Two Bites Into the Elephant

Andrew, our instructor in the Change Through Challenge course, is pretty fond of the illustration that the way you eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  This half marathon training is not an overnight thing but is going to take several weeks working our way up to being able to do this.  Today, we completed the 2nd “long run” as a group, and his email afterwards had the subject line “Another Bite of the Elephant.”

So, how do I feel?  Confident and skeptical.  Seems like I’m all about contradictions (see my last post).  I feel really good about where I am especially compared to where I’ve been in my life.  You’ll see that as a constant theme.  When I think about running a 3 hour race?  That’s where skepticism comes in.  That I suppose is where I have to remember the one bite at a time thing.

Some of the skepticism comes from a bike ride yesterday.  The total distance of the ride was 26 miles.  It was more or less an out and back ride, and I just think to myself okay, it’s one thing on my bike, mostly along a river path without any real tough hills, but I cannot begin to fathom how that would be running.

One bite at a time eh?

So here’s where I feel good:  For one thing, I’m seeing a real change in the way I think about eating.  I’ve been trying to adapt to eating more often in smaller amounts, and I’m really thinking about what it is I’m eating and where it fits into the overall nutrition.  I think I’m seeing that played out on the scale because I’m already seeing some weight loss, following a time where I’ve really stalled out for awhile.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I had weight loss surgery in November, and while I’ve been losing weight since, it’s been really, really slow.  I see that picking up with this training.

Another thing I feel good about is form.  When I first started really trying to get started running a couple years ago, training for and running a 5k, I always talked about my running as being more of a shuffle jog.  I’ve been concentrating on running so I land more on the front or middle of my foot instead of on my heel, and this morning when I was running I felt more like I was actually running than I have in a long, long time.  It’s still very slow, there are some that would be able to walk faster than my run, but it didn’t feel so much like a shuffle.  I see that as real progress.

I think the area I’d like to see improvement the most is breathing.  Today I ran about a 14:30 per mile pace.  At this point I’m much more about being able to keep running than I am about speed.  I think that I find myself wanting to be able to breathe more easily though at that pace.  I’m not sure how to describe it, it’s not a matter that I’m heavily gasping for air at this pace, but there’s still a bit of panting as I run.  It’s something that’s sustainable, I could run the whole 2 miles and be just fine, I could carry on a conversation probably but there would be some heavy breathing during the conversation.  I’d like to be where I could run that pace at a more controlled breathing, if that makes sense.  I believe that as that improves, my speed will improve.

I’m a little excited to think about if the weight loss continues to progress better as the training goes on, and what that will feel like running at 10, 20 or 30 pounds lighter.

I will say that I appreciate the training approach so far in how it very slowly builds us up to being able to run further.  My wife did a training for a half marathon last year that started with the first long run being at 5 miles.  I looked at that and thought if that’s where we start, I’m never running a half marathon.  One bite at a time….  Here, we started with 1 mile last week, all our mid week runs were 2 miles, our long run is 2 miles, we have 3 mid week runs and a long run all at 2 miles next week, and then the mid week runs the next week are also 2 miles before we finally move up to 3.5 miles for the long run.  Three to four 2-mile runs a week will probably go a long way to helping with that better breathing goal.  The fact that we’re starting at a manageable distance, and increasing distance at a manageable pace, definitely seems more achievable.

And here’s our group picture before today’s run.  I’m the guy in the really yellow shirt.  You can tell this is a before picture.  I imagine they’ll always be before pictures, because especially as the runs get longer, some of these folks can run much faster than I could dream of running, so I figure as we get to the 9 and 10 mile runs, some of these are going to be done, cooled off, stretched, will have driven home and probably showered by the time I finish my run.  But that’s okay, I’ll still be happy because I finished.Image

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About Ron Walter

I'm just a guy who was so out of shape he couldn't run to get out of the rain. I'm taking my life back. It's not always perfect, not always successful. The victories though are greater than the defeats. I plan to keep it that way.
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