Some of the nonsense in my head in a readable format ;)

Week 8 Day 3 completed… apparently I should be able to run 5k now ;)

Pictured below are the essentials (other than my running clothes and shoes) that made it out of the door with me this evening, iPhone armband/case, headphones, keys (to get back indoors) and a 500ml bottle of water with electrolyte replacement tab already dissolved into it. Oh and my glasses of course as I’ve often expressed a preference for being able to see where I’m going πŸ˜‰


I was attempting the final day of the C25K program – week 8 day 3, a 5 mins warm-up walk, followed by a 30 mins run. This is the very last part of the program, where you afterwards officially graduate to “run a 5k from now on whenever you like”.

It’s a kind of glib statement really, as it only equates to the distance you can run in 30 mins and has no idea of the pace you are running at or able to maintain for any prolonged period of time. Hey, hang on though, step back a bit… “run in 30 mins?” Yes there you go… who cares how far you run in 30 mins? In 8 weeks (or 9 for me as I repeated week 5),

I’ve gone from “I have run for 30 seconds and IΒ actuallyΒ feel like I’m going to genuinely die” (ok, slight exaggeration).


Forget what anyone ever says or what you can read about learning to run (and there is SO much available out there) – that is the most impressive statistic for me; the fact that I can now actually run. I have graduated and I am officially a runner, and I even believe it now in my own mind. I am enjoying running. I came in soaked to the skin after the 40mins total for the session (inc warm-up and cooldown) but I felt full-on EPIC. No word of a lie – that was by far the best run I’ve EVER experienced. I have yet to experience a bad run since I’ve been doing the solid runs with no walking breaks – no joint pains. I know of course I will at some point in the future have a bad day or days, and maybe get injured, but I’m enjoying what I have for now and just riding the wave.

It was fairly heavy rain throughout the entire run, so that’s another new experience for me. I was absolutely drenched but loved it. Running as night was starting to fall was another first for me, so that’s another couple of things ticked off my list of things to do/have when running. It didn’t seem too bad, and it also allayed any doubts I had about whether I’d enjoy running in the dark.

Also, it was easily the coldest temperature I’ve run in, since the majority of the previous days of the program was during what for us was a full-on blazing hot 2 months of summer. I only really felt the cold probably I’d say in the first two minutes of the initial 5mins warm-up walk. From that point on I was totally comfortable with the temperature, and as you’d expect warmed up marvellously for the duration of the run, finishing as a heaving, red sweaty, hairy mess. Lovely, I’m sure.

I had made a point of performing a silly statistics experiment (not actually silly as it involves numbers which are awesome), which for me seemed to be a grand idea. I removed and weighed my TShirt before I left and did the same when I got back in, and it had soaked up 200g of water, which I thought was quite impressive. Despite how much I was sweating, I’m sure the majority was rain, as it had also gone from a light grey to virtually solid black and required a good wringing out too. Normal day’s running without rain tend to only slightly darken TShirts and they are most definitely patchy in the areas you would expect, and not solidly coloured-in πŸ˜€

This run was a tiny step up really from the previous two of only two extra minutes of running, but it was the final session. A full 30mins of running!

Ooh, Friday the 13th as well – totally irrelevant as I’m not even remotely superstitious. Lucky pants/socks? Nah… hehehe

The time of the session was around 6:45pm to 7:30pm. I’d spent the day in Oxford as it was a colleague’s last day and capped the day off getting my car back with an MOT. So my pattern is now back to normal – next week’s work days all finish at 4pm so all runs will probably be early evening and I think I’d plan to get them done before it gets dark, while we still have the light for next couple of weeks or so. Any day when I have a late 10am start I think I’ll look to run before work although I could even manage that on any other day as well.Β 

I just feel like with the two sessions I’ve run which were a 25mins and 28mins run early morning were the two best runs I’d had in the whole program, so I’m currently leaning towards preferring early morning running rather than evening. All of that though is just more words I would have sworn 3 months ago that I’d never write when referring to myself!

Final track of the random playlist tonight was “Humanoid – Stakker Humanoid” which probably contributed to feeling epic. What a great track to run to. I’m now starting to pick some more less obvious tracks as well and throw them into my running playlist. I still like the randomness though, as I like to mix it up but still have the capability to skip a track if I simply feel “no, that one doesn’t feel right for now or today”. “Feel-good” songs still have a good part to play though, as a happy track that lifts your spirits just seems to instantly give you more energy and pick you up.

I also ended the run on over 11,900 steps on the Fitbit which isn’t bad for a 8,000 step daily target.

My dinner reward was grilled sirloin steak, roasted thick-cut sweet potato slices, steamed spinach and steamed asparagus. Delicious! Look!


So, onto Monday. I have a planned run where I’m going to track distance as well as time, with MapMyRun or RunKeeper (as yet undecided). It’s 5k time for real! Wish me luck πŸ˜€


C25K Week 8 Day 2 was exactly the same as the last one, but a lot more difficult! Ummm… dunno.

So, here we go again. An exact repeat of Week 8 Day 1, a 5mins warm-up walk then a 28mins run. This time it was a post-work run as I was back on a 4pm finish today, so no out of the door before 7 for me. Instead it was a start around 5:30 (pm), and looking to finish around 6:10, with it all planned in to make sure I got the run in before it got dark. I like that.. “planned”.

So it was exactly the same run as the previous run, but overall it seemed to be a lot more difficult. I can’t fathom why exactly, but all I can think of is that it was raining steadily, not the light drizzle I’d had previously and again a fair bit colder, so I guess that must be it. I seem to be more suited to summer running πŸ™‚

That being said it virtually flew by again and I hit the halfway marker without taking notice of my iPhone strapped to my arm, just merrily chugging along to the random shuffle of the playlist I’d put on there. “Chugging” is right, but I can assure you it’s nowhere near the speed of a train; OK, maybe a model train but certainly I don’t think any better than 10mins/mile pace yet.

I managed to slam out the whole 28mins run at a fairly constant pace as well, although I was aware I was certainly a fair bit slower near the end than when I started.

I also hit my step goal for the day before I finished which is a welcome bonus, so I don’t need to go seeking extra steps or pop out for a walk to the shops later for something I don’t really need. πŸ˜€

During the 2nd half of the run, I became aware of the now familiar mild feeling of numbness in both of my calves and also the start of pins and needles in my left foot which was a new one. I think maybe I laced up one foot too tight to be honest.

The run ended with no pain whatsoever and no feelings of discomfort at all so I’d run through what just seemed to be tiredness and nothing more. I think that’s going to be my achilles heel; my endurance. After I run a 5k that I’m happy with, that’s going to be the next thing I start to work on, so I guess I’ll have to pick up the 5k to 10k program or something πŸ˜‰

Back indoors, and there I was with the heaviest T-Shirt I’d ever worn, composed of I’d say 20% sweat and 80% rainwater. I think that’s maybe another addition to my slowing pace near the end of the run as it must have been like running in a sponge suit! The T-Shirt certainly absorbed a hell of a lot of water and made it feel like I’d ended the run wearing the top half of a suit of armour.

Having finished the run though, I was a lot more out of breath than I was on Monday and really felt like I’d done a prolonged period of exercise. Right near the end I felt like I was just getting the start of a stitch, only barely. Stretching again felt very satisfying however, as it always does now. As is usual now though, 5 mins later and I felt perfectly fine. My recovery time is constantly improving – another bonus.

So, I’ve only one more training run left until the full 5k, and then what remains beyond that for me I don’t know. It will certainly be interesting to see if the motivation and enthusiasm remains there with me, once the nights draw in and it gets constantly colder, or even as soon as I’ve done the 5k.

The clocks go back an hour at the end of next month for the end of BST, and then I’m left with it still being dark an hour before I leave for work and dark when I get home.

I think it’s going to get a lot trickier to enthuse about if it’s all going to be running in pitch darkness, but we’ll see. At the moment I’m still keen on it, so I’ll stick with that feeling and take it on from there after next week πŸ™‚

As well as hitting my Fitbit step target today, which incidentally I’d raised this week from 7,500 steps to 8,000 steps daily, I also got a nice bonus alert email from the Fitbit to tell me I’d walked 250 miles in total!

Now while it’s not extremely accurate for distance, and more based on it calculating distance based on my average walking and running stride length and number of steps (which is very accurate), I’d wager it’s fairly close. I’d be confident in saying that in the 72 days since July 2nd when I first got the Fitbit that I have walked more than in the whole of last year. Honestly. I was a proper couch potato (the ‘c’ in C25K).

So that was my 27th run of the program, completing the 2nd day of week 8 (with a repeat of week 5 and that bonus Sunday run), I think going back all the way to July 15th. So will I keep up to 3 runs a week once I’ve done the 5k? So far I don’t know, but it’s looking promising. Oh, and I’m close to being a Β full 21kg lighter than when I gave up smoking 85 (!) days ago.

My dinner reward today was a jacket potato, with diced chicken in a chilli and garlic tomato sauce with white onion, spring onion and chorizo, and green beans.

Nice? Oh yes, it was πŸ˜€

C25K Week 8 Day 1 – the last week begins!

So into week 8 I go and it’s the last week of the program – 2x 28mins runs on day 1 and day 2 and 1x 30 mins run on day 3. And that’s the lot – the program will then be complete and I should be able to run the full 5k (hopefully non-stop) a week from today(!). Hmmm, I’m still not convinced but I think that’s all nothing more than a psychological thing now, as per the 20mins straight run (and here I am now on 28mins, soon to become 30mins).

So today’s run was a step up from 25 mins to 28 mins – a noticeable jump of 12%, but the actual run itself didn’t really feel any longer to me than the last one.

Once more I was working today with a 10am start time, so there I was again out of the door before 06:45 (2nd time ever! and 2nd run in a row), filled with enthusiasm and also knowing I had a nice reward to come back to of the latest episode of Breaking Bad πŸ˜€

No rain today but a slight bit colder again, and all of it with the feeling of now being well into autumn after a weekend of relatively crap weather. Nice soft ground for running on is all I’ll say now πŸ˜‰

The run kind of flew by mostly in a blur and obviously I’m that much fitter than weeks previous to this, as I hit the halfway mark and thought “Really? Already? OK that was easy”.

I didn’t find myself praying for the final minute vocal alert this time and it kind of sailed past and I found myself running 15 secs into my cooldown time. A well-shuffled music playlist had accompanied me once more, and I think that added to the comparative comfort of the run.

When I look back to the end of week 5 and the fuss in my head about running 20 mins non-stop, and the sense of achievement I felt, and the exhaustion I clearly remember, then today’s was a quite simple “walk in the park” – although of course it was a run! πŸ˜€

I still don’t feel like I’m running at a particularly fast pace but I think I’m maintaining a good steady 10mins/mile (which currently feels good for me) & further improvement of course is to come later.

I’m still in 2 minds as to whether I go for increasing the distance once I run a 5k or whether I keep repeating the 5k and go for time improvements and try to constantly pick up my pace. Currently I’m leaning towards the latter as I think I’ll get more enjoyment for myself stats-wise of challenging myself timed against a distance I know I can run (well I hope I can!).

I’m still on target to be running the full 5k 11 days earlier than my initial challenge I set myself (only to myself in my head) of being able to run it by my birthday on the 27th.

Once again I’ve gone over 10,000 steps today recorded on the Fitbit and I’m just within my daily calorie goal today. With the extra I’ve picked up from the exercise I’ve eaten very well again today and rewarded myself accordingly, and feel very well for it. Much healthier than I was just a couple of months ago.

I’ve got 3 more daily nicotine patches left to go and then I’ve completed the 12 week stop smoking program so everything’s ticking along nicely. Down from what looks like beermat-sized to postage-stamp sized.

So…next week? Bring it on…!

Drives me crazy

I’ve never taken the time before to sit down and think about one of the biggest challenges I face on a day-to-day basis, on my daily trips to and from work in the car.

There is a certain set of drivers who I’m extremely jealous of. Most of them have new cars and the majority of them are in a BMW.

It seems to me that when you get a BMW you are also awarded a special pass which means you never have to use your indicators again.

Maybe I’ll get one someday in the future, but for now I guess I’ll have to act like I’m not actually a spy and not worry about keeping my destination top secret.

Week 7 Day 3 – exactly the same, but completely different.

Hey, Week 7 – you’re so last week!

Today sees the end of week 7 which leaves only one more full week to go (just 3 runs) then I can supposedly run a 5k. Hmmm we’ll see, won’t we as I’m still not entirely convinced. Since I have only tracked distance a couple of times and made a conscious effort not to do it again since (as I’m concentrating on time), I actually don’t know (or want to know yet) exactly, or even vaguely, how far 30 mins running will get me. Admittedly I’ve not even run for a full 30 mins yet, but I suppose I have a rough idea, and I potentially think that 5k will take me about 34 mins. But I will never be sure until I actually do it (in theory that will be in 10 days time – eeeek!).

Today’s schedule was dictated by two things – my working hours and the fact that I don’t have a car today as it’s in for it’s annual MOT test. I really think I won’t have a car for closer to a week as it will need some extensive maintenance work doing on it before it passes its test – my proclivity for purchasing cheaper cars means they never pass first time πŸ™‚

So my working hours today are 10am – 6pm, and then I have my kids with me for the weekend starting at 6pm. So my usual routine of getting the run in by about 5pm-5:30pm is not an option, so I decided to do the run in the morning before work, finishing it nearer 9am.

So how did that pan out? Well I found myself up, drank some water, eaten a banana, dressed, run-prepped and out of the door at 06:45. Yes, me. Out of the door before 7am is rare enough but out running before 7am? Ha. Unheard of. Genuinely a unique experience in all of my almost 45 years on this planet!

Now, for the last 8 weeks we’ve had something I would qualify as a very good summer – virtually the whole of July and August have been hot, with very few crap days, and in fact I’ve been lucky enough in all of my 25 scheduled runs (7 weeks of C25K, 1 week repeated due to head cold, and 1 bonus Sunday run) to only have to run in the rain 3 times.

So, not only was today what looks like being the first day of Autumn (as it was raining) but it’s also some probably 10 degrees C colder than I’ve run in for the whole of the last couple of months! Brrrr.

Certainly feels colder, but there I am running in it, and actually once the 5 mins warm-up walk was completed and I started the actual run itself, I’d warmed up quite well and the temperature was actually more comfortable throughout than any other day I’d run in.

The halfway vocal reminder from the app arrived virtually without me noticing andΒ was a real boost as I then perked up thinking “Wow! Halfway done already?”, so I then knew same again and I was done.

My legs felt great throughout – no discomfort at all in either calf for the duration of the run, just the feeling of the start of the burn with probably about 5 mins to go – so 20 mins into the run (yes “20 mins into” the run – go me!)

So there I was running on the coldest day so far, AND in the rain as well, and how was it? Actually I would say hand on heart that is was the best run I’ve even done in my entire life. The 25 mins flew by and I managed to judge it perfectly so I finished the run almost back at my house, not 400 yards past it as I’ve done many times, or 800 yards away from the car due to a complete miscalculation or lack of concentration. I know I’ve got all that fun to come when I start going out to run a planned route, but as long as I know where I start and finish and that the distance is able to be covered in a time I know I can run for, then I know it’ll be fine.

I don’t want to find myself having to walk (stagger) a heaving, sweaty, red-faced, hairy mess back to the car or house for too far a distance as that’s not fair on others! πŸ˜€

The actual run today was EPIC. No other words needed to describe it, but as it’s a blog I guess I have to, otherwise there’s little point in my writing all of this for these past few weeks. πŸ˜‰

Running across the park where, since it’s been raining for a few hours, the ground was softer than other days (where it’s been mostly like concrete for the past 2 months) when I cut across going off the paths as I normally do. That was a very welcome break from running on tarmac.

The rain combined with the cooler weather today (goodbye summer, hello autumn) made for the best running temperature I’ve had on any day of the C25K program. It was very comfortable to run in and at no point did I feel like I was going to melt, or burst into flames due to excessive/extreme heat, unlike some other days.

All required body parts functioned perfectly throughout and within 5 mins of completion were back to normal operating conditions. Cooldown was good – stretching out felt great and I’m here barely an hour later feeling like I should – raring to go for the day.

Another additional bonus is that I’ve logged almost 5,000 of my 7,500 step target on the Fitbit for today, and it’s only 8am. Compare that to two days ago when I did the run after work, and I’d only logged 2,800 steps before 4pm. So I’m 2/3 of the way done today, and I expect then I’ll have hit my target by shortly after lunchtime.

Also checking my fitbit profile on the website I can see that I now run more than 2,200 steps in a sustained 15 mins period of running, and that’s been increasing steadily so there’s a nice incentive to know that as I’m increasing the running my pace is also picking up – compared to the first 20 mins run I did and I’m stepping more, and I’m aware I’ve not stepped down my pace. So I’ve fixed my running style and increased my cadence.

Everything has improved so far. No more pain when I run. A good burn feeling when I’m done – decreased recovery times and feeling great for it. Still not smoking (week 12), still losing weight, eating better and feeling great for it. Obviously I’ve been kidnapped and replaced by aliens as anyone who knows me knows I’m not the same person any more πŸ˜€

I’ll intend to keep moving to keep my muscles loose today as I know I have two weekend rest days coming up where I can relax more. See how it goes but I expect that as I keep moving around, today will be a 10,000 step day πŸ˜€

Come on week 8 – let’s be having you!

C25K Week 7 Day 1 and Day 3

All three days of week seven are walk 5 mins and run 25 mins. There are no more walking breaks for any recovery times between runs in the remaining days of the program at all. For now it’s all about the running as I’m working up step by step to thirty minutes of solid running for the final aim in two weeks when I should run a full 5k.

By my reckoning the 25 mins is about 3.8k for me at the moment – oh I didn’t mention I’ve done day one and day two of week seven this week with no problems did I? Ha!

That still puts me on course for my first 5k run to be about 33-34 mins, so the pace is a little slower than it should be for now, but all I’m doing is putting in the times and I’ll start to work on picking up the pace after I’ve done the 5k. That’s my only goal for now, and nothing else matters. Obvious improvement comes later as practice makes perfect πŸ˜€

A 25 mins non-stop run is the longest run I’ve done in I would say about 32 years, when I was at secondary school and decided one foolish afternoon to volunteer and do a cross-country run. All my friends went off to to play football, and at that time I wasn’t really a football fan so being something of a smartarse I chose cross-country running.

It was actually a great afternoon – wet and very muddy and I beat a lot of older guys which was a great boost. I was actually the only one in my school year who chose cross-country – hehe idiot πŸ™‚

Now here I am coming up to 45 years of age (in a little over 3 weeks) and I can now once again run 25 mins non-stop. Completely unthinkable a mere three months ago and remembering how much the 60 seconds and 90 seconds of running actually hurt my legs.

Now all I get is aching calves, oddly in one leg for the first half of the run and then it swaps to the other leg for the second half. It’s quite weird, but it’s also something I am becoming quite aware of as I’m running. That and feeling some cool air on my feet as I run, which is not an altogether unpleasant experience. I think as I notice the ache (which is certainly not pain) I’m changing my running style to compensate and as I even out (or correct) my stride pattern all I feel in the other leg is normal exercise stress and strain. No problem at all.

The 25 mins doesn’t exactly fly by – I’m still running to a random playlist to mix it up a bit and ensure the music isn’t getting boring – I’ll have to list a few tracks I have added in another blog entry some time, but suffice to say it consists of tracks with good rhythm and more feel-good than anything else.

I’m treating all the runs as total time less one minute as the final minute nomatter which day of the program I’m on has been easy. Today’s run was no exception and honestly this time it actually finished before I expected it to. That’s actually a first.

The notification reminder at half-time in the run is good as well, and definitely works as a boost. It’s the simple psychology of “OK, here I am, I’ve got this far – just the same again and no more required”.

In my head I’m breaking up the 25 mins into 5x5mins segments but while doing the actual running, I’m now less occasionally glancing over to the iPhone in my armband to check on progress. I’ve found that obsessing over the actual time by constantly checking it tends to make it feel like it is passing more slowly, and I know that I’ve got to reach a stage where I can just run for the enjoyment of it, and totally ignore the clock.

The jump from the 22 mins last week to the 25 mins this week (and all three days this week are the same 25 mins run) is actually surprisingly noticeable – it’s more than a 10% jump in time (and hopefully distance).

But first the 5k distance has to be conquered – the “fun running” comes much later. I’m eager for the day that I can just go out for a run with no pressure of time or distance. Haha, I never ever thought I’d say that.

Obsessive much?

One of the reasons that I have never played World of Warcraft (and still haven’t to this day) is due to the type of person I am – obsessive. Luckily I recognised the dangers of a game that would be nothing more than crack to me and steered clear of it from day 1. I know people who have logged thousands of hours playing it, and I would have just been one more of them, losing all the little spare time I had to the foul temptress of another game.

It’s bad enough that I’ve logged hundreds of hours each on Counter Strike, Team Fortress 2, SkyRim, Call of Duty (in various incarnations), Civilization V, Planetside 2, Borderlands 2, etc but I think WOW would have capped them all, and probably replaced the total of the whole lot.

I’ve changed a lot in the last three years, but mostly in the last 6 months – I’m not the person I was years ago, and I’ve actually got a more sensible hobby/interest now, which is running and getting fit & healthy.

Just about 3 months ago, I found myself reaching quite a low point and thankfully getting a push in the right direction, I decided to give up smoking. I’m on week 11 now of 12 weeks of Nicotine patches so I’ve gone from patches the size of beermats down to ones the size of a postage stamp. 2 weeks to go and I’m off the patches completely. First real attempt to give up smoking with a determination to stay off it and so far so very good.

Luckily I’ve thrown myself into giving up smoking and been totally committed to giving up, evidenced by one day at work when I forgot to wear a patch and was the most miserable bastard ever. But even then I didn’t crack and although I realised I was being miserable; sorry to everyone else I work with but I just stayed crabby and didn’t give in.

I’ve not actually wanted a cigarette but I’ve use the mini-mints as a distraction as well. So even though I assumed I wasn’t craving a cigarette, I probably was, but remembering everything the “quit nurse” said, I knew that all I had to do was get through 3 mins, hence the mints and the feeling would pass. Yes, I honestly miss smoking as a social thing, and a welcome break from what I was doing, but I don’t miss being out of breath or smelling of smoke. It’s only when you’ve stopped that you find out how crap it smells.

Next came the fitbit – being well aware of the virtual certainty of gaining weight from giving up smoking, I needed to look at trying to get fitter by exercising and eat better when I gave up, otherwise the nicotine craving would be satisfied/replaced with junk food. I’d then find myself several stones heavier a few weeks later, which would also be that much harder to lose.

A well-timed post by a friend mentioned the Fitbit Flex, and I read up on it and ordered one within 20 mins. It duly arrived the following Tuesday (July 2nd) and has not left my wrist since, except to be plugged into it’s USB caddy for charging.

Now I find it’s a great aid to exercise as I’m constantly checking steps, and I’ll now walk from one end of the building to the other instead of phoning or sending an IM to someone. I get asked now “Do you need to be walking or are you just adding steps?” That honestly just gets laughed off, but of course I’m increasing my step count – that’s what it’s all about – part of the obsession!

Then the running – 3 weeks into giving up smoking and I’ve started losing weight (all thanks to the extra walking from counting steps), and as I feel far less out of breath I decide to start the C25K exercise program. I’m now about to start week 7 (I repeated week 5) and I really look forward to my running now and it’s a small downer when it’s a day when I don’t have to run. Never thought I’d say that! I actually plan what I’m doing to make sure I can fit in the sessions.

What else – oh yeah, the food tracking. Now I’m using the Myfitnesspal app to record every last single morsel of food and drink that I have down to the last single calorie. So I have lots of numbers and targets to aim for and that certainly satisfies my obsession for now πŸ™‚

It’s all about the numbers – anything I can aim for and something with targets and achievements to be recorded or awards to win. That’s what holds my interest nowadays. The running has the times, the Fitbit has the steps and the calorie tracking is again all numbers. My weight is being measured daily at exactly the same time so that’s being tracked and recorded – ooh more numbers!

So from lazy couch potato to exercise and health-obsessed. I’m not going mental with it, but I’m grabbing all the info it will give me. I’m just going to ride with it, and I will have to make sure I don’t get despondent from any bad day or setback. I know that will happen so being prepared for it means it won’t take me by surprise and disappoint me too much. That way I’ll ensure that I don’t lose my enthusiasm and don’t fall into giving any of it up. Whatever happens I just look and realise how much better I am compared to 3 months ago – then I know from what I’ve done so far, that I can achieve within reason whatever I set my mind to.

Work has numbers too – working on an IT support desk (not front-line user support, but infrastructure) supporting x dozen people who themselves support y thousand people, managing z different systems, keeping track of the statistics contained in all of it – again, it all satiates the obsession to a degree.

My email has to be empty at the end of a day as does my work queue. Hehe.. more numbers. My home PC has all my movies/series/music ordered in folders as neat as they could be and all indexed correctly. No surprises there.

So when it all gets combined and added up, I’m currently in a pretty good place – health improving, work enjoyable, fitness level increasing, weight decreasing. Some numbers going up and some numbers going down.

Yes I’ve regrets about some things I’ve done or not done in the past (some big, some small). I’ll readily admit I could have done a lot of things differently, and redirected some of my efforts a lot better, but that’s all added up to make me who I am today, and I don’t think I’m that bad now πŸ˜‰

C25K Week 6 Day 3 – done and dusted!

No warning siren; no bells or whistles. It’s not like this one sneaked up on me as I knew from previous days sessions that from now on it’s all about running and no more split runs with walks in between.

The usual 5 mins brisk walk as a warmup – this is the case before every session without fail. Then a 22 mins run, with the aim being to cover 2.25 miles so a tiny bit under a 10 mins/mile pace. Frankly I’m not checking distance as I’m just going for increasing the times so I’ve no idea how far I managed.

The 22 mins run, however – no problem at all. I have noticed as the running progresses though that I am spending more time analysing it as I run, which I think is probably an effort to distract myself from what I’m actually doing.

The music’s working well, but I’m noticing the rhythm of my running and doing my best to mix up my breathing a bit, otherwise I was finding that I was striking harder on my dominant foot (almost noticeably stamping down as opposed to my left) as I brought my breathing into time with my running stride pattern.

My dominant foot is my right, and I’m left-handed. Not sure if this means anything, but I’m sure it’s rarer to be left for both. Far more common to be right-footed anyway, as shown I guess by the struggle for England for years to find a decent left-sided midfielder πŸ˜‰

I’ve also managed to get rid of my heel-striking pattern of running, which obviously I was never aware I was doing until I started this program. This was evidenced by the aftermath of Week 2 Day 1 when I thought that both of my legs were actually going to fall off due to the pain in my knees. Almost crippled by the pain and virtually unable to walk 24 hours later, I’d made a point (as advised) of watching a few videos and then deliberately observing my own running pattern and style, and then making a conscious effort to change it, which has been totally successful. Now I don’t get any knee pain when running, just a burn in my calves which is fine. Thanks to my friend Gary for his invaluable advice here!

Recovery times are shorter as well, as I’m feeling great just a few minutes after the running is done and stretching out for my cooldown has completed. I’m now being very deliberate about stretching out as I’ve seen this is key to recovery and also a cold bath when I get back home to cool down the legs works wonders for me.

Also I’m being very strict with my days off. Moderate exercise, walking and anything aerobic is OK, just NO RUNNING. I’ve added a short 5 mins workout to my non-running day, consisting of sets of 30 secs of Mountain Climbs, Planks and Elbow to Knee crunches… just to hopefully trim down the gut. Anything is better than nothing, and the 5 mins builds up a sweat, gives me no issues whatsoever with my legs or knees and I feel later like I’ve done the exercise in my abdominals and obliques. I then know I’m not risking anything with the running, so it’s an additional welcome bit of exercise. Also still doing the weekly 20 mins abs “shred” workout minus any strenuous leg exercises which cuts it to about 16 or 17 mins. Again no risk to the running.

Now, on to C25K weekΒ 7. Bring it!

Week 6 Day 2 – Epic :D

I’ve split today’s blog into 2 parts. The first already published just a short while ago was about my approach to the today’s part of the program, which was the last session which had any walking left in it, and how I see my goals and targets as a view of the program and my progress so far.

This part deals with the actual session itself and the ensuing aftermath and reaction to it.

So today was the middle of week 6 – and it consisted of: 10 mins run / 3 mins walk / 10 mins run. So it’s not the 20 mins solid run, nor is it the sneaky 5/3/8/3/5 which almost caught me out on Monday. It’s a couple of what still feel like fairly substantial runs with a 3 mins recovery walk in the middle. So it’s 23 mins total but 20 mins of that running so it’s yet another progression in teaching your body how to run longer with shorter recovery times, as you move towards 30mins+ of non-stop running which is the goal for the end game of the program.

So after Monday’s shock when I flew off at the start and had to dramatically slow down, I was determined to and Β actually managed to pace myself correctly this time – as I stated on my Facebook status “I didn’t go off like a twat” πŸ™‚ The first ten minutes zipped by and about 7 mins into it I was conscious (and a little wary) that I wasn’t feeling the usual BURN! in my calves. There was a little niggle in the back of mind that maybe I was running too slowly, but gradually after that I began to feel the familiar sensation in my legs which tells me it’s all worthwhile.

So I’m thinking there’s definitely some progress here if I can run 7 mins and don’t feel like I’m struggling. So compared to how I was a few weeks ago, it’s bloody great to be honest – I’m staggered πŸ˜€

The 3 mins walk was a welcome break from the run to be honest, so I don’t see it as a bad thing, and it certainly did register with me that it was to be the last walking part (save for the warmups) in any of the remaining sessions. Every session from now on, if I don’t see fit to repeat this week (and so far so good!), will be running only. Fair enough – not a problem.

The 2nd 10 mins run didn’t fly by at such a rapid pace – the application I think would benefit from being able to schedule a few more vocal reminders rather than just “you are half way” and “one minute left”. Genuinely I think a “five minutes left” and “three minutes” left and even half way reminders on the longer running sessions would assist as I’m still not keen on not knowing how long I’ve got left to go. I know I have to get used to “running blind” if I’m ever going to get anywhere distance-wise, but I really am something of a statistics freak, so I really feel like I need as much information being fired at me as possible all the time πŸ™‚

The “one minute left” vocal alert was certainly welcome though,and for every session I’ve done the last minute has never proved to be a problem – it’s more the time leading up to it that starts to feel like a struggle, and there is certainly a very good boost from knowing there is only a minute to go. For me, also knowing the last minute wasn’t difficult because “it’s only a minute” meant that the 10 mins and thereby the whole session was completed.

I’m still enjoying music while I run, so I’m not at a stage yet where I can just run and appreciate my surroundings. I’ve now got a fairly substantial playlist of my preferred “running tracks” which I’ve now got used to running with in a random. There are times when certain tracks don’t hit my mood in the right way, so I’m not averse to canning any particular track on that day if it doesn’t feel right. I hadn’t mentioned it previously, but the last minute of the first 20 mins run last week was “Eye of the Tiger” and I think only the actual Rocky Theme could have done any better for timing and the feel-good factor I got from it πŸ˜€ What a boost!

Sitting on the grass and stretching out for my cooldown I can honestly say it was the best cooldown so far out of all the sessions. It was a nice warm evening again – I’ve actually been really lucky and I think the time of year I picked to start, and the weather we’ve had has certainly kept me motivated to progress with c25k. I can’t say it would have been the same if I started in October or November, but also we’ll have to see if I still feel motivated to run when the weather gets colder after I complete the program as well. So far I don’t see that I’ll be put off, but I’m sure I’ll be shopping for some better (read warmer) running gear πŸ˜‰

The stretches felt great and every one hit the spot so it was the perfect cooldown. I felt totally relaxed after and very content with the session I’d just done, knowing that it was a complete success. I know I’ll have bad days, but for now I’m just enjoying the ride.

In a nutshell, epic session. I’m now looking forward more and more each day to the next session, and recently I’ve actually had days when I feel a little disappointed that I’m not due to run on that day. It’s changed the way I plan my days now as it’s started to revolve around when I want to run, and I’ve been shifting other things around to accommodate it, and honestly that’s fine by me. Making sure I run is the key thing, as this whole fitness undertaking I’ve started is the key to losing weight andΒ improving my health. I can see and feel the results already and that’s awesome πŸ˜€

Today is also day one for me where I’ve been tracking my food (calorie) intake using the myfitnesspal app on my iPhone. It is genuinely interesting to see how my normal daily food and exercise is panning out with regards to getting proper nutrition and the right types of protein, carbs, sugar etc. For now all I’m worried about is burning more calories than I take in, as that’s the simple key to everything I want at the moment. But knowing me, I’ll get as obsessed with all the stats it offers as I am with the fitbit eventually. Heh. Whatever. I’ve attached the fitbit to the myfitnesspal app so all my exercise is getting logged.

Technology eh. Love it.

C25K Week 6 Day 2 approaches – it’s all progress

So it’s the middle of week 6 and the last session in the whole program that contains any walking and split running sessions. After today’s day in the program it’ll be the brisk warmup walk, then running all the way after that. So there’s another little piece of psychology planted in there somewhere I’m sure.

It’s definitely a very clever aspect to the schedule and it does seem a necessary way to improve your running, by gradually phasing out the breaks (as your recovery time) and the walks as you get more used to running and find that you don’t need so much recovery time. Obviously eventually as you can run a 5k you don’t need any. Then the next question is what’s your next running goal – stick to the 5k and get faster or “learn” to run further, and go for a 10k, then a half-marathon, full maraton, etc?

I’m really enjoying the structure of the whole program – it does seem like it’s ideally suited to how I want to learn to run properly.

My only standing goal at the moment is to be able to run 5k in one non-stop run, nomatter what the pace. Mastering that is the first step; and then I’ll look at times and try to bring them down. I think via a sneaky measurement of the distance covered (using the mapmyrun app) in one of the 20 mins running sessions last week I’m looking at about 34-35mins for a 5k in one hit if I can manage to run for that amount of time non-stop. I’ll be more than happy with that to be honest!

That’s the plan (goal/target/mission) for 3 weeks time as it stands, which is standing out at the moment as a bit of a milestone (or millstone) as well! πŸ˜€ There is a genuinely scary thought to me, just pinned there in the back of my mind, which is still saying “no you can’t run that far or for that long, and if you try it you will injure yourself in some way which will stop you doing any exercise for a month or more”.

Why that thought is popping into my head from time to time I don’t know – I remember back to Week 2 Day 1 when I thought I’d wrecked my knees and luckily I hadn’t. But the pain in my knees is still quite a vivid memory, so that nagging doubt will remain I think until I manage to nail and complete a 5k run.

I know there will be down days and bad times when it just “doesn’t work” but for now, I’m still enjoying the ride. Wheeeeeeeeeee!