My training log: from 5K to a full marathon

Many years ago, when I was in my teens, I recall seeing the route of the Milo Marathon.  The route snaked all over Metro Manila.  I remember it traversing Aurora (Or was it Quezon Avenue?), passing through Makati, and then running along the length of EDSA.  This was back in the day when there was no MRTs, there there were traffic signals instead of flyovers, and a drive from Makati to Quezon City would take minutes instead of hours.  I remember thinking back then that driving along that route was already a pain, so I couldn’t imagine running it!

So now here I am, on the verge of running my first marathon.  How did I get from struggling a 5K to enduring a 42K? Lots of running, that’s for sure.  Looking back at several of my training “logs”—a combination of Facebook statuses, tweets, and Runkeeper updates—it’s amazing how far I have gone!

August 18, 2009: “For the first time in almost two months, I am going to the gym.”  This was followed by “5k. 38 mins. Not bad methinks.”

August 21, 2009: “On the road, 5k is 39:10.”

August 31, 2009: “5K. 34 mins 40 seconds. That’s RUNNING. No WALKING. Slight pain in my knees for the first kilometer”

From that point I began to contemplate joining fun runs.  And on November 15, 2009, I joined the Ateneo-sponsored Sesqui Cross Country fun run, my first such “fun run” in over 20 years, partially because it was the 150th anniversary of my alma mater and also because I was familiar with the territory, having run the Cross-Country route several times when I was in college.

In December, probably because 5Ks were getting easier and posing less of a challenge, I decided to run a 10K.  By April, at the Greenfield City Sunset Run, I finally broke the 1 hour barrier  for a 10K.  To think that just a few months ago I couldn’t finish a 5K at that pace!

February 6: It was in the last year’s Condura that I decided to go beyond 10K, for no other reason than to maximize the experience of running atop the Skyway.   At that time, the 5K wouldn’t be up the Skyway and the 10K only covered a short distance.  I was tentative about it, doubting if I could finish a 16K.  At that time, finishing a 10K would be a struggle and I would experience slight knee pains especially during the last few kilometers.  But finish the 16K I did, and yes the knee pains plagued me in the last 2 kilometers that I had to slow down and walk a couple of times.

February 20, 2011: My knee pains continued and plagued me in Ateneo’s Pronation run, where pain in my right knee caused me to hobble for the final 4k.      My mistake?  Starting off way too fast.  I thought I could break 55-minutes.  I ended up with one of my worst 10K showings,  finishing at a personally disappointing 1:01.

February 27, 2011:  I joined the EDSA 10K  for two reasons (1) see if I can finish without any knee pain and (2) to see if I can finish under 60 minutes.  Knowing better than to start off fast, I ran at a more steady pace, which was a good thing since the route along Ortigas Avenue and along Greenmeadows, had uphill and downhill roads.  I finished pain-free with a time of 59:50.

March 27, 2011:  Globe Run For Home.  First time I ran a 10K with Vibram Five Finger minimalist shoes.  I ended up with one of my fastest 10K times.  With no pain!  I have run with Vibrams since then.

May 22, 2011:  Sometime in March, I decided to train for a half-marathon.  Many have commented that 10Ks were nothing compared to a 21K.  So I planned that the Brooks Go Happy 15K was a stepping-stone to that goal.  Surprisingly I finished in 1:28, which meant that I could sustain a 6-minute pace beyond 10K! This led me to believe I could run a 21K in around 2:06 to 2:10.

June 11, 2011: My first 21K was the Mizuno Infinity Run.  And that was a painful experience.  But I realized a few things about running a 21K, most of all to maintain your glycogen levels by consuming carbs (like energy gels) while running.

November 13, 2011:  Run United 3.  32K.

Last month, 21Ks are now my staple “long slow distance” (LSD) runs.  In my last 21K, the Go Natural Run, I was supposed to take it easy but ended up finishing with a PR time and still had fuel to spare!  I had practically no aches and pains.

So that’s pretty much my timeline leading to this Saturday’s Condura Skyway Marathon.   It took me 2 years, 4 months to come from a struggling 5K runner and end up as a full marathoner!

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