Breaking 18 #11: New Running Streak Begins!

My #1 goal is to get my health back, but running a 5K faster than 18 minutes is my current north star.

Breaking 18 #11: New Running Streak Begins!
Image by Nick115 from Pixabay

As noted here, I’ve been experiencing a wide range of Post-COVID-19 Conditions since July 10. From October 24 to December 29, I ran 0 miles.

Not running didn’t improve my condition, so I started a new running streak (I previously ran 931 consecutive days). Listening to Never Finished by David Goggins was my sole inspiration. My goal is to run a 5K faster than 18:00, but that's impossible if I'm not running.

Two weeks leading up to the new running streak

On December 16, a headache appeared while packing for a trip to Michigan to visit family for Christmas. My heart rate stayed elevated for too long after; a 12-minute meditation session in the Uber to the airport yielded an average heart rate of 92 bpm.

On December 20, I experienced shortness of breath within 5 minutes of bowling. The tightness sensation in my lungs remained for the two thirty-minute games.

These are only two of hundreds of similar instances over the past six months.

On December 28, I experimented with the hot sauna cold plunge technique for an hour at Phlot in Grand Rapids, Michigan (a wonderful place!). Before the experience, I had been thinking a hot sauna could aid recovery but not a cold plunge due to my allergy to the cold (it’s a real thing). But after my sister told me about her experience with the hot tub and cold plunge, we discussed doing the hot sauna cold plunge technique together.

The first 15 minutes in the sauna were wonderful, but a headache roaring to life after my third cold plunge ruined the entire experience. I plunged 6 times for 15-90 seconds per session, attempting to last as long as possible with each plunge. Had I plunged for only 5-10 seconds at a time or only for one or two sessions, I may have avoided a headache and subsequent fatigue. For the foreseeable future, I’ll pass on cold plunges.

I suffered from strong headaches and chronic fatigue into the new year due to my cold plunge experiment and sleep struggles from several weeks prior. This didn’t stop me from starting a new running streak.

Running streak begins

On December 29, I flew back to Miami, leaving the cold behind while welcoming the warmth with open arms. I started a new running streak the following day at 6:50 am.

Today is January 22. The following are my eight most notable runs over the past 24 days: date | average heart rate in bpm, per mile pace, and total distance in miles.

  1. December 30 | 131 15:47 1.01
  2. December 31 | 129 12:49 1.12
  3. January 5 | 164 8:37 1.02
  4. January 7 | 139 11:57 2.37
  5. January 12 | 170 7:58 1.04
  6. January 15 | 139 9:57 1.15
  7. January 17 | 136 12:46 3.19
  8. January 20 | 131 13:25 3.25

My comments on each run

  1. I intentionally ran my first run as slowly as possible without walking a single step.
  2. After realizing the challenge of running at a slower-than-15-minutes-per-mile pace, I decided to speed up and was pleased to have a lower average heart rate.
  3. Ran my first fast mile. My fastest mile is 5:18, which shows how long of a journey I’m on, especially since I journaled this later that evening: “I don’t like how this headache feels. My lungs felt like shit during and after the run.”
  4. This was my longest run to date. I biked 2.10 miles before the run and 1.73 miles after the run.
  5. My second fast mile of the year. I felt dizzy for the first 5 minutes of walking home. My eyesight was off all day after the run, and I also had headaches. I decided I’d wait at least two weeks before another speed day.
  6. First non-speed-day run at a faster-than-10-minutes pace while maintaining a heart rate in the 130s for most of the run.
  7. First 5K run of 2023. The pace shows I have a long ways to go, but I care much more about my heart rate. By the end of January, I'll find out how fast I can run a 5K with an average heart rate in the 150s.
  8. Longest run of the year and my first barefoot run on the beach. I was reminded how much I enjoy running on the beach. This will become a regular staple of my training.

Through the first 22 days in January, I’ve run 34.8 miles at a 12:11 pace with a 139 bpm avg. heart rate.

I’m stoked to continue running, experimenting, journaling, and publicly sharing my progress and thoughts. My #1 goal is to get my health back, but running a 5K faster than 18 minutes is my current north star. I have a long road ahead of me, but I’ve never been more ready.