Finally, after almost a year or two of being sedentary, I managed to push myself to run again. This seems to indicate another “I’ve done this!” for my 43things 2011 resolutions! (It’s all thanks to my new jogging buddy Maki, who is training for the upcoming NatGeo 2011 run! *claps*) Save for the ache on my legs since last night, I am quite happy to get back to my favorite cardio workout of all time. It reminds me of the stuff I researched when I was hard core and competitive about my running speed and stats. And if it helps some beginners who are as sedentary as me, I can pitch in some insights about jogging here.
I had Running as my final P.E. in U.P. before I graduated. It was a risk taken on my part, since I am a lazy person by nature. It was one of those choices I made that I did not regret, which somehow turned into a successful personal improvement project for me.
Some of my engineering friends chided me for taking such a demanding P.E. subject, but I paid them no mind. Waking up in time for that 7am class twice a week is not a chore for me because I knew that I was investing in my health. The only downside was that my skin tone was so brown that time due to the excessive sun exposure (I had a 9am to 12noon fieldwork class immediately after running class, and it was a physically draining Tuesday-Thursday schedule for me).
I was so slow during my first two months that semester. And I envied a girl classmate who can sprint so quickly while the rest of us girls in the class are trailing behind ever so slowly. We had a test run in the first month of class, if I remember it correctly, and I ended up doing the 5 km distance in an abysmal 45 minute record time. And it was not pure running at that, because I had lots of moments where I got so tired and I reduced the run to mere speed walking. Panicked speed walking, at that.
I had a huge crush on a guy classmate that time who was always the first one to finish the running drills. I guess I have this fatal attraction towards achievers. I started admiring him when he assisted and jogged at my pace one time when I was feeling really dizzy somewhere in Vinzons Hall. He actually stopped running at his usual super speed just to help me out. I really appreciated that. He was a true gentleman who gave up his running speed to help poor old me.
It only happened once, because I was really slow with my running and he was always faster than the rest of us. Our teacher was less accommodating and he always frowned at me and the other girls who finish last in the first three months. He was pissed that we were not meeting the targeted time for going back to the starting point in the Track Oval. I thought he was a tyrant because he asks us to do crunches, leg raises and push-ups after running 5 km. But my tummy thanked him for it by March. I was really in good shape and my legs were at its tanned finest that time.
As a competitive lady, I wanted to prove my stern teacher wrong plus I had some ulterior motive to catch up to my ultra speedy crush. Harharhar. So when Christmas break came, I did extra jogging sessions before and after Christmas day just to build my speed. I jogged everyday for around 2-3 weeks and I was able to improve running the same distance from 45 minutes to 30 minutes. And I was finally able to really run two complete rounds of the UP Academic Oval, and not the run-walk-run-walk habit I had in the first three months.
When we returned in January, the teacher was shocked that I was suddenly fast. And so were my classmates. They did not know that I worked my ass out during the Christmas break just to make that speed increase possible. Harhar. When there’s a will, there’s a way!
Anyway, part of our requirements in class was the Food Diary. I was very conscientious about filling out that long stretch of tables that lasted the entire semester. In fact, I was even able to implement it up to 4 months after that memorable sem. It made me very conscious of what I am eating. I wish I can get back to that habit, but I have lately become too busy and disorganized for my food recording good.
I learned there that burning calories of around 17 pieces of french fries will require 30-45 minutes of running. Moreover, if you eat a Big Mac meal in McDonalds, it will require around 2-3 hours of running to burn. Imagine THAT.LOL. I think I resorted to eating tuna sandwiches and oatmeal for dinner for an entire year since I learned of that fact. Right now, I am not as praning about my food intake as I had been those days.
While people counted calories, I did my best to approximate them instead. I hated having to get my calculator each time I pig out. So I got a hold of this really nice fitness book from the UP College of Human Kinetics library. (I forgot the title though. Sad.) I treated Running like a major subject (along with Electronics, Fieldwork and Dynamics LOL) so I did my research on the entire art of running, library work included.
People think that running is just easy. You just run and that’s it. But from my research, I found that breathing exercises are important so that you will not get those nasty aches in your rib cage and in your abdomen as you run. They call it side stitches and you have to stop running when it starts to hurt. I managed to improve my breathing patterns as I run so I ended up not having those running stitches anymore in the 4th month.
Also, since it is a high impact activity, a good pair of running shoes is in order. I used a normal flat pair of sneakers in my first two months and it caused so much strain on my legs. 🙁 Fortunately, I got to ask my dad to buy me a cute pair of yellow running shoes from Adidas. Some of the serious runners in our class used Nike, but I have yet to try it. I am still quite satisfied with my pair, and it’s far from being worn out as of today.
Another thing was the attire. I used to wear jogging pants to hide my legs. But a really blunt classmate pointed out that my jogging pants was dragging me and affecting my running form. I quote from her verbatim: “Mukha kang bibe (duck) kasi hindi mo mai-stretch yung legs mo. Nakakatawa tingnan.” Ouch. I was really miffed at her calling me a running duck. So I got over my inhibitions and I started wearing shorts a week after that remark.
The shift to shorts was a good decision, albeit its, er, eye-catching quality. It did help me run faster, because aside from the reduced weight, I also have to run faster against some guys or schmucks who will try to jog with me or get my number.
We had our final exam and the challenge was to finish 5 km in 30 minutes or less. I had been so nervous so I prepared very well for it. I took protein shake, ate bananas 3 hours before the jog, jogged with athletic guy friends (and competitively matching their speed too whenever I can) and girl friends, drank lots of water the entire day, and wore the scalar energy pendant from Quantum 24/7.
Because of those preparations, I was able to achieve my best time in the 5 km run: 28 minutes and 13 seconds. I know that for professional runners, this is still slow and totally amateur. But I was so happy about it because I managed to cut my original 45-minute time to half.
Academic perk: I got a grade of 1.25 at the end of it! (Nobody got a flat 1.0 in our class, by the way! :-D)
For starters, I need to get back to my old running speed and focus more on ENDURANCE training than speed. My jogging buddy Maki has very high endurance, and wants to improve her speed for the Natgeo run. So I think we are a perfect match in balancing each other out as far as our running goals are concerned.
Looking forward to getting more physical in the coming days. 😀
Happy hormones! 😀