Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lessons Learned

I began my running journey about 7 months ago, and in that time I have learned some big lessons! I mean, how could you not? I have so many people to thank for all of the advice and support I have received, but there is also a lot that I had to learn on my own as well.

I've recently had an epiphany about my own system of running. Starting last fall and into the winter and spring I used the Couch to 5K app (which I highly recommend). I did not follow it week by week, instead I listened to my body and pushed myself on my own terms. I got really stuck on the week where you were supposed to run 10 minutes, walk 3 and run another 10 minutes. This was supposed to be working your endurance up to running long periods of time without stopping to walk.I really liked this level of running.

The 10 minute thing just really stuck with me. I liked it. I was comfortable with it. It felt safe.

So, I used that system for my first long distance race. After Lisa mentioned that people run entire marathons doing 10 minute bouts of running, I knew it was going to work for me too. And, actually it has a name! It is called the Jeff Galloway method, which I learned later from Emily that what I was doing was popular and many other runners used a system just like it.

So, I trained that way, and I ran the race that way. If after 10 minutes I could keep running, I did, but for 9 miles, I did not run less than those 10 minutes. I really pushed myself to keep going in those 10 minutes and it just worked. (Until the last 3 miles where I just pooped out!). During training runs I was less likely to stop within the 10 minutes because that just seemed silly to stop when I only had a few minutes to go, but if I wasn't keeping track of intervals of running and walking, I was more likely to stop running when I felt like it and not push myself.

Well, now I am training for the Des Moines Half Marathon and to keep moving forward and advancing as a runner, I decided to try and focus on running longer periods of time without walking.  I've been trying to do that for the past couple months and over this past weekend I had a huge realization. I was not enjoying this anymore. If I wasn't enjoying it, then why was I doing it?

Sunday, I headed out for my scheduled long run of 8 miles. I decided not to try to run longer than 10 minutes at a time. Why mess with something that worked out so well? When I thought about all my long runs training for Dam to Dam, they were all enjoyable runs and I used my tried and true method of 10:3:10. So, I did my 10 minute run, walk 3 minute, run 10 minute again for about an hour and 40 minutes (slow, I know) and it was such an enjoyable run! I felt so good at the end of the 8 miles and I actually felt like I could go longer. I thought about maybe going for another couple of miles, but then I thought maybe I shouldn't push it. 8 miles is the longest run I have done since June 2 and an injury is the last thing I need.

So, the thought of giving up on training for this race is gone, and I'm honestly more excited than I have ever been! I have learned my biggest lesson as a newbie runner, don't mess with what works! I enjoy running this way and I do not plan on changing it anytime soon!

Do you tend to run long periods of time without stopping to walk? What is a big lesson you have learned in running?


Julie said...

I am not a runner and I have tried C25K many times and I just give up. I think your story is going to help because I need that extra umph!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Great job Amber! The biggest thing I have learned through running is probably that YOU can be your own worst enemy if you let yourself be, but you shouldn't let yourself be. Other people can be encouraging, but only YOU can do the legwork. Literally. Usually when I am down on myself, my running spirals downward and it's no good for anyone! You have to set goals, be they small or big, and then you have to reach up and get them. People can encourage you, but the work is really up to you.

Donna said...

You are right, as a new runner there is so much stuff to learn and some of it you just have to figure out on your own. I did couch to 5k, too, which worked really well for me. I switched to couch to 10k and I realized I no longer needed the running breaks (of course, my longest run to date has been 5 miles, so that could always change again!) so I switched to the Hal Higdon program.

The one thing I have learned from running is that it's the one activity I can do where I don't worry about what I look like or what other people think of me. I just run because it feels so amazing (even when it doesn't, if that makes sense) and powerful. When I'm done I feel like I can do anything. Being able to eat more on run days doesn't hurt either. ;)

Marisa A. said...

I've only recently discovered (sad I know for how long I've been running) that taking a brief stop to eat my energy gels and stretching helps a TON. After about 9 miles I take a quick break, have a "snack" stretch a little and go on my merry way. I used to to feel like a failure if I had to stop during my long runs, but it honestly keeps me at a better pace to stop for little rests. Works for me so I'll keep doing it!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Way to go, Amber! I am glad you have found a system that works well for you!! There are a lot of people out there who use the Jeff Galloway method, so you are in good company. I am excited that I will now get to see you that weekend and maybe you will be able to cheer me on at the finish line? We'll have to see hwo the timing all works out!

I don't do any sort of interval approach to running. I usually stop for a gu + water break every 4-5 miles and will take gatorade as needed in between. On race day, I always walk through the aid stations as I can't run and drink at the same time!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I definitely think if I was ever going to become a long distance runner i would have to take this approach too. I like the idea of just thinking to the next 10 minutes and then getting a reward :)

Amber said...

I am ALL about the run/walk method. I do 10:1's and 9:1's on almost all runs over an hour and I did 10:1's for my marathon in May and found it worked really well for me. The walk point is like a 'reward'. I've found it feels better for my body AND my overall pace tends to be faster when I do walk/run! The only time I didn't use the walk/run method was my half-marathon that I did under 2 hours and that was mostly because I really needed to push it hard! haha

Anonymous said...

I do the same thing! And you're right - you have to do what works for you!!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I totally commend you on the running. I ran track all through high school and afterwards got really burned out on it. You are rocking it!

Mandy said...

Good for you for knowing what works and listening to your body. I think thats such a smart thing to do. You are amazing for rocking out your running like you have been!

Anne said...

I knew I could count on you for the jumpstart i'm DESPERATELY needing right now.

As of late, running has just not been enjoyable and maybe it's because I'm pushing too hard!

I am trying this 10:3:10 rull pronto.

Thanks Amber--this is why i'm crazy about your blog.

:) Always inspiring. Always motivating.