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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
I have had several conversations (face to face or virtual) recently about starting running and about my running journey and about how the hell I got to be someone who can run several miles without walking and who isn’t scared of taking on distance. I hadn’t really realised I was no longer scared of distance. I noticed at Endure24 that I felt like I had a right to be there whereas at a 5k or 10k road race I’d feel like an impostor and I’d feel apologetic for my lack of speed. At some point on this journey I must have realised I can do distance – it may involve lots of walking and it will never be fast but I will get there.
But how did I get here? I can trot out advice about starting running that is sort of based on my experience but only sort of because to be honest, I don’t really remember. I remember starting (at various points in my life but particularly around January 2015) a fairly typical couch to 5k programme. I’ve never finished one. The last iteration I hated. I felt miserable before a run, during a run and mostly also after a run. I wanted to do it to get fitter and shift the substantial extra weight but I hated it. Instead of giving up I looked for something else. I tried Jeff Galloway’s method of run/walk. Somehow this really helped. I don’t know what my first intervals were – I want to say 30 seconds running, 30 seconds walking but from nothing that actually sounds like quite a lot of running. I think if you’re going from no running at all even 10 seconds and then walking the rest of the minute is great.
So why did this work for me? Less pressure I guess. There wasn’t this constant ‘next time you’ve got to run for longer’ feeling. It was always – ‘you’re going out for 30 minutes and doing your thing’. I soon found that I was running faster, walking faster and overall going further in the 30 minutes. At some point I must have upped the running and played with intervals but I don’t remember how incremental this was or what we did – some of this may of course be in the early blog posts (haven’t gone back to look – I’m interested in me not really remembering). I remember for quite a while working with 3 minute running and either 30 seconds or 1 minute walking but then beginning to struggle with that as the distances increased and settling on what became my favourite of 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking. It’s what I come back to now when I am struggling – whether mentally or physically.
More recently, and I think this is a strange and tentative new found running confidence, I have wanted to run more consistently without walk breaks. It’s not that I don’t like run/walk or think it’s cheating – it’s not and I’m often faster doing run/walk than running consistently – it’s just that it feels like that’s next in my journey. I also feel like I want to be less regimented. I do often still walk a bit even on shorter runs but I run more by feel now. I use landmarks to determine my intervals and somehow that feels more relaxed than being ruled by the beep of a watch.
So do I have advice for anyone starting out? Yeah I do – it’s bloody hard and you have to try and enjoy it and the way to enjoy it is to rid your head of unrealistic expectations. Running for 30 seconds or even 20 or 10 sounds like nothing but it isn’t nothing. It’s a very very big something. Go out for 30 minutes and take each minute as it comes. Depending on your level of general fitness try running 10 seconds, 20, 30 or even 40 and then walk the rest of the minute. If you can do that comfortably for each of the 30 minutes, try upping the running bit next time. See how you go. Don’t feel like you have to keep increasing the running portion. Settle in at an interval you like and go with that for a bit. Don’t get too competitive,enjoy being outside, learn to look around, learn to smile while you’re running, give yourself permission to stop to look at something interesting. It’s not about getting through it or getting to the end of your 30 minutes having covered as much distance as possible – it’s about learning to love running and doing it for you. The rest will follow if you want it to – but it’s taken me this long to figure out that maybe I don’t care if it doesn’t. I like stopping and watching a heron on the canal bank and I like it far more than seeing a fast time on my garmin at the end of my run.