I needed an Important Person #1, a trainer, to get started. I knew a trainer, who I’d consulted on some other things and felt like I could trust. One day I went to her said, “Trainer,” I said. “I hate to run. Like really hate it. But my son’s school has this 5K, that I would prefer not to do, but he wants to do it so I’d like you to help me with a training plan.”

“For you son?” She said.

“No for me.” I said.

“So you can teach your son?” She said.

“No, so I can run. “ I said.

“But you hate running.” She said, “You just said…,”

“Yes. I said I hate it. I’m not good at it. And I don’t want to run the 5K. I just want to run a little and walk it, but be in better shape so it’s less painful.”

“Just walk and run?”

“Yes.”

“I can do that.” She said. And she did. (Although between you and me she did more than that, but TBC on that one).

I saw her for one session where she gave me the plan shared later on in this post. She said if I wanted to run the 5K, it was important to complete the program cycle 3 times in a row, 4 to 5 times a week. I thought, well that’s not going to happen, but I’d try for 3 times. During that first session, she discovered that I was running flat footed and coached me up into a more forward toe landing, gave me lots of praise (so I wouldn’t stop), and with some adjustments and more praise got me through 2 of the assigned 3 cycles. It would be two weeks of running three times a week before I got through 3 full cycles (at slightly reduced speeds—see below) and two more weeks before I was up to the originally assigned speed.

In that first session I felt: 1) Pain, 2) A certainty that I would not be able to take my next breath, 3) Embarrassment that it was so hard to do something that had been designed to be easy, 4) Relief that I’d asked for help because it was clear I had no idea what I was doing.

There were lots of emotions, but very little oxygen.

I was sooo happy to get off the treadmill.

The Program/Cycle. Perform 3 times. (41 mins max to start with break)

                                                                               Me (#=rate of speed on treadmill)

3 minute fast walk                                         4.0

2 minute run                                                   5.0      

2 minute fast walk                                         4.0      

5 minute run                                                   4.8 (2 min), 4.6 (1 min), 4.5 ((1 min), 4.8 (1 min)

Run three times a week minimum.

**If training outside, which is recommended, ‘fast walk’ should get your heart rate up. ‘Seconds’ is the App I use to pre-program the times to beep when I need to change my rate.

Very important tip #1. Don’t skimp on 5 minute sections. That’s for building endurance.

Very important tip #2    Run 3x week minimum. If possible run/walk 30 mins 2 more x week.

Very important tip #3    Drink at least 48 oz. of water per day.

Very important tip #4. If you plan to walk/run the 5K and want to conserve energy. Walk on rougher terrain and run on the smoother or paved paths

As you can see, my first stab at a 5-minute run involved some adjustments. The key, I was told by Trainer was to be running at least the first minute and the last minute of the 5 minutes. Each time I did it, I tried to click up the speed one notch until I got to:

5-minute run: 5.0 (2 mins), 4.5 (1.5 min), 5.0 (1.5 mins). After that it was all mental.

Making it through the first two weeks of training would not have happened without my important person #2–Friend. Who also struggled, who every time we met to run looked about as unhappy to start running as I felt, who agreed that this was terrible and painful and then said ‘ready, set, go’ and occasionally told me I only had 30 seconds to go when she could see I was about to jump off and go looking for a soft chair in a place where no one could find me. ‘We’re on the downhill!’ She would say. “Ugh!” I would gasp.

Despite my efforts, I could NOT run FIVE WHOLE MINUTES.

This is where Friend really came in. We figured out I needed to drink some water during the walk cycles. We figured out that I just didn’t believe it was possible. We decided to not even attempt to talk to each other once the five minute run started. Not until we got past three minutes and one of us would grunt ‘good!’, which meant ‘more than halfway done!’ or something longer and more articulate like that.

I started running 5 minutes. But I could only do it for the first cycle. Then I could do the five minutes for two cycles but not for all three. I still could NOT run FIVE WHOLE MINUTES for the third cycle. This lasted more than two weeks. Then I realized that it was a mental thing. I came up with a plan and proposed it to Friend. She said it didn’t make sense. But it did to me. She thought I was crazy.

I wanted to finish the 5-minute run of cycle #2, start cycle #3 with the 3 minute fast walk and then go right into the last five minute run instead of just completing two minutes.

“With only three minutes of rest?” She said.

“I’m convinced I don’t have anything left at the end. If we do that last five minutes first I think I can trick myself. And then at the very end I’ll only have a 2-minute run to get through.”

“Whatever.” She said. “Let’s try it.”

It worked. Three cycles walking and running, but no stopping.

We forgot to cool down. Stepping off the treadmill we both lost our balance. “Hey!” “Ho!” “Woo!” “Headrush!” Okay then. Note to self: next time, cool down.

Coming up on the blog: Less walking, a little more running. Water. And, why am I gaining weight?