John Bingham, one of my fave writers on the topic of running, refers to himself as an “adult onset athlete.” I can related to this. While I was somewhat active as a kid, I didn’t enter my first 5K until I was 28 years old. Later when my personal choices got out of control and my weight skyrocketed, my main goal was to move as little as possible. 5Ks were a thing of the past.
Once I began making positive changes and losing weight, I rediscovered the joy of exercise. Over the past few months, my joy of exercise has taken another turn. Somewhere along the line, I stopped “exercising.” Now I “train.”
When I lift weights it’s because a strong upper body and core will help me get through the end of a half marathon when fatigue sets in. I swim when I may not want to because swimming is the first component of a triathlon. I run in the heat because I need to acclimate. You get the picture.
Adult onset athletes aren’t waiting for a call from the U.S. Olympic Committee; therefore, we have to get our props wherever we can. That’s why I’m excited about this morning’s training session. I did what’s called a triathlon “brick.” This simply means I did two components back-to-back. I took a one-hour spin class followed by a three-mile run. Typically, the first mile of a run which follows a spin class is pretty tough for me. My legs feel really weird and it takes a while for the muscles used in cycling to share the blood supply with muscles that need to engage for running.
There’s a rule of thumb that says for every pound of weight lost, a runner can increase speed by two seconds per mile. That may not sound significant until you work the math. I’ve recently lost 12.5 pounds. That adds up to 25 seconds per mile. For me that’s huge. So this morning I put the theory to the test. My goal was to run at a pace that was uncomfortable but do-able. I was paying attention to my Garmin gps watch to keep myself honest. I checked at the end of the three miles and I ran 19 seconds faster per mile. I’m convinced that if I’d not taken the spin class first, I could have gone a little bit faster.
Even though the skies didn’t open with a Heavenly orchestra playing the theme from Chariots of Fire, I was proud of today’s run. I feel as though I’m transitioning from “really slow” to “slightly less slow.” I hope to keep improving so that I one day become “not half-bad for her age.”
Slowly but surely, I’m getting there.