Two years ago I quit smoking and started running - not with any particular goal in mind other than to replace a bad habit with a good one. I have been running about a mile to two miles 5-6 days a week for two years. I'm slow. I have to really push myself to do a mile under 11 minutes. Recently, upon talking to someone I would consider a "real runner", I was told that if I can run 1 mile, I can run 3 - and he's challeneged me to get to the point where I can run a comfortable 3 miles at each outing. My problem? I can't seem to do it! At each outing, I poop out at around 2 miles each time. I'm tired, achey, out-of-breath, and jelly-legged. Is this something I can fix or is my body just not as strong as others? Can anyone give me some pointers on how to run faster, longer? THANKS!
Congratulations on your decision to quit smoking and commit to doing something good for your health. Are you just trying to go directly from one to three miles? That seems like a plan that's destined to create disappointment.
It seems to me that it would make sense to build up a little more gradually. Maybe back things off to 1.5 or 1.75 miles per run for a couple of weeks, just to get comfortable with the distance, then start building gradually to three miles. You could also just follow the Couch to 5k program beginning at week five or six (http://www.c25k.com; I'd follow the program using distance rather than time, since that's your focus).
Alternatively, maybe you just slow down to the point that you can handle the full three miles. There are no rules about what speeds constitute running versus walking. It's more about the motion than it is about the speed.
For what it's worth, I wouldn't necessarily call an 11 min/mile slow. You're not going to break any land speed records, but it's a good deal faster than a lot of the population. If you want to get faster, I'd recommend increasing your distances, then eventually starting some speed work (e.g., intervals).
In any case, good luck! Post often -- we'd love to hear how you're doing.
2012 Race Schedule
Providence Marathon (4:48:55)
Buffalo Half-Marathon (2:03:16)
Chicago Marathon (October 7)