Last Sunday I posted the results from my 5k race. This happens to be the very first race I ever ran 3 years ago. When I was 38, I started running around March of 2007 and entered this race as my first race in September, 2007. For kicks, I looked back and I ran the race in 21:36, a 6:56 pace. I was surprised I ran in this fast and I forgot that I had but, I turn the clock ahead 3 years, and this past Sunday I ran a 19:08, a 6:09 pace. Obviously, almost 1 min. per mile is a big difference but not as much as I expected given the 3 year period. It tells me this is probably a distance and pace I was pretty good at, for a recreational runner. It is cool to be 3 years older and run it that much faster though.
What hit me was that perhaps I have found what I'm good at, which is middle distance and pace as opposed to longer distances and endurance running. My 3 year journey has brought me right back to the same distance running I started doing 3 years ago. However, my mistake was instead of continuing to improve on the shorter distances, I jumped from this 5k to the half marathon, and then to the full marathon and along the way, the world of injuries punched me in the face. If someone would have grabbed me at the end of my first 5k and told me to work on my form and technique and only run this distance for awhile, I think things would have turned out very differently.
It would only take a brash American like me to think I could ramp to the marathon that quickly without paying some dues and learning how to run.
My coach asked me if I was ready to move up to the 10k and I said "nope." I said, I'm not changing anything right now. The concentration on the shorter distances is allowing me to learn how to run properly. I've committed to only run 5k's (or shorter distances) this entire 2010 calendar year. After my next 5k, that will be five, 5k races this year and if all goes well, I will meet my initial goal of running a full calendar year of 5k's sub 20:00. At that point, I'll have the confidence that I can consider moving to the 10k but I still may not do it.
Like anything, it's about consistency, patience and steady improvement. There's no secret sauce, and patience is not a virtue many of us have but it's something I'm trying to learn.