Lessons Learned from a 5K

Lessons Learned from a 5K

This past Saturday, my mom and I ran in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K run.  (Insert shout-out here to my mom for being a year and a half breast cancer survivor!)  We walked it last year, and as we finished, I told my mom that we were running the next one.  And although I’ve wished several times for a way to go back in time and tackle myself before I uttered those fateful words, we did it.

There’s something special about setting a big goal for yourself and achieving it.  Well really, there’s something special about setting any size goal for yourself and achieving it.  It wasn’t long ago that I stuck with a 21 day exercise challenge, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face the day I finished it.  Completing goals hasn’t always been one of my strong suits, so making it through that 5K was pretty exhilarating.

Today I will share with you a few of the lessons I learned while training for and running the race.  These were our experiences and probably don’t apply to everyone.  If this post isn’t helpful to you, I apologize.  Since I’ve mentioned this 5K before in a couple of previous posts, I thought it was only fair to let you know how it turned out.

Lessons Learned from a 5K

Road Running vs. Treadmill Running

In preparation for the run, I did most of my training at the gym on the treadmill.  We were training in the middle of an Oklahoma summer and it was HOT!  Also, if I went to the gym I could drop Little Miss off with my parents or grandparents and not have to hassle with trying to keep myself from dying and push a stroller at the same time.

About halfway through the race, we realized that road running and treadmill running aren’t necessarily the same thing.  It’s just a different kind of running when you have to focus on pacing yourself as you run as opposed to the treadmill doing it for you.  I think our legs got tired quicker during the race because we hadn’t done much training on the road.  If I had it to do over again, I would probably make sure I was running on the road at least once per week, and probably more as the race got closer.

I’m not dogging treadmill running at all.  In fact, I will probably still run on the treadmill once a week as I prepare for my next fitness challenge – a sprint triathlon (am I nuts?!).  I’m just pointing out that treadmill running and road running have more differences than I originally thought.

Passing People is Fun!

My mom and I are not fast runners.  I’m not sure that I’d even say we’re slow runners.  It might be more accurate to say that we are really fast walkers that try to look like we’re running.  Harsh?  Maybe, but it’s the truth.

We weren’t really sure what to expect when we got to the starting line.  When our group signed up, we opted for the un-timed 5K (for obvious reasons) and it had three starting times 15 minutes apart.  We chose the middle of the three and got ourselves lined up.  Our family and friends that were walking the race were behind us somewhere.  We honestly didn’t know if we would run so slowly that they would catch up to us, so we wanted a little bit of a head start.

When the gun sounded, we discovered that we were stuck behind a group of walkers, so we had to weave our way through them to find space to start running.  As we ran, we realized we were actually passing people!  People that were also in a running motion!  Now sure, we were getting passed by a whole lot more people than we were passing, but just knowing that we weren’t the slowest out of the gate made me feel like a million bucks.  By the end we caught up to most of the walkers from the first start time, which I really wasn’t expecting.  It was quite a confidence boost!

It’s OK to Walk for a Minute

I mentioned before that we were training using the Couch to 5K program, but that we had taken a little bit of time off a couple of weeks before the race.  Since we had to make up the time we missed, (and actually, we had to go back and re-do the week before since we hadn’t run in a week) we didn’t technically finish the training program.  Our last training run before the race we only ran 22 minutes, which equals a little over a mile and a half for us since we’re slow runners.    That’s slightly less than the 3.2 miles in a 5K, so we weren’t really sure how the race would play out.

We agreed before the race that if we needed to walk for a couple of minutes here and there that we were good with that, as long as we ran more than we walked.  I think we ran for at least the first mile (including a pretty steep hill) before we took our first walking break.  We let ourselves cool down a bit and catch our breaths before we ran again.  We always set goals for ourselves like, “We’ll walk until we get to that intersection up there” or “We’ll run until we get to that building.”  It worked for us.  And most importantly, we made sure we were running when we crossed the finish line.


There’s Nothing Like Finishing

I’m proud of myself.  That may seem silly to some people who can run a 5K in their sleep, but this was a huge accomplishment for me.  I’ve never been a runner, but running while overweight and out of shape was hard.  Really hard.  We didn’t run fast and we definitely didn’t finish first, but we finished, and that’s something to be proud of.

“I already know what giving up feels like.  I want to see what happens if I don’t.” -Neila Rey

I already know what giving up feels like. I want to see what happens if I don't.

This has become one of my new favorite quotes, and I actually have it written on my bathroom mirror.  I’ve given up on so many things that it’s become my normal to quit.  I don’t like that.  That’s not something I’m proud of and it’s not something I want to teach my daughter.  Finishing that race, even though I didn’t run the whole thing, gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment.  I’ll be honest, I nearly cried as we got close to the finish line.  We didn’t give up on ourselves and we finished that race and I’m so proud of us.

I still have several goals to accomplish.  Goals for my health and fitness, this blog, things around our house and some other goals that seem so far out of reach that they sound silly, but finishing that race gave me a shot in the arm and motivation to work hard to achieve those goals.  And I can’t wait to see how it feels to not give up on them.

So what big (or little) goals have you accomplished that you’re proud of?  How did you prepare yourself to achieve them?  Leave a comment and let’s chat!

Lessons Learned From a 5K | A few lessons that an out of shape mom learned while training for and running a 5K

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