Here's the skinny: I've been near 300 lbs. for years and need to lose weight. I'm married to a wonderful lady, and we have a family. One of our boys often asks if I'll run with him. I've always had to tell him, "No." In August of '09, my wife learned about a couch-to-5k running program, and I agreed to try it with her. This blog chronicles our progress on that training program. I hope I'll soon be able to surprise my son by telling him, "Yes, I'll go running with you!"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 33 (week 5, day 5) - the 20 minute run

We just returned from this morning's session. We both survived.

It rained through the night as expected. Anticipating this, we set our alarm for 4:30 AM (yech!) and got moving. It wasn't raining when we got into the car, but that was okay--we figured the trail would be a mud pit this morning. We drove 30 minutes to a college a few towns over. I'm in a degree program there, so my student ID gave us access to the building and the walking track. The track itself is just a concrete balcony above the gymnasium, with a layer of the utility carpeting often seen in churches and other comercial structures. If there was any padding at all, it was minimal.

My left knee was sore when I went to bed last night. I took some Ibuprofen before bedding down, and I wrapped the knee in an elastic bandage. Wrapping it did have it feeling pretty good through the night, but I could tell it was still sore when I got up and got moving.

The drive to the college passed fairly quickly. I used to commute to a nearby city, and it reminded me that I was glad that the commute was no longer part of my routine.

Thankfully, we had no problems entering the building. The track area was dark, illuminated only by lights from the hall and the windowed cafeteria that spilled light into the gymnasium. There was enough light to see an extension cord, a table, and a couple of chairs that were on one side--likely used for filming or monitoring various games in the gym.

It was a fairly small track area, with fourteen laps totalling one mile. We did some stretching, and then began our warm-up walk. It's been a very long time since we've used an indoor track. Having enjoyed a trail, however, I don't understand how people can stomach using a track every day. At least with a treadmill, you can watch television, but I guess not everyone cares much about the scenery.

When our warmup walk finished, I paused the podcast for a moment. I realized I had not removed the warm-up pants I wore on the drive over. I took them off and thought a moment about the seeming absurdity of what I was about to attempt. I'm a nearly-300 lb. guy and I'm going to try running for 20 minutes? What was I thinking?

Okay, so, perhaps I could get through 10 minutes. After all, that would be two minutes longer than our previous workout. I started running. My knee was pretty sore now, and I found myself concentrating on my stride so much that it wasn't easy to count my laps. The desire to quit came early today, around the second lap. My calves were already sore, my knee hurt, and I could feel how much harder my landings were on the track versus the trail. As has come to be my habit, however, I continued on. I wasn't joking when I told Mrs. F that I planned to run this session or die trying.

The five minute mark came and went. I asked Mrs. F is she wanted me to announce those times, and she did. So, I set about announcing each transition on the podcast, and relating it to our time (if not already made clear for us in the podcase). The eight minute mark came and went.

I was surprised by the ten-minute annoucement, the half-way point for today's run. It meant that I already had surpassed my previous runs by two minutes, and my body was not in shut down mode. Don't get me wrong: my legs were still paining me and I could feel myself slowing down, but my breathing was not hard and I sensed I had some endurance still in me. Mrs F and I were even through the first six or so laps, but from there on out she pulled ahead.

Even though I knew my breathing and body in general had the wherewithall to make it through the session, my legs were a different story. I tried a slower, longer stride; I tried a faster, shorter stride. Each of the changes brought temporary relief, but the discomfort persisted.

Mrs. F lapped me on about my 9th lap, and again on my 17th. The thirteen minute mark came and went. There was another one at the sixteenth minute--only four minutes left. I don't remember if there was another announcement before the end. I had no energy to sprint. I had asked Mrs. F what lap she was on. She was trying to reach 21 before the end. She was ahead by two laps, so I knew where I was. When time was called, I was just finishing my 18th lap. Mrs. F had just started on was halfway through her 21st, so she ran the rest of the way through it. I covered 1-2/7 miles (just over 2k) in 20 minutes. Mrs. F had completed 1.5 miles (just over 2.4k) in slightly over 20 minutes.

We took one cool down lap together at a walk, then walked to find the financial aid office so I could drop off some paperwork for the current turn (there's nothing like killing two birds with one stone).

Although I'm disappointed I was not able to cover more distance, the significance of my accomplishement did not settle in for me until we were in the middle of our drive home. "I just ran for 20 minutes straight," I exclaimed! Just five weeks ago, I could sprint a block or two if I had to, but I would have been in pain and desperate for breath for a long time after that. I remember how hard the first weeks were, and I remember how often I just wanted to quit. I know I'm only half-way through this program, but I've come so far! I'm a fat man! My highest weight was 348 lbs., and I started this program after years of yo-yoing below 300 lbs and back up to it. I was 302 lbs. on August 28. Last Friday, I was 287 lbs.--lower than I've been in a long time. What was I thinking when I agreed to try running? Wouldn't water aerobics have been a better choice? Yet, here I am, five weeks into this program, and I ran for 20 minutes! Sure, I'm not the fastest train on the tracks, but I was hauling freight! As I'm writing this, my emotions are overflowing.

I don't know what next week will bring. Having made it this far, I can't help but imagine that I'll be able to finish the whole thing. I do plan to book an appointment with a sports medecine doctor at the clinic, however. I figure that I should get this knee looked at before I do something that will really damage it. I'll ask my doctor about that this afternoon.

Because that appointent will be late today, our weight checks won't be posted until this evening. We did it. We really did it. We got through the final workout of Week 5.


  1. CONGRATULATIONS!! You just ran 20 minutes! Don't worry about distance; you're still in training.

    Probably what is making the training go well is doing it with someone. We talk along the way. The hard part is getting rid of minor pain (such as shin splints in the beginning).

    My friend and I started out walking for exercising then she found Couch to 5K. We hope to do a 5K on 10/17!

  2. Mr. Soon-to-be-slim-man-running,

    You did it! You are a runner! I'm very proud and a little emotional for you. I'll be doing my run tonight. Nathan did day 2 of week 1 last night in the rain. He was soaked, but he completed it.

  3. A very big congratulations! Don't worry about speed; I've found it seems to come when you're ready for it. My husband tells me I've sped up slightly, and since it's not a conscious decision, I can only think that it's natural for me because my fitness level has ever so slightly increased. I'm so proud of you. I'll be there in less than a week, and I'm apprehensive as well!


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