August 16, 2021

Return to Running Recap : Week 12

I've completed 12 weeks of running three times per week--I feel like I'm back in the groove! It has boosted my mood and my attitude about myself more than words can say.

If you're new here, I'm returning to running after a loooong hiatus. I completed the Couch to 5K plan and have continued to run three miles, three times a week since then. My main goal is not a particular time or distance; rather, I just want to be able to run three miles with my heart rate in Zone 2 (my MAF training zone--you can read about MAF training here).

Here is a (nerdy) recap of the week...

Wednesday (Week 12, Day 1) : 3 miles at 5.0 mph on the treadmill

This day felt so hard for some reason. I knew my heart rate was going to be higher than I'd like because it felt high before I even started. I wasn't in the mood to wait until evening, when my heart rate is usually lower, so I just hopped on the treadmill at 1:30 PM.

Despite the huge note I taped to the treadmill display, I totally forgot to turn off the GPS on my Garmin! It really doesn't matter that much anyways, because I totally gave up on trying to calibrate my Garmin's foot pod to my treadmill.

The run felt hard and it was no surprise that my heart rate was high. Interestingly (or not), it was highest at the beginning of my run. Almost always, it starts out low and then increases steadily.

I felt good about finishing, but it was hard work. These were the zones:

Saturday (Week 12, Day 2) : 3 miles at 5.0 mph on the treadmill

I had planned to do this run on Friday, but I procrastinated. Then on Saturday morning, I was ready to procrastinate until Sunday. I wanted to clean the house really well before Luke and Riley came over on Saturday and I was sweaty from doing that (dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming... maybe I'm just totally out of shape, but I definitely worked up a sweat). Since I was already sweaty, I figured I might as well do my run before showering and getting on with the day.

I don't like to look at the treadmill display when I'm running, because the time seems to go by so slow. I place my book in a holder above the display and I can't help but glance down at the numbers sometimes. I was going to cover it with a piece of paper when I decided instead to use a couple of photos that motivate me. I just taped them over the display. (You can see them in the first photo of my post.)

I felt pretty good throughout the run, and I was so sure that my heart rate would be in Zones 2 and 3; so I was surprised to see that it was mostly Zones 3 and 4. Still, a huge improvement from Wednesday's run.

Monday (Week 12, Day 3) : 3 miles outdoors

I completely surprised myself today by having the urge to run outside. It was raining (not pouring, but sprinkling) and the thought of running in the rain sounded refreshing. (This was my thought as I was sitting in the air conditioning, of course.)

I knew without a doubt that I wasn't going to maintain a low heart rate outside, but I think running outside is good for me--so it's nice to do that once in a while. I also didn't have control of my speed like I do on the treadmill, so I had no idea if I'd be running faster or slower. I didn't want to look at my Garmin because I knew it would mess with my mind (if I was going slower than the treadmill, I'd want to speed up). So, I changed the Garmin to display only my distance and heart rate.

I tried to be super quiet when getting ready to head out, because I knew Joey was going to want to come with me. And sure enough, he was watching me with his tail thumping and a big old smile on his face. I couldn't say no. Thankfully, he's gotten to be REALLY good on a run. 

It was hard to distract myself from the fact that I was running; I was just listening to my breaths--inhale for three steps, exhale for two--and three miles felt very long! Toward the end of the second mile, Joey really started slowing down. Instead of being in front of me or even right next to me, he was behind me. I decided to drop him off at home and then keep going on my own.

It was so hard to keep going after dropping him off--I felt exhausted! I still hadn't looked at my pace, but I figured it was close to what I run on the treadmill. I was so happy to be done!

I was surprised to see that my pace was faster than I thought it would be; I was so sure I was running between 12:00 and 12:30/mile. I finished in 33:58, which is 11:19/mile. However, my heart rate definitely showed that it was a harder run:

I averaged the same as the first run this week, but still spent more time in Zone 4.

However, I felt really good going for a run outside! Running outside is way out of my comfort zone right now. It was humid and hotter than the rain made me think, but I felt a good sense of accomplishment when I was done. I love that feeling!

I still think that either my meds (which I take in the morning) and/or caffeine (I drink black tea, but I still feel jittery like I did with coffee) has the biggest effect on my heart rate. I'd like to experiment with that a bit--either run before I take my meds and have tea or wait until evening when the effects have worn off. I'll see what I can do this week.


  1. Love these geeky posts. I'm curious about MAF 180 though. I thought you were supposed to force yourself to run in zone 2 until your heart rate dropped so much that you had to run to keep it in zone 2. So, your plan really interests me. Maybe I'm doing it wrong!! Regardless, keep up the good work. Yay you!

    1. You are absolutely right about forcing yourself to stay in Zone 2--that is the correct way to do MAF training ;) I did it that way in 2015-2016 when training for a 10K and it worked SO WELL. And I *should* do it that way now, but I was just desperate to run again (for mental health!) and to stay in Zone 2, I'd have to do mostly walking. So, I'm just testing this way out to see what happens. When I can get to the point of being able to run in Zone 2, I'll do it the "right" way!


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