Archive | September 2013

C25K Graduate

It’s official. I’ve finally done it. I’ve graduated from the C25K program!

It has taken me 15 weeks and 1 day, but I can now run 5K without stopping, and it feels amazing!

Like many others, when I first started the program, I could barely manage to run for sixty seconds. I was puffing and panting and wheezing all the way, but once I got that first run under my belt, there was no stopping me. It felt great to be out there on the street, along the seafront or in the park, knowing that as long as I was doing what the program told me to do, my body would be adapting and strengthening itself to be able to cope with the next step up.

Of course, along the way, there was injury, illness, exhaustion, missed weeks and even repeats, but the one thing that kept me going was that I knew that no run I ever attempted would even come close to being as hard as that first one. And today was no exception.

My final run of C25K should have happened yesterday, in fact, it should have happened months ago, but life gets in the way sometimes, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

I had planned to do my first 5K Park Run yesterday, but after a very busy summer at work we decided to hit the pub at 5:30 on Friday. With good company and half-price cocktails, I didn’t get home until 1:00 am, so there was no way I was in any condition to run at 9:00 am. So I went out this morning instead.

Even though I’d missed Saturday’s Park Run, I still wanted to run the route. I’m used to running on the flat so the hills of Hove Park were going to be a challenge. And they were. But it was nothing I couldn’t handle. The C25K program had prepared me well and I completed the run in 33 minutes and 8 seconds. That’s an average pace of 6:37 per km (10:39 per mile), and my best yet!

W9-2013-09-29

My next goal is to run 5K in under 30 minutes but I’m not sure how to go about achieving that. If you have any tips, advice or know of any good follow up programs that focus on improving pace, please share in the comments.

And, if you’re doing C25K, keep up the great work. The training doesn’t always go as planned, but you can do it and it will be worth it in the end.

Have a great weekend!

5K Splits-2013-09-29

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Running After Rest Days

So, it turns out that Week 8 Day 3 of C25K is a whole 3 miles, not 2.75 as I expected. Still, after three rest days due to crazy leg pains and massive fatigue, I was happy to give it a go.

I headed down to the seafront pretty much straight after work – well, after going home for a glass of chocolate milk and an orange. I wasn’t feeling very hungry and was still buzzing from a particularly crazy day at work, so I figured I would have enough energy to get through it.

My plan was to take things fairly easy and not worry too much about my pace. Adding a quarter mile to my workout has been tough for the last couple of weeks, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t too exhausted to complete the third mile.

Realising that state of mind has a lot to do with these things, I decided to add the extra distance to the start of my regular route. That way I would still be finishing in the usual place as opposed to having to run further at the end. It sounds silly, I know, but it kind of worked.

The main problem I had, however, was that I started too fast. I was running at a pace of nine point something for the first quarter mile, which is way more than I usually do, and I had trouble keeping it down. Of course, after half a mile I began to slow down and get back to my usual pace. But it didn’t seem good enough somehow.

The voice in my RunKeeper app was telling me that I had an average pace of ten point something minutes per mile and, even though I knew I would be suffering by the end of it, I wanted to keep below eleven. So I kept going.

It was tough and, as usual, by the final quarter mile I was really feeling it. So I decided to slow right down until I reached a point where I knew I could pick up the pace and maintain it until the end. And that’s what I did. It wasn’t quite a sprint, but it was a strong finish and it felt amazing.

I looked at my app and it said that I had done 3 miles in 32.22, or something like that. I don’t remember exactly because at that point my app decided to quit on me and made my phone totally freeze up.

I’m hoping that it will sort itself out when the battery drains and my phone turns itself off. But for now, I think my time was around 32.22, which works out at a pace of 10.47 minutes per mile – my best pace yet!

I guess having those extra rest days did me some good, so I plan to do one more run this week, probably Wednesday, and then rest until Saturday’s parkrun.

It has been a long time coming, but it feels good to have that particular finish line in sight.

How many rest days do you take each week? Do you find you improve after a rest or do you run better on consecutive days? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Spectator Sport

Hove Park SignWith only a week to go until my first Park Run, I thought it might be a good idea to head down to Hove Park for this morning’s race, as a spectator, to see what it is all about.

The sky was overcast and there were a few drops of rain as I made my way to the park, but this didn’t seem to be putting anyone off as I was passed by a number of joggers and runners heading in the same direction.

I knew I was on time so I guessed they might be having a warm up run before the event itself. There were also a few people on bikes and, as I turned into the park, I saw where they were heading – a starting line of a couple of hundred people of all shapes, sizes and ages.

There were people with dogs, people with push chairs, people with their friends, their kids or on their own. It felt great to see them all heading towards the start line, ready to begin their weekend with a timed 5K run in the park. That will be me next week!

For me though, today is a rest day. I’m feeling a bit sore after two lots of back to back runs over the last week – Saturday and Sunday, then Wednesday and Thursday.

I plan to get up early tomorrow for my final run of Week 8 though. After that, Week 9 is three miles each day so, even if I haven’t finished the C25K program by next weekend, I can always use the Park Run a one of my Week 9 runs.

I can’t wait!

A Tough Day

running in rainAfter a tough day at work, the last thing I usually feel like doing is going for a run. But this evening I made an exception.

Normally, after a day like today, I would crash out on the couch or have an early night, hoping that tomorrow would be better; but instead, this evening, all I wanted to do was get out and run off all the tension and frustration of the day.

I was still feeling a bit tired and stiff after last night’s run but, despite the damp and the drizzle, I really enjoyed it.

I took it fairly slowly for the most part, trying to keep a nice even pace. I knew that I didn’t have anywhere near as much energy as yesterday, but that didn’t matter. I’d been pushing myself to the limit all day at work, so tonight was about relaxing and enjoying the moment, while getting one run closer to my goal.

As it turned out, my pace was pretty good by my standards, averaging out at 11:05 minutes per mile. I would like to run faster, but that will come with time and training. For now though, I’m just happy to be able to get out there and run.

The Power Of The Moon

I wasn’t really looking forward to this evening’s run. Maybe it has something to do with still feeling tired after my move, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been feeling a few aches, pains and twinges with the ever increasing distances of the C25K program. Who knows? But it’s the beginning of Week 8 and I only have 10 days to go until my Park Run, so I knew I had to just get out there and do it.

After the ups and downs of Hove Park this weekend, I decided to head back down to the seafront for a nice flat run this evening. And it was nice. Very nice. In fact, it felt like a perfect evening for running.

The sky was clear and the air was cool and fresh, but not too cold, so I pulled on a t-shirt and headed for the sea just as it was starting to get dark.

I don’t really mind running in the evening. In fact, I quite like it when it’s starts to get dark. Not so dark that you can’t see properly, but I find that evening twilight quite peaceful somehow. And tonight was no exception.

There was a beautiful full moon as I headed down to the seafront to start my run so I paused to take some pictures on my iPhone.

Fourth Avenue Full Moon

Full Moon Hove Lawns

I started off at an easy pace, knowing that I had to do an extra quarter mile. That last quarter mile had been tricky when I was doing 2.5 miles during Week 7, so I was a bit concerned about how I would cope with 2.75 miles.

However, running on the flat again made the whole thing a lot easier. I got to 2.5 miles without any problems, aches or wanting to stop. I even picked up the pace at various points just to see how I would cope with it. And I did cope. I even managed a sprint of sorts for the final quarter to achieve my fastest pace ever for a C25K run.

W8D1-2013-09-18

I’m not sure how I managed to improve my pace. Perhaps it was because I was running on the flat again; or maybe it was the fact that I had two rest days in a row; but I can’t help but wonder if it might have had something to do with the peacefulness of twilight and the power of the moon.

A Run In The Park

With less than two weeks to go until my first Park Run, I decided to go and check out the local park for this morning’s run.

It was the perfect morning for a run. The sun was shining and the air was cool and crisp, so I headed across the road and over the railway bridge to the park.

Having never been to Hove Park before, even though it is less than a mile from my front door (shame on me!), I got a little bit confused with my directions and found myself in Hove Recreation Ground instead. Not that I minded. It was very quiet compared with the seafront, with only a couple of other people around.

The path around the recreation ground was much better than I had expected, so I headed off a good pace up the first incline. Yes, I was running up a hill! Not a very steep hill. More of a slope if I’m honest, but as I have been running on the flat since I started, it did take me by surprise a little bit. Of course, the good thing about running uphill is that you get to run back down again, which gave me a chance to get my breath back.

After a couple of laps of the recreation ground, I started to get a bit bored so headed back out to the street to find the park. Another downhill section really lifted my spirits until I saw the park itself.

Hove Park

It was huge! And it had hills!! Ok, slopes, but I’m really not used to this. Still, I knew that I would have to get used to running uphill if I was going to do a Park Run in two weeks, so I steadied my pace and kept going.

I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy. But somehow I managed to keep going and before I knew it I had reached my goal of 2.5 miles.

The RunKeeper app that I’m using recorded 2.53 miles in 28:12, so when I got home I checked my time and was delighted to discover that I had done 2.5 miles in 27:57. That’s my fastest pace so far!

W7D3-2013-09-15

The improvement in pace may have had something to do with the downhill sections, but I reckon that the uphill climbs balance that out. Also, I was pleased that I managed to keep a fairly even pace on the final incline.

Next week, I plan to have a go at the actual Park Run route for at least one of my training sessions. But for now, I’m going to celebrate with an extra glass of chocolate milk! 😉

Settling In

Now that I’ve settled into my new flat, I feel like I can get finally back into a proper running routine.

For me, the early stages of C25K were great because I was able to run regularly, following a steady pattern of weekend and mid week runs. I usually ran on Saturday and Sunday mornings with my final run of the training week on Wednesday. Of course, after a few weeks, life got in the way and I had to miss some runs and even went for three weeks without running at all.

Apart from the frustration of missing out on the running, this was annoying because it slowed down my progress and even set me back on a couple of occasions. I hated the idea of having to repeat sessions, but I did it, knowing that this was the only way to get back on track.

However, now that all the upheaval of the last couple of months is over and done with, I feel like I’m starting to settle back in to a routine.

This morning’s run of 2.5 miles was tough, especially the last quarter mile, but I did it. And it felt great.

I decided to run on the Hove Lawns again because I like the springy feeling of the short grass under my feet. It feels slower than running on the pavement, but it’s less bumpy, so when I got to the end of the lawns I decided not to head back to the street and kept running on the grass instead.

The lawns themselves are divided by small paths leading to the promenade, so on my way back, I ran around each section, doing small loops instead of one straight line. This was a great motivator as it helped to break down the 2.5 miles into smaller more achievable chunks.

For the final quarter mile, however, I started to head back to the streets, mostly because I now live a little bit further away from the seafront than I used to. That last stretch was tough. I’m not sure if it was because I was back on the pavement or because I was just getting tired, but it wasn’t as much fun as running on the grass.

Nevertheless, my pace seems to have improved from Week 7 Day 1, so I feel like I’m settling back into the program again with some good steady progress.

I have rescheduled my first park run for two weeks today, so hopefully I’ll be ready by then.

C25K W7D2

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