This weekend, I ran my first 5k. With Preacherman accompanying me the entire time, I ran (the whole time!) and finished right at my goal time! It was tough, but it was good.
Now, in my former life, I was a runner. Let me correct that- I was a SPRINTER. I say that because there is a difference between being a sprinter and being a distance runner. Preacherman, in his younger days, was a cross country champion. He started “training” for the 5k about 3-4 weeks before the race. I started training about 6-8 weeks before the race. I knew that while I had running experience, it wasn’t going to be enough to get me across the finish line so I was determined to prepare accordingly.
Despite my desire to prepare accordingly, I wasn’t able to complete my running plan due to some changes in our schedule. As a result, I came into the race on Saturday having not run (at all) since the previous Monday. I ran the first half of the race pretty easily- and felt great. After that, I began to struggle, probably feeling my lowest between 2 and 2.5 miles. Through it all, Preacherman was super encouraging, and never left me behind. Though there were points where I was able to push myself, I really struggled.
As we approached the end of the race, I felt myself being able to provide a burst of energy to finish (and meet my goal time). I finished, almost in a full-out sprint, and was overjoyed. One of my bucket list items was complete and I had pushed myself beyond what I believed I could do. This experience was great physically, but also mentally. Here’s some things that I learned from my 5K:
- It’s not enough to train for the race. You have to train for the course.
- You need to have people on your team who’ve been where you been to encourage you for where you’re going.
- While it’s great to finish strong, you should train in such a way that you can be strong for the duration of the race, not just the end.
Lesson 1: It’s not enough to train for the race. You have to train for the course.
I did ALL of my training for the 5k in the gym, on the treadmill. For about 6-8 weeks, about 3 times a week, I hit the gym and followed my training plan. While I did increase the speed as I was training, never once did I increase the incline. When it came time to run the race, my body was shocked at the number of hills we were climbing. Had I prepared for the course, instead of just preparing for the race, I would have been better equipped and could have possibly finished faster than I did.
Lesson 2: You need to have people on your team who’ve been where you’ve been to encourage you for where you’re going.
As I mentioned, Preacherman is a former cross country runner. He ran the race with ease and confidence. His support was integral to my finishing the race and meeting my goal. Since he has run many 5Ks over the course of his life, he was able to effectively encourage me for the race. If we had run separately, I probably would have finished 10 minutes slower than I did. With his encouragement, I was able to run the race marked out for me with perseverance.
Lesson 3: While it’s great to finish strong, you should train in such a way that you can be strong for the duration of the race, not just the end.
On the way home after the 5k, Preacherman told me how proud he was of me for my strong finish. But then he said, “You know, if you were able to finish strong, you probably could have done more the entire time.” I was initially shocked, but I realized that he was right. With better, more consistent training, I would have been able to not only have more endurance, but more speed. While I am proud of my strong finish, my goal for the next 5k (and there will be more) is to run a stronger race for the duration of the race. I need to work on my timing and my pacing.
I’ve been mulling over these lessons for the past few days, striving to apply them not just to my running, but to my life. In the race of life, I want to be prepared for the race and (as much as possible) the course. I want to build a team of mentors who can encourage me as I strive to get to the next level. I want to run a strong race with endurance to the end. And at the end, I want to get the prize.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!