goal adjustment

I feel like I am reaching a point where I need to take a long, hard look at what I am trying to do, what my body is telling me it can do, and how the two work together.

When I started this running journey, I didn’t really consider walking an option. So long as my knees cooperated, I felt very positive about the gradual increases in distance and I trusted the C25K program. Obviously, as my mileage went up, a doubt would enter my mind here and there, and I made an internal goal of running five miles straight. After that, whatever happened was fine. If I could continue to run, great. If I had to walk here and there, fine.

I know I can make it to five miles. I did it over a month ago and it was beyond exhilarating. The runner’s high, if you will. I have a 40:00 steady run planned for tomorrow and I admit, I’m scared. I’ve done it before, but now, with my recovery struggles exacerbated by the heat and humidity, I am really starting to question if I can physically do it again. I don’t know if it’s me or the weather or what’s going on.

While I’ve never really done regular interval training, on Wednesday, I incorporated a version of it into my run. Rather than randomly choosing to walk a minute here and there, I set my stopwatch for four minutes of running and one minute of walking, and continued on that way for the duration of my workout. It didn’t go long enough to say if I liked it or disliked it, or even if the timing was the optimal one for my needs. I just know that it helped me through a sticky spot, and now I’m tossing around thoughts of whether or not incorporating it into my routine would be useful.

On the one hand, I don’t really care how I cross the finish line. Whether I run, walk, skip, crawl or roll, a finish is a finish. I’m not looking for a Boston qualifying time, and I’m probably never going to register for a marathon, so my pace isn’t really a top priority (I say “really” because I am competitive and I really like achieving personal bests). At the end of the day, I want to be healthy and fit, run lots of races, collect lots of medals and enjoy the activity with my family friends.

On the other hand, I’m worried that starting walk/run intervals will mess up all the training I’ve achieved so far.

And on the other, other hand, I think of how much farther I could go with just those tiny little walk breaks.

So I’m torn.

Do I fight through? Take to heart all the fitspiration that tells me to push through the discomfort and the pain? Or do I take into account what I’m dealing with in the here and now (messed up sinuses and ridiculous humidity) and adjust accordingly?

How would you handle this? In what way would you proceed?

I would love to hear your advice and suggestions, and appreciate the time you take to share your thoughts.

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47 Responses to goal adjustment

  1. I’ve decided to incorporate run/walk intervals into my training again because I know it’s easier on my body. A lot of people view run/walking as “giving up” but if I allow myself those walk breaks I’m able to go further with more energy. The point of a race is to cross the finish line, smiling, head held high. If you burn out because your pushing too hard, you won’t get there. I LOVE the run/walk intervals and think they are very helpful physically and mentally. I am also faster with them as my legs get a little break. Maybe try shorter intervals 2:/1 and see how you like it. Jeff Galloway has an app that is great, he tells you when to run/walk.
    Above anything else, listen to your body. The mind is a powerful thing and don’t let it push ya too far and risk being injured! 🙂
    Happy Running!
    Karen @karenlovestorun
    Karen @karenlovestorun recently posted…Weekly Workouts July 22-28My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Definitely do not want to burn out.

      It’s such a fine line. The mind IS a powerful thing, and with all that “you can do anything you set your mind to” talk, at what point is it ok to say “you can do anything, but just take a step back and try it another way.”? Does that make sense? I want this to be sustainable, until either I completely lose interest or until my legs can’t run anymore. I am invested, physically, emotionally and financially, and I want to be in this for the long haul.

      • I went through the same emotions a few weeks ago. I had to take a step back and reevaluate what my goals were. I took the step back when I was risking injury and burn out. For me, my goal is to walk across the finish line of the marathon. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get me there. I have to compromise with my body and do run/walk intervals because it is so much easier for my knees. I don’t want to risk being injured and not accomplishing any of my races.
        Finding that sweet spot takes awhile, in the beginning I would go outside and wear myself down just to run 30 minutes straight. It took me awhile to realize that what worked best for me was little breaks here and there to go longer. Everyone is different but you’ll find it!! 🙂
        Karen @karenlovestorun recently posted…DisneylandMy Profile

        • runswithpugs says:

          I played around with my intervals this morning, and it went ok. I tried out 3:1 and 2:1. I think the 3:1 would have been ok, but I pushed hard before I got to that point and I was tired. So I’ll just play it by ear on Friday and do what needs to be done.

  2. Terikay says:

    Incorporating run/walk intervals into your training doesn’t make you any less a runner! I originally switched to run/walk for similar reasons as why you started running. It was something I could do with my husband and run/walk was the way he wanted to go. I swallowed my “ego” and joined a local Galloway group. Boy did I think those guys ran slow! Then something happened. My times drastically decreased, I had energy after my run to do things around town, and I really started to enjoy the process. I realize you added the BQ not in jest but there are BQers out there running the Galloway method. We have at least 4 ladies in my training group and oodles of men heading to Boston. Run/walk isn’t settle but a conscious choice and I guarantee you’re going to be coming across the finish line before many of those “runners”!

    • runswithpugs says:

      I have been really thinking about the Galloway group for October. As we discussed, I just don’t think I would be getting the most out of it right now because I’m still not up to par, but by fall, I should be good. And I’m not even thinking of it as settling – I mean, miles are miles, and as I’ve always said, I can walk faster than a lot of people run.

      And the extra energy in the day is a big consideration. The last few times I’ve gone out, I am ready to crash by 6PM. Now, I don’t know if it’s from the humidity or from pushing too hard, but tt would be nice to not be quite so drained.

      Do you start out doing the intervals right away, or do you run a set distance and then switch over?

      • Terikay says:

        I follow the “Galloway” method and base my interval ratio on my magic mile. I can explain the process to you anytime. I think you’d really enjoy the group. Lots of like-minded people and tons of support. Plus, I look forward to my long runs and learn oodles from my fellow runners.

        • runswithpugs says:

          I would love to chat about it. We’ll definitely have to set aside some time for coffee. I appreciate it. And yes, I am all for learning experiences and support. I wouldn’t be where I am without it. Thank you.

      • Brittany says:

        I’ll give you one of my Jeff Galloway books I keep accumulating with each group I join. I really love this method and of course I would like to see more of you if you joined in October. 🙂

        • runswithpugs says:

          I would appreciate that book. It would be nice to be able to read about it in depth, rather than just snippets I pick up from the internet. And yes, I’m really thinking seriously about October. I’ll have to do some adjustment to my bridge training, but I think I can work it out.

  3. Darlene says:

    I hear ya. I have the same problem. I can barely run 3 miles without stopping and that is only with the excitement of a race. I have often thought of a run-walk approach but I always go back to running when I can and walking when I have to. It has always worked for me and I have been able to finish 10ks, 15k and half marathons. Try it either way and do whatever feels right for you. The important thing is to just do it and cross the finish line smiling, wanting to do it again.
    Darlene recently posted…Biggest Loser 5K Run Walk Race ReportMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I practice my finish line smile on the regular. 🙂

      It’s good to hear that you have been able to switch back and forth. I have a 10 miler and a half coming up before the year is out and I really want to do well (aka cross the finish line with a smile).
      runswithpugs recently posted…goal adjustmentMy Profile

  4. I.Love. Intervals!

    They keep your mind engaged and NOT focused on the speed you are hitting.
    Have you thought about adjusting the interval paces so your faster pace is a few seconds slower, and your rest pace a few seconds faster? There is NO shame in walking in my book, but if you want to avoid it, that is an adjustment I make when my body is struggling with speed.
    Good luck, I’m sure you’ll do awesome!
    Anne @ CandyCrazedrun.wordpress.com recently posted…Running FailMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. When I have done the timed intervals the last couple of runs, it’s been a great bargaining chip for my body. You just have to make it one more minute/30 seconds/2 seconds, whatever. It’s the same strategy I use for making it up the big bridge I run: just get through two more light posts/that road sign/that crack in the pavement. I think it breaks my immediate goals down into even more manageable pieces, which can’t be a bad thing.
      runswithpugs recently posted…goal adjustmentMy Profile

  5. Diana says:

    When I started running last year, I started out with a program similar to C25K. Every new run distance was thrilling to me. But I had set backs here and there, and then got nasty sick for almost 2 months and it set me WAY back. I had a 10 miler and a half marathon on the horizon, and I didn’t know what to do.

    I decided to start doing set intervals – a run/walk program, so that I could successfully finishing the two races I had on the schedule. The races were wonderful and I loved every minute of the experience. I then decided that I wanted to get back to straight running and eliminate the walk breaks. I worried that I would have trouble doing so. I started slowly, doing short, continuous runs. 2 miles at a time. Then 3 miles. For me, it’s worked. I’m back to “regular” running, and I am pretty confident that the Half Marathon I have scheduled in October is going to be completed with only a few walk breaks (through water stations and to have a gel or two).

    I’m telling you this long and rambling story to let you know that if you choose to do the run/walk intervals, it doesn’t have to be what you do for the rest of time. It can be what you do for now, till you get your confidence up, the weather cools, till you decide you hate it, etc, etc. Whatever the case may be. And you won’t lose your fitness, and you may find yourself more content and excited about the new distances you’re covering.

    Also, I found that doing longer distances – even though I ran/walked them – actually improved my fitness and helped me run faster when doing shorter runs. So, if you’re like me and don’t REALLY care about your finishing time (but kinda really secretly do, because who doesn’t?), that’s an added bonus. 😉

    Whatever you do, I wish you luck, and remember – this is supposed to be fun! =)
    Diana recently posted…Week 3 RecapMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Thank you, so much, for sharing your story (the long and rambling ones are the best kinds). I love running. I love the sense of community and the races and the feeling of accomplishment when you hit a new goal. I don’t want to give up on that and I also don’t want to grow to hate it. You’re right – it is supposed to be fun.

      And you got me. I do kinda secretly care about my time. Kinda. I want to do my best and turn in performances of which I’m proud. I know I’m going to be slower on Friday’s race than I have before, even in training, but it’s ok, because I’m proud of myself for coming back from what has been a really hard recovery and getting out there again.

      It makes me feel much better that you were able to switch from intervals to steady running. I guess it’s no different than the C25K… just connecting the dots between the walk breaks.

  6. There is nothing wrong with taking walk breaks while you are running. I’ve had several of people doing run/walk intervals in races that have beat me who runs the whole thing! I think it gives your body the rest and break it needs and keeps you from burning out. I think you should do what works the best for your body. Try it…you can always go back to just running later. 🙂
    Mindy @ Road Runner Girl recently posted…When the Run Gets Tough…My Profile

  7. For the past four years, every summer when I start training for fall half marathons, I always do long runs with 4/1 intervals until it starts to cool off outside. Its just too hot for me. I keep my runs less than 5 miles with very minimal walk breaks. Then come October-ish, I readjust my walk intervals to what feels necessary.

  8. Haley says:

    I think taking walk breaks helps to keep you focused and motivated. There’s a whole culture of runners who swear by the Galloway method. There’s no shame or need to feel unaccomplished if you want or need to take them. Mileage is still mileage girly. Do what is going to make you enjoy yourself and the run more. That’s what is really important.
    Haley recently posted…Last Week’s WorkoutsMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I have never heard a bad thing about the Galloway training. It just wasn’t the original goal I had in mind. and while I know in my head that it’s ok to shift focus and do what is right for my body and well-being, I am very grateful to be able to talk it out here.

  9. Ok, here’s the short version of my story- In 2009 I ran an entire half marathon. I finished in 2:59, injured and heartbroken. Vowed never to do another one. Fast-forward to 2011, I decided to incorporate walking into my plan. Finished in 2:44 with a giant smile on my face. Which is better? Smiling or Crying? I have since run faster half marathons… I’m doing 3 this year. I train with intervals and through much experimentation I’ve found that running 4 mins. walking 1 min. is optimum/ (last year I tried 5/1 & got slower). People look at me funny in the first few miles… they think I’m tired already. Not so- I’ve got a plan and I stick with it. The people that scoff because they refuse to walk… I generally pass them around mile 10 when they slow down.
    Rhonda @ Kids Running Wild recently posted…Fun with Cadbury High TeaMy Profile

  10. alicia says:

    Here’s my thoughts:

    Do what you need to do to get to the finish line or the end of your workout without hating yourself, without hating the run or the idea of running. The worst thing you can do is force yourself to do something that takes you into a point beyond just the “uncomfortable” of finding your limits. It would be terrible for you to hate to run because you’ve pushed yourself to do something you really didn’t want to do.

    Interval runs are a really successful way to train and run/complete a race. If thats what works for your body, go for it. You can TOTALLY achieve personal bests doing interval runs (you will seriously surprise yourself).
    alicia recently posted…nature raised farms chicken dinner kit review & giveaway!My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Excellent points. Thank you for sharing them. I don’t want to end up hating running at all. It’s become such a big part of my life and I don’t want that to change.

  11. I personally love intervals…I am not a full time runner though so I almost feel like my answer shouldn’t count? I love intervals because sometimes when I run too long the pain is just overwhelming. taking a minute or two or 5 to calm my legs and heartrate down gets me to restart much easier.
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…BAM Healthy Snacks On The Go – Lenny Larry Cookies {VLOG}My Profile

  12. Kathy Bruinooge says:

    Im sure there are two schools of thought… I personally do some walking in my runs but it does allow me to cover more ground…. I’m not as competitive so although I like to have good times… I’m more about finishing and running more than walking…. It’s about feeling strong and healthier!!! I love a good run high as well….

  13. Hands down I say keep going and embrace the walk/run. It will give you that 30-60ish second break that your body needs and then you can continue on with your run. It is the only way that I run, but I also have asthma, a moderate heart issue and a bad knee, SO the walk/run gives my body those temporary breaks. I think you should at least try it out!!
    Amanda @ There Are 2 Sides recently posted…July Kona Kase ReviewMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      That’s awesome that the intervals allow you to achieve your goals with heart, asthma and knee issues! I guess it goes to show that every person is different and different strategies are needed. I think I’m leaning towards giving it a try!

  14. Do what feels good to you.

    If you decide to run intervals when it’s crazy hot and humid out and your body needs that extra break, that doesn’t mean you can run straight through when the weather settles down. You can go back and forth between the two and just adjust your training to what your current goals are.

    I wouldn’t call myself an interval runner because I don’t set out to run set intervals, but for longer runs if I feel like I need to walk, then I do. The important thing is that you listen to your body and stay injury free!
    Kristin @ A Mom on the Run recently posted…Product Review and Giveaway: ENERGYbitsMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I was really concerned about not being able to switch back to straight running from intervals but it doesn’t sound like anyone has really had an issue with that. It’s definitely something to keep in my back pocket.
      runswithpugs recently posted…goal adjustmentMy Profile

  15. jan says:

    I’ve heard that people actually go faster using the Galloway method sometimes because they’re running much faster that way, so even with the walk breaks, it evens out. You are NOT less of a runner for walking. Not at all. Follow your heart and go with it.

    My husband and I were just chatting about track workouts on the weekend. He isn’t a coach but he’s been a runner for over 25 years. His theory is that we all have enough speed. There aren’t many people that CAN’T run faster. The problem is the ability to hold that speed over distance. He feels that a combo of tempo runs, long runs, and hill workouts (or trail runs) are a much better way to improve race times.

    Also, to add to the novel I’m writing here, I found a really great article on improving 5k times: http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/solving-5k-puzzle?page=single It makes sense!
    jan recently posted…Project 365My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I have been doing a combo of hill (bridge) work, tempo runs, speed work and long (for me) runs, so it’s not so much the speed I’m worried about. Obviously, it’s nice to see the progress on that end, but I’m worried about the dehydration (I need to get up almost 90 minutes before I run in order to get a cup of water and something solid in my tummy before my run, simply because it takes that long to eat and drink), and then getting out there and dealing with the bizarre drainage issues I’m still having from the surgery. My body is working harder to compensate for all that and I’m feeling the strain of it. I don’t want to collapse under the weight of that strain.
      runswithpugs recently posted…goal adjustmentMy Profile

  16. Lis Harwood says:

    Thank you for your post. I have tried to do C25K 3x now…I can’t seem to past 2 miles without feeling that I have to walk. I love to do 5ks, but have never been able to complete an entire one running. Sometimes I feel that I am just not cut out to be a runner. I am intrigued by the Galloway method and will look into it. I feel great after doing intervals and feel that is the way I should go. I have felt like I failed if I can’t finish a race without walking, but thanks to your followers, I know that it might be the way I should go! Thanks for info and for all of your motivation. I look forward to your blogs updates every week.

    • runswithpugs says:

      From the wonderful people who have responded here, I definitely think you should check it out. If you are feeling great and hitting your goals, it sounds like intervals might be the way to go.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so grateful for the loyal readership and all the fantastic dialogue on this blog. It’s heartwarming to have so much support and access to information and ideas. Best of luck with however you decide to proceed. Be sure to check back and let us know how you’re doing!
      runswithpugs recently posted…goal adjustmentMy Profile

  17. I think as long as you are happy, that’s what matters. I tried one of Galloway’s training plans, and I just felt like I was walking too much and not improving.

    I still take walk breaks on longer runs but I have been focusing on trying to run slower and actually run. I started with 30 minutes and worked up to an hour. Lately, I’ve been trying to improve my 1/2 marathon time by 30 minutes (crazy goal, I know) but I think it’s doable. The plan I’m using now is slowly increasing the distance that I run at my goal pace. Started at 1 mile with a “recovery” break (which I walk since my running speed is already more like a jog) times 3. Before I injured my knee and put running on hold I was just getting started on trying 3 miles with recovery break (1/2 mile), also times 3.

    Supposedly taking walk breaks allows your knees and calves some rest time, so I don’t worry too much about it.

    The key, for me at least, is to recognize when I’m walking and why. I think I was really just excusing myself from running when I really was able.
    Brienna Nesting recently posted…color me rad!My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I think you summed it up with the excusing yourself from running comment. However, I am also notoriously hard on myself, and a perfectionist and type A, and I tend to figuratively drive myself into the ground before I will ask for help or look for another solution in a lot of cases, especially when it comes to my own personal performance. It’s for this reason that I wrote this particular post. I wanted to make sure that I know why I want go this route and make sure I’m accountable for it.

      Good luck shaving off those 30 minutes! That’s a huge goal but I bet you do great!
      runswithpugs recently posted…goal adjustmentMy Profile

      • Thanks! I hope everything works out for you!

        I’m excited to find out if I can really shave off 30 minutes, but since I’ve had ITBS and severe knee pain on and off since April, I haven’t been training very well for the Disneyland 1/2. This seems to be a common problem for me. My 1st 1/2, I didn’t train very much (I had never run more than 4 miles, even with walk breaks, when I signed up for it) and I had the flu for 2 weeks just before and was still kinda sick on race day. I was only about 11 minutes slower than my goal, so I thought I could easily make it if I gave myself enough time & trained properly for the next one. Well, the second was another 7 minutes slower! I had laproscopic surgery 6 weeks before the race, and couldn’t run for 4 weeks.

        The new 30 minutes goal is 15 minutes faster than my original goal, but my original goal was set without high expectations or a rigorous training plan. I’m hoping once my knee is better, I can pick another 1/2 early next year and really get my training done to see if I can do it or not.
        Brienna Nesting recently posted…color me rad!My Profile

  18. I don’t think there is anything wrong with walking some! Heck, Jeff Galloway has made a name for himself because of his walk/run intervals! I ran a half in february and there was a couple that was clearly doing walk/run intervals and I’m pretty sure they ended up beating me, and I ran the whole thing! Don’t push yourself toward injury. The only person you have to answer to is YOU!

  19. Andrea says:

    I started off running intervals (well, not true–tried C25k early on but when in did a big jump, I stopped) and I’ve used intervals ever since. I use a 2:1 ratio for longer races and 3:1 for a 10k. I do run the first mile or so to get out of the congestion before I start the ratio.

    Recently, I’ve started trying to up my running time. I’ve worked my way up to where I can run 28 mins straight before I start my intervals (today I did 30 mins just to finish the 3 miles). But I find that I am exhausted after and my legs are more tired.

    I find that when I do the run portion of my intervals, my speed is faster than when I’m just running straight.

    I’m now working to find a good balance. How far can I run straight in the beginning so I don’t get tired before I start my intervals? Last Tuesday for my 3 miler, I was supposed to run 27 mins then do 2:1s. But I started feeling ill at 22 mins so I stopped and started them there. Today I ran the whole 3 miles (30 mins) straight. Last Tuesday, I was 6 seconds faster than today. Just gotta find the balance.

    Anyways…(do I ramble much?) I’m completely for run/walk intervals. But it’s trial and error. Give them a try and see if it works well for you.
    Andrea recently posted…Team #runDisney Blog HopMy Profile

  20. runswithpugs says:

    I love rambling! So many great pieces of information!

    Tomorrow, I have a 40:00 run on the schedule. This will be the longest that I have done by far in five weeks. It’s intimidating, and I plan to take it mile by mile to see how I feel in preparation for Friday night. If I can run that first mile or so comfortably, then I can see how I feel mixing in the intervals afterwards. It will be a change, but better that than being doubled over on the side of the road, nauseous and miserable.

    Thanks for the great advice!
    runswithpugs recently posted…goal adjustmentMy Profile

  21. Oh I understand this!
    Back in January, February, March, I was running three days a week, at least 3 mi. a day. Then, I couldn’t get to the gym for six weeks. Then, when I could get to the gym, I thought “Why?”

    I would like to run again, it just seems like other things take the priority. It’s been so long since I’ve had a runners’ high that I don’t remember it. It serves as no motivation.

    I’m hoping to just start working out again, making it to the gym for even a short weight lifting session.
    Best wishes and thanks for sharing
    Elle@thewaybyelle recently posted…50 Healthy Food and Exercise Comment Luv BlogsMy Profile

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