I just caught Eric's interview on the Connect Run Podcast while on my 8-miler yesterday. Excellent interview, Eric! While listening, it reminded me of how far I had come as a runner since I started 5 years ago and how The Cool Impossible had helped become a better runner.
I was diagnosed with hypertension about 7 years ago at age 36. At the time, I was a smoker of 17 years, sitting around much of the day, and eating fast food regularly. Somehow, I had deluded myself into thing that I was still fairly healthy after years of living like that. The day that I felt light headed at work and had an RN check my BP was a wake up. When she gave the numbers (182/121 or thereabouts), I knew something had to change, something other than just the medication my MD prescribed.
The very next day, I smoked my last cigarette, went shopping for some healthier foods, and started walking. Amazingly, it all stuck with me. I added in some resistance training and a little stationary bicycling as time went on, and eventually something that I was initially doing to fight off nicotine cravings and cope with stress had become part of my lifestyle.
One evening, I decided to try a jog around the block instead of riding the old stationary bicycle. I only made it half a mile or so before I had to walk, but it was fun. The stationary bicycle was riding off in the back of someone else's truck within a week, and I was out run-walking 4 days a week with my 3 year-old in a jogging stroller after that.
Before long, I was running 3 miles regularly and figured it would be fun to try one of those local 5Ks out. I started training for my first 5K using a pretty basic plan I fond on the web and completed my first race a couple of months later. I knew I was hooked the moment I crossed the finish line.
I started reading magazines and books and internet articles feverishly, learning more about form and training. I chose my next race and started doing some tempo and interval work. Along the way, I came to the realization that I was heel stinking a lot of the time. As I began to increase my mileage, I ran into the old shin splints and achy knees. I ended up finishing my second 5K 4 minutes faster then my first, but I knew that I needed to make a change to my form if I wanted to continue improving and wanted to avoid injuries.
I came across Eric's book at my local library. I flipped though it and quickly realized it was just what I was looking for. I started the transition to the mid-forefoot strike about a week later and purchased a new pair of more primitive shoes and a Watch/HR strap. I started doing the exercises in his book.
I registered for my first HM and started the TCI training plan accordingly. I finished my first HM with a nice time. Most importantly, I had had experienced less pain and no significant injuries while training at much higher mileage. I decided to go more primitive with my shoes and to go through the TCI plan a second time while training from my next HM. I ran the same race 6 minutes faster.
Last year, I completed my first marathon just 15 minutes slower than the BQ cutoff. While I used a different training program, I continued to employ a lot of the stuff I learned from Eric's book and in the forum here. I continue to get faster at age 41, and I owe a lot of that the Eric's book and this site.
This year, I am focusing on 5Ks and looking to maybe finish one under 20 minutes. I'm actually doing those slant and wobble board exercises more regularly than ever before. I'm still using Eric's HR zones and employing a little barefoot running in my training. I still check my watch periodically to assess my cadence and visualize myself running over logs when working on my form.
Happy running, everyone.
Thanks again, Eric, for helping me achieve my cool impossible each day!