Friday, February 04, 2011

Personal best

This week concludes my first month of renewing my commitment to exercising. I'm proud of how I've had no trouble sticking with it and sometimes have gone out of my way to ensure that I get the four hour-long workouts per week that I've settled on. I'm pleased with the results so far, not that I'm weighing myself. (I make it a point not to.) I feel much better overall, and the nagging tightness in my neck and upper back from last year's car accident seems to have worked itself out.

There's only been one day that I've hopped on the treadmill and felt like I'm not up to the task. I've worked my way up from a 3.8 miles per hour pace to 4.2 mph this week. The first mile or so is usually the toughest, but after my calves loosen, I'm good to go.

The strange thing, though, is that yesterday and today I crushed the workout. When I picked up the pace on Monday, it took some serious effort to keep up. These last two times I've sailed through as though it's the easiest thing in the world. The lower legs don't resist early on, and I crank out the miles like nobody's business. It's like I'm sort of in shape.

Granted, although I've been putting in the time, I also know that walking at this pace--around 14:15 per mile--puts me nowhere near peak condition. As far as I can remember, the fastest time I've ever run was 30:06 for 5K, which would put me slightly under a ten-minute mile. I ran a 5-mile race in just slightly more than 50 minutes thirteen or fourteen years ago. (I was also seriously gassed after a last push in that one.)

The way I see it, I shaved 45 seconds off my mile average this week alone and didn't struggle. In fact, I excelled. I'm going to continue bumping up the pace incrementally every week or two. It seems to be working for me, and it'll build me up from walking to running. (Honestly, these last two days have felt like walking on clouds.)

Speed isn't the end in all this, but I am curious how low I can get my time. If I increase the treadmill speed by two-tenths of a mile every two weeks--and if I've done the math right with the weeks--that would put me on a pace of 6.2 mph by the 4th of July fun run. In other words, I'd be doing a mile in less than ten minutes and in the ballpark of finishing a 5K in under a half hour. (Since I usually sprint the last bit, I'd think I could crack that barrier with ease.) Again, this isn't the point, but now that I have a glimpse of what's possible, I'm tempted to lay this out as a secondary goal.

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