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5K (Near) Panic

April 8, 2010

My first 5K is a mere two weeks from this Saturday.  Two frickin’ weeks(!).  I was feeling pretty good about my first race, as I’ve been doing some run/walk intervals on my treadmill without difficulty, and feeling great afterwards!  Three miles seemed like nothing.

Then I took a look at a map of the race course the other day, and a brief moment of panic ensued – eyes bugging out of head and all.  I thought – damn!  That looks a lot farther than the same distance feels on my treadmill!  I quickly regrouped; reminding myself that I’m well-prepared and can do this.

So yesterday, instead of putting in my time on the treadmill (which apparently is also freaking out about my 5K, because the belt was as jumpy as a C-list celebrity in detox), I decided to go put in my running outside at a park.  This park is beautiful – it’s an old horse farm that the suburb I live in bought and turned into a park with a few miles of paved trails around a beautiful small lake.  And what makes it so pretty?  The trees and the hills.

Trees and hills present two problems for amateur runners in the spring – pollen from the trees, and mad inclines that I hadn’t really been practicing on the treadmill (and that thankfully are not a part of my actual race course).  I’ve run in this park before, but now that I’m being fairly strict with myself to run two minutes straight – the hills and the pollen became much more of an issue.  Between the two of them, my fat behind nearly choked.  Literally.

I’m learning to breathe when I run, and that’s been amazingly helpful in upping the amount of running I can do.  But that all went to hell in the park yesterday.  About a minute and a half into my running intervals, I felt like my trachea had been coated with menthol.  I had to slow down to a walk for fear of not being able to breathe at all.  I got in a couple more running intervals on downhill portions, but all in all, I only got through 24 minutes out there, and probably only about a mile and a half.

So I’m asking all you veteran runners – what am I doing wrong?  Is it just the season and the pollen?  Should I not try to run uphill just yet?  Is that mentholated burn in my airway normal for a beginning runner, or should I get my @$$ to a doctor?  Thankfully, I see my trainer again this weekend, but I’m interested to know if any of you have had similar experiences.

p.s.  I’ve mentioned before that this is a run to raise money for bringing clean water systems to the developing world.  I’ve already raised over $100 towards the cause through donations, and if you’re so inclined and want to keep my mentholated lungs motivated to finish this thing, you can click here to donate.  No donation is too small!

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  1. April 8, 2010 at 10:48 PM

    My biggest issues are calf pain and sidestitch. I’ve never really had any breathing issues thankfully, but I also haven’t been running outside all that much. I don’t think its anything that would warrant a doctors visit, I just think it might be the pollen/whatever else is in the air and the exertion. Sorry if that isn’t much help. :/

  2. April 8, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    I wish I had advice. i’m trying *so hard* to work on the breathing thing. I have yet to run outdoors for more than a few mins at a time mostly b/c of fear of people seeing me run so I stick to the treadmill. Yeah did I mention MY 5k is ONE WEEK from Saturday? GULP!!! I fully expect to faint from lack of breathing b/c for the life of me I can’t find a breathing method that works!

  3. April 9, 2010 at 2:37 AM

    I don’t know about running in pollen because I don’t think we get much of it in San Diego (and if we do, I never notice). But I’m pretty sure the burning lungs is normal for running outside to start with. I find it harder to control my breathing outside too and I have to tell myself to breath in for 3 counts and out for 3 or else I start gasping for air.

    But, do take it easier running outside. It’s different and you’ll have to get accustomed to it as well. The treadmill paces you whereas outside, you’re on your own (which is where I fail). Keep it up though. Slow it down and do smaller run chunks.

    I’m getting nervous about my race too. My quads were super sore today and so I think I’m going to not run until race day. Bah. So nerve-wrecking!

  4. April 9, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    Breathing has been my biggest problem too. My legs have been holding up just fine, but my lungs feel like they’re on fire. I’ve tried controlling my breathing some, but haven’t had much luck there. I’m hopeful that it’s just one of those things the body needs to get used to, and it will gradually get better as I get outside and run more.

    Good luck on your 5K, I’m sure you’ll do great!

  5. April 9, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    Well, I can’t offer any advice (because I’m not a runner yet), but congrats on getting ready! That has to be exciting. 🙂

  6. April 9, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    I’m with Jess on this one…I think beginning runners outside typically have problems with a burn in the lungs. When running outside you have unlevel ground, unnoticeable inclines, etc…that you don’t typically deal with on the treadmill which causes different breathing. Try controlling your breathing the next time you’re out and see what happens.

  7. April 9, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Ooo. the ‘ole mentholated trachea at least warrants one little check up. don’t ya think??

    I ignored my allergies for years. It later resulted in sinus surgery from hell.

    • April 9, 2010 at 2:59 PM

      Yeah – I paced my breathing really well and everything (in, 2, 3, 4, out, 2, 3, 4) and I still ended up getting that feeling – I’m going to mention it to trainer tomorrow and see what she says. I’m hoping it’s just from being out of shape and not from asthma or something crazier.

      Sounds rough on the sinus surgery! My allergies (typically in the fall) turn into sinus infections in a heartbeat, too. Ugh.

  8. Erin
    April 9, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    I’m no help with breathing, as I’ve never had issues with it. Most of my problems are with shin splints. I always breathe in thru the nose and out thu the mouth. I’ve got alot of sinus and allergy problems, but running seems to be a good antihistamine for me! It’s weird. Other than that, I’ve got nothing for ya. 😦 Keep us updated when you get it figured out, as I’m curious to see how it’ll improve!

  9. April 9, 2010 at 10:58 PM

    I have asthma, and I have to take a shot of my inhaler before I do any kind of exercise! 😦

  10. April 10, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Have not had a lot of breathing problems. Side stitch is what hits me.

    My best guess is it is the pollen.

    BTW- don’t let this get in your head…. 5K is not ANY further on the street than it is on the hellmill.

    Thanks!!

    WeighDownSouth.com

  11. April 10, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    Do you have a history of allergies or asthma? Probably good to get a professional analysis, especially since you are pushing your body and taking on these challenges.

    When I run, my teeth hurt, gums ache. I don’t know anyone else who this happens to. Totally bizarre huh. It’s happened since I was a kid.

    It’s good that you’re listening to your body. If it’s breathing, definitely figure out what’s up so you live to run again.

  1. April 10, 2010 at 2:38 PM
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