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.

Week 3 of marathon training

Well week three of marathon training didn’t go to plan. Nothing happened to de-rail the plan, I just didn’t go out to run. I started off ok with a loop out on Tuesday for my 30 minute run. Painfully slow and not exactly fun but done on the right day and ticked off. On Thursday for run two my anxiety levels were through the roof and I decided not to go because it was the sort of anxiety that would just make a run miserable and counter-productive. There was always Friday.

Odin – just over 8 weeks old

Well Friday there was but I was dead on my feet. I felt absolutely knackered and could barely keep my eyes open. Ok, I thought, well I can go out Saturday and Sunday and still get the runs in. The gap and then back to back is a bit inconsistent and annoying but it’s ok. Well Saturday was such as non day. I struggled. It was one of those quite physical depression days. I barely moved off the sofa and everything I did just didn’t seem to turn our right. The lunch I made wasn’t very nice, the bread I made slightly overdone and then while playing with Odin he scratched me on across my eye. What I should have done on any of these days is get up and just get the running bit done. The longer I am awake, the less likely it is I will get out – but of course depression also means that getting out of bed early is just impossible. So let’s try and remember that going out for a run as soon as I am awake enough to do so is a good plan and see if that helps a little for week 4!

I managed to go out this morning. I managed to haul my arse round 4 miles. It was painfully slow and looking at the stats afterwards just makes me miserable and grumpy (so let’s not look). But it’s done. I’m down one run this week and I will try and catch it up in week 4. It’ll make me feel better. So for this coming week I would like to run my 30minute ish runs on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and then my long run of 5.5 miles on Saturday or Sunday. That should be do-able. I’d quite like the rain to stay actually because there was hardly anyone out and about today and I’d sort of forgotten that I actually quite like running in the rain.

As for cross-training, I am really conscious that I have hardly done anything and that I should. However, I am also conscious that having a plan of stuff to do seems to stress me out. I need to find a better way of doing some strength work and stretching without it feeling like it is too much or freaking me out. So maybe for this coming week I’ll just say I’d like to do something, let’s say twice. Yes something twice sounds ok. I’ll go with that.

I’ve been doing the Sunday (now Monday) weigh-ins and the scales are not moving at all. I guess that means they’re not going up and of course I am not really surprised they’re not going down. I have not changed anything for any weight to actually come off. I do think making our own treats – like these yummy Mickey Ears scones Kath made – helps. There is something nice and more mindful about eating stuff we’ve made (and there is generally less crap in home made stuff). Cooking from scratch also helps, being bored, not moving much and not drinking enough water doesn’t help. It’ll come eventually, as I get back into running (well, presuming this iteration of my running journey mirrors the last) my relationship with food will also change again. I will crave fresh fruit and crunchy veg (broccoli mostly) where I now crave the comfort of mashed potato made with loads of butter and I will inevitably start drinking much more water. I’ll keep you posted.

Just ticking them off

Two weeks since I last told you about my running. So that means that 2 weeks of marathon training are done. It doesn’t really feel like it’s done. It doesn’t really feel like marathon training. It has just felt like a fairly horrible, weird, hard slog without any progress and without really settling into it. So in week 1 I was meant to do this:

  • Monday – 30-45 minute run: Run the long way round to the Co-op to get some shopping
  • Wednesday – 30 -45 minute run: Head up the hill for at least 30 minutes and try some run/walk rather than just walking up, then run down pushing the pace a little‘Long’ run
  • Saturday – 3 miles so maybe get up early enough to run the sheep look without fear of people.
  • Yoga of some kind every day

Well, I sort of did that – I didn’t run on Monday or to the co-op but I did run for the 30 minutes on Tuesday. I had a pretty ok first mile and then a slow second mile with walking uphill. On Wednesday morning it was too gorgeous to not go out so Kath and I walked up towards the moor. We went 3.63 miles but mostly walked and stopped to look at curlews and lapwings. It was a stunning hour and a bit to set us up for the day. On Friday I went out for the second 3o minute run, again an ok first mile and a slower second mile walking up. Then I was meant to do 3 miles at the weekend but that never happened so Monday I dragged myself out and managed 2 miles. So mileage covered but in a rather random way and too much walking.

Week two was the same again in terms of the plan but with 4 miles at the weekend. But I didn’t get out until Thursday where I just managed another 2 miles. I am struggling with people. I get really anxious when there are people. On Saturday I finally managed an early morning run. It wasn’t really any better in terms of fitness and how hard it was but it was a much calmer and more enjoyable run. We saw a deer and some ducklings and a heron. We also saw huge groups of tadpoles along the whole stretch of the canal we ran along – masses of them roughly every 20 metres or so. Today I was supposed to do 4 miles. I was too lazy this morning, enjoying coffee and kitten cuddles and then sitting in the sun so by the time I got out it was too hot. I walked to Kath’s mum’s to drop off some banana bread and then set off from there. I had a decent first mile and dragged my butt round a fairly miserable second and walked almost all of mile 3.

I haven’t done yoga every day. Actually in week one I did something at home every day – upper body stuff, stretches, a little yoga… not much but something. This last week not so much. That’s probably partly Odin’s fault as he arrived with us last Saturday and has kept us busy.

I’m not loving the running. I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere at all. Every mile is as bloody hard and horrible as the last time I went out. I am running very little really. However, I am getting out of the house for each of the runs on the plan. I am not always making the distance and that’s the next thing to focus on – actually run or run/walk the required time or distance before basically stopping to walk up the hill and home. I feel a little like I’m just going through the motions, hanging on until it starts making a difference. How often have I told myself to trust the plan and trust the process… this is again one of those times.

Today I feel tired, not an unpleasant tired but a tired that comes from actually having done something at least a little physical. I will probably not run tomorrow and then see if I can do a Tuesday and Thursday 30 minutes and then 4 miles next weekend to hit the total miles I didn’t do today (next week is meant to be three miles). I’m glad I built some wiggle room into the marathon plan.

Happy running.