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Completed the 5k program last week - the story continues


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So, last week I finally made 5k, and it was such an amazing feeling!


To share my story, I started running seriously in May 2015.  Prior to this I had sort of dabbled in it, but I had never taken it seriously.  I never had a schedule, never kept proper track of things, found plenty of excuses to not do it.  To be honest, I didn't really have any idea of how to properly train myself.  I would aim to just run quickly, if I wasn't running I didn't feel like I was working, so I never interval trained.  Because of that, when I couldn't hit the unrealistic goals that I set for myself, I found myself quitting.


In March 2015 I moved to a more central location with great access to public trails.  It also helps that I live in a very outdoor-oriented city, there are cyclists and runners everywhere!  All of this got me inspired to start running, and I also wanted to get in better shape for a big vacation in Europe because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to walk all day if I wasn't used to being on my feet more.


So in May 2015, I began running and practicing yoga.  I soon found that I actually loved both of them, and I trained steadily for a few weeks until vacation.  And then I was gone for three weeks.  It wasn't so bad, I got back into running, but then it got humid and I found it unbearable to train outside.  I kept with it on day when the temperature wasn't at dangerous levels for strenuous activities, but all in all I found that I was able to train less.  Eventually I realized that I wasn't improving and I still couldn't run 5k, so I took a break from running.


A couple of weeks ago I realized that I wasn't really happy.  I was too stationary, it seemed like all I did was sit at home.  So I decided to start running again, even though winter is just around the corner.  When I was in university I had to take the bus to class, and I always remember this one girl who would jog past me while I waited.  Every single day I saw her, it was clockwork, even in the winter.  So that's why I decided to get back into running, because even though it's cold, people can run in the winter, and it was amazing to watch how this girl improved and changed.


To kick things off, I found a free evening running club.  Even though they are almost done for the season, I thought it would be a good way to get started.  I will admit that it was a little intimidating at first, especially when the leader asked if I could run 6k on non-flat terrain.  Figuring that lying would only hurt in the end, as embarrassed as I was, I admitted that I couldn't yet do 5k.  The club graciously worked to accommodate me, switching their planned route to something easier, and because it was my first time the leader started the run along my side.  With tips and encouragement to start, and then eventually being left to my own devices to run at my own physical pace, I managed to get through a very painful 4k.


Even though it was painful, my one leg had decided to be a quitter and I had an awful stich in my side, it was so rewarding to finish and know that I had tried my best.  As we walked back to our meeting place to gather our things, the other members each came up to congratulate me and tell me a bit about their running stories.  One was a well seasoned runner who enjoyed snowshoe running in the winter (yes, running in snowshoes!), another had just run her first 5k race earlier in the fall and she wanted to go further, one had friends who were training for triathalons and she was curious - this group was so diverse in experience and skill levels, and they were all super welcoming.  So after the session I asked what I should do next, and the leader challenged me to run two more 4ks and then up to 5k.


So I took my homework and tried to run the two 4ks that week.  I failed, miserably.  I felt like I couldn't run more than a few minutes before I was tired, had a stitch, my leg bothered me, I was cold, I was hungry - there was every excuse in the book.


By the time it came for me to attempt the 5k, I felt hopeless - I couldn't get anywhere near 4, how could I do 5?  So, that night I sat at home.  The next day I felt so guilty that I went out... and I got 5k!  I was so elated, I shared the news with my friends who all cheered with me.  For the first time, I felt like I had accomplished something so hugely physical, it was amazing - but was it a fluke?


Turns out that it wasn't, two days later I was able to hit 5k again, and it was probably the second best feeling in the world - the validation that I can in fact do it.


So, to all of you who are afraid of the winter - don't be.  Dress properly, remember that you will feel around 10 degrees (Celsius) warmer than the air temperature.  Make sure you scope out your route beforehand, know what the slip risks are (spots where puddles form, slippery surfaces, etc.).


To all of you who are afraid to do this in public - don't be.  You'd be surprised just how welcoming the community can be.  I'd say it's uncommon to find snobby runners, people who can see you are determined to run will encourage you.  I've been smiled to, nodded at and waved to by strangers as I run, people will acknowledge that you are doing something positive for yourself.


To all of you who don't think you can make it - keep trying.  Take note of what is working and what doesn't.  Remember my quitter leg?  It's because I was running heavy on one side, when I took note of that and adjusted I was able to run like the wind.


And my final tip, join a run club.  Even if it's only for a night, you'll meet some great people and get some excellent tips.  A run club exists to run as a group, just make sure you join one that fits your skill level.  They won't leave you behind, they won't judge you - everybody is there to improve themselves, make new friends and have a great time.


Well, thanks for reading my long story!  And in case you are wondering what's next - I'm going to continue running out in the cold until I can't take it anymore, and I plan to try a 5k race in the spring. :)

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love your story and your advice how do you post in purple instead of black


I have to manually change it each time I make a post.  When you are posting, next to the smiley face icon there is a symbol that looks like an "A" with four different coloured squares next to it.  If you click that then you can change the font colour.  Oh, the font needs to be highlighted first but it might work if you set that up before you start writing.

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Hey guys!  I thought it would be fun to treat this post a little bit like a personal blog about my 5k+ journey.


Last night I went out for another run.  It was great, more validation that the 5k is a reality and still not a bizzare fluke.  Quite to my surprise, I did better than 5k, I did 5.4k!


I didn't intentionally plan to go further, I don't want to push myself too far so soon, but I was pleased with the results.  The reason I went 5.4k last night is that my normal jogging route is on a recreational path that goes along a large river.  These days, the sun goes down by the time I get home from work.  There's no way I'd be able to get a run in before it does, even rushing to get to the path leaves me with only minutes of daylight even though it's only a 5 minute walk from home.  There is zero lighting along the path, and with the grade of the landscape, the road runs at the top of a hill alongside the path and is angled in such a way that streetlights don't reach down to path level.  So, from a personal safety point of view I didn't think it was a good idea to continue down there.


So when I got home from work last night, I whipped out Google Maps and started plotting a new route that would bring me to the same distance.  I settled for a long street that's also about a 5 minute walk from my home, very wide sidewalks and heading away from downtown.  Since I live downtown, I need to run away from it otherwise I'd constantly have to stop for street crossings and crowds of pedestrians.  On my new route, 5k means I have to turn around halfway between two streets, so I thought I would just push myself the extra distance and turn around at an intersection.


The new route was great.  The change of scenery is nice and it's much hillier than by the river.  The unfortunate thing is that I was still being stopped frequently because of busy road crossings.  An added challenge as well is that for about half my route they have expanded the road and are redoing the sidewalks.  This meant that I had a variety of surfaces, pavement, gravel, packed dirt, and in some cases trenches at intersections because the curbs have just been put in and they have to finish paving.


So, it was an exciting run, very challenging.  I was slowed down a bit compared to normal pace - probably a combination of having to wait for crossing lights and uncertainty about what surface I was running on.  I think I'll still keep it, but I might shop around for another route.  Who knows, I may even have to take it indoors still and start training on treadmills since it's about due for snow season.

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Thank you everybody for your words of support and encouragement.


I slacked off a bit towards the end of last week and the weekend.  I'm using my birthday as an excuse, I had my party on Saturday even though the big day wasn't until today.  I felt super guilty yesterday, I did spend the weekend eating incredibly good food and cake and felt like I needed to get back into the game.  I was a little apprehensive since it had been 4 days since the last run, but I did it!


Although I'm not improving much on time, I do find that I am less breathless at the end.  Overall I think that's a good improvement sign and on the next run I'll be pushing a little harder.  Up until Monday I was afraid of trying to improve pace, I was satisfied with just being able to complete the run.  Now I think I'll hang at the 5-5.4k distance and try to improve the pace.  Still trying to work out the new route with traffic lights.  I may start pausing the app when I have to stop for an app, it's only fair since right now it continues to tick away while I'm bouncing around on the street corner and not gaining any distance.


In more exciting news, Ottawa saw it's first snow of the year last night.  I woke up this morning to the sound of snow plows, but I wrote it off as construction noise and just continued getting ready for work.  When I finally checked out the window I was surprised to find a substantial enough coating of snow.  So far it hasn't melted away yet, this could be the beginning of snow season.


So, now I'll be researching proper running safety and gear for the snow. I still need to get my hands on some warmer pants.

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