A rant about plank nonsense

Well it was too hot to run today. It might have been ok first thing when Kath went or actually when I first briefly woke up. We slept in our summer house for our little stay at home adventure and I woke up periodically through the night and maybe I should have just got up the first time I woke up and it was light. But anyway, I dozed off again and by the time I woke up fully, Kath was setting off on her run and I needed to sit and stare at the world with coffee for a while. Then we took the car for its service and MOT and then I fell asleep reading and …. Ok this is just a long way round to saying that I did not run today.

I did however do my Nike Training App exercises and that’s what I wanted to write more about. I sort of like the training app. I like it because as well as having what seems like quite a lot of workouts to choose from, it will also build you a plan. You give it basic info and it spits out a plan. The plan will apparently adapt and it is pretty flexible – so you can move the workouts around. So, I selected the Start Up Plan and answered the app’s question for it to build my plan: I have some dumbbells, I want 3-4 workouts per week not including running (I sort my own running) and I am a total beginner doing basically nothing at the moment. The start up plan is 4 weeks and for me it selected 4 workouts in weeks 1 and 3 and 3 workouts in weeks 2 and 4. They vary from the first benchmark workout which is about 8 minutes to a 45 minute endurance session.

So what’s in the sessions. Well there are squats of all varieties, hip lifts, bear crawls, dumbbell shoulder presses, press ups and lots and lots and lots of core exercises – in all of them. In the endurance workouts you just seem to repeat them more often and add some silly things like A skips, star jumps or lateral shuffles. It is all sort of doable. It’s hard – harder than it looks when you scroll through the workout to see what’s coming – but totally doable. Except there are some moves which are just not beginner moves. They’re just not. The app does tell you that you can modify the moves, do the planks from your knees for example. And I do! But in almost all of the workouts I have done so far, there are some moves that just strike me as silly to try given that I cannot do a high plank for the length of time required without dropping to my knees. So plank leg raises, plank arm raises or plank sew-saws or side plank leg raises etc just piss me off. It’s what made me stop the plan first time round. This time I have decided to ignore this nonsense. I will simply work on staying in plank position until I can do it for the required time without dropping to my knees. Then we can have a conversation about arm and leg raises and doing other silliness.

So, while I have regained my sense of humour about this, there is a more serious point. It’s actually hard to keep going with something which you know you can’t fully do. It’s a bit soul destroying to always ‘fail’ even if that fail is only in your head and it is actually perfectly ok to modify the exercise. It would be good to be able to say on the app that some of the moves are too difficult and for them to be changed out but I guess that’s just not how they build the workouts. At the end of every workout you rate the whole thing on a scale of 1-10 in terms of how hard it was but there is no option to single out one exercise as too difficult in that form. I know it shouldn’t really be a big deal but somehow it is – they’re just not beginner moves so they shouldn’t be in a beginner’s plan. Hmph.

Ok, rant over. 1 workout left this week and then 4 next week.

5K week 2 – eventually

Oh look, no running blog posts in July. Wow. Well, I did sort of just stop in early July. I felt quite good about the running programme and it was going ok really. Then I got de-railed by work nonsense and Kath was poorly for a few days and somehow I never got back into things. I gave up on the Nike App workout plan because it just felt crap to not be able to manage the full workout and have to modify every other move. So I just existed, mostly on the sofa, for a little while before realising I was missing movement and activity.

Interestingly, I completely ignored the ‘should’. I know that moving more and getting exercise is good for me on all sorts of levels and that therefore I should do it. But I couldn’t be bothered with should. Should is the word equivalent of a dementor. It just sucks fun out things that are normally nice things. So, ‘should’ was ignored. And once that was clear in my head I slowly started to miss both running and exercise generally. With ‘should’ shut up I began to hear a whisper of ‘want to’. In terms of planning, it seems I wanted to get to the running first. I figured I would just go back to week 2 of the 5k plan, I had finished week 2 and the first run of week 3 before stopping. So that’s what I planned to do.

I also planned to re-start the Nike App workouts and decided to just keep trying, modifying some moves and if I started getting grumpy about it maybe swapping some of the workout sessions for other ones. So one Friday afternoon I set the plan to start on the following Monday. I never quite got going with the running that week but I did do the 4 Nike App sessions that week and actually quite enjoyed getting sweaty.

This week then I was going to get on with the running thing but again somehow just didn’t get going. I am on annual leave now until 3rd September but as always am struggling to settle into it a bit. Yesterday I was finally settled enough to have a long afternoon nap and maybe that helped. I have been doing a bit of yoga every day but other than that have struggled to get going with anything. This morning I finally made it out for Run 1 of Week 2. It was 3 minute running followed by 3 minute of walking four times. I didn’t go anywhere exciting but the road route out and back works quite well because of the lack of flat. It’s down or up but not too steep.

Anyway, it was quite nice to be out even if the last of the runs was ridiculously hard coming up the hill. As an added incentive I have just ordered myself the Couch to 5km medal to mark getting through this programme when it eventually happens. It seems a bit silly but sometimes a little bit of bling acts as a little kick up the butt to keep the focus and finish the plan! Next run is the same again and I might well do that tomorrow. Oh and the Nike App wants me to do a 21 minute Strength kickstarter today. Sounds, erm, hard.

Happy Thursday!

Beginner 5 km – Week 1

Shackleton

As I said in my last post, I am back on a 5km programme. In some ways it is incredibly frustrating. It seems a bit pathetic to find myself here, with 4 marathons under my belt, struggling to run for any time or distance even at snail’s pace. But it’s fine. I can’t do anything about that. In other ways it is quite nice. There is no pressure to work for distance now. There is no pressure to do anything at all. So here are my reflections on week 1 and my thoughts on week 2 coming up.

The first run was running for one minute and then walking for 1 minute and repeating that 10 times. The day I did that was hot and humid but the outing itself was fine. I essentially did the first part of our sheep loop, turned round after 6 runs to leave a little extra walking at the end to cool down. The next two runs were both running 2 minutes and walking 4 minutes repeated 5 times. The first one of those I did with Kath on Friday when it was even hotter and more humid than run 1. I used the same route. I found the 2 minute runs up the slopes annoyingly hard but overall it was pretty easy. Yesterday I did run 3 – which was the same intervals as run 2 – and went a fair bit further by just increasing the walking pace I think. I might have been running slightly faster just because it wasn’t as hot (in fact it was bucketing it down).

Einstein

I have enjoyed those three runs. I haven’t gone anywhere exciting on them – while a bit boring the out and back road route I have been using has a nice mix of gentle down and not too ridiculous up (almost no flat) so makes sure I don’t just run on the flat or downhill. I really noticed that two minutes uphill wasn’t easy. Clearly I have been avoiding running uphill! But I also noticed that 4 minutes seemed like a really long recovery time and that I didn’t really feel like I needed that at all.

I have also been doing a workout plan on the Nike app. I have done 2 endurance and one mobility session this week. I quite like them but I do think they have funny ideas about what beginner level is. In many of the workouts there are several moves that I can’t do fully. I reduced the level of the plan from the lowest intermediate to the beginner level as a result and the plan changed to reduce the overall number and duration of workouts and seemed to change some of the individual exercises. The mobility session I did today was much more doable all round. However, looking ahead, tomorrow’s session includes things like plank leg raises and side plank leg raises… I am not sure they are really beginner moves – I’ll just be trying to stay in plank/side plank for the given duration.

Kilian

So next week then. The Nike plan has 4 session. 2 endurance, one mobility and one strength. I think each of them has at least one exercise I will need to modify but we’ll see how we go. The runs next week should be absolutely fine. The first two are running 3 minutes walking 3 minutes four times and the third is running for 5 walking for 3 minutes a total of three times. For the first two I think I will stay on the same route – it’ll make me run the hills and should be good for an out and back over that time/distance. For the final run next week I might have a re-think.

I’ve also been doing a bit of yoga. I actually really like it when I can get my backside off the sofa! Some mornings I have just done a few gentle back bends and forward folds with one or two downward dogs to plank and back strung together in fairly random sun salutations and other days I have actually followed one of the routines from the yoga studio app. My current favourite for a grumpy back is the morning stretches routine which has lots of happy baby in it and for later on in the day I am enjoying the Rodney Yee hip opening routines.

Odin

So all in all it has been a pretty good exercise week. I’m sure the physical and mental benefits will come. I feel positive about both the running plan and the Nike app plan. I am conscious though that I am not really moving much other than when I specifically do some exercise – working at home eliminates walking for the bus/ from the train etc. Anyway, some movement is better than none! I haven’t been taking pictures while out and about so you have all 4 of our cats, in age order, dotted throughout instead. Oh and we’re not talking about the scales, they’re refusing to budge.

All Change…

Right, so, where to start… During our week off last week I planned to to run lots, get back into yoga, potter about the house and sort a few things that I keep meaning to sort but never get round to. I did none of that. I spent a huge amount of time sitting on the sofa staring into space and not quite knowing what to do with myself. By Saturday I was beginning to feel like I was winding down enough to have a proper break… I did get out once or twice but it was all a bit meh. So that went well.

During that week Disney also released more information about the re-opening of the parks and what measures they have put in place and once that sunk in we realised we had a decision to make. The nature of the changes taken together significantly change the feel of the holiday and many of the things we really enjoy doing will not be possible. We agreed that we would cancel the January Disney trip – there is no point in going all that way and paying all that money, increasing the risk of Covid-19 infection and dealing with the logistics for something that isn’t as close to perfect as we can make it.

With the trip cancellation also comes the cancellation of the marathon. While I know it is all the right decision, I am of course disappointed and a bit sad. I was beginning to get my head around marathon training – though I was struggling. Now I don’t need to worry about distance. I took some time to think about what I wanted to do and what might help with getting me running consistently again. I trawled through a few running programmes and eventually decided to start again at the beginning. I now have the time to properly consolidate and re-build without worrying about having to build distance. I picked a basic 6 week beginner 5km programme to start this week. I did run 1 yesterday. It was sort of nice to head out to do something that I was absolutely confident I could do. Run 2 is coming up tomorrow.

I have also started using the Nike Training Club app for some workouts to do at home. I like it because it means I don’t have to make decisions. I often end up not doing anything because I can’t decide what to do or what order to do a set of exercises in – the app just asked me some questions and then spat out a plan. I’ve done 4 workouts on it. Today I changed the settings to reduce the level a little. The level it was set at meant that there were too many exercises where I had to do a modified move (like side planks and planks with leg lifts etc) and I was getting a bit disheartened. Having had a quick scroll through the new version I think I have a better chance of completing the sessions fully. I’ll let you know.

So overall it is all change. Marathon training is off and I’m back on a 5km plan. It feels ok. It feels like it makes sense and I have my eye on either a consolidation 5km or a 10km plan after this one. Hopefully going back to these plans means I can start really enjoying running again rather than just ticking things off hoping that the enjoyment will follow.

Oh and for those of you wondering how Odin is doing. Here he is showing us all how to stretch out those shoulders.

A Virtual Disney Day

Yesterday we finished work for a whole week. We’ve both been busy and yesterday felt like a rush to get everything finished. But by 5.30pm the work laptops were off and stashed away and piles of paper were unceremoniously shoved on a shelf ready to be sorted out a week on Monday. We were supposed to be in Iceland now and should have enjoyed Bramham Horse Trials and then the 24 hour running event Endure 24 when we got back from Iceland. Since lockdown we’ve missed a couple of theatre trips etc. Lots of the things we were looking forward to have been cancelled. Obviously that’s absolutely the right thing and this is really a whinge, all in all we’ve been very lucky, but it still left us feeling a bit lost and flat rattling around in our house. So Kath organised a virtual Disney Day for us. As I shut my laptop and sat back on my office chair feeling a little overwhelmed by everything, Kath came into our shared study with an envelope containing my Disney’s Magical Express ticket which would transport me into our very own virtual Disney Day with just a little bit of imagination and a fair amount of pixie dust (ok and technology).

Pixie Dust – Thanks Tinkerbell

We woke up early, Kath very early thanks to Odin, and me around 6am. We sat in bed with coffee, drinking it black with a touch of sugar and out of our resort mugs, just like we so often did on our Disney trips. While having coffee we watched the sun rise over the Magic Kingdom. Once the sun was fully up we went out for our RunDisney Run. If you have a look on Strava it might look suspiciously like our sheep loop but we ran/walked our way through all sorts of Disney Magic. As all runs do, we set off from our very own Epcot parking lot and wound our way through the world showcase until we headed into our Enchanted Forrest and the Moors waving at Aurora and Maleficent as we passed through. The wood gave way to Merida’s playground and a feeling of being able to touch the sky. We dropped down to the waters edge and Moana obviously hadn’t tied her boat up very well because it had come loose on one side of the canal bridge. We made our way along the water looking out for Eeyore just in case he’d been bounced into the canal by Tigger. There was no sign of Bambi this morning although we did see Thumper. Mist rising from the canal and noticeable changes in air temperature seemed to signify moving from one world to the next. Donald and Daisy Duck were busy trying to keep tabs on Huey, Dewey and Louie and all the other little ones. Before I really registered the running we were making ur final push around the Epcot ‘golf ball’ towards the finish line. Like any good Disney run it was within the allowed disney pace but had been relatively easy, fun, partly chatty, partly getting lost in our own magic but always leaving us with a smile.

I still didn’t really know what was coming or what to expect from a virtual Disney Day. Back home we got sorted and for the first time in weeks I thought I would take a little care over getting dressed rather than just grab a pair of tracksuit bottoms and the nearest t-shirt. Just as I was about to attack the wardrobe to find something suitable, Kath told me that she had taken the liberty of doing some shopping so I’d have a suitable outfit and handed me a little package. I unpacked and pulled on my brand new Mickey Pride T-shirt with pair of jeans, put on my Tinkerbell necklace and popped in my Mickey earrings. Ready! We had breakfast of Mickey Ears shaped pancakes and fruit while we watched the sunrise at the Animal Kingdom. The thing with a virtual Disney Day is that you can do things on the same day that wouldn’t be possible in one day if you were actually there! We also played with our own little Stitch (Odin) and tried to stop him from escaping and causing havoc.

After breakfast I got my FastPass ready and we went on the Monorail to Epcot. Then we did some serious park hopping including using the technology pixie dust to pop over to California once or twice in order to go on our favourite rides. We went on Expedition Everest, Big Thunder Mountain, the Incredicoaster, It’s a Small World and the 7 Dwarves Mine Train. Then we watched Planes 2 which happened to be on TV and after that had some lunch just a picnic like nibble followed by a coffee, much like we might do during a day in the parks. That was quite an exhausting morning so we had a nap (again, that’s not unheard of for us at Disney!).

After our nap we made sure that our 4 wild animals were fed and then Kath ‘got’ us an ice-cream from the Plaza Ice-cream Palor (aka our pixie dusted kitchen) and watched the Festival of Fantasy Parade in the Magic Kingdom. We hopped parks again to have a wander around Pandora and do the Na’vi River Ride and the Flight of Avatar before hopping again to do Soarin’ and the Winnie the Pooh ride. Then we had a bit of down time during which I started this blog and which was accompanied by a Disney Soundtrack.

Then it was time for an early evening (no alcohol) mojito and a one hour Cirque Du Soleil show with absolutely the best seats in the house (our sofa).

Our dinner is a nod to Tony’s in the Magic Kingdom and we’re even going to sit at the dining table. Kath is making a Spaghetti Bolognese now as I write while going round the the Walt Disney World Railroad, The People Mover and the Monorail. Then the plan is to watch the new Lady and the Tramp, catch Fantasmic and the Magic Kingdom Fireworks before bed.

And yes of course this is all a bit silly and my step count does not resemble even a fairly moderate Disney day, I have spent a lot of time looking at screens but we have also spent a lot of time giggling, sharing our memories of previous Disney trips and being together. I had a really positive run this morning for the first time in forever. It has been a great day to start the week of no work, it has helped switch brains from work to not work, it has given us space and permission to properly turn off. It’s been a magical day and the evening is yet to come.