From zero to 10k in just three months – one runner’s quest to cross the finish line

Bobbi at Blarney Castle

Bobbi in June 2013 at Blarney Castle in Ireland. Photo by Aubrie Therrien.

A few weeks ago, my good friend Bobbi, (one of our out-of-state Run Oregon readers) emailed me for a little help. She wanted to complete the Monument Avenue 10k, a race scheduled for March 29, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. No, not just complete it – but to run the whole distance, within a time goal, and at the same time, lose weight, improve her overall strength and fitness, and have a good time.

Now, I’m no RRCA-certified coach, but Run Oregon blogger Teresa Wymetalek is. So I asked Teresa if she was willing to help my friend out … and thus begins our story. Teresa crafted a training program for Bobbi and I promised to offer my unending support and cross-country cheering abilities. We also thought it would be fun to document her journey – so that other runners can get an idea of what it might be like for them to train!

Note: every runner is different, so what works for Bobbi might not work for you. We recommend you talk to a local coach for a customized plan if you want to jump start your own training.

We hope you’ll follow along as Teresa and I tag-team the coverage of Bobbi’s program. Teresa will be writing about Bobbi’s workouts and progress with her fitness and running; I’ll be blogging about how Bobbi balances training with her full-time job and taking post-graduate classes, plus an hour-a-day commute; an how she’s feeling about reaching her goals. Okay, let’s go!

Bobbi first texted me at the end of December. “I need to lose weight … and I want to start running again. Can you do a running plan for me to do a 10k on March 29?”

No problem, I thought. Bobbi had run before, and was trained and ready to run a half marathon less than two years ago. I knew she could do it – but training to finish a 10k is different than training to run a 10k AND lose weight. So I roped Teresa in, and sent Bobbi a few questions to consider while we got started. These are good questions anyone should ask themselves before they embark on any training program:

  • What are your goals … besides earning that finisher’s shirt?
  • How many days a week can you run?
  • On which day do you want to do your long run?
  • How frequently are you running now, how far and at what pace?

Bobbi knows that when she’s running on a regular basis and feeling healthy, she is happy. Therefore, her primary goal is to regain her fitness. “I need something concrete to work toward to get back into working out on a regular basis,” she said. “I used to be very good about it, and the past few years, life happened. I moved out of state, started grad school on top of working a full time job, I bought a house, moved again. Things have been crazy and exercise fell away. I need to get back on track!”

She chose a 10k, rather than a 5k or half marathon, because it’s “challenging but still feasible.” This is a great answer: goals, by definition, should require hard work to reach but be attainable. It’s also a good choice for her because she has done the distance before and is somewhat familiar with what will be required to prepare, and finishing a race provides “an ‘end result’ to hold me accountable.”

As with many runners, Bobbi considered finishing to be only one of her goals … she also has a time goal (faster than 10:30/mile average pace), a strategy goal (no walking), and to kick-start her weight loss goals. I’ll let Teresa get into that more, because it involves more than just running. However, “dropping a few sizes would be pretty nice,” Bobbi says.

Bobbi Thanksgiving 2010

Bobbi in November 2010. Follow along as we chronicle her trip to the finish line!

In addition to all those quantifiable goals, Bobbi also has some non-physical goals. “Stress relief!! Between my job and school, I am super stressed all the times. I want to reduce my stress level!” Fortunately, when facing a three month (now just about two months to go) training plan, Bobbi isn’t nervous, or worried … she’s “SO EXCITED.”  The text I got from her on January 7th read: “Did my first day! 5 min incline walk warm up. 15 min jogging, didn’t walk at all. 1.28 miles in 15 minutes … now doing some cross training.”

This is one runner that is practically giddy with potential. Fortunately, I also know that Bobbi is the kind to stick to her plan – many runners getting back into it tend to go too far, too early with that kind of energy, which can lead to injury. Following a coach’s plan and giving them honest feedback is a great way to pace yourself so you don’t overdo it.

So – follow along with Bobbi, Teresa and me, as we track Bobbi’s training and weight loss. She’ll be training with her friend Jenny, who is also running the race with her. She knows that time will be a huge challenge, so it’s great she’s got someone by her side to keep her on pace. She’s also made a resolution to drink more water and cut back from three to one Diet Cokes each day, and choose a varied diet of healthy foods.

Oh, before we wrap up … I asked Bobbi what rewards she has planned for milestones along the way … and she replied, “I honestly haven’t thought of any! I’ve been so focused on race day. I guess I should plan something?”

So help her out. Post in the comments below which milestones you’d create rewards for, and some creative ideas for how she can celebrate along the way – and on March 29th!

About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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