Around March time last year, somewhere after the refusal to acknowledge “New Year Resolutions” as a real thing, and further acceptance that I’m getting older and need to actually make some of the improvements I want in my life, I decided to take on the notorious 5km.
It’s something I’ve started before, but not actually done.
A friend, years ago, talked me into completing the Race For Life 5km in support of Breast Cancer Research. It was a great idea, and came at the perfect time; I’d joined the gym and had access to a personal trainer, the 5km became the “goal” for my sessions.
It didn’t last long and we ended up walking the 5km as my friend was heavily pregnant by the time it came around.
I tried again a few years later when I decided it was time to get my lazy ass off the couch – enter the C25K app (one of many) and it was dreadful.
I’m incredibly unfit, and having to subscribe to a program that dictates how long I should run/jog for and walk in intervals was awful. I stopped bothering with that pretty quick. Not being able to jog the first interval as prescribed meant I instantly like I was failing – I don’t like that.
Roll on a few more years, to March 2019, and my wise, yet lazy ass decided it was time to give it another go… this time, doing it my own way (it’s my preferred way of doing anything anyway, so it made sense) So, I set off, I walked a path tracking the distance on my iPhone, and after a week or so of trialling different paths, I picked my favourite, then started heading out daily to get my 5km in the bag.
The first few times I went I walked – remember, ridiculously unfit and I spend most of my life in my house, living, working, watching TV, never really venturing far. Even food shopping doesn’t take that much energy when you order online for delivery, so walking was a good starting point.
I took it steady, then picked up the pace gradually.
One day, while I was walking fairly quickly around my 5km path, a woman roughly twice my age came running past, a smile on her face LOVING life.
And there was me practically dying, whilst walking. How pathetic can you be?
At that moment, I decided I needed to push… no more “walking will do, gradual increase bullshit” so I set off jogging.
Here’s the thing; I hate jogging. Walking, yes. Running, fine. Jogging? No.
What use does jogging actually have?
Here’s how I see it (and apparently so did an app developer with a sense of humour) if you’re in danger, say Zombie Apocalypse, jogging is kinda pointless!
You need to RUN, bitch!
Save yourself, get your ass outta there!
Jogging won’t help you, running will – Usain Bolt style.
So after a few attempts at jogging some parts of the 5km, and remembering how much I hate jogging and kinda struggle to maintain pace while jogging, I decided the only logical thing to do is to run.
You know what I found?
Running full out as fast as you can, even for a few seconds, is a damn sight easier than trying to pace yourself to a jog.
Walk to warm up, run, breathe, walk, run some more… repeat.
I didn’t decide to run a certain distance, or for a certain length of time, I just ran. Usually, my walking was paced to my playlist, and my running was too – except the time my playlist hit Master of Puppets by Metallica followed by Number of The Beast by Iron Maiden… these were not fun to pace myself to back to back! They were greeted by a bit of a laugh, and “fuck you, playlist” then I decided to just walk til they were done. I’m all for pushing through, but that was a stretch for me.
Eventually I was knocking minutes off my time, a few seconds longer running here and there and I was knocking songs off my playlist before I got back home.
But here’s the kicker; running is easier than jogging.
It’s also easier to run uphill than walk uphill.
I don’t know why, I just know that it’s true.
There are a lot of hilled areas, lots of inclines of varying degrees and distances along my route, and every time I got to an uphill section that felt hard to walk, “c’mon, run” and I did. Yes, it usually meant stopping for a breather at the top, but it was still easier than walking uphill.
Pacing yourself is bullshit.
Trying to do the whole thing at the same pace, is bullshit (and I’m not just talking about 5km now, I’m talking about life)
When things are flat, even, easy, pick your pace… take it steady if you want, enjoy the view. Break into a jog if you want, or run the distance flat out… do what feels right, feels best for you at that moment.
But when things get tough? When you’re facing that uphill battle? When you’re at the bottom and have so far to go? Run. Hit the accelerator, pick up the pace, go as hard and as fast as you can til you reach the top, cos if you try and “pace” that shit? It’ll be hard, you’ll hurt, and you’ll start to feel like you’ll never make it to the top.
Suck it up, turn up the tunes, brace yourself and go for it.
Life is an uphill battle sometimes.
We end up at the bottom wondering how the hell we’re gonna get back to the top… we try to pick the best pace, try to carry on as we were and hoping that it will get us to the top, not realising that maintaining that pace will tire us out, and make the top feel even further away.
It makes progression feel like hard work.
But if you choose to do the other thing, to go all in, to push yourself to go faster, do more, you’ll get to the top faster and it will actually be easier than if you’d tried to keep some slower pace acting like “it’s all good” and you’ll feel better for it.