Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Just Yesterday's Run

Yesterday morning, I dragged myself to an early Couch to 5K run/walk before church.

First off, a few of the highlights from yesterday's run:
  • I followed a killdeer who appeared to be trying to lead me away from his nest.
  • A bittern swooped round and round over me, squawking repetitively.
  • Heather C.'s miniature horses followed me curiously as I ran along side their pasture.
  • And I escaped, without being pooped on, the swirl of swallows who were swooping and gliding and diving above me for their morning breakfast as I neared the Clearwater River bridge. There are probably over a thousand swallows that make their nests under that bridge. When they are flying about en masse above your bare head, it's a bit unnerving.
I did day one of Week 5 for my yesterday's workout. Most of the Couch to 5K weeks recommend the same workout for all three days of each week. But the workouts for Weeks 5 and 6 are graduated, each day of those weeks having a higher proportion of running to walking than the day before.

So yesterday, after my five minute warm-up walk, I alternated three intervals of 1/2 mile run with a 1/4 mile walk, then finished up with the five minutes cool-down.

The Couch to 5K program includes both distance and time recommendations for the workouts. When I was using the treadmill, minutes were easier to keep track of than distance. And through Week 4, with it's 1/8 and 1/4 mile intervals, I used the time recommendations outside, too. But I found it kind of difficult to accurately determine, while in a bouncing jog, where the minute and especially second hands on my watch were, so my times were always a bit of an estimate.

But with the start of Week 5, the interval distances have reached the level at which it's pretty easy, out here in the hinterlands of rural Red Lake County, to judge a half mile and even a quarter mile. Just count the power poles. Joe has always claimed that power poles are placed 100 yards apart. He also has said, I think, that there are 16 power poles per mile. But that does not add up. There are approximately 1600 meters in a mile, and 1720 yards. A quick google search does not seem to yield any concrete information.

According to my best estimate there are 17 or 18 poles per mile. The variance is from several factors. The primary one,... don't laugh,... is that it's really hard to not lose count while walking or jogging.  Around here where there is nothing to look at except the farm a mile or two down the road, one tends to fixate a bit on the things that do change, such as the distance to the next power pole. And trust me, even that does not change nearly fast enough. By the time I pass each pole, my thinking goes something like this, "Was that five or six? Or is it only four and I was looking ahead to the next one for five? Or..." counting power poles has the same hazards as counting scoops of flour in a recipe. I start to second guess myself until finally I just dump it all back into the flour bin and start over.  Believe me, I'm not about to go back to the beginning of the mile and start over if I lose count.  Uh-uh, no way.

Getting back to the point, I can manage, usually, to keep track long enough to count the 4 1/2 poles I figure for my 1/4 mile interval. And along the route I travel, the 1/2 mile mark is usually pretty obvious by a change in crops or fencing style.

Next time I get out to do the Couch to 5K, I'll be expected to do only two jogging intervals of 3/4 mile each, alternating with a half mile walk.  We shall see.

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