Back in the Groove

I feel like I’m finally getting back into running.

After that god-awful run the other week, I picked up a cheap armband for my phone and downloaded Runkeeper. I’m a bit of a stat nerd and after just 3 runs with it, I’m considering purchasing the full version. £13.99 for a year isn’t that big of a deal for me. You can program it to run a certain distance, intervals or time, and it tells you all different stats as you’re running along.

We haven’t done any more really early runs like the one I wrote about before. Rob hasn’t got the motivation at the moment, but I’m sure he will once the 5K gets a bit closer. I went out on my own to just do a 20 minute run a few days after the run-of-death, just to prove to myself I could do it. And I did. I felt so much better – I paced myself a lot better, had some music I knew and could just zone out to and my asthma didn’t play up quite as badly. I still felt a bit sick, though. I think this time I drank too much water, so I’ve now started drinking less beforehand and got a little running bottle to bring with me. My hands are too small to handle a 500ml one, but luckily the 300ml one is just right. I seriously have tiny hands. My family refer to them as my “paws”.

Rob then came out with me on Saturday morning for another 20 minutes. I kept us at a slower pace again and felt even better than last time. Also got Rob to carry the water bottle for the second half of the run, so that was a bonus! Rob’s running with his iPod shuffle so it was me calling the times out for him. At the end he’d thought I’d stopped for a break rather than because we’d finished, so he’s probably in pretty good shape from all the cycling he does.

Which brings me to today. I woke up feeling pretty good, so I thought I’d try 30 minutes for the first time since I finished Couch to 5K. The weather was cool but not too cold, the wind wasn’t too brisk and my lungs weren’t too grumpy. I stopped for a total of about 4 seconds when I choked a bit, and when a dog was trying to sniff my butt, but I completed it and felt so much better about my running. Looking at Runkeeper, I’m keeping my pace really steady and my aim for the 5K of about 35 minutes seems doable. I reckon having more people to chase might spur me on to go a bit faster too, plus I’ve got a couple more weeks of training left.

We’re spending the Bank Holiday in Wales, and I’m not sure whether I fancy running up the hills, but I might get another run in before we leave. We’re doing Go Ape on Sunday though, so that’ll need a bit of fitness!

Happy running!

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First Race Sign-Up!

We’ve done it!

This evening I signed me and my boyfriend Rob up for the Run Nottingham with Richard 5k next month.

As I said in my last post, Rob cycles a lot but hasn’t run in months. So he dragged me out of bed at 6am this morning so he could get a run in before work.

I didn’t have time to get my iPod or apps together to do a 20 minute run like we planned, so we were just running to the point I know is roughly 10 minutes’ run away and then turning back. Despite this relatively short distance, it was the worst run I’ve done since I started C25K!

As with all things running, a lot was probably psychological. I was expecting him to struggle so I was doubting myself when he didn’t. When we started, he asked whether I always ran at that speed (implying slowly) so I think I pushed myself harder. It was earlier than I’m used to so the air was colder and it affected my asthma more. I stopped at 10 minutes and started walking. Throughout the whole C25K plan I never stopped when I was supposed to be running. This then made me more down for the last part. Running with no music meant I could only hear my breathing, which made me focus on it more, which made it worse!

To top it all off, I choked on some phlegm near the end and nearly chundered.

All in all, not a brilliant start to my day.

But what have I learned from it?

  • Run with music – I’ll definitely sort that out before our next run.
  • Don’t push myself too hard – Just because I’m running with someone, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to try to keep up, but….
  • Push myself an appropriate amount – If I’m feeling good, I’ll make the most of it.
  • Drink more water – Water good, phlegm bad.
  • (Somewhat) slow and steady wins the race – Rob said afterwards that he was glad I paced it slower than he was expecting, he thinks he would have burnt himself out. He also said he would have stopped far earlier if I hadn’t been there.

We’re planning on running again on Thursday. Really hoping it’ll be better, but I’ll keep in mind something Laura says at the end of the Stepping Stones podcast – A bad run is better than no run at all.

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 – Long Overdue

Last time I wrote, I’d just started Week 2 of the C25K plan. I’m now one run away from Week 4!

The week 2 runs got a lot easier as the weather cleared up. I found myself covering a bit more distance each time which is a great moral booster. Another bonus was completing my first run without having to take my inhaler part way round. I quite liked the music on week 2 as well, especially the first run which was a not-so subtle remix of this classic:

The thing I seem to be having the most trouble with while running is definitely keeping my breathing in check. I’m not sure whether this is linked to my asthma or whether I just haven’t trained myself hard enough. I was never any good at it when I was swimming either, holding my breath while my head was underwater instead of breathing out. I’m trying to follow the suggestion given by Laura who narrates the podcasts (breathe in for 8 steps, breathe out for 8), but I find it really difficult to maintain it. I’ll keep trying though.

I found the jump to week 3 quite big. I’d looked up what it involved, and you go from running 90 secs, walking 2 minutes in week 2 to 90 secs walking, 90 secs running, 3 minutes walking, 3 minutes running, repeated twice. I had a look through the forums to see if anyone else had thought they wouldn’t be able to cope with this. I found the best advice on there – if you put it off til you feel ready, you’ll never do it. So off I went! Unfortunately, I was in the middle of a massive caffeine crash from a Starbucks I’d had earlier in the day and it made everything even harder. By the end I thought I was going to throw up at the side of the road, but thankfully that passed! I was really pleased that I managed to finish the run, however knackered I was.

It got a little easier yesterday, didn’t feel so ill and wiped at the end of it. I definitely wouldn’t have made it to 3 minutes on my own without the podcast. I think it’s a general fact, not just with running, that you’re far more capable than you think. It just takes someone or something to give you that little push to go further, work harder, achieve more.