Unhappy Trails: Couch to 5K Week 5, Day 1

I see now why week 5 has such a tough reputation.  After week 4's strong finish, I really expected an easy run today.  After all, there's actually a minute less run time in W5D1 than W4.  How hard could it be?  In fact, my last run went so well, I thought I would try some trail runs in the JR Alford Greenway which is a brief walk from my front door.  When I did so much research about shin splints, I learned that off road running is easier on your joints.  Plus several serious runner friends told me it was good to run off-road at least one day per week.  How hard could it be?

At first everything started well.  My 5 minute warm up walk took me almost to the greenway entrance, and my run started at the top of a very steep hill.  My first 45 seconds were a quick downhill run with the wind in my face and the sun on my shoulders.  I could feel that the ground was absorbing a lot more of the shock of each footfall.

And then the uphill started.  I looked ahead and realized the hills out here were much bigger.  Not only that, but what energy the ground was absorbing to the benefit of my shins and knees was also being lost in rebounded force.  My thighs and calves had to work harder to keep moving.  Uphill.  In fact, the entire 5 minutes were spent climbing on hill.

Now three minutes walking.  Downhill.

Next five minutes running.  Uphill.  It's now I notice the uneven ground, and how much my ankles and lateral knee muscles are having to work to compensate for the unpredictable terrain.  Every root, branch, bump and horse track is fatigue on these muscles.  And the burn.  My calves and thighs scream at me with every step.  My shins are thrilled though.

Again three minutes walking.  Downhill.

The last 5 minutes uphill are on the longest, steepest hill of them all.  It takes everything I have to finish the run.

Of course my 5 minute cool down walk is completely downhill–this was the hill I started out running up.  I don't know how I managed to find a track that was perfectly set to make me run uphill for 14 minutes and change, but it has been hard.  My running pace was down, but not as bad a I thought.  My walking pace was pitiful.  I needed every step to recover.

But I ran without stopping and I feel good about that.  You can bet I will return to my familiar sidewalk for my next run.

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