Weekend Double

doubleIt’s Week 3, Day 2 of C25K already! It seems like only a couple of days ago that I was on Week 2. Ok, it was. But that’s the beauty of C25K. Even if the running itself is slow, the progress is fairly quick.

Two weeks ago, I struggled with running non stop for sixty seconds; now I can do three minutes. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but for me and most of the other people doing the program, this is a big deal.

Even when I was younger and fitter, I was never a distance runner. When it came to athletics, I was always about speed. I could run faster than most of my friends in the 100m, but when it came to anything above 400m I was always trailing behind. I was built for speed, not distance. But after years of studying, working and sitting on my backside all day, I realise that it’s not just about how you were built. It’s about what you choose to do with the body that you have.

This is one of the reasons that I’m doing C25K. It’s not exactly distance running, but it’s more distance than I have ever been able to do. And I will do it!

When I started this program, I decided to run twice at the weekend and once mid-week. They say that you should leave at least a day between runs to let your body recover, but I preferred the idea of running in the morning at the weekend, so I ignored that advice and decided to do two days in a row so that I would only have one evening run mid-week.

What I’ve found is that, while I tend to notice a bigger difference after a couple of rest days, I like the challenge of running two days in a row. When the first run of a new week is tough, it helps to get out again the next day because the lessons learned are still fresh in my mind.

If I start too fast on Saturday, I’ll remember to take it easier on the Sunday; if the Saturday is too slow and easy, I’ll pick up the pace a bit on the Sunday. These runs act as a practice for the Wednesday run, the final run of the week, where I can put my learning into practice and get myself ready to move on to the next stage.

The other thing I like about doing two runs at the weekend is that it means I’m half-way through the week already. I only have one more run to do before I get to move on to the next stage and, after a hard week at work, the thought of only having one run to go is a great motivator for me.

So, this weekend I did another double. I took it slow and easy to make sure I could keep going for the three minute intervals and found a pace that I am comfortable with. I would like to run a bit faster, but that will come. For now, I’m ignoring the teenage sprinter in me so that I can focus on going the distance. Two days in a row.

How often do you run? Do you like to run on consecutive days? Or do you prefer to have a rest day in between? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

No Pain

Today marks the beginning of my third week of C25K and I’m still loving it!

I woke up early, which is quite normal for me, especially at the weekend. The only problem though, was that I had a pain in my right leg. It’s a pain that I am familiar with. I get it a lot and have had it for a long time, but this morning it was pretty bad, running from my hip right down my whole leg.

The pain has never been diagnosed. I’ve taken pain killers for it in the past, but the only thing that really helps is exercise. So, this morning’s run was motivated, not by making progress on C25K, but by getting rid of the pain in my leg.

It wasn’t even 7am when I headed out on my warm up walk to the seafront and by the time I reached the promenade the pain had almost gone. I took the run fairly easy, knowing that I would have to run for a whole three minutes without stopping, and I couldn’t believe it when I reached half way.

Ok, so I was going slowly and didn’t want to push myself too hard, but the jump from ninety seconds to three minutes wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I realised then that this program is not about running fast, it’s about running distance without stopping.

Three minutes wasn’t easy, but at the right pace, it felt good. Not just in my leg, which had totally eased off by the end of it, but in my whole body. I felt amazing. Physically, mentally and spiritually. And there was no pain.

In time, I will run faster. When it feels right, I will push myself harder. But for now, if running relieves the pain, then I want to run for as long as I can without stopping.

Are you doing C25K? Do you focus on running for speed or for distance? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Life’s A Beach

As I’ve said plenty of times before, I love running on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Mid-week, however, it’s a whole different story.

I’ve avoided going for a run before work because I kind of like my morning routine as it is, but I’ve never really liked the idea of running in the evening. I’m not particularly tired after work and I don’t mind eating a bit later; it’s the traffic and the people that get to me.

When I set out on this evening’s run, I planned to run along the main street and then down to the beach when I got to half way, but it didn’t work out like that. Whenever I reached a road, I always seemed to be in mid run and the traffic was relentless. Not wanting to stop and wait to cross the road, I decided to turn down some side streets so that I could keep going.

The problem with this was that the pavements on these streets were pretty narrow and there were enough human obstacles in the way to make it difficult to pass without slowing down. This meant weaving between parked cars to dodge pedestrians and traffic, which was a real pain. My breathing went to pot and by the end of the second running interval I started to get a stitch in my side. I wasn’t happy but I knew I had to keep going.

At half way, when I headed down to the seafront to join the runners and joggers on the promenade, I couldn’t believe the contrast.

I’ve run along the promenade before, so I don’t know why I didn’t just go there in the first place. I guess I felt self-conscious about being a beginner or maybe I just wanted to get into my stride first. I’m not sure, but as soon as I hit the seafront, the whole atmosphere changed. With plenty of space to run and a nice breeze to cool me down, I could focus on my pace and my breathing, and pretty soon my mood lifted.

I completed the run and passed Week 2 of C25k. But most importantly, I realised that I’m incredibly lucky to have a whole wide long stretch of seafront to run along. So, from now on, Wednesday evenings will be for running on the promenade. Running by the beach and loving it!

Where do you like to run? Do you have a local track, park, or beach? Or do you prefer to pound the pavements? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Feeling Good

runners-high-300x221I can’t believe how good I’m feeling right now. Physically, I have a long way to go, but after yesterday morning’s run, I just felt amazing. Focussed, happy and content with everything. I don’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed and at ease with the world.

They say that running is all about state of mind. You have to overcome the mental and emotional challenge to deal with the physical, but it seems it goes both ways. Getting those runs in three times a week creates a sense of achievement, but it’s so much more than that. I don’t know why this is exactly or how to describe it. It just feels good.

So, when I was woken up this morning by the sound of my neighbours partying, I didn’t mind. I didn’t get angry or annoyed or stressed about it. I just got up, got dressed, had some coffee and went for a run.

I’m on Week 2 Day 2 now of C25K and the run wasn’t easy. I started too fast and struggled with my breathing for a while, but I stuck with it, using the walking sections to try to get my breathing right. It was a tough run, but I wanted it to count, so I kept it slow and steady and tried to work on my breaths.

By the final running section, my legs were tired, but I picked up the pace for those last ninety seconds and finished strong. It felt amazing. I felt amazing. And I still do.

I know there will be days and weeks when it won’t feel so good. I know there will be times when I will feel too tired to run or just want to give up. But I won’t, because right now I know how good it feels.

I can’t put this feeling in a bottle for later, but I don’t need to. Because I know that when I feel like I need a swig of this good stuff, all I need to do is get up, get out and go for a run.

No matter how hard it is at the time, there’s just something about running that makes me feel good!

Running In The Rain

Running Rain
Photograph by Antony Mayfield

It’s Saturday morning, which means it’s time to start Week 2 of C25K!

I’ve been looking forward to this run since Wednesday, partly because I’m starting to enjoy it, but mostly because it feels like I’m making progress.

After my last run, I felt that I was ready to step things up a gear and start running for longer intervals. An extra thirty seconds of running seemed achievable,  especially with an increase in the walking time, but still challenging enough. What I didn’t expect, however, was that I would be faced with the additional challenge of running in the rain.

As a Scot, I’m pretty used to rain and getting wet really doesn’t bother me, especially when I know that I can get home and dry off again in no time at all. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that I like being out in the rain, if it’s not too heavy.

This morning’s rain wasn’t too bad. Not much more than a heavy drizzle. But it was cold. My arms and hands were cold. I was wearing short sleeves, which probably didn’t help, but my only alternative was a hoody which I figured would end up making me feel too hot.

The good thing about this weather and lack of sensible running clothes, however, was that my warm up walk was more brisk than usual and, after my first ninety second run, I didn’t even feel the cold. I even stopped noticing that it was raining until the second half of the run when I had to remove my glasses to wipe off the water.

The run itself was pretty much what I expected. The run/jog part was harder than before and I really started to feel it towards the end. But it wasn’t as hard as this time last week, so I feel like I’m making good progress. And it’s good to know that, come rain or shine, I’ll be able to run. No excuses!

What are your thoughts on running in the rain? Do you prefer the heat and the sunshine, or a cool morning drizzle? Please share your thoughts, ideas and stories in the comments.

C25K: Reflections On Week 1

So, I completed the first week for C25K and it feels great! Even after only three short runs, which were more walking than running, I already feel fitter, stronger and healthier. But this week has been about more than just running. It is changing my attitude towards a whole load of things. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Food and Diet

My reasons for doing C25K are more to do with fitness than weight. In fact. my BMI is pretty much smack bang in the middle of normal and never seems to change. I put this down to the fact that I only really eat when I’m hungry. Some days, I don’t each much at all, while other times I seem to do nothing but eat. I’m lucky that my appetite tends to reflect levels of activity and that I have a good metabolism. However, now that I’m exercising, I seem to want to eat all the time.

This concerned me a little bit at first, as I don’t want to gain weight, but then I realised that I didn’t actually want to eat any of the usual rubbish that I like to indulge in. I don’t want to drink coke or snack on cakes and biscuits. They leave me feeling tired and sluggish. Instead, I’m craving fruit and pasta and cereal. I’m guessing this is no bad thing, but I also need to make sure that I learn more about nutrition to make sure that my eating and exercise work together.

2. Body Awareness

I’ve never really taken much notice of my body. I accept that some mornings I wake up stiff and sore, that some days I feel out of breath after walking to work, and that sometimes at the weekend I’m too tired to do anything. It’s just part of getting older, right?

Well, maybe a week ago that was true, but now I’m starting to pay more attention. I’m taking notice of the aches and pains in case I’ve injured myself, I’m aware of my breathing because leaning to breathe properly makes running easier, and I’m altering my lifestyle to make sure that I have enough energy to complete my runs. After all, 39 is not really that old!

3. Support Network

Having a support network of people to encourage and motivate you is not something that I have ever really bothered about. I live on my own, my family are hundreds of miles away and I don’t really have any close friends. On the whole, I’m a happy  hermit. I like to keep myself to myself and just get on with whatever I’m doing.

For some reason though, I told my colleagues at work that I was doing C25K and was surprised by how supportive and encouraging they were. Some of the younger people in my office are into exercising and they gave me some useful tips and advice, which was really nice.

4. On-line Community

But one of the best things I have discovered is an amazing on-line community of runners, joggers and bloggers who are willing to share their own fitness journeys and help and support others.

So, to all of you who read, follow or leave comments on this blog, thank you. It means so much to have your input and to share ideas and experiences. I have discovered some fantastic bloggers here, from C25K rookies to experienced runners, and it’s unbelievably inspiring! I love hearing your stories and following your journeys, so please feel free to leave a comment and tell me how you’re getting on.

See you tomorrow for the start of Week 2!

First Evening Run

hove seafront runningI completed my first evening run and my first week of C25K today.

To be honest, I was a bit worried about having to run mid week. I wasn’t keen on running before work as I kind of like my morning routine on work days; but I wasn’t sure if I would have the energy to run after a busy day at the office.

My main problem with running in the evening was that I’m usually hungry after my walk home so I have something to eat as soon as I get in. There was no way I would be able to run hungry, but I knew that running on a full stomach wouldn’t be a good idea either.

In the end, I decided that the best way round this was to have a snack in the afternoon. I also made sure that I cut down my caffeine intake and stuck to drinking boiled water instead of tea or coffee. This seemed to work really well as I didn’t feel hungry or tired when I got home.

As it was a pretty warm muggy day, I decided to do my run along the seafront. I felt a bit self conscious at first but there were plenty of runners and joggers around so I soon forgot about everyone else and just focussed on my run.

My last run had been on Sunday so I was a bit worried about how I would get on. As I had feared, the first 60 seconds of running weren’t great, but this was probably because I was feeling a bit tense. So I reminded myself to relax, keep my head up and just breathe. It worked a treat!

I soon got into my rhythm, taking it slow and steady on the runs and keeping a strong but relaxed pace on the walks. Strangely enough, the runs seemed shorter than before while the walking seemed to go on for too  long by the end. In fact, for the first time this week, I was a little bit disappointed when the session was over.

Part of me wanted to do just one more repetition, but I knew it would be silly to over do it. So, I headed home with a grin on my face, looking forward to stepping things up a gear next week.

What’s your favourite time of day to run? How do you adapt your running schedule to fit in with other aspects of your life? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments.