How to get from 0 to 6.0 Miles per hour in six months flat!

As some of you may know, I was afflicted with a severe case of labrynthitis in the fall and winter of this year. This virus affected my balance and activity level, and for many weeks I was unable to participate in any form of physical activity. In mid-January, I began a walking program on my treadmill, which has led, six months later, to a regular running program. After weeks of inactivity I was happy to be moving again.

As you may recall from some of my previous writing, there are three components to physical activity: duration, frequency, and intensity. 

My walking/running program has focused mainly on increasing intensity, to get me from 0 miles per hour to a speed of 6 miles per hour in only six months! I apologize for using the imperial system of measurement; I usually prefer metric but my treadmill is an older model. 

My duration (the amount of time I spend on the treadmill) has stayed fairly constant. I began with 45 minute sessions, and as I have increased my speed I have decreased to 42 minute sessions. My frequency (the number of times I actually get onto the treadmill in a week) has also stayed fairly constant at an average of four sessions per week.

Some weeks are better than others, but I don’t usually fall under four sessions!

Intensity has been the one component of the program that I have accelerated over time. I began walking at 3.5 miles per hour (a moderately paced walk) and increased by 0.1 miles per hour each week. By week five, I was walking at 4.0 mph for 45 minutes (this is a brisk walking pace for me). Once I had established my walking pace at 4.0 mph, I began mixing a walking/running program. I started with walking for nine minutes and running for two, and repeating this pattern four times. Each week I decreased my walk time and increased my run time by one minute per cycle. By week fourteen, my pattern was walk four minutes (at 4.0 mph), run seven minutes (at 5.2 mph), and repeat four times. This had me running for almost half an hour (28 minutes of running total). At this point, I began to increase my running speed and block all my running time together. For week fifteen, my pattern was walk six minutes (4.0 mph), run 30 minutes (5.3 mph), walk six minutes (4.0 mph). Each week, I increased my running speed by 0.1 mph, so that I have just achieved my goal of running for thirty minutes at a speed of 6.0 mph.

Establishing this regimented training program for myself has taught me many things. I have learned to have small goals, and to be patient at achieving them. I have become disciplined at regularly spending time on physical activity (it’s too hard to increase intensity on Monday if I haven’t been diligent at getting on the treadmill the week before). I appreciate using the treadmill, because I am able to increase my activity levels in small, calibrated increments, and I am able to track my progress quantitatively. This numerical tracking of my progress has been an important motivator for me. I have learned that even if I backslide (e.g., going on vacation, too much to eat or drink, getting a cold or flu), I can resume my training and all is not lost. I’ve even found the best time of day for me to reliably get to my training – when I get home, before making dinner. It’s amazing how much the kids will help with cooking when dinner gets pushed back to a later time!

Please note, a new exercise regime should always be cleared with your physician or a member of the care team.