Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Personal Best

Before I get to my good news, let me put it in context. I have never been athletic. Growing up, I tried almost every sport out there but nothing ever clicked for me and I was never any good.

As years past, being athletic seemed to matter less, which was fine by me.

I had my "Aha" moment in May 2010 -- made a number of changes nutritionally and started to exercise. It wasn’t until January 2011, however, that I started running. I ran often and, strangely, enjoyed it. I found myself competing with just myself -- trying each day to run longer or faster than the day previous. At my fastest, I had been running an 8:30 mile. I was proud of that.

This past December, Matt started to read about heart rate training and how it greatly assists endurance runners (he recently blogged about it here). He shared with me his learnings, along with his belief that this type of training would better prepare us for our first full marathon this September. I was in.

I started running with a monitor on Jan. 2. Two years of cardiovascular fitness under my belt and a whole-food, plant-based diet fueling my body, I was ready to rock-n-roll. What I quickly discovered was that my aerobic base wasn’t as strong as I had thought. For two years, I had been training in my anaerobic zone (versus aerobic), which meant my body had always been exceeding my target aerobic heart rate of 137. This meant I had to slow down my pace -- a lot -- to get in my aerobic zone.

This is when I needed to check my ego at the door because overnight I went from running an approximate 9:00 pace down to a 12:46 pace. It was humbling for sure, but I was determined to see it though (once something makes sense in my head, I’m in it for the long haul).

My wins since Jan. 2 have been small and few, but I keep running and steadily increasing my time. I try to run every day between 60-100 minutes, but at the very least I make sure to work in five runs per week each at a minimum of 60-minutes.

Today was my biggest win to date. I ran 5 miles in 57-minutes. That’s an 8-minute improvement since Jan. 2 when I ran 5 miles in 65-minutes. In just one month, my pace per mile has improved by 1:20.

While I’m happy with my progress so far, I recognize that running a 9:00 pace (or faster) at my target aerobic zone is going to take months. Still, today was absolute inspiration to keep pushing forward and running longer. I have a 2-hour run planned for next weekend.

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