Virtual Running February 5k

Long time no blog (as usual)!

It’s been pretty mental round here lately. I’ve been down to Portsmouth to see the family a couple of times, for reasons I’ll probably explain later. Last weekend I ended up staying on my parents’ dining room floor as my Uncle and Auntie and my 4 and 8 year old cousins were staying too! We had a great time, walking along the seafront and going to the Blue Reef Aquarium. My youngest cousin got a balloon there that I ended up carrying most of the day, not a great look for a 26 year old, especially when the kids kept running off! I also bunked along for brunch with my sister and her boyfriend and best friend at Coast to Coast, a new American-style restaurant by the sea. I had eggs Benedict which was absolutely delicious, with a massive hash brown on the side. Yummers!

We also went out for drinks with our neighbours last week at a pub down the road we’d only ever been to for breakfast (best fried bread ever!). It’s so nice to finally have some friends up here! They told us they’ve just got kittens, so Rob’s already got plans to make our home, their home. He loves cats, that boy! I’m also going out for lunch tomorrow with a new translator friend. My resolution to make more effort establishing a proper social network in Nottingham is going pretty well.

But I guess a lot of people are after a running update, so here it is!

I entered Kirsten’s new Virtual Running challenge this month where you simply run 5k at some point over the month, submit your time and then compete against others to gain points over the year and win prizes.

I decided to try my first 5k on February 1st, as good a day as any! I finished in 38.07, way off the 32.30 I did at the Run with Richard 5k last September, but considering I hadn’t actually run since then, I didn’t think it was all that bad. And I don’t think that course was actually a full 5k, Runkeeper didn’t think so and that time is too good to be true for me.  I was already getting better, though, and I took it down to 37.49 a week later.

To try to work on my speed and endurance a bit, I then decided to go for faster 3k runs. I did these quite a few times, varying my pace up and trying to walk shorter distances each time. I also implemented a new plan of running the last 250-300 metres or so at 10.5 km/h, which is pretty fast for me. I like doing this now as it makes me feel like I’ve really earned the rest at the end and I can pretend I’m sprint finishing a race like Mo Farah!

Another change I’ve made is my shoes! I’ve been running on off-the-shelf Nikes since I first joined a gym back in 2011. Needless to say, they weren’t doing me much good, so I headed off to Up and Running to get my gait analysed and get some proper running shoes. The guy stuck me in some normal shoes to start with, then filmed me as I ran on their treadmill. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when he showed me the tape! My left foot is fine, but my right foot not only overpronates, but also flails like nothing the bloke had seen before. It’s hard to describe, but basically it crosses behind my left calf on a diagonal instead of coming straight back. I reckon it’s because that foot turns out naturally when I walk, but there’s not much shoes can do about it. I did get some running shoes, however, and what a difference. I never realised my shoes were the reason my right shoulder always ached during running. I’m so much more comfortable now!

Yesterday I was feeling really good in the afternoon, not too tired and I’d been drinking plenty of water, so I thought to myself “tonight’s the night” and headed off to the gym. You can only submit one time per month for the 5k, so I really wanted to do well. I ran for longer periods, I walked less, I only took little sips of my drink to stop myself from getting stitch and…..I smashed my time! Right down to:

February 5KI was so proud of myself! I can’t wait to see how much I can speed it up over the next few weeks. I’m not expecting to cut another three minutes off, but I’m sure I can take it down further. If anyone wants to friend me on Runkeeper btw, just drop me a message!

See you soon for next month’s training!

New Gym Member Right Here!

Yep, I’m officially a gym member once again!

We live between two gyms here, so as I had a bit of free time at the beginning of the week (work was still pretty slow coming in – assuming nobody wrote anything over Christmas that needed translating), I decided to look into them.

The nearest one is literally over the road, but it’s a national chain that’s notorious for being expensive. They don’t even put a price on their website, kind of like the old “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” saying, but I decided to ask anyway. A very enthusiastic sales guy tried to sell me on all their facilities, but all we wanted are the basics. Eventually I got the price out of him, and it was of course stupidly high!

So I checked in with the gym at the hotel down the road my parents sometimes stay at when they come to visit. I called up on Wednesday and the instructor invited me in for a look on Thursday. I’d had a look on the website and it seemed quite little (it’s only a small hotel), but it turns out it’s just what we need. There are treadmills and bikes, crosstrainers, rowing machines and all sorts of weight stuff, and a pool. OK, so the pool is tiny, but I can see myself going for a cool-down dip after a workout. Rob and I went back in last night to have a free trial and decided to sign up on the spot. This gym also has the benefit of paying month to month instead of by direct debit so we can have some time off if *touch wood* we injure ourselves or get sick.

I had my first proper session today and decided to see just how unfit I am. Surprisingly enough, not running for four months has really affected my stamina, but I did around 35 or so minutes on the treadmill, changing up the speeds to what I used to do at my old gym (pre C25K) and what I managed during C25K, with a fair amount of fast walking. I wouldn’t say it’s comfortable by any stretch, but I don’t think it’ll take me too long to get right back into it. I then had a wander around doing 5 minutes or so each on the bike and crosstrainer. We’ve also booked in for an induction on the weight stuff for next week as I’ve never done that before. I’m figuring at the moment that multiple shorter bursts in the gym are better for me than a couple of big ones a week – I don’t have the attention span or the stamina!

Atmosphere-wise, it’s so much nicer than my old gym back in Birmingham. It’s properly quiet, over the three times I’ve been there (mid-morning Thursday, mid-evening Friday and early Saturday afternoon), I’ve never seen more than three people in at once. You don’t have the big hulking guys showing off or instructors buzzing around trying to get you to come to classes, the music is quiet so you can just stick your headphones in and go. The only thing I miss is being able to plug my headphones into the machines and get the feed from the TV – I’ll tell ya, watching Embarrassing Fat Bodies really gets you going on the treadmill!

So there you go, my first gym wrap-up! I’ve also got another goal to add to my ones from last week! I’m going to take part in Kirsten’s Virtual Run Fundraiser. I’ve been following Kirsten as she’s gone through the C25K programme and now she’s going for her first 10K. She’s asking people to sponsor her while completing a 5K or 10K of their own, and she’s giving out medals! I’ll probably go for a 5K as the event is next month, but who knows!

This has gone on a bit now, so I’ll just say that yoga was great this week! My instructor has managed to start the Yoga Flow class, which I really enjoyed! I’m still going to try and do yoga at home tomorrow too to make up my 2 a week goal.

Happy running!

Couch to 5k – What Next?

It’s been a while since I’ve finished the C25K plan, so I thought I’d give you an update on what I’ve done since.

I started the Couch to 5k Plus plan the NHS does straight away to try to make sure I didn’t lose focus. I’m not (yet) someone who just runs for the sheer pleasure of it, so I knew I had to find a way to keep running without the plan.

The only run of these I’ve tried so far is Stepping Stones, a (supposedly, more on this later) 30 minute run which gives you certain beats to run to to try to increase your speed (150, 155 and 160 bpm). I’ve done it four times now, and you know what? I hate it.

Firstly, I have no rhythm. I can never figure out whether I’m running too fast, too slow or at the right pace and even when Laura is counting the beats over the music, I still struggle to keep in time. I think part of the reason I liked the original plan was that I could go at my own pace, increasing or decreasing speed as needed. I know that I need a challenge to help me progress, but not one that makes me feel like I can’t even count properly.

Secondly, the lie. Laura says at the start and end that it’s a 30 minute run, but I’d noticed I wasn’t anywhere close to as far as I’d run with the last 30 minute C25K podcast. A couple of runs later, I figured it out. One of the tracks isn’t the five minutes she says it is. Laura actually spells it out at the 20 minute mark, saying you’ve got two minutes at this pace before the final five minute faster burst. The run can only be 27 minutes. Although I’ve completed the run every time, there isn’t as much of a sense of achievement.

Thirdly, I’m in a rut. The C25K+ podcasts have great intentions, but there’s not much to keep you coming back to them, hence why I’ve only run four times in two weeks.

So what can I do from here?

I’ve decided to go for the 5k. Richard Whitehead, the Paralympic champion, is running 40 marathons in 40 days with a 5k thrown in in his hometown of Nottingham. Although we haven’t formally signed up yet, my boyfriend and I are planning to take part. This should give me something to aim for. He’s not run since we quit our gym in November, but he cycles a lot so should have good base fitness. He’s also said he’ll come on a few morning runs with me to see what he can do.

I’ve also bought an arm-strap for my phone so I can try a few apps like RunKeeper to see if that keeps me entertained. I’ve been running with just an iPod Shuffle until now so it’ll be nice to try something different and run with my own music. Any recommendations of music and/or apps would be appreciated.

I’m also planning on attending a Parkrun. I had a look at the last results for our nearest race and the vast majority of people are running way faster than I could, which kind of puts me off a bit although I know it shouldn’t. The only people running roughly the same time I think I could run the distance (33-35 minutes ish) are either much older or much younger than me. Hopefully I’d be able to use the other runners to push me to go faster.

Do you have any other suggestions to keep me motivated?

Couch to 5k – Mission Accomplished

Well, I may suck at keeping up a regular blog, but what I can do is finish Couch to 5k!

Here’s a quick breakdown of Weeks 7, 8 and 9.

Week 7 went fairly well, it was a week of 25 minute runs and that was what the last run of Week 6 had been so I knew I could cope with it. I changed my route after the second run. The tail end of my route was always along a main road and I was getting fed up with having to turn the volume right up on my iPod to hear anything and there were always so many pedestrians around for me to dodge. Instead, I decided to run until the halfway alert from Laura, and just turn back at a convenient point by running round the cul-de-sacs. This worked a lot better as the roads are much quieter, and it also makes me feel a bit better on the way back knowing how far there is to go.

The last run of Week 7 was right when the heatwave started and I thought I was going to throw up or pass out. Although I finished the run, I decided to head into town and get myself some 3/4 length leggings and a sleeveless top to replace my full length trousers and sports t-shirts. The guy at Sports Direct managed to leave the big plastic security tag in the leggings though, so me and my boyfriend spent half the men’s Wimbledon final trying to get it apart. We managed in the end with just a couple of rubber bands and some wire cutters. Thanks for the advice, Internet! The new clothes made a huge amount of difference to my running. My legs feel lighter and I feel like I can keep going faster for longer.

This continued into Week 8, all 28 minute runs. Every time I ran, I went just a little bit further. The heat continued but I was getting used to it. I went out a little earlier to try to beat the heat and ended up finding another milestone to target during my runs, a lady who’s always walking that way at the same time every day! I had another near death experience towards the end of the last run though when I started choking, but luckily I managed to keep it going and get to the end.

Which leaves Week 9, three 30 minute runs. I found the music for this week a lot better than in some of the previous weeks. For me, the songs that came on around halfway and with 5 minutes to go were much more motivating and pushed me to keep going. I was surprised to find I didn’t feel too tired at the end of the first one, more amazed that I’d gone from barely being able to run for a minute to going for 30 minutes without a break. I really felt like I’d achieved something and it wasn’t as hard to get out of bed to go for the second run. Today was my final run and I decided to try to push myself to see how far I could go. I wasn’t expecting to do the full 5k, but I’ve measured it on Google Earth and it was about 4.4k in the end, which isn’t something to be sniffed at as far as I’m concerned.

I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do this without the podcast, I didn’t have the belief in my body’s capability and probably wouldn’t have had the motivation to finish. But what am I going to do now?

Well, there’s a Parkrun not too far from me that I’ve been thinking of doing for a little while now. It’ll be nice to actually clock a PB for 5k, my current one was about 45 minutes when I did the Race for Life on my 18th birthday (I’m now 26) with no training and walking part of the way.

I’m probably going to take on the C25K+ podcasts from the NHS as they provided this series. Hopefully I’ll be running 5k within 30 minutes soon. I’ve also only been using my iPod Shuffle, so I might get an arm strap for my phone and download Runkeeper or something like it. Any suggestions, folks?

So am I a running convert? I would have to say yes! Couldn’t see myself saying that 9 weeks ago! Thanks to all of the people who’ve posted helpful comments on here, looking forward to staying in touch!

 

 

Couch to 5k – A Bit of a Slip

Oops, completely missed blogging Week 6! After having very little work come in for a few weeks, I was suddenly swamped and didn’t have time to write.

As with Week 5, it was three different runs:

  • Workout 1: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 8 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running.
  • Workout 2: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 10 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 10 minutes of running.
  • Workout 3: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running with no walking.

I really did struggle with motivation throughout the week. I think it may have been simply being too tired from working my  metaphorical butt off all day to work my physical butt off. It might also have been a bit psychological, that I had achieved the massive goal of 20 minutes and would have been relatively happy to have stopped there.

The first run was more difficult than I was expecting. After managing the 20 minute run and feeling so good after, I was feeling really confident, thinking “5 minutes? Pfft, easy!”. Looking back on it, I probably went out too hard and mis-paced it. But I finished, and that’s the important thing.

I meant to do the second run after one day’s rest, but couldn’t persuade myself to get out of bed and go and ended up skipping a day. This meant my next run was back in Portsmouth when I went to stay with my family for the weekend for my Nan’s and best friend’s birthdays. Although the area definitely isn’t unfamiliar, I’ve only ever run down there once early in the programme. I didn’t have any of my normal milestones to look out for (warm-up ends at that lamppost, 5 minutes gets me to the pub…) and the weather was pretty sucky. Where it’s on the coast, the breeze is a bit stronger than up here in Nottingham and I was running along the shoreline so had the lovely smell of drying seaweed to accompany me round. It wasn’t until the second part of the run that the rain started to come down though. I haven’t run in much more than spitting rain before and it put me off my stride a bit, but again – I FINISHED. Even if I did have to completely redo my hair before taking my Nan for high tea at a posh hotel!

My third run should have been a couple of days later in Portsmouth, but again, I decided against running that morning. I needed to visit my Nan in the morning before the three hour drive home and then finish off some work so I decided to just get on with my day. So that pushed it to the start of what should have been Week 7. I was only a day out though, and I’ve been running every other day this week to get back on track. The run itself didn’t go too badly. The 20 minute confidence boost was still there and where I’d had a couple of days’ rest, I was ready to go. The worst part was that some flowers have bloomed at the very end of my route which smell so bad they almost choked me! My legs were pretty jellified at the end, but I was really pleased that I’d made it. At the end of the podcast, Laura tells you that you are officially a runner now, so I’ve taken that into this week. As always, it’s as much about the psychology as the physical fitness.

Couch to 5k – Achievement Unlocked – 20 Minutes!

So if you told me 5 weeks ago, or for that matter 2 days ago, that I’d be able to run for 20 minutes, I would have laughed in your face. BUT I DID IT!

First off though was Run 2. I’d found the first run relatively easy and was getting used to running five minute intervals after Week 4. Run 2 this week was two eight minute runs. I could feel my legs getting tight and they felt like lead for a while, but I kept on going and made it through. The podcasts are starting to re-use some of the music from earlier on in the programme, I’m not sure whether I like that or not. I quite liked having the variety and not recognising the songs (although some of them aren’t great!) but I think the repetition maybe helps you get the rhythm and there’s some songs now I can sing along to. In my head, though. I’m not mental.

So today was Run 3 – the dreaded 20 minute one. I think this is the run I’ve seen most people worried about on the forum. You’re running for an interval more than double the longest one you’ve done before. As usual, the weather was a bit drizzly and windy, but I’m getting used to that now and once I’d dodged the slugs on the path (found one on the wall in the utility room earlier, hope I didn’t bring it in on my trousers!) I was fine. Again, I got the tired legs but just kept on going. Laura the podcast lady was giving time updates and encouraging words every 5 minutes which helped too. As cheesy as they are, they get you pumped and believing that this is something you can and will do.

I remember grimacing towards the end of some of the very early runs, but when Laura finally said “That’s it!” today, I was genuinely surprised and was feeling like I could have carried on! I spent the 5 minute cool down walk feeling very chuffed with myself and wondering how I’d managed to go from barely managing 1 minute runs to wanting to carry on after a 20 minute one!

As the podcast says, this was definitely a mental challenge as much as a physical one. Once I’d got my head around the fact that I’d been training to a point where I would be able to do it, it wasn’t half as hard.

Looking forward to next week!

Couch to 5k – Maybe I’m a Morning Person After All

It’s so easy to get behind on these posts! Maybe it’s because running is already becoming part of my routine so I forget to write about my progress. I’ve also just started a big freelance project and after a quiet few weeks I’m actually getting plenty of work to do.

So where was I? Apparently one run away from Week 4. I did my last run of Week 3 fairly early (for me) on a Sunday morning. And what a difference it made!

I normally ran in the late afternoon after giving my lunch a few hours to go down, but mornings are definitely a better fit for me.

  • I don’t get that nagging feeling that I need to run all day
  • I don’t have to have two showers a day – saving money!
  • I don’t get as hot and sweaty and gross as it’s cooler outside
  • I can get on with my day

The only downside is that I run past two schools, so I have to time it right on a weekday to make sure there’s enough room on the road!

Last time I was pretty chuffed that I could run 3 minutes, but now I’m running 5 relatively comfortably! I thought that Week 3-4 would be a massive jump and spent some time looking round the forum to see if I was the only one and was glad to see I wasn’t alone. I’ve actually been doing this every week as the progression seems to be really quick, but I’m learning to trust the podcasts and my own legs.

I was very surprised that during the recovery walk after the first 3 minute run, I found myself wishing the time away so that I could get on and see if I could do the 5 minutes. The feeling at the end of that first run was great, I can’t remember the last time I ran for anything near that amount of time!

I overran my house for the first time this week! Normally I do a loop that gets me back to my house just as the cool down is starting, but I still had about 2 and a half minutes of running to go when I hit that point in this run. It’s a clear sign that I’m running further and pushing myself harder, especially as I overran by a slightly longer distance each time.

My breathing is definitely getting better, I went through all of Week 4 without taking my inhaler on the way round. I’m finding that the only time I feel myself getting out of breath is when I focus on that. I think I’m starting to find the zone runners seem to get into where their body knows what it’s doing and they can just run and run and run.

I started Week 5 this morning and there are three different runs this week. Today’s was  three 5 minute runs with 3 minutes walks between them. I like all the little milestones you get doing the plan (first 3 minute run, first 5 minute run…) and this week there are two! My next run will include two 8 minute runs and after that it’s the dreaded 20 minute one. I’m feeling a bit nervous about both of them (especially the 20 minutes!), but as I said before, I’ll trust the plan and give it my best shot!