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.

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.