15K Here I come!
October 21, 2013

15K Here I come!

On October 26, 2013, I am going to do a 15K race, which is about 9.3 miles. I will be doing this 15K in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Tulsa Run. I plan to race walk it with a friend of mine. Now, I have participated in a number of 5Ks in my life, usually jogging or running them with a few walks thrown in, but I have never done a 15K. Part of me is quite nervous about it, yet the majority of me knows that it will be great. Plus, I get to do it with my friend. She is a race walker, and I believe she has even won at least one race walk race in her lifetime.

What is race walking, you ask? Well, according to the USA Track & Field website:

“Race walking combines the endurance of the long distance runner with the attention to technique of a hurdler or shot putter. Producing less impact, this technically demanding event continues to grow in popularity across the younger and older age groups for its fitness and competitive aspects.

Race walking differs from running in that it requires the competitor to maintain contact with the ground at all times and requires the leading leg to be straightened as the foot makes contact with the ground. It must remain straightened until the leg passes under the body. Judges evaluate the technique of race walkers and report fouls which may lead to disqualification. All judging is done by the eye of the judge and no outside technology is used in making judging decisions.”

I am really quite thrilled about the event. I do not expect to win anything, but it will be a triumph simply to do it. Maybe this will lead to a 13.1 or even, dare I say it, a full marathon! Whoa, I better reign myself in here. Let’s start with the 15K.

I have been looking at running and walking websites for tips to help prep me for race day. I have been walking and jogging every day, eating right, getting good sleep, and generally training as best I can. But I wanted some more advice. So I found three good tips from Active.com. Well, technically, Active.com emailed me with links to several articles, but this one caught my attention most. The three tips pertain to intensity. As Active.com says, “There are three practical metrics that runners [and walkers] can use to monitor and control their running intensity: pace, heart rate and perceived effort. Each method has advantages and disadvantages, but you will get the best results from your training if you use all three in the proper way.”

So let’s take a look at each of these.


Pace deals with how long it takes a runner or walker to complete a mile. Generally, this is measured in minutes and seconds. Pace plays an important role in intensity. “The main advantage of pace monitoring is that, as a performance metric, it pushes runners to run harder for better “splits.” But, this is also its main drawback. You shouldn’t push yourself in every run…Monitoring your pace is helpful in key workouts, such as intervals and tempo runs, where aiming for a high level of performance is appropriate. All too often, however, runners who monitor their pace in easy runs go faster than they should because the clock puts them in a performance mindset. If you’re susceptible to this temptation, it’s best that you forgo pace monitoring in easy runs.”

Pace helps us to keep track of how long it takes us to complete our trek. I predict that it will take me about two hours to complete a 15K. That is my goal, at least for this first one.

Heart Rate

In the words of Active.com, “Unlike pace, heart rate is a direct indicator of exercise intensity. The higher your heart rate climbs during running, the harder your body is working.”

Heart rate is key for healthy exercise. In fact, heart rate helps us to know when we are getting the exercise our hearts need to be healthy and strong. Of course, heart rate also indicates our intensity.

Perceived Effort

This is how hard running or walking feels to the participant. Though this is subjective to each individual (in other words, what I perceive as hard may not be what you do), it also demands that we pay attention to ourselves. For instance, “If you feel much worse than normal one day at a familiar pace or heart rate, this is a reliable sign that something is off physically or psychologically and you should probably slow down.” This is a direct result of considering our perceived efforts.

Each one of these—pace, heart rate, and perceived effort—are necessary to ensure a healthy you. In conjunction, these can help us become better runners or walkers.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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