Beginner 5 km – Week 1


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.

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.

Uneventful week 1 of 10k plan

I’m still on plan  – I am still slowly making me way through week 1 of the 10k programme. After the Monday run, Tuesday was a core strength session so I did the strength yoga on my yoga app (and fell over several times) and then we also did some other core strength exercises (press-ups, squats, lunges and the dreaded plank which I held for what felt like an eternity until I face planted).

Wednesday was  crappy day. I was more anxious and stressy than I have been in a long time and I actually just wanted to hide on the sofa but in spite of the outrageous wind, Kath made me go for a run. The plan said 6 minute run with 3 minute walk break 3 times. So we did that. It was cold and stupidly windy and at times I felt like I was running on the spot. It was such hard work but I did feel better afterwards.

Thursday was rest day and today was a 30 minute walk. We had thought about re-doing the 6minute/3 minute run but I am a wimp and didn’t want to run because of the snow and possible ice. We walked to feed the sheep instead.

We’ve also done day 2 of the Wanderlust TV 21 day yoga challenge. We’ll try and catch up a little over the weekend as we are supposed to be on day 5. The challenge is brilliant – I’ll get to a proper review at some point but the explanations are great and even though I’ve only done 2 I think my technique is already better.

Core session tomorrow and run on Sunday but we’ll check the weather and pick the better day for the run so may swap them round

Happy Friday.


I joined a gym

I don’t really like gyms. I have had memberships at various places over the years and I can’t say I’ve ever really enjoyed going. Sometimes I managed a solid workout and felt good afterwards but mostly I was vaguely amused and vaguely put off by blokes strutting in front of the mirrors stroking their biceps.

So why join now? I think this might be complicated. I have joined the university gym. I can see it from my desk (it’s in the building next to mine) and it never seems to be busy which is good. It’s cheap for staff which is also good. I  went and had a little look around last week. It seemed fine – maybe a little tired around the edges but the equipment looked good. I thought about it for a few days – not liking gyms is a pretty good reason not to bother after all.

However, I do want to keep running and it is fairly obvious that in order to avoid injury I am going to have to cross train a little and make sure I build a bit more core strength. I am also stupidly weak – I have no upper body strength at all and apparently the sheep aren’t keen for me to practice holding and turning them every day to build up some muscle. I suspect the gym can help with that. Essentially going to the gym is about being a better (and by that I mean healthier rather than faster or whatever) runner.

That’s not the most important reason to join though. I felt like I needed a space away from my desk where I can go and take time out for me. I can’t shut the door as I’m in an open plan office and I don’t want get stressed or anxious so I need a a sort of safe space or escape route. I think the gym will work for that. Just going outside won’t work because I’m in the middle of Leeds with the city and traffic noise. I will try go on Fridays in-between teaching (I have one class at 9am and another at 3) and although I haven’t got as much time in-between classes I could also do Wednesdays. I just figured that I can disappear for an hour and burn off some adrenalin if I’m having a tough day.

The key to making the gym my safe space (or one of my safe spaces anyway) is to take the pressure off. I need to shake off my history with gyms and just focus on what I want it for now. I may only go once a week. I may use it mostly to get a few short runs in when the weather is hideous and I may never really get into the weights stuff. I think I’m ok with all of that. So I went to join at lunchtime today and took my stuff with me. I filled in the form, got everything sorted and looked around – there were 4 people on the gym so it wasn’t busy but they all looked like super fit gym bunnies so I lost my nerve and went back to my desk. No pressure remember, that’s fine. I’ll have another go another day. For today I’ll take the flights of stairs that trip made me do!

And we’re back

So, flu. Is that nature’s way of telling me to stay in bed for two weeks? I could have done without it. I didn’t have time to be off work ill. The thing about academia is, if you’re off sick, your work just waits for you and piles up and you get back and there’s all the work there just going ‘hello, welcome back. You were 2 weeks behind already, you’re now 4 weeks behind and the week you had planned this week was always totally unrealistic, so make that 5 weeks’. But it is  what it is, it’s just that without running I am not very good at the ‘it is what it is’ mindset. I knew running was helping me keep a level head and I’ve blogged about my mental health and my little black labrador puppy (my symbol of depression) before but I didn’t quite realise how much it makes a difference to the little day to day niggles and stresses that we all have. So while I was getting more stressed about being off work and generally feeling crap the three things I do to destress and make sense of the world around me where all out of the question: reading – couldn’t see the page without inducing a major headache, writing – ditto and running – I could barely walk upstairs. That mix made for a particularly grumpy and gloomy me.

I started feeling much better on Wednesday and went back to work Thursday. By Friday I was looking forward to trying a run. We had talked about possibly Saturday. Kath’s knee is much better and she is keen to get going on it and start getting back into things and luckily the flu didn’t hit her quite as hard as me and she is recovering well. However, we had to move our sheep from one field to another – sounds simple, it’s only 200 metres or so along a track but add in 7 perfect, experienced and willing sheep and 7 inexperienced, highly strung and skittish ones and you end up with quite a lot of running around, then there was the 5.30am start to avoid dog walkers etc and then the work to get the field and shed tidied up and sorted… We were really quite wiped out after that. Run postponed until this morning.

I woke up and was quite surprised to see it was 8am. Not sure why I was surprised, I’ve been sleeping at least 10 hours a night for the last week or so. I got up and was even more surprised to find that Kath had only been up an hour or so – she’s usually up really early. We had a cup of tea and then did 15 minutes of flexibility yoga. We drove down the hill just in case Kath’s knee relapsed and we’d need the car to get back up the hill. Then we tried running along the canal..

The autumn colours along the canal are stunning at the moment. We’re clearly not the only ones who think so – it was quite busy with walkers, runners, cyclists and dogs. We had set the intervals to one minute running/ 30 seconds walking and planned to be out for 45 minutes. It felt so good to be out. As I was trying to suck the oxygen into slightly unwilling lungs I also made a conscious effort to look around, take in the colours, watch the ducks, watch the dogs – some excited to be out, some plodding along in the slight drizzle; same as their owners really.

It would be wrong to say that the 45 minutes were easy. That’s not quite it. Running for a minute at times felt about all I could manage (but that’s because I knew it was all I had to manage!) and my body didn’t really quite agree that this running things is a good idea. It felt like I had accumulated a load of crap in my lungs, it felt like my legs were a mixture of concrete and jelly – heavy and wobbly at the same time, I felt slightly uncorordinated and not very sure-footed but I also felt a sense of being able to do it. Maybe my ‘I can’t do this’ voice still has flu, or maybe it’s gone on holiday – whatever, it wasn’t there today. Eventhough the run was hard physically it was probably the easiest run I have had mentally. I was excited to be out, running, doing, getting back on track.

We didn’t worry about pace at all. We didn’t look until we had finished. We were at just over 13 minutes per mile. It may sound slightly ridiculous but I am really quite happy about that – we used to work hard to get to 13 minutes per mile and now this was just a first jog after weeks out. I really do think we are making progress and the training is working!

Kath’s knee held up. She said it is a little achey now and she’ll be careful and get some ice on it etc but there is no pain.We came home and did 15 minutes of yoga for runners. Then Kath made pancakes but not before we got on the scales for our weigh in – I have lost a pound, Kath stayed the same. Happy Sunday.

We’re back!