When I started getting serious about losing weight again, it all started as a Three Peak Challenge. I have written about this challenge several times before. In a nutshell, I got inspired to get back into hiking shape by choosing three mountains to climb that I either hadn’t done before, or it had been decades. I spent a lot of time getting back into shape to get to the top of the first mountain, Big Baldy.
When I didn’t make it to the top by the end of fall that first year, I had to wait until the snow melted off. I spent the winter trying to get off the extra weight and building up my endurance. A few months in to the next year, I was ready to try a walk of significant distance for me. I went on what I call my Riverwoods Route which I enjoyed in the past. When I was able to walk the 4.5 mile loop, I was really excited. When I started out, I had trouble covering a quarter of a mile.
As I kept walking and also dedicating my Saturday mornings to longer walks/hikes, I wondered if I could run a bit. I started out slowly running a block and then walking to catch my breath. It was fun to go faster than I had gone in a long time. I was making progress, but it was slow.
Fortunately, I have a cross country coach (Andy) and a long distance runner (Bill) in the neighborhood who had noticed that I was dropping weight. They were both very encouraging to me. I told them about what I was doing in trying to run. The both told me that they used a Garmin to track their running. I liked the idea because I often would go out but not know how far I had gone. After researching, I found one that also had a heart monitor. I didn’t know if the heart monitor would be that big of a deal but I decided to get that model.
|Garmin Forerunner 305|
When it got delivered, I got it set up, charged it and the next morning strapped on the heart monitor and headed out for my walk/run. When I got back, I loaded the data. It was interesting to see how far I had gone, but I was surprised when I looked at the heart rate chart. It was easy to see why I had to stop and walk. My heart rate would build up quickly to a level where I had to stop and walk. I learned that I was pushing too hard. On my next time out, I ran slow and steady and as a result immediately was able to run almost twice as far.
Things improved rapidly. My weight continued to drop. I was getting more bang for my buck during my exercise time and before long I was able to run most of the way. Gradually I was able to build my mileage to where I was running about 6 miles twice a week and then hiking 10 or so miles on Saturday mornings.
As I would talk to my running friends, they kept encouraging me. Bill told me I should run a 10K. He knew I could do it. I felt so great to have a runner that I admired telling me I could do something that I never though I would be able to do. I ran the Freedom Festival in 2010. I was so excited when I finished.
|Freedom Festival 10K 2010
I kept running. I began to wonder if I could even go further. Both Andy and Bill had full confidence in my ability to run a half-marathon. I found an online training schedule and a fall race that fit with the schedule. Before I knew it, I was at the starting line of the race and ran the 13.1 miles down to the Riverwoods. It finished up on the route that got me started! My wife and daughter were there to cheer me on at the finish. I had a hard time not getting emotional as I crossed the finish line. I did it!
|Sorry no personal photo, but here is the poster from this year. (I am running this again)|
I still love hiking and now I love running. It’s not easy, but I have overcome so much and learn tons from it. I never knew there was so much more beyond just getting out and running. Heart rate, different distances, speed training all play an important part. I am still learning a lot.
I hope this long post captures just a bit of how much I have come to love running. If there is any interest, I would be willing to post a few of the tricks I learned (and am still learning) about running. Let me know in the comments if you would like to hear more.
Hang in there and I will too!