I’ve been running pretty consistently three times a week for several months now. As the weather has improved, I’ve been skipping the gym and just running through my neighborhood. The initial switch from treadmill to street running was considerably harder than I had expected, but I’m now regularly running three to four miles per session.

I ran the Arnold Classic 5K back in March. I ran it primarily as a reason to motivate myself to keep running – a goal toward which I could work to improve my endurance and speed. I finished the race in just under 28 minutes, which isn’t fast by any stretch, but it was a result with which I was happy.

Since then, I’ve been trying to slowly improve my results. I’ve been running every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. I can comfortably run 5K through my neighborhood without feeling completely wiped out. Last Friday I ran just over five miles. I specifically set out to run farther than I’d ever run, and so was able to pace myself for the distance. I was specifically going for distance, not speed, so my pace was a bit slower than a normal run. To my surprise, at the end of the 5 miles I felt like I still had more in me, and could have kept going. But I didn’t.

In addition to RunKeeper, I’ve also been logging my runs on Fitocracy, a social exercise site. I don’t make use of the social aspects, but I do find value in the fun and positive support the site itself gives me. The notion of “leveling up” for the exercise I had planned to do any way is fun, and mildly motivating. What’s a real motivation, though, are the Fitocracy Quests: simple exercise challenges to get you to go farther, or try new things. After logging my 5 mile run last Friday, I saw that I was just a mile short of a 10K jogging quest. Surely I could go that extra mile and run a complete 10K in one session?

I also noticed a fun and easy looking quest titled “Paper Boy”. Simply run as fast as possible for half a mile, and then ride a bike for 20 minutes. I decided to clear out several quests at the same time on Wednesday: Paper Boy, run 1 mile in under 8 minutes, and the “Tour de Neighborhood” quest to bike for 10K. Running one mile in under 8 minutes was considerably more taxing than I had expected, but I did it! The bike ride afterwards was a pleasant cool down.

This morning I set out to run a full 10K. I knew it would take considerably longer than my normal run, and I would have to pace myself accordingly. I had really hoped to be able to jog the whole time, but I simply couldn’t do it: I had to walk a few different times to catch my breath. Each time I slowed to a walk, the effort to resume running grew harder and harder. After 56 minutes, though, I finally reached my goal!

I don’t feel any compulsion to repeat this effort, and I’m more perplexed than ever by anyone who wants to run even a half marathon. This six miles was really taxing, both physically and mentally. It doesn’t help that I’ve finished all the story missions in Zombies, Run!, leaving me to listen to far less interesting “supply run” missions. I can honestly say that the stories in Zombies, Run! really kept me entertained and energized while running, and I’m very much looking forward to additional content!

In the meantime, it’ll be nice to run a comfortable, easy 5K on Monday.

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