Progress in Running Means Relentless Forward Motion

Big Sur - MarathonFotoLet’s talk about progress for a little bit. Progress, by definition means a forward or onward movement. Add the word relentless before that definition and you get progress in running- relentless forward or onward movement.

I’ve been relentlessly moving forward with my running for a little over a year now and have hit some major milestones, no pun intended (ok, just kidding, pun intended). Within a year’s time I:

–       Learned to run through a couch-to-5K program

–       Ran my first race at the Four on the Fourth 4-miler in Maine

–       Two months later ran my first half-marathon

–       Four months after that I set a 17-minute PR at my second half-marathon

–       Four months after that second half, I ran my first full marathon

Ok, so I’ve become a tad bit addicted to distance running. I went from couch-to-5K-to-half-marathon-to-marathon, in a year. But is that really progress?

I’m a firm believer that anyone can become a runner. I don’t care if you’re overweight, a couch potato, or just a stubborn person like I used to be who would always say, “I hate running.” Everyone has the potential to become a runner. But can everyone make progress and become a good runner? A fast runner? An elite? I don’t know.

I think progress takes a lot of time, hard work, dedication, and above all else patience. In the year that I’ve been running, I’ve seen progress in my paces and average finishing times.

5K– two races exactly 5 months apart (00:41/mile difference)

  • Oktoberfest 5K on October 14, 2012- 27:34 which is 8:52/mile pace
  • B.A.A. Boston Marathon 5K on April 14, 2013- 25:23 which is 8:11/mile pace

4 mile run- comparing my first race (a 4-miler) with a training run during Big Sur training

  • Four on the Fourth 4-miler on July 4, 2012- 37:16
  • 4 mile training run on March 19, 2013- 33:58

Half-marathon– two races roughly four months apart (1:21/mile difference)

  • Smuttynose Rockfest Half-Marathon on September 30, 2012- 2:18:09 which is 10:32/mile pace
  • Disney Half-Marathon on January 12, 2013- 2:02:22 which is 9:11/mile pace

But I’ll be the first to admit I lack patience. I want results now. So since I completed my first marathon at Big Sur in April, I’ve been focusing on making strides with my progress (again, pun intended, sorry I can’t help it). I’ve taken to doing interval workouts every Wednesday to work on my speed. I’ve committed myself to strength training by doing circuit workouts, lifting, and really focusing on my core. I’ve also tried to maintain a 22-25 average weekly mileage, although I’m in between training cycles. I’ve continued to run five days a week.

All of this will help me to continue my relentless forward movement, a.k.a progress. But will it all work the way I’m hoping it will? Who knows. What am I even hoping to achieve? I still don’t know that either. All I know is I want running faster for longer to feel easier. I know everyone wants that but I’ve seen my progress over the past year and I’m just hoping it’ll continue.

What I do know is that it is possible to get better. I look at some of my fellow running bloggers like Ashley who ran her first marathon at a finishing time very similar to mine and is now, just a few years later, chasing down a BQ (Boston qualifying time). I look to Lora, who ran her first marathon in 2011 and has continued to PR since, despite battling through a stress fracture. Both of these runners, and countless others, inspire me and make me truly believe progress in running is possible. It may be tough but the relentless forward motion will pay off. I just need to stop being so impatient.

How do you measure progress? Let me know in the comments below!