Three years after I started running, I’m returning to 5K training. Specifically, I’m re-playing Zombies, Run! 5K, which is a couch-to-5K training app that includes — you guessed it — zombies.
Zombies, Run! 5K is an 8-week training course meant to take you from a low activity level (the aforementioned couch) to running a 5K. The first time I did it, it took me something like six months to get through the program. I was learning to run, and backed off several times thanks to protesting muscles, bad colds, and other distractions.
I’m returning to it because after the #BrokenAnkleSaga I need help in working back to where I was … and figuring out where I am. In my mind, I can still run a 9- to 10-minute mile for 30-40 minutes at a clip. In reality, I can’t run for ten minutes.
I keep wanting to get back to that point, and thinking I should just be able to do it because hey, I used to be able to do, right? The reality is that its been over a year since I last ran like that, and getting back there (or even getting close) is going to require training.
And thus … Zombies, Run! 5K. I discussed it with my physical therapist during my 3-month follow-up appointment, and he thought it was a good idea, so this week I started hitting the road. Two things struck me during my first week of training:
- I’m way better than when I started. Three years ago I couldn’t run a mile. Hell, I couldn’t run a quarter of a mile. The 15-second sprints left me slightly winded. Running for something like 10 minutes was a fantasy. Today was much, much easier. Sprinting wasn’t a big deal and I ran for half of the 10 minutes. I could have run longer but I didn’t want to push it.
- I missed spring last year. I broke my ankle on Dec. 30, 2017 and I vividly remember missing winter (including skiing and playing in the snow) but it was only when I started running again that I realized just how much of the spring I missed. The slow warming of the days, the gradual budding of the trees, the sudden eruptions of early spring flowers. I missed it all last year because while I could walk, I had to walk in a boot. I was far more focused on getting to where I needed to be than, well, stopping to smell the flowers.
It all makes me grateful and thankful that I was able to get back to where I am. It also reminds me to be patient with my ongoing rehabilitation. The hard part may be over, but overdoing it is still a very real possibility.
To be kind to my ankle, I can’t run every day but here again, the 5K training regime – which alternates every other day – complements what I should be doing and helps me avoid doing too much. On the days I’m not running, I’m going to the gym to row, bike, or swim. It’s good to be back on the road, and the training regime feels right. I don’t have any plans to a marathon or anything crazy like that, but being able to run a 5K again would be great.
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A view from my morning run on College Hill in Easton, Pa.