In my first installment of Couch to 5K Chronicles I recounted my first few days as a new runner…now let’s fast forward a few weeks.
Week 5, Day 3-I’ve been running consistently for five weeks now, but only running in short increments. Today I’m running a full 20 minutes straight.
- 10 minutes into my run: it has to have been at least 20 minutes already, because I feel like I’ve run 5 miles already (looks at C25K app to check time)…are you kidding me?! It’s ONLY BEEN TEN MINUTES!! That was the longest ten minutes EVER!
- I then proceed to check my time every minute thereafter because it feels like ten more minutes have gone by for each minute.
- FINALLY I reach the 20 minute mark, but I probably could have walked faster than I was running at the end of that run because I was exhausted.
Week 6, Day 3-Another 20 minute running stretch, but I’m sure I’ll be in better shape for it this time!
- 10 minutes into my run: REALLY?! Again at the 10 minute mark?! I thought I was better than this!
- Reached the 20 minute mark…barely. I’m sure I looked ridiculous lumbering and panting through the last few minutes. Why can’t I get past this?!
This pattern went on for two weeks before I finally reached the point where I could run for twenty solid minutes without feeling like I was going to die. I had reached several time milestones with C25K and most of them had been fairly easy, but for some reason, getting over that 20 minute time hurdle was really a challenge for me; at one point I began to doubt that I would ever be able to do it. But I kept at it and forced my way through until I finally did it. When I ran 20 minutes for the first time without having to struggle through, it felt like a great accomplishment and motivated me to keep pushing myself to run further.
If you’re struggling to get to your next goal or milestone, whether it’s running or other forms of exercise, here are a few tips to help you out:
I. Don’t give up! It can be frustrating when you’re trying to reach a goal or milestone and it’s taking longer than you would have liked or expected; you may even feel as though you’ll never reach the goal, but you’ll get there!
II. Set realistic goals: Don’t set yourself up for frustration by setting goals that you can’t realistically accomplish (like running a half marathon two months from now; I learned this tip the hard way). Set attainable goals (like running a 5K in two months), so you’ll be more likely to reach those milestones.
III. Keep track of your progress: Keeping track of your progress helps you see how far you’ve come, even if you haven’t reached your milestone yet. I keep a journal to keep track of my progress, so when I’m feeling frustrated I can refer back to it to remind myself of the progress I’ve made.
IV. Don’t over-use it: This is another lesson I learned the hard way and will share in another C25K chronicle; while reaching milestones brings a sense of accomplishment, pushing too hard too soon can lead to injuries which cause set backs. And set backs suck!
V. Celebrate your successes: Being able to run 20 minutes straight may not be a big deal to many people, but it was an important milestone to me and I was proud of it. When you reach that milestone, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, or maybe treat yourself to something special…you deserve it.
What are your milestones? What fitness goals are you trying to reach? What’s helping you stay focused? I’d love to hear from you!