The app chatter describes this as a big week, but really it’s just week 5, imprinted on Silly Putty and stretched out a little. That’s not to say I wasn’t feeling some hesitation. After last Friday’s sense of triumph (I can run for 20 minutes straight!) I found a whole new set of doubts to pass through. Twenty minutes is fine, but now we’re working toward thirty — that suddenly sounds like a lot! And week 6 is the final week that includes scheduled walking intervals — I’m a little sad to see them go!

Week 6, Day 1: Fog

Rolled out of bed late, by the standards of my exercise schedule anyway, and hit the street with my head still waking up. Though I was occasionally nagged by a sense that I was going to run out of energy before the end, overall my mind was just dull and misty. I finished with perfectly satisfying numbers (run: 2 miles, 8:58 per mile) but emotionally, I just felt kind of empty and uninspired. Why am I doing this again?

That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I know the reasons I’m doing this, and there are many: I’m a guy over 40, trying to keep his heart healthy, do something new, and have some outdoor time all to myself. But the blerch still whispers in my ear every now and then, and his voice sounds just like my own.

Week 6, Day 2: Cliff

I just recently learned of the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, not too far from my house, and have been meaning to check it out, listen to some birds, and maybe find a geocache. And it occurred to me that it might be in just the right place to serve as a goal for this 23-minute run/walk.

As it turned out, I almost made it — when the app gave me the “halfway” alert, I was about 30 yards from the entrance to the bird area. That definitely made it an attainable destination for upcoming longer runs. But then on the way back, on a very short stretch of road between the Owen and the bike path, I found myself on a very narrow shoulder, facing a very large truck. I had plenty of time to get out of the way, but my escape route took me down a grassy slope. I caught myself and got back on my feet, but I questioned the wisdom of treading that particular path again.

Run results: 2.33 miles, 8:34 / mile.

Week 6, Day 3: Branch

This is it! The 25-minute jog.

Getting ahead of ourselves, aren’t we?

And now, the long runs begin. 22 minutes, no walking, and no more walking scheduled for the rest of the program. My main goal was to find the same stride I had last week, and not wear myself out too soon. I don’t think I quite succeeded on that count, but I still managed to go the whole distance without any walking.

The most exciting part of the morning was when a giant branch fell off a tree onto the path about 30 feet in front of me. I thought, “Good thing I’m not running faster!”

At 2.42 miles, this was definitely my longest run, so I’m not bothered that my average pace went back up to 9:05.  Back on weeks 1 and 2, I was pretty excited that I was staying at or under 8 minutes per mile, but that was for shorter intervals. As the next three weeks bring on ever-increasing run times, I think I can be happy with nine minutes as a target pace.

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