The 4 mile barrier

In March I started running again after a 5 year break. It was a lot harder getting started this time, but I’m glad I did. Back then I trained for a 5K race and after I was successful I trained for another 5K. The training program I use builds you up slowly to running 3 miles. After the race I just kept going trying to build up my mileage. When I hit 3.5 miles it was much harder than I expected and I had to slow my pace just to finish the run.

I was discouraged because until then I had steadily built up my mileage and my pace week by week. I hadn’t expected to hit a wall and it shook me up. I backed off on my running, eventually got out of the habit and quit.

I’ve learned a lot since then and today I ran 4 miles. It’s an important goal for me because somewhere in the back of my mind I was afraid of hitting that wall again. It feels great to break the barrier and now I feel like there are no limits if I just keep at it.

What made the difference? I’ve got people involved this time. I’ve got a guy I run with once a week and people to pat me on the back and encourage me. I also realize you can’t expect to keep improving at a steady rate forever. Progress tapers off and sometimes you have setbacks. I’ve been reading Hal Higdon’s book “Run Fast” and have learned a lot about training. My long runs I do at a slower pace with a focus on just finishing, and I pick up the pace on the shorter runs through the week. I’ve also learned that my mood, the weather, my diet and how much sleep I’ve gotten really affect my performance. There’s no shame in slowing down or cutting a run short if I’m feeling tired.

It’s good to reach a goal I’ve been working towards for months. As I get older I realize that there are no shortcuts. Nothing happens without work, and no goal is achieved without discipline, hard work and putting in the time week after week.

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