I can't even begin to tell you what week I'm at in terms of training, but I've been at it well over 3 months now and my improvements are slow. Part of that comes from the fact I have never in my life been a runner, so I am trying to achieve a whole new type of fitness. The second is my age. The older I get, the slower my body responds to training. Utterly and completely frustrating.
There might be another element coming into play, but this is just a guess on my part. Everyone's bodies are different. I don't think we are all meant to do be good at every sport - well unless you're lucky enough to be a gifted athlete. So jogging just may not be my gift. That said, I'm still not ready to give up and take jogging a 5K unofficially off my 2020 Year of Marilyn Bucket List Challenge just yet. Haven't heard of my challenge? The link is embedded so you can check it out.
Back in the spring I started with the standard training charts put out for beginning runners and was utterly frustrated. I just couldn't keep up with these 10 -12 week schedules. I had to repeat each week several times and even then was lagging. After talking to a track coach (who is also a competitive senior level runner) and a Kineseologist, I created two alternative snail's pace training schedules. I left my options open as to which to try, and even switched between them at times. You can check out those 2 kinder, gentler training schedules check out Dreaming of a 5K Run (A 2020 Bucket List Challenge).
After many months of unbelievably slow improvement, I was ready for the second time to give up. Instead I've decided to mix up the way I train again. Rather than slowly working up to the full distance, I decided to start going the full 5K every training day. I would do my walk/jog as planned, but then continue by power walking after I finished until I reached the 5K mark. So that's the same amount of running, just a LOT more walking added on. Sometimes on off days, my husband and I walk the 5K together.
At this point I my training session called for me walking 4 minutes, jogging 3 minutes and repeating 4 times for a total of 28 minutes - followed by a 5-10 min. cool down power walk. To finish the 5K I had to add about another 10 minutes to that final cool down walk. So be it. The first day went okay, but I was still a struggling during the jog time. The second day I decided to mix it up again and put a longer break in the middle instead of all the extra walk time at the end. That seemed to feel a little better, but decided to break up that extra walk time evenly throughout.
For the next couple of weeks I'm going to take that 40 minutes and break it up into 4 run/jog sections of 10 minutes each, followed by a cool down walk for the rest of the 5K (min. 5 min.). When I am ready for a change I'll adjust the walk/jog times up or down in 30 second bits. Here's what it will look like.
- Now - 7 min. walk with 3 min. jog, repeat 4 times. Power walk to finish 5K distance.
- 1st change - 6-1/2 min. walk with a 3 min, jog, repeat 4 times. Power walk to finish 5K distance.
- 2nd change - 6-1/2 min. walk with a 3-1/2 min jog, repeat 4 times. Power walk to finish 5K distance.
- Continue - For each future change I will either lower the walk time 30 seconds or raise the jog time 30 seconds, alternating between the two. A power walk of at least 5 min. will end each session.
- Note - you will have to lower the number of walk/jog repeats as you increase your run time to make this work.
- When you are ready for that 5K run, your cool down will have to come after you finish the run.
Will this be the final change in my training? Probably not. I will continue to adapt my training to what feels best for my body. And if in the end I don't make the full 5K - this goal has been truly hard to keep at - I will choose to be proud of what I did achieve.
Final notes for those who might want to try jogging a 5K -
- Make sure you've had a checkup recently, especially if you've been really inactive, are older, have health issues, etc., and tell your doctor what you're going to try.
- Step one is work your way up to power walking a 5K FIRST. Once you can power walk a 5K, you are ready to start adding a little jogging in. And you'll have a base time to start with.
- Listen to your body. Don't push hard to get to the goal. Set reasonable small baby steps that will help you be successful and avoid injuries.
- Always have a warm up and cool down walk.
- Music really helps distract you during training. Create a running playlist of your favourite upbeat songs that make your toes tap, put them on your device, plug in your headphones and get moving.
- A interval beeper is a great idea as you don't have to keep checking your watch or phone for the time changes. There are several options here. I bought a small Gymboss Interval Timer and Stopwatch on Amazon that just clips on to my shirt.