hey, Little Engine, are you available for some 1:1 coaching?

As I noted in my previous Weekly Workout Summary, I have jumped into the C25K program (Couch-to-5k) as a way to get refocused on my running in a more structured way, as well as to help me train for a walk-less 5k, something that seemed [seems?] like a bit of a pipe dream. I did run for 20 minutes straight, on April 5th, 2013. I followed that up with a 30 minute run [straight through, no stopping or walk breaks] the following day.

Since then though, having crossed the “run 30 minutes without stopping” off the ole’ fitness bucket list, I haven’t really focused on going any further or longer.

I should also point out that when I did the 20 min (and 30 min) runs, I did them on a treadmill, at a speed of 4.5 mph – which is technically jogging speed, not running speed. To me though, it felt good knowing I had “run” non-stop for 30 minutes, regardless of my pace, because a few months prior, I couldn’t run more than 2 minutes (at any speed) without needing to take a walk break. This was a big deal to me. And I’m still proud of that accomplishment.

But now I want to explore what more I can do.

On Sunday I decided to repeat the Week 5, Day 2 program I had done the day prior. (As you may remember, I decided to jump into the program at Week 5, Day 2, based on where I felt I was, capability-wise, on Saturday.)  I repeated this run the day after the initial attempt because I wanted to try it outdoors, to compare it to the treadmill run from the day before.

Despite everything I have ever heard about outdoor runs being harder than treadmill runs, it turns out that I actually ran faster outside. I suspect this is because my pace is controlled on the treadmill, but I’m clearly able to (and do) go faster when I don’t have a gauge staring me in my face, reporting my speed back to me.

Here are the raw numbers:

  • On Saturday (7th), I ran the Week 5, Day 2 program on a treadmill and finished at 3.26 kms.
  • On Sunday (8th), I ran the Week 5, Day 2 program outdoors and finished at 3.58 kms.

Okay, so that’s really only slightly better. But it is better — and it was outdoors! And, it gave me some food for thought. How much faster am I capable of running, and why am I afraid to let myself go there on a treadmill?

I decided to try, whenever possible, to run my C25K program outdoors from there on in.

And that’s when it started to get really interesting:

  • On Tuesday (10th), I ran the Week 5, Day 3 program and finished at 3.79 kms
    • Average speed of 8:06 min/km or 13:03 min/mile and a fastest lap of 7:33 min/km or 12:33 min/mile.
  • On Thursday (12th), I ran the Week 6, Day 1 program and finished at 4.84 kms
    • Average speed of 7:01 min/km or 11:18 min/mile and a fastest lap of 4:24 min/km or 9:44 min/mile.

A 9:44 min mile is a pace of 6.2 mph. Wait…WHAT?? I ran outside, with hills [and wind] a 9:44 mile. I was dumbfounded when I saw the stats on the screen, and I still am, as I type this.

Evidently I can.

Evidently I can.

I have never run at 6.0 mph for more than 3 minutes or at 6.5 for more than 2 minutes.

These were my limits. I knew my limits. I respected my limits.

Yet, it seems, they are no longer.

For some reason I am sabotaging myself when I am aware of my speed. My body, clearly taking cues from my brain, shuts down when the numbers are higher than my self-imposed limits.

I need to understand why. Why I can’t do on a treadmill what I can do on pavement.

Funny how The Little Engine told himself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”  when my mind seems determined to bombard me with “I know you can’t, I know you can’t, I know you can’t…”

But I can. So… WTF brain?? Piss off.

Just when I thought I had a handle on my crazy…  Clearly it’s time to do some more excavating. Don’t mind the backhoe; it’s just me clearing some more baggage out of the way so I can get to the root of the problem.

Wish me luck.

and…Get Moving!

xoxo nancy

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18 thoughts on “hey, Little Engine, are you available for some 1:1 coaching?

  1. Wicked! You go girl!!! Today our boot camp trainer completely pushed our limits during strength training and I’m still in shock at what I was able to do…things I wouldn’t have even considered doing on my own. So awesome.

  2. firstly amazing runs! week 6 day 1 awesome!!
    Secondly I find running outside the only type of running I can do! I get scared on a treadmill…I tried one with Matt the trainer 2 weeks ago…I ran for about 1 min before I panicked and hit the emergency stop button! I have a HUGE psychological block when it comes to treadmills…they scare me unless I am walking and I can hold on to the handle! I find outside running you have more things to look at (killer squirrels and hounds etc) and less chance to focus on how far you have still to go. I also like the fresh air!
    I find that running outside I can go faster and slower according to how I feel without actually having to decide to change the speed on a machine, I feel so out of control on a treadmill. I also hate the fact that people can see what I am doing…logically I know they probably don’t care but I think they think I am rubbish…so I get more rubbish, you would think I would want to prove them wrong but I just end up feeling that I can’t do it. At least if I meat someone outside, they don’t watch me for the whole run!
    The “I think I can” vs “I know you can’t” is something I find very important! If I go out on a run believing I can do it and telling myself I will get to the end I am far more likely to do well! Last Saturday for example I went out and all I could think was, my legs hurt, I’ll never run this, I shouldn’t be doing thins…and lo and behold it was my worst run!
    I have no idea how to actually flick the switch over to always telling myself I can do it mind you!

  3. I get what you mean about worrying how others (on nearby treadmills) are judging you. I do that all the time. And, good point on how outside, you just adjust your speed by moving your legs faster or slower, whereas on a treadmill you have to make the mental decision to up or down the speed – and how can you be sure that the speed you choose is going to work for how your body feels? I agree that running outside is infinitely more interesting, and that the fresh air is way better than the stale air in the gym – but I’m getting worried about the weather cooling down in the coming weeks. See, there I go, worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. 🙂 Good reason to squeeze in as many of the remaining C25K runs as possible before it gets too chilly. Hope you rock your colour run on Saturday Sam! I am looking at the various organizers (Colour Run; Run or Dye, etc) to see when the next one in my area is. I like the idea of doing one of those for my first 5k, as (from what I understand), there is a lot less pressure in terms of race times, and way more focus on the fun aspect. I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow and cheering you on from Toronto! xoxo nancy

  4. I know exactly what you’re saying. I can’t really jog anymore because my knees don’t like it (and yet I can do high impact aerobics–go figure), but when I have in the past, or when I’m at a hotel and it’s my only choice, I notice I struggle much more to keep up a 5.5-6.0 pace on a treadmill. But outdoors? No problem. Especially if I’m on a beach (which, given I live in Ohio, is rare…). Amazing what that perspective can do for one’s running! There are things to distract us outside, and the air is invigorating. Not so much on a treadmill.

    • I keep thinking that if the treadmill could just auto-adjust based on the pace of my legs, that I could replicate what I do outside. It’s totally a mental thing for me – knowing I’ve set the machine at 6.0 and then sabotaging my body’s efforts to run longer than 3 or 4 minutes at that pace. Maddening. For now, I’ll just be grateful that the weather is conducive to outdoor running here in Toronto. Motivation to complete the C25K program before it turns cold.

  5. I find that if I cover the treadmill display with a magazine or a towel and just tune out from how fast/far I am running it helps to push yourself. The best is if your gym has tv’s on that you can plug your headphones into, i would watch a half hour or full hour TV show before I was “allowed” to stop running. Try it, it works 🙂

    • See I’m not sure that will work for me, because it’s the simple act of setting he treadmill to 6.0 that automatically puts my brain into “you can only do this for 3 minutes” mode. I wish the speed setting was blind – i.e. you could just hit the up arrow until it felt fast enough – and then, only at the end could you see how fast you ran (kind of like my phone app when I run outdoors)…

  6. How interesting! I’m slowly working through C25K – when my son is in his Tae Kwan Do class I jump on the treadmill across the hall. If I watch the monitor though the time seems to crawl but people watching or a little TV makes it fly by! Outdoors would be better if I could find the time and I’m so happy it is working for you. 🙂

    • Thanks Lisa. It’s a process. I *think* I’m learning to like running. Or maybe I’m just liking the idea that I can run (something I thought impossible not long ago). Still, I’d really like to figure out why the harder run (outdoors) is the run I do better at. That is just pure psychology. And it’s driving me mad!

  7. Could it be that outside you have more distractions? I always enjoy exercise more outside because I am not thinking of the drudgery or monitoring the time when I can stop. Absent a constant ticking clock, my body just does what it wants, and that is always more than the gym. Glad you are finding some kind of groove again, though.

    • I wish it was the lack of ticking clock, but I don’t think so. I have to look at either my watch or the app on my phone the entire run because the C25K program is so prescriptive (walk X mins, run X mins). If I had the actual C25K app itself, I wouldn’t have to look at the clock as it tells you when to do what. Sadly it’s only available on iOS and Android, and I’m using a stupid Blackberry. So…absent that excuse, I’m still left with my mind shutting me down for speed when I’m aware of my speed. Cray-cray, I know.

  8. Brilliant – that is seriously a massive improvement on the outside running and a great pace. What are you going to do next? And 30 minutes non-stop – eek – I’m not sure I can do that (will find out soon…).
    That’s what you discover when you listen to your body instead of your brain – I love it!

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