I remember my first workout…

First, thanks for all your support in response to my last post! It means a lot to me to have more people out there believing in me. Also, fun fact about that fortune I posted: I spotted it on the ground during my warmup before a turkey trot in 2012…on my cooldown after the race I was too curious not to go grab it.

I ran [long] hill repeats with two friends this morning. The experience really got me thinking about something…aside from my announcement that there should be a community website for runners to go and color-code roads and sidewalks on a map after a snowfall, indicating what’s been shoveled and what hasn’t (that’s almost better than the porta-potty network idea, I think). Anyway, one friend ran competitively in high school and college like me, and now runs marathons. The other found running, running races at least, later in life and now balances training with a very busy family life. So, the workout idea I had in my head was pretty natural to me; I had done things like this a dozen times before: warm up about two miles, run hard up a medium-grade hill 0.4-0.6 mi. in length five or six times, and use the downhills as recoveries, then cool down a mile or two.

This hill is in the middle of the Princeton Half Marathon course…hence the photo of so many runners on it at once.

Long story short, this is what we did, but I was reminded during the workout that piecing together something like that might come very easily to me and my one workout partner, but not as easily to someone who was not introduced to competitive running (meaning, training to run a race for which you have a time goal in mind) by a coach at an early age. I seem programmed to use some of the same things I did in high school and college when it comes to workouts, such as two mile warmups and cooldowns, an ab workout and stretching immediately following a cooldown instead of another time during the day, not doing “workouts” two days in a row, not lifting two days in a row…the list goes on. To be fair, I guess the things that have stuck with me are things that worked for me. I don’t run my long runs the day after a race anymore, because that doesn’t feel like a good idea to me most of the time. I don’t do 2-3 mile runs in the morning if I’m doing a hard workout at night, in fear of too much mileage. These were some other things my teammates would be advised to do sometimes. I’m lucky to have had good coaches who understood my bad luck with injuries; I don’t blame them at all for the times I got hurt.

It all got me thinking about how other people started to grasp the concept of a “workout.” Did it just make sense to you? Did you look up workouts specific to your race distance online? Seek out a coach? A friend who seemed to have experience? I think runners on both sides of the continuum can learn from one another: there are probably things ingrained in a former high school/college runner that need to be given a dose of variety, and there are things that a runner new to the whole training-to-race thing is missing and can find within a typical college cross country team workout schedule. Then there is the concept of a sport-convert: the marathoner who played soccer (or another sport) all her life without once touching the track aside from the preseason fitness test. This also has given me a different perspective on the newbie runners I talk to everyday. I fitted a collegiate swimmer for running shoes yesterday; he told his sister he would train for the Disneyland Half Marathon in August with her (what a nice brother!). A “half marathon” to any college or high school runner doesn’t sound daunting: increase the length of your tempos and the number of intervals you are already familiar with, maybe increase your long run by a mile or two at the max, run the race. To imagine myself as the runner I was when I started, however…running 2-3 miles a day for fitness and not knowing how fast I was going at all…or to imagine that all my workouts had been done in a pool and I was in shape for an entirely different sport…well, a “half marathon” doesn’t sound so easy anymore, I guess.

I’m glad I had such a gradual transition to marathon training…but tell me, what was yours like? What was the first faster “workout” you ever did, and how did you go about choosing it? 

It just occurred to me before I hit “Publish” that I might have evidence of my first track workouts in spring of 2006 in a folder a foot away. Success! Check it out:

march 2006


2 thoughts on “I remember my first workout…”

  1. It’s really interesting how our running evolves.. I had been running for years, twice a week, at a very easy pace. Never thought of going beyond that. And then one day I “decided” I wanted to run a half marathon sometime during the year, so I figured I had to start running more, and better, and that’s when little by little I changed my workouts and increase my distances/speed.. it was a process of months, based mostly on reading about running and learning to listen to my body.

  2. I started to run in 06. I did my first half marathon in 07. I was totally hooked. I moved to Portland and lived with a big time runner. She told me to start going to the track to get faster. I remember my first work out–it was a 1 min on 1 min off ladder up to 5 minutes. I remember it being hard. But the next half I did was a huge PR. I have been going to the track pretty much once a week since then. (except when I am recovering) I do believe I have evidence of that day too. 🙂

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