More 8 minutes, more mantras and a revelation

On Monday I told you about my 8 minutes times 3 running. Well it was the same again for the next run – which was today. I didn’t go this morning so actually chances of it happening at all diminished as the day went on. We had to get something looked at on the car and did the food shop and then were hungry and then too full and then we fell asleep… anyway, then we went for a run. I think Kath had a 5 miler and I watched her set off in the rain as I tried to find something to occupy Odin kitten so he wouldn’t follow me.

I went a different route this time. The first 8 minutes were comfortable and I enjoyed the rain on my face and the lack of people. I was staying on the roads round the village and it was lovely and quiet. I don’t remember thinking about much at all. It was just nice to be out and moving. As I finished my first walk break and settled into the 2nd run I remembered something that Kath had said about mantras – apparently using ‘you’ rather than ‘I’ works better. So I tried that; ‘You are strong and you can do this’ – nope my brain did not like that one. The little voice in my head did this:

I tried just ‘You can do this’ and a more confident ‘You are doing this’ and some variations on that theme but now I am referring to myself as another person and quite frankly I am quite loony enough without adding that. So with that little voice in my head still falling over itself laughing, I nearly got run over by some muppet in a corsa who didn’t know what the flashy little orange lights on his car do and somehow thought that’s my fault and had run for 7 minutes. One minute to go. Up hill. But it’s just a minute. And now I know that I can run for 8 minutes, a minute seems doable. And it is.

The 2nd walk break finished just as the slope upwards intensifies. I have to start running. I have moments of doubt. I daren’t go back to the mantras because, well, the voice in my head has had quite enough hilarity for one day. So I keep my eyes fixed on a parked car. Slowly, slowly I get closer. And then it drives off. I mean, really. The universe couldn’t have just let me get to the car and pick my next mark? My brain was saying I had to get to the car… the car that was now out of sight. Yeah, thanks. I was unreasonably outraged by the car just driving off. ‘That was my marker’ I screamed silently in my head. I’d been running for about 90 seconds. Outrage can take you another minute or so further. Then I had to cross the road and honestly, I was grateful I had to stop and let some cars do their thing. Once it was clear, I headed off again towards the canal towpath.

My legs had sort of had enough really and my breathing was more steam train than human. So when a woman and her child on a bike didn’t move as I approached and said excuse me twice, I just raised an eyebrow at her ‘Sorry love I didn’t hear you’ as I sidestepped onto the grass. If she didn’t hear me coming she needs to get herself to the doctor to get them ears of hers checked. Anyway, as I was still pondering the weirdness of people I glanced at my watch and realised I had run 5 of the 8 minutes. 3 to go. I wanted to stop really but the woman and child on the bike were behind me and I do have some pride. So I told myself that I just needed to get to where the line of houses starts and then I could walk. That seemed ok-ish. I got there and only had 20 seconds left to run so just kept going until the watch beeped. Done. 2 minutes walk later and my 30 minutes were done.

I have been grumpy about how slow I have been but this lot of 8 minute runs with 2 minute walks was at 13 and a half minutes per mile pace which is much better than the just a smidge over 15 minute miles from Monday. I know it’s not about pace or about going further or faster each run. I know that, but it did cheer me up to see a pace number of under 14. I think it means that this programme is working and that slowly and surely my body is remembering how to run and do it more efficiently and comfortably. It’s a glimmer of hope that maybe soon I might even enjoy a run as I do it rather than only afterwards.

Kath caught me up just a minute or two after I had finished and was walking home. We walked together a few minutes and then she set off the run the last bit. When I got home this was stuck on the door and it made me giggle – although I had no energy for a happy dance just then.

I was already sweaty and in running gear so I thought I would do my Nike App exercises after the run. I had done this particular workout before (though do not get me started on plank saws etc again) and it wasn’t too horrendous. So I grabbed my phone and set the workout to start. However my t-shirt was soaking wet from the rain and really quite uncomfortable. Sod it, I thought, I’ll just take it off. And there I was, doing a workout just in my running tights and sports bra. So that was a bit of a revelation. I have always been a bit skeptical seeing women out running or at the gym or in exercise classes wearing tops that are essentially just a sports bra. Skeptical not because of the way they look but because somehow I couldn’t get my head round being comfortable. Yes I realise this is silly and says way more about me. But anyway, hello superwoman. Exercising in just a sport bra for a top was different. It felt somehow empowering. I don’t think I’ll ever run outside or go to the gym just in a sports bra top because quite honestly I can’t do with the staring or the comments, I have other things to worry about but here, at home in my spare bedroom, hell yes.

Week 2 Run 3

Come on, who stole the air last night? Even though it was a bit cooler during the day than it had been, last night was just the worst for sleeping. I couldn’t get to sleep for ages and once I did, I didn’t stay asleep… event the cats were hot and bothered. At 5.19 we gave up and Kath got us a cup of tea. The sky was stunning and as I tried to stretch and shake off the sleepiness I thought that it was probably worth getting up and out. It took me a little while to get going but at about 6.30 I left the house for the 3rd run of the second week of the 5km plan. Run 3 is run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes and do that 3 times.

Given how hard I found running for 3 minutes the other day I really wasn’t sure about 5 minutes. After having returned Odin cat to the house to stop him following me I set off, not really thinking much about anything. Just a little way down the road I passed a neighbour who cheerfully informed me that she had seen Kath and I was way behind and wouldn’t catch her and that she knew what I’d been doing. I have no idea what she was talking about. I set off a good 10 minutes or so after Kath on a completely different run and as for what I was doing – erm, getting up, dressed and sorted to run. Thinking about the random, often well meaning but slightly idiotic comments you get when running kept me occupied until my watch beeped to tell me 5 minutes was up. I guess 5 minutes is shorter than 3 minutes in some cases!

I walked the rest thinking I didn’t really need the three minutes and set off on the second run at the beep. I got mostly downhill here so it was fine. I turned after 4 minutes of running still quite happy. Again I did not feel like I really needed three minutes of recovery but I was sauntering, looking around and daydreaming rather than marching on. Run 3. Well, if run 2 was mostly down hill and I had now turned round then Run 3 was of course mostly uphill. Well the first 2 minutes were uphill and wow that was not comfortable. I huffed and puffed my way to the top like a steam train and when I got to the top my glutes were burning. It was quite tempting to stop, I’d done the hard bit after all but I still had 3 minutes to go and figured I’d recover a bit on the down before sloping up again. Yeah something like that. That 5 minutes was looooong. Trust me, 5 minutes is not always the same length of time.

Kilian showing off his slightly
unorthodox yoga moved

Once home I looked at my Nike app and saw that today’s session was a strength yoga class of 23 minutes. Kath wasn’t back yet so I thought I might as well give that a go before breakfast. It was actually not bad and Downward Facing Dog really helps stretching out legs. They were feeling quite tight after the run but so much better after the yoga. There were a couple of things I struggled with a bit because I have no upper body strength – the transition from plank to upward facing dog for example – but generally I was quite happy with that.

The advantage of having done my run and my exercise session before 8am is that it is done. I don’t have to spend the rest of the day worrying about when to fit it in and how that works with food and how that aligns with Kath’s work pattern today etc. I’m done. The day is mine. The disadvantage is that I am not quite sure what to do with myself now. I have all day with no real plans (unless renewing car insurance counts as a plan). Still, it feels like a positive start to the week.

Happy Monday.

Run 2 of Week 2

Happy International Cat Day from our 4 boys. I did run 2 of week 2 with Kath early this morning before it got too hot. Bloody hell 3 minutes is a long time when you’re unfit and trying to run uphill. Even thinking of it as an upwards flat section which usually makes me giggle didn’t really help. But there we are, run done. When we got back we figured we might as well do our other exercises while we were already sweaty.

I had a 30 minute endurance workout and it didn’t really go to plan. Well it did, in that I did a 30 minute workout. But my music app stop working after 2 songs leaving me with no music and just my outrageous breathing to listen to. I don’t run with music – I like the sounds around me, particularly the bird song etc and I like to hear others coming. But the idea of doing a strength or endurance workout without music is just miserable. I could have paused the workout I think and sorted the music but that didn’t occur to me until later. Then my arms did not want to play at all. Does that just mean I used them properly during my run? I nearly face planted after 15 seconds of high plank which I am sure would have been hilarious for anyone watching. My legs were also a bit tired so the workout was a struggle and had I had the energy I might have sworn quite a lot. I have a rest day tomorrow although if I am awake early I might like to do the next run on the list.

After a shower and a delicious breakfast of griddled nectarines, asparagus, parma ham and burrata we enjoyed the morning sun with a coffee before springing into action. Kath washed and polished the car and I cleaned our BBQ ready for lunch. Kath made a lovely apple coleslaw to go with some pork steaks and we sat on our patio soaking up the sun and having lunch using our Disney picnic set. It cheered me up. With the January Disney trip cancelled I am missing the planning, the booking restaurants, the anticipation and the coming together of plans as the holiday draws nearer. We would be in full blown restaurant booking mode now, possibly hunting for particular time slots in particular places – like a California Grill reservation that ensures we can watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from the roof terrace. Anyway, going full Disney for lunch was nice.

We’ve been trying new food ideas out this week. Mostly they come from the Joe Wicks books. This isn’t about dieting or losing weight but about getting the food right to feel healthy and strong. We have both been dipping in energy levels massively in the afternoon and Kath in particular noticed that her fuelling isn’t right for her running. So we have tried to plan food for the week to link to the exercise we’re doing and see if that helps. So far the recipes we have tried have been really good and not difficult or time consuming to make. It’ll be good to add some new things to our usual list. I’ll let you know how we get on.

So overall today has felt like an overall positive day. No major slumps in energy or in mood. I am tired now but a normal sort of tired, not a crap day sort of tired. I’m not saying I have settled into being on leave fully but I do think I am winding down properly. And I also think running first thing helps. And maybe sleeping outside in the summer house adds to the feeling of adventure and relaxation – hedgehogs certainly do!

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.

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.