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I 100% admit that I am trying to bring back my glory days. In high school I was ranked Top 10 in the state in every race from the 50m to the 400m. My 800m time was around a 2:21, and my 5k times (I did 1 season of Cross Country) was about 0:21:00. I ran competitively in college (Division 1) before an injury (that I'd been dealing with all through HS) sidelined me (because the team doctors said there was no way I could keep running on it and I needed time to rehab) before the first meet of the season, and from there I gave up running. (I knew I wasn't going to make a career out of it - so why spend a year rehabbing to red shirt... I joined a sorority instead! )
Now... a zillion years later (I'm about to turn 26, last competitive race was senior year of HS in 2005) I've decided to get back into it, and I've registered for my first 5k.
I'm trying to guage where - realistically - I should be pacing & running, to begin. Obviously part of my mind (and even my body) is saying "You're young - you can get back to the great shape you were in" but the rational side of my brain is saying "that was 8 years ago old lady, relax and be content with a 30 minute 5k." (Note: Today was my 3rd day back on the roads after the long hiatus - I jumped into a 3 mile run - finished it up in 32 minutes with a bit of walking in there ... but I tried really, really hard to NOT walk. But you know... out of shape.)
So what's realistic? Will I be able to get back down to that 21-25 minute 5k mark? Or is that a very distant pipe dream and I should be focusing on something less ... ?
Also - any tips for getting the right "feeling" back? When I run now (and I'm blaming it on that extra 20 lbs) I feel like I can never hit my stride and it's always a bit of an awkward gait. Will the appropriate stride come back with time (hopefully once I nix the weight) or do I just need to accept that it's going to be a bit more challenging now?
Thanks everyone!! I look forward to speaking with you all & hopefully we can share some great stories and encouragement!
Well, the first rule, which you have probably broken already, is not to do "too much, too fast, too soon". 3 miles every other day at a moderate pace may be OK to start, but beware of any aches and pains. ("Moderate pace": you should be able to talk in short sentences while running.) It is too easy to get injured if you really try just to jump back into running. Remember, at this point you are a beginner again. Your mind may remember what to do but your body will require several months to re-acquaint itself with the routines and rigors of running - as you have already noticed (" I feel like I can never hit my stride and it's always a bit of an awkward gait").
Can you get it back? No reason why not as long as you take a long-term approach, do it gradually and avoid injury. I don't know what the stats are on shorter distances, but they say marathoners tend to peak in their early 30s. Run the 5K for the experience. Don't push it and don't even think about time.
Not to repeat but to add to Lenzlaw, I too started running again about 7-8 months ago after pretty much a 19 year hiatus! So I feel your pain (no pun intended).
What worked for me is incorporating alot of cross-training into my running regiment. I use elliptical, stair climbing, bike, and running. I used to be able to run 18:30 (6 min pace per mile) 5ks, but had to be more realistic this time around and accept the fact it's going to take awhile, because when I started up again, I couldn't run a 10 minute one mile on a treadmill!
But thru careful slow progression of training, and blood, sweat, and tears, and cross training with the running and taking rest days as serious as training days, I just ran tonight a practice 5k in the indoor track at the gym I go to at a 7:10 pace per mile (22:15), the first two miles at 7:00 flat pace.
So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is it may help you to start with realistic steps then build slowly to that main goal of 21 minute 5k. Make sub-goals of say, running that sub 30 min, then shoot for a sub-28 min, then sub-25, so on and so forth. There are some 5k training plans you can look at online, what I've done is taken bits and pieces of them that work for me and incorporate them into my plan. I usually make sure I do at least a long run, a tempo or hill run, and some sort of speed work run every week. But I try to make my plan flexible, move days around, and so forth since I live a somewhat busy life with work and family and etc.
My main goal is to be able to run that 6 minute per mile 5k again. But I know it's not going to happen tomorrow. In the meantime, I made sub-goals of running a sub-27 minute 5k, which I broke in the first race I ran, then simply ran faster than that, which I did in the next race. Then try for a 7:30 pace 5k for the Cirque Du Soleil race, I ran it in 7:35 pace. Now I'm trying to bring it down to 7:00 pace for my next 5k race, the Douglas Green race, which I'm evidentally almost there. But I'm trying to make realistic, short step goals that eventually hopefully will lead me to that main goal. And the goal successes and achievements I find keeps me going and keeps me motivated to move onwards. I hope this might help. Be patient, you'll get there eventually with the right training and avoid injury.
Run, Forest, Run
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
Los Angeles Marathon on March of 1994: 3 hr 28 min 9 sec
Run with Santa 5k on 12/22/12: 25 min 19 sec
Mardi Gras 5k on 02/09/13: 24 min 50 sec
Cirque Du Soleil 5k on 03/16/13: 23 min 33 sec
Douglas Green Memorial 5k on 05/18/13: 22 min 47 sec
4th of July 5k Blast on 07/04/13:???