An Unexpected Milestone

Those of you who are kind enough to read my blog will know that I have had a bit of a struggle with the C25K program over the last few weeks. Today though, I put all of that behind me and achieved a rather unexpected milestone.

On Monday, I repeated Week 6 Day 1 to try to get my confidence back. I found it hard but managed to complete the run and intended to do the same run again this evening to try to build up my fitness. But something strange happened.

For some reason, after a hard couple of days at work, I decided that I didn’t want to be told when to run and when to walk. I wanted to just go out and run on my own to see what I could manage.

My plan was to get as close to 5K as possible, so I set my RunKeeper app to 10 minute reminders, thinking that I would try to do some 10 minute running segments. Then I figured that if 10 minutes was too much, I could try running for 1K at a time, so I set the 1K reminder so that I could go by distance if necessary. This was a great motivator as it also told me my current and average pace every 10 minutes and every 1K.

I set off at a nice easy pace, knowing that I would be running a lot further and for a lot longer than I had ever done before. And it felt good. The air was cool and I was feeling relaxed knowing that I didn’t have the added pressure of having to reach a specific goal.

I was surprised at how easily I managed the first 2K. Running further along the seafront than I had ever done before gave me a huge lift, especially when I reached the end of the promenade and had to turn around again.

It felt amazing. My breathing was slow and steady and my legs seemed to be working all on their own. It was as if they were gathering some kind of momentum. I knew that if I made them stop, it would be hard to get them going again. So I kept going and was shocked when the voice came through my headphones to announce that I had done 3K.

Of course, after a while, it did begin to get harder. My legs started to get tired and by the time I reached 4K I really felt like stopping. But I didn’t. I just kept going and going, until I had to look at my app to see how much further I had left.

When I realised I only had about 0.25K left to go, it occurred to me that the faster I ran, the sooner it would be over. So I took a deep breath and gathered all my strength to run as fast as I could to the finish.

And I did it! 5K in 37.10 minutes!

5K-2013-08-28I have to admit, I am feeling pretty damn pleased with myself. Knowing that I can run 5K without stopping has given me a huge confidence boost and is a great motivator to complete the program.

My goal now is to use C25K to try to improve my pace and eventually achieve a sub 30 time. I’m not sure what kind of pace I will have to maintain to do that, but I’ll figure it out. For nowthough, here are my splits for tonight’s run.

5K Splits-2013-08-28

Not too shabby for a 39 year old who hasn’t run in over 25 years!



Back to Week 6 Day 1

Ok, so perhaps last week’s plan to pick up from where I left off wasn’t such a great idea. While I enjoyed last Monday’s run and didn’t really mind that I had to break down the final ten minute running segment with some walks, I didn’t run again for the rest of the week.

The reason for this poor attempt at a comeback? I lost my confidence. Plain and simple.

Last Monday’s run wasn’t easy. It was slow. Much slower that I have been used to, probably because I had been out of action for a few weeks, and I didn’t want to have another run where I walked at the wrong times. I also had to work late last week and was feeling pretty exhausted.

I know my fitness level has dropped through not running and the virus that I had hasn’t helped. But I don’t want to make excuses. I want to run and I want to run knowing that I can achieve what I’m supposed to achieve each time.

To do this, I need to get back into a routine and, much as I hate to admit it, go back to a run that I know I can complete. So, today I went back to Week 6, Day 1.

The run started off well. I got into a nice easy pace and focussed on my breathing from the start, which made this first five minute running segment pretty easy. Having three minutes to get my breath back before the eight minute run really helped and gave me just enough energy to get through it. But the final five minutes was tough.

I almost stopped a couple of times, but I knew I could do it. I’d done it before so it was just a matter of carrying on. Slowly. One foot in front of the other until I’d finished. And I did finish. Slowly, yes. But I did finish.

So, lessons learned? Stick to the program. Stick to the schedule. And if I miss a week or two, pick it up again by repeating a run that I know I can do.

I have another busy week at work ahead of me, but no matter what happens, I need to make sure I get a run in midweek. It will probably be a repeat of today’s run, just to get myself back to where I was before, but it will be worth it.

Have you ever had to repeat a run or a whole week? How do you feel about doing the same run or week all over again? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.


Sod The Sniffles

I’ve been feeling lousy since yesterday’s run. Not because of the run itself, but because I started getting a cold and my sinuses were killing me. To be fair, it has been coming on for a few days now but came to a head yesterday afternoon with the result that I really didn’t feel like doing my run this morning.

I woke up at 8am, which is late for me even at the weekend, and decided that, apart from my sinuses feeling rubbish, it was too late to go out. I could always start Week 6 tomorrow. No big deal as you are supposed to leave a day between runs on C25K – I just do two at the weekend because I prefer to run in the morning.

Anyway, I made myself some coffee and logged in to WordPress to see what everyone else was up to. As usual, I read a whole load of inspiring stories from people doing anything from C25K up to marathon training and I realised that I was being stupid. 

I ran for twenty minutes non-stop yesterday and all I had to do today was a couple of five minute runs with an eight minute run in the middle. Was I really going to let my sniffly sinuses get in the way of that? Of course not!

So, I grabbed my trainers and a huge wad of toilet roll (I didn’t have any tissues) and headed for the seafront just after 9:00 am. To be honest, the run wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Perhaps it was the fear of my nose running faster than I was (which it didn’t) or the fact that having run twenty minutes non-stop yesterday I thought I had super human powers (which I clearly don’t) that made it tough. I’m not sure, but I did get through it and I feel so much better as a result.

Yes, I still have horrible itchy sinuses, but they feel better than they did when I first woke up this morning, so maybe it did me some good in that sense. The main thing though, is that I got my run in. And the thing that made me do it was reading other people’s blogs and comments. It really does make a huge difference.

I’m going to have nice hot Lemsip now and chill out for the rest of the day. So, thanks for your words of encouragement. Have a great weekend and feel free to leave a comment or a link to your blog.


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.

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!