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!

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Pilates, Pictures and Progress



I think the streak I was on last time I wrote ended after about 12 or 13 days all in all – not too shabby!

I’ve been pretty busy with work lately, leaving me knackered at the end of the day and not really wanting to do much by way of physical activity, but I’m still getting at least 3 or 4 days of exercise per week.

I went to get some new gym gear the day after my last post – with only two of us in the house, we can only justify putting the washing machine on every 4 or 5 days, so I needed an extra set to keep up with the gym and yoga. I also went to Sweaty Betty to get a hairband as my fringe really gets in my face. While I was trying them on, the cashier started to tell me about the free yoga and Pilates classes they run there, all you have to do is sign up for a free membership card, so I did! The only problem was that our chat distracted me so much, I didn’t notice I’d popped out one of my earrings with the hairbands. They’re one of my favourite pairs of studs, the family I lived with in when I was on my year abroad in Germany gave them to me as a leaving present, so I was pretty upset. Luckily, I had the sense to call the store in the morning and the cashier found it while I was still on the phone. Phew!

I picked it up on the Tuesday when I went to my first Pilates class. I hadn’t done Pilates before, but I enjoyed it. It’s fairly similar in some ways to what I’ve done at yoga, just focusing more on strengthening the core and other muscle groups. I went this week too and ended up having the instructor pulling on my leg to demonstrate how we should be stretching! She also showed me how to roll onto the outside of my feet to stop my knees coming together when I bend them, always good to know!

Now on to the pictures and progress!

I did my first 5K run since September this week! Rob was out all day Saturday, so I headed to the gym and battled along on the treadmill. I ran a lot more than I walked, trying to do 800m – 1km at a time running with 100 – 200 m walking gaps in between. I ended up finishing in 37 minutes or so. Not too bad considering I’m pretty much on 2 weeks of training at the moment. After that, I headed to the pool and jacuzzi for a nice relaxing cool down. I had the entire place to myself most of the time I was there!

My other achievement of the week was this:

Headstand

I did my first headstand at yoga! I haven’t done one since I was a kid! I was so pleased with myself, I came home and made Rob take pictures of me doing it so I could show off on Facebook.

Where I also showed off this:

Sloth T-Shirt

My Nan sent me this pole dancing sloth T-shirt. I love it!

That’s all for now, planning on possibly doing another 5K tonight for Kirsten’s challenge!

 

 

Streaking (No, Not Like That)

I’m not sure what’s come over me.

A week ago, I was doing one yoga session a week and barely getting out of the house.

Today will now be my eighth day of an activity streak! Here’s what it’s looked like:

Friday: Gym – treadmill, bike and cross-trainer for a total of about 40 minutes

Saturday: Gym – treadmill, bike and cross-trainer for a total of about 45 minutes

Sunday: Yoga video at home (about an hour)

Monday: Yoga class (an hour)

Tuesday: Gym – cross-trainer and treadmill for a total of about 40 minutes

Wednesday: Yoga video at home (about an hour)

Thursday: Gym – all treadmill, 40 minutes in total but with much more running

Today: Planning on another hour long yoga video.

I’ve also got gym/yoga plans going up to Monday – this ish is bananas.

I’m really surprised with how well my lungs are coping with starting to run again. I thought I’d be coughing and spluttering all over the show, but it’s more my stamina in general that’s the problem. It’ll come back though. I’m trying to do different kinds of  runs to get me back up to speeds and distances I used to be capable of. I started off with trying to start at 8 km/h and running for a minute before adding 0.1 km/h until I got to 9 km/h or thereabouts and then coming back down, but couldn’t manage it and ended up doing some really haphazard speeds, running fast and walking slow whenever I felt I needed it.

I then figured that the problem with that was also partially mental: I was trying to run faster every minute and didn’t think I could do it. So yesterday I tried running two minutes at 9, then took off 0.1 every two minutes – same thing overall, just in a more mind-friendly order. It worked! Yeah, I had to walk for between 1 and 3 minutes every now and again because I had stitch (and am pretty unfit at the moment), but I did every rep I set out to do. I even got the Runner’s High at the end and wanted to keep going!

So I think I’ll be sticking with a routine like that for a bit, switching it up when I’m starting to master it. Probably the best part is that in that 40 minutes (which also included a 5 minute warm up walk and a 5 minute cool down walk), I got to nearly 5K, so I’m pretty hopeful that I can put in a respectable time for the Virtual Run coming up next month.

Any bets on how long I can keep this streak going?

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!

Christmas and New Year Round-Up and 2014 Targets!

So the festive season is over for another year and it’s time to get back to work and normality.

I had a fantastic time over Christmas. We were aiming to travel down to stay with my family in Portsmouth on the evening of the 23rd, but unfortunately the weather put paid to that. It just wasn’t safe to be driving and everyone agreed we made the right decision to get up early on Christmas Eve and drive the 3 and a half hours then. Our little Corsa was stuffed to the brim with our presents, with a bit of space for 2 small suitcases and our slightly carsick gerbil, Skippy.

We got to Portsmouth in time to go out for lunch with my parents and then spent most of the rest of the day watching Friday Night Dinner. My Dad always reads us ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas just before bed on Christmas Eve, and despite me and my sisters all being in our mid-20s, we still gathered round! My middle sister, Jen was round at my best friend’s flat with their boyfriends, so we had them all on Skype too 🙂

Christmas Day came and went in aflurry of wrapping paper and non-stop noms. We were still eating turkey and gammon way for days! Here’s a pic of me with my two favourite presents.

Dinosaur and Alistair

My youngest sister, Anna, made me a Christmas dinosaur jumper which I absolutely love! I’d sent a picture to my family of a similar one I’d seen online with a shark on, but didn’t think any more of it! And hiding under the tree (yes, our tree topper is Darth Vader), you can just make out Alistair – Rob bought me a Kindle Paperwhite but decided to wrap it up like a penguin! Trying to unwrap it with Anna doing a non-stop commentary of pain from Alistair’s point of view was awful, but what a great idea!

We spent the rest of the week seeing friends and my side of the family and after spending New Year’s Eve being soundly beaten by my parents at Cards Against Humanity, we travelled back on New Year’s Day. We stopped off at Rob’s parents in Birmingham as we hadn’t had a chance to see them over the holidays, and to pick up Rob’s birthday presents as his birthday’s on the 2nd! We spent that day having a nice walk along the Trent before heading into a pub for a massive burger for lunch, then another pub on the way back.

Rob’s parents came up to see us on Saturday and we took them to Homemade in Nottingham city centre, where they do absolutely delicious sandwiches and cakes! I thought I was going for a light option with a goats’ cheese and roasted pepper sandwich, but it was absolutely huge!

We both went back to work on Friday and it’s been relatively quiet for me so far, which is good in that it’s a slow introduction back into work, and bad because with freelancing if you’re not working, you’re not getting paid!

I started back up with yoga on Monday, then did a yoga video as recommended by Ashley on Tuesday.

It was a bit tougher than I’m used to, but that’s got to be a good thing. I’m currently doing Hatha yoga, but my teacher’s planning on starting a Yoga Flow class which I really want to do! Which leads me on to my 2014 fitness targets:

  • Re-join a gym – Rob and I are planning on doing this as soon as I get rid of a cough I’ve been carrying around for weeks which makes it difficult for me to breathe (damn you, asthma!). I’m too much of a wuss to run outdoors in the cold, and I really need to get my fitness back up. I feel like I’ve been ill or injured since September, but I hope that if I can find a gap where I’m well, starting to exercise more will improve my immune system. As will being around other people and their germs more frequently – the perils of working from home!
  • Increase yoga practice – Try to do two sessions per week, either as a class or by following a YouTube video.
  • Run a 10k – Hopefully this will be in the summer at the Portsmouth Race for Life.
  • Get a FitBit – or something of that ilk! I love looking up stats, and if they help me get fitter then that can only be a good thing.
  • Blog more – This will be directly influenced by the other targets – the more I do, the more I’ll have to say! I also want to write posts on stuff other than fitness, it’s just about getting the time and motivation!

I think that’s enough for now, hopefully I can post a “Back to the Gym” blog before too long! What are your goals for 2014?

Run with Richard 5K Completed!

My first race has been and gone!

After a couple more training runs, we headed over to Victoria Embankment for 9am, with the race due to start at 10. At that point, I looked like this (apols for the squinting, it was proper bright out!):

Pre-Run

We wandered around the event village for a while, surprised how many people were there. We got interviewed and photographed by a few journalists, and we’re at the front of this group shot on the Nottingham Post’s website (that’s Rob in the green in front of me)!

Run With Richard 5K

We got a little bit caught up in the all the excitement, so when RunKeeper told me we were on 6 min/km pace after 5 minutes when we normally run just over 7, I started to slow down a bit.  I don’t think I would have been able to keep that up much longer! My aim was to finish in around 35 minutes with anything under being a bonus.

It was just after the 2km point I slowed down to a brisk walk. I’d simply taken it too hard and wasn’t coping well with it being so warm. I gestured to Rob to carry on without me. I was gutted that I’d had to walk but I realised later on in the day that I DIDN’T STOP. I kept going, I didn’t collapse in a ball and give up. I had a quick chat with a lady who told me to pour some water over my head. I kept the guy dressed as Mike from Monsters Inc firmly in my sights. I got waved on by Becky Adlington the former GB swimmer who’d come down to support the race, and the mayor, and Robin Hood (this is Nottingham after all).

When the finish line finally came into view, I got another wind and practically sprinted home. My time? 32:30. I was so impressed with myself that I’d managed to keep some semblance of that early pace up to the finish. Rob finished in 28:49. Jammy git.

Just as we left, I saw a couple of the other Olympic champions who’d come down to support Richard Whitehead – Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott, the slalom canoists. Couldn’t resist grabbing a picture, and Etienne’s medal And apols again for the massively red face, I don’t think my Flickr filters helped much!

Meeting Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott

 

The one downside of the day is that I’ve pulled some muscles in my chest that are going to put me out of running for a couple of weeks or more. It was hurting before the race but I was determined to take part. Getting my first injury is tough, especially when I was planning to start taking part in our local parkrun this week, but I’ll get over it. Rob’s gutted too as he hasn’t run without me before and says he needs the motivation of me going with him to actually get him out.

Oh well, best to let it heal now than making it worse and being out for longer. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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!