“Have you gone to a doctor and had a physical? Because between 40 and 60 is when all the heart attacks happen”—My dad
I was talking to my dad (who it should be noted is NOT a doctor and probably does not have any actual data to support the above statement) during lunch the other day and we were discussing my quest to run a four minute mile. He is very concerned that I’m healthy enough to try this and, based on the above question, he’s obviously worried I’m going to have a heart attack, which is sort of strange. It must be natural Jewish parent anxiety because, while I am not in great shape, I’m not in bad shape either. I’m 5’6” and weigh between 160 and 165 pounds. Sure, I have grown a little bit of a gut over the last few years between the lack of exercise and the one beer I have at night maybe three times a week, but overall, I think I’m fairly healthy. When I relayed that conversation to my wife (“When was the last time you had a physical?” she asked. “Umm…), she agreed it would be a good idea to have a physical and maybe get some blood work done. Frankly, I’m more worried about blowing out a knee than anything else. I assured him that, at this point, what I am doing can most accurately be described as jogging (or maybe it’s yogging with a soft J…) and there isn’t really any cause for concern.
I have yet to fall into a good rhythm in terms of my running. It’s happening too inconsistently and I know that needs to change. If I’m going to be successful and have any shot at getting close to my goal, I am going to need a solid training plan and preferably a coach who can help get me there. A coach is near the top of my list and I plan on reaching out to a few people over the next week or two to see if I can get some help. I will also need to find a consistent time during which I can run. I’m not a “wake up at 5 am and run” guy. No, mornings are hard and since I almost always end up going to bed too late, waking up and running before I need to get my kids (and wife) up is too difficult for me.
I decided to run at the gym before I picked my kids up from after school care tonight (the gym is in the same building, so this might work out nicely going forward, especially during the winter). In my previous training runs, of which there have so far only been a few, I had only run one mile and timed myself to see how fast I ran it. I have not had any coaching yet, but it occurred to me that I will have to condition myself to be able to run more than one mile so that I am not completely winded by the time I get to the last quarter of a mile.
I figured I’d get on the treadmill and just run for 20 minutes. Not having any sort of training plan or formal workout, I decided that it would be a good idea to start out at a moderate pace and then increase the speed every five minutes. I started out with the speed set at 4.5, which felt like a jog. My right knee was hurting, but the pace was good and not too taxing. There were TV’s on at the front of the room, but I couldn’t find the ALCS game on the TV attached to my treadmill, so I gave up. Besides, the screen with the data on my run (distance, speed/pace and time) was covering most of the picture anyway and I didn’t want to try to futz with it lest I misstep and fall off and become an immediate YouTube sensation (though I highly doubt anyone was filming me run). So I listed to music.
At 5 minutes in, I upped the speed to 5.5. I definitely noticed the change and I could tell that I was running faster and working harder. “Seek And Destroy” gave way to “Kickstart My Heart” and I thought “Hmm, I hope this song isn’t a harbinger of things to come. What if my dad is right and I’m about to have a heart attack? Then he’d be all ‘See? I told you so, you should’ve gone to a doctor.’” No, I said to myself, no heart attacks today. At the 10 minute mark, I increased the speed to 6.5 and put on “I Wanna Be Sedated” by The Ramones. My daughter, who is 5, has been requesting “I Wanna Be Sedated” every time we’re in the car lately. She sings along and it’s really cute, and I consider that a parenting win.
Anyway, last time we listened to it I realized that it had a pretty good rhythm and cadence. It was actually a perfect song to run to at that speed and I had synced up so that my left foot came down on the downbeat for most of the song. I had a decent pace and a good sweat going. “I Wanna Be Sedated” gave way to Social Distortion’s version of “Ring of Fire,” which was also a great rhythm. At 15 minutes, the speed went up yet again, this time to 7.5. I think that was an 8 minute mile pace, and I was running pretty hard. I was also getting tired because, though I had been running a mile during previous runs, I had now gone over a mile and was still running hard. Even though I really wanted to, I couldn’t keep that pace up for five minutes. After about a minute and a half, I dialed the speed down to 4.5 and slowed to a fast walk.
It was just about that point in my run that my wife showed up and got on the treadmill next to me, which was a nice way to finish. Unlike other times I’d run, I spent a good 10-15 minutes walking to cool down, and then some more time stretching. While I’m a little sore while I write this, it’s nothing too bad. I liked running this way a lot more than merely running a mile. Until I can find someone to coach me and give me a training plan, I think I’ll stick with this. I know it’s not doing anything to increase my speed and lower my time, but I think it will help increase stamina and make it easier to lower my time in the long run.