And by “they,” I evidently mean my calves or hip flexors. Every time I run it seems  a new muscle group decides to be mad at me. Actually, it seemed like my whole body hated me whenever I ran at first…

As you probably know, I am training to run a 10K race on Memorial Day. You probably also remember that I am not a runner at all; in fact, I am a failed runner. In the past, I have tried a running program a couple of times before getting sidetracked within a few weeks. This coupled with an entire semester sitting at my desk writing my thesis means I had to start absolutely from square one fitness-wise. However, this sitting around made me adamant to get up and moving again when I finally got finished, and I planned to try running again, though I didn’t have too much of a plan. However, when I found out my friend was inspired to begin running, too, with this Memorial Day 10K in mind, that motivated me to try, too; it gave me a goal and a buddy to focus my interest.

I started this 10K novice training program roughly three weeks ago (give or take a little while I was still busy with my defense). The training should take me right up until the weekend before the race. At first I didn’t think it would be enough time for me to condition up, but I’m slowly making progress, and it might actually not be as insane as I imagined.

Despite how miserable I often seem to feel in the middle of a run, in actuality everything is improving from those first few tough runs. Things that were sore after a run before are now not, so maybe I’ll cycle through everything once and be more or less good to go (especially as I’m diligent to stretch thoroughly afterward). And while I still gasp for air and my chest feels like it’s going to explode at times during my run, those moments pass and I can sometimes feel downright almost comfortable (how’s that for hedging?). I still have to push myself since I am training for more distance yet, but I could imagine finding some pretty moderate and recreational run almost enjoyable even in my current state.

For the majority of my runs, I have used an iPhone app to track my pace and distance. My first recorded run here was 2.15 miles with a pace of 14:04 minutes per mile. That’s pretty darned slow, but I was pretty stoked to have made it over 2 miles at that point. Yesterday, I squeezed in a “quick” run before sundown, logging 2.71 miles with a pace of 11:56 minutes per mile. Not a bad improvement at all, I must say. For distance, I’m up to 4 miles, and my pace for that was 12:34; I thought I was going to die about mile 2, but somehow I made it the distance and could possibly have gone even longer, though it’s not wise to push too hard at first.

The first couple of weeks are certainly hard, as it’s hardly motivating to get out of the house when you don’t see much progress and you feel like you’re going to keel over. However, I stuck with it, and going into week four I’m feeling much more optimistic. It’s still hard, like I said, but there’s hope! I really hope that sticking to an eight-week plan helps me firmly establish a good habit so that even after the race I continue to run as routine exercise. I know from experience it’s easy to have a hiccup in your training and never get back on until you’re starting from square one, but having done it before should at least be motivating if/when that happens again.

My enthusiasm has also inspired DH. He will quickly tell you he is no-sir-no-way-no-how not a runner; however, he does a “bootcamp” workout twice a week and has been gaining a lot of strength and endurance. After thinking about it a while and seeing my effort, he decide to run with me twice last week to supplement his other fitness training. It was nice to have someone to go with to encourage me and push me. After our first run, I felt he pushed me too hard, but I was able to increase my distance plus shave a whole minute off my average pace on the next run, so evidently it was good for me to get a little kick in the work-out pants.

I’m always interesting in knowing about peoples’ gadgets when they run, so I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve purchased for this endeavor. A few thoughtful investments have seemed to pay off, and I haven’t even really spent that much money, either.

First, I bought some new shoes a week or so ago. I had shoes that were probably okay, but I had the funds, so I decided to just go and spend as much as I decided I needed to for some good shoes. I tried on $100+ shoes and $40 shoes and everything in between. Turns out that I truly and honestly liked the less expensive Ryka Revive 2 the best–lightweight yet enough structure to help support my foot. I’ve done four runs in them, and they’ve done well so far.

Next, I wanted to make use of my iPhone to track my distance and pace as well as record my workouts. I downloaded a few free apps for that and ended up liking iMapMyRun. You do have to create an account, but it’s been easy to use and has some nice features, like voice feedback at your desired interval to tell you your pace and distance and displaying your route on a map. You can record your workout and can even share it on social media if you desire.

Knowing that I would be running with my phone, I wanted something to contain it. I don’t have many pockets in my running clothes, and a phone would fall out of the ones I do have. I looked into armbands but decided that would drive me crazy, plus I didn’t want to keep taking my phone out of my case every time I ran. I finally decided on the Amphipod AirFlow Microstretch waistpack. It looks impossibly small but stretches quite amazingly to accommodate my cased iPhone with enough room to spare for a key (probably not a whole keychain without poking and scratching). There’s still room for something like an ID card or some cash. Without the phone, you could stuff keys, maybe some sunglasses, and maybe even some small food/hydration items if you’re running long distance. I can zip it most of the way up and have my headphones stick out of the small gap, and it works great. I barely know it’s there.

Those are my main purchases, and I feel really great about them, and I didn’t need much else to hit the road.

Hopefully I can continue to report even more progress in the coming weeks. I think that for my next run I’m going to try tackling a route I did very early on that featured a pretty decent hill; I was not at all in condition to run up it earlier, but now I think I could do better. Of course, they say pride goes before a fall, too. 😉 Well, at the worst case I can call DH or 911 to come pick me up off the road, but you never know if you don’t go!