know how much longer I was supposed to run. But Eric and I had talked about a route for my run (keeping in mind my approximate speed), so I knew when I made the turn back towards our neighborhood that I had to be about half way. And that last stretch to home was a long straight path where I thought about my upcoming 5K. I had a pretty good stitch in my side at that point, but my legs felt good and I just kept telling myself "keep on moving" and "you are going to do this!" And I knew I could do it. Not only that, but I know now that I have a really good chance of running the entire 5K on the 13th. I know I can do it.