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This week was my first dedicated week as a runner. I won’t lie, “running” 5 miles for the first time since last December was painful. My legs were sore for days as muscles I hadn’t used got worked over like a rubber band in a kid’s slingshot. But the good news is that I wasn’t gasping for air—cardio-wise, I felt great. In fact, if I feel confident about anything, it’s my ability to run for hours at a time—once my leg muscles catch up to my lungs. This should help me have a decent, hopefully stellar, marathon training season.
After surviving 5 days of 5-plus hour rides two weeks ago, a four-hour marathon will seem short, and 90-minute training runs will be cake (speaking in terms of duration. I know they’ll be hard in other ways.). I love cycling; it’s still amazing that my legs can transport me over 100 miles in a day, or move me along at 20 mph. But I almost like running more, simply for the fact that I can cut my workout time in half and still get an equivalent shot of exercise. I’m following a program I picked up called the FIRST plan, which emphasizes higher intensity runs over logging big miles. The nice thing about the FIRST plan is that none of the mid-week workouts last much beyond an hour, and I only have to run three days a week. That leaves me with plenty of time to do other stuff, like help my kids work on their Halloween costumes and get the house and yard ready for winter.
I also like how running makes me feel in general. After spending months adapting my body to a machine, the bike, it’s always a pleasant revelation to uncoil my body, stand upright and run. After my legs and torso strengthen up, I can feel the body do what it evolved to do naturally. And like clockwork, the weather switched to fall this week, the cold of morning or the brisk air of mid-afternoon doling out perfect running weather. So for the next 19 weeks, I’ll be running, seeing just how well my cycling fitness carries over into my stride and enjoying the fact that come the holidays, I’ll be gorging on all those meals because I need the calories to fuel my training. If everything works out, I’ll start the new year with a 20-mile run that should strip my gut of any leftover holiday girth.
We’ll see how it pans out.