A Brief Note About Rewards

It pays to reward yourself when you’ve accomplished something. My main problem is that food is often a reward for me, which is a little counterproductive when you’re trying to lose weight 🙂

So, to mark the halfway point, I just dug into my savings and ordered myself a microphone I’ve been uhmming and ahhing about buying for a few months. (The Rode NT1‑A, for those home recording geeks in the audience.)

I should probably figure out a reward in advance for when I hit the end of the C25K. Might give me a little extra motivation, anyway…

Bridges in Distance are Closer Than They Appear

Today’s run was the second run of week five, the halfway point of the C25K. So, this is a slightly extended edition of the blog 🙂

First off, I’d like to say a quick “thank you!” to all who’ve supported me so far, especially people who’ve commented on the blog here. I don’t always reply to every comment, but I do always read them, and it’s fab encouragement, so ta!

Oh, and a special mention to Benjohn, who got me running in the first place by producing the best iPhone application for lazy geeky runners that the world has ever known.

Anyway. I started out this evening with trepidation and a dodgy leg. And a slightly unsettled stomach (mostly due, I’m sure, to the mountain of junk I used to keep me going through yesterday’s exhaustion.)

Not only that, but these would be the longest runs so far — two eight minute runs, with a break in between.

I had a bit of gyp from the leg during the warm-up, especially over the footbridge I cross at the beginning. But it seemed to warm up okay once I actually got running. The first few minutes of running were easier than last time, too, it seemed.

I mentioned last time how nice it was to have the Clifton Suspension Bridge as my halfway marker. Today that smooth turned a little rough, as I could see the bridge from the beginning, and knew that I’d have to run all the way there before I could take a break!

But I just got on with it. Just putting one foot in front of the other, keeping to my usual pace, and plodding along to David Bowie and The Damned and a few others.

And I made it to the bridge fine, no problems. Cool!

The way back is often easier, for me. This time it wasn’t bad at all. I was helped immensely by Jam and Spoon’s Right in the Night, which is odd, as I have no idea how the heck it got into my iTunes library. It’s not normally my kind of thing. But I’m glad it was there, as it’s a good running tune.

As it faded out, I jogged up the little ramp onto the A4 flyover that’s been the usual last challenging bit of my runs, and I was just about central over the river when Get Running told me it was time to stop. Huzzah!

In celebration, I figured I’d shoot the above few seconds of video, as a bit of a visual progress record. Also, the route was looking quite pretty tonight, although I was still a bit too out of breath to be very steady with the camera 🙂

So, that’s it — the halfway mark. Next run is twenty minutes uninterrupted, and then it’s a gradual build-up to the full half hour. I think I can do this. And I’m definitely enjoying it.

Interlude

I’ve been at a wedding this weekend. The wedding was on Saturday, but I stayed overnight and came back yesterday. And did nothing, nothing whatsoever.

This wasn’t for the traditional reason, either — I don’t drink, so there was no crippling hangover. It’s because as well as being a guest, I was the wedding photographer. I’ve never done that before. It’s bloody hard work, and also a little stressful, especially if you’re the only one allowed to shoot the ceremony and the bride and groom are friends who’ll be wanting some good pictures.

So, Saturday was a very long day. Then add travel, overconsumption of food, and coffee — stupid boy, not only am I meant to avoid coffee because of a possible ulcer my doctor’s currently investigating, but because I’m avoiding it, it really screws up my sleep when I have it — and Sunday was pretty much a write-off.

And this is the bit where I get to running. According to my schedule, I should have gone out on Saturday. I was planning on running yesterday instead, and didn’t get to it.

I’m going to get out there this evening, but I don’t know how well I’ll do, as I seem to have hurt my leg somewhere along the line, maybe pulled a thigh muscle somehow. Jumping off a higher vantage point I’d climbed up to for a group photo, maybe, or crouching down to get to child’s eye-level.

I always knew there would be some break in the running routine, some unforeseen thing that might cause me a hiccup, though, and I’m prepared to deal with it. Although I was thinking more along the lines of swine flu than weddings and pulled muscles.

So, here’s the plan: put on running gear and get out into the street, prepared to run, every day until I can actually run. If the run turns into a walk around the block, so be it. And if it turns into a C25K run from the week before last, so be it. I’ll start from back there again. The important thing, I reckon, is to keep the momentum up, and give myself the opportunity to get going again, just by doing the easiest bare minimum — dressing up and getting out the front door!

Hello, Week Five

IMG_0157.jpgI’m glad I’ve noticed this: it’s the first few minutes that are often hardest, not the last few. Today I barely had the energy to get started dragging my lardy frame through the motions.

I think it’s a question of momentum. Intellectual and emotional momentum. The same effect that means you can procrastinate for three hours over tidying your kitchen, but as soon as you run that first bowlful of washing up water, it turns out the whole job’s easy and it only takes a half hour.

Once I’d put one foot in front of the other for a few minutes today, I pretty much got over that “activation energy” hump and kept running.

This being the first run of week five, it was three five-minute runs. I’m still doing the same route out and under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and I’m now comfortably past the bridge before Get Running tells me to turn around at the halfway point. It’s good to have a nice majestic marker to measure yourself against!

Today I was nicely warmed up by the halfway point, and turned around and ran my last half easily enough. I’m still not going very fast — I’m overtaken by men, women, and the occasional Chihuahua1 — but I slogged away and wasn’t feeling any big problems by the end of the run.

So, I think this whole C25K thing is working just fine. Week five looks a bit intimidating at first — the run after next is twenty whole minutes with no rest breaks — but I’m feeling like it’s doable.

I’m not sure I’ll get to run to the schedule this week, as I’ll be away for a wedding, but there should only be a day’s delay, at most. And as I don’t drink, there shouldn’t be too much organic damage inflicted by the wedding to cause me any gyp!

1Only joking. But only just.

Four Out of Nine Ain’t Bad

20090814-20090814-IMG_4763.jpgWow! I didn’t realise until I just checked that today was the final run of week four! So, that’s 12 runs down, and 15 to go. Nearly halfway!

Today wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t too hard, either. My new kit definitely helped a bit. The nice new hole-through-the-middle water bottle was easier to carry, and the streamlined new bumbag — sorry, I mean audio waist pack of course — meant that I wasn’t fiddling so much. I’d have the old one on the side of my hip while running so the phone didn’t bounce around, but shove it round the back while walking, so I could put my arm down comfortably without catching it. The new one just stays where it’s put and doesn’t get in the way.

Also — and I understand that this may be too much information for some people — the new “trunk”-style underwear I bought in M&S yesterday is helping prevent the age-old problem of the fat runner: rubbing thighs. This wasn’t so much of a problem until this week, but Saturday’s run made me a teensy bit sore, so I figured I’d replace my customary boxer shorts with something that moved around a bit less and helped “lift and separate”. My thighs, that is.

Anyway. Enough of the gory (not that gory, thank God) detail. Another run done, another week completed, and things are going well!

Shopping

Today I took a quick trip to Moti, a running shop on Whiteladies Road, not too far away from me. It seemed like a nice place, full of helpful people, and with a lot of customers, considering it was a Sunday. They also seemed well geared-up for the runner, with a treadmill in the middle of the little shop so you could try out shoes properly.

I picked up the thing I’d been looking for — one of those runner’s water bottles, the ones like a big elongated doughnut with a hole in the middle to put your hand through.

Then I spotted something I’d also been looking for, when I was searching for bumbags on t’internet all those weeks ago. Turned out what I should have been looking for was an “audio waist pack”, if I’d only known.

So, I now have a different water bottle that I can forget to take with me, and a bumbag which isn’t going to knock my iPhone around quite so much when I’m running. And I now know where there’s a good running shop for future reference.

Now for an afternoon of catching up with all the work I’ve been putting off all weekend…

Another day, another run!

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It’s been an unsettled day in Bristol, and I’ve felt a bit unsettled myself, including having a bit of a headache. Despite that, I managed to go out for my run, and I think I feel better for it.

I was unsettled enough to forget my water bottle, but luckily I’ve been drinking a fair bit of water already today, so I was fairly hydrated, and it didn’t seem to do me any harm. In fact, it seemed easier than last time!

Still, must start putting together a little mental checklist for getting out of the door. My keys and my phone are difficult to forget — I can’t lock the front door on the way out without the keys, and the first thing I do is start my iPod playing, and kick off Get Running. But maybe a quick list like, “Water bottle? — check. Definitely wearing shorts? — check” might be a handy aide memoire.

Anyway. Must go make dinner.

Today’s picture is another Pano creation, this one taken in the opposite direction from yesterday’s picturesque suspension bridge image. This is the urban jungle that I have to get through to get to the nice towpath I’ve been running down. Crossing the A‑roads, walking over the lock gates and up a bit of flyover is my warm-up and warm-down; I leave the jogging until I get away from the traffic!

Week 4, Run 1: Long but doable

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Go me! Just back from my longest run so far, the first run of week four. I was running with a beta version of Get Running on the iPhone, so I’m glad it worked fine. I really couldn’t do it without the voice prompts, especially the ones that tell me that I’m halfway through, or that there’s only ten seconds to go!

Today’s plan was four runs in total, a three minute run and a five minute run, done twice, with comparatively short recovery breaks in between them.

I was pushed towards the end — especially as the last bit ended up being uphill again — but I just kept plodding on, and didn’t give up. I’m encouraged that I’ve come this far. I definitely couldn’t have managed today’s run a few weeks ago.

Helping me again today was a Tangerine-generated playlist. I’m definitely finding it better than the iPod/iTunes “Genius”. While the Genius is good, it’s fairly limited in its knowledge of music, and there’s a lot of obscure stuff in my library that it simply doesn’t have a clue about. Because Tangerine analyses everything by its beat, it’s much more capable of stringing together things from my collection that (a) work for running, and (b) aren’t anything like as mainstream as Genius’s choices.

Today there seemed to be a bias towards eighties obscure pop, and nineties obscure goth, but there were a few things that didn’t fit either of those categories. In between Transvision’s Vamp’s Sex Kick and Passion Play’s Running on Empty (so appropriate!) I was grateful to Soft Cell’s The Night, which was the perfect tempo to keep me plodding through the last five-minute run. Nice!

Anyway. This evening’s picture is brought to you by another iPhone app, the rather nice Pano, which will stitch together panoramas in-camera. Neat trick!

The Rule of Thirds

FlameThird run, third week, and by my calculations, that makes me a third of the way through the Couch to 5K! Go me!

Today’s run was unexpectedly hard — harder than Saturday’s, oddly, considering I was quite knackered on Saturday. I suppose I’ve not had a real, proper rest day for my legs: on Friday I walked about ten miles, on Saturday I ran, and yesterday I walked for about six miles.

I suppose it’s not unexpected that I was a bit weary on my feet today, then — especially as I set out running just after I’d walked another couple of miles home from work, including up Park Street, which you’ll know is Really Quite Steep, if you’ve ever been to Bristol!

Luckily, my Tangerine-generated playlist saved me. While I’ve not quite got the hang of the right tempo to ask it to generate for my running — today’s playlist was a bit on the slow side — it did serve me up with The Violent Femme’s I’m Bad at exactly the right moment, which powered me through the last run, even though a chunk of it was uphill.

I’m definitely going to take it easy for the next couple of days, and let everything recover. I’ll be taking the boat to work, and generally chilling out in the evenings. Hopefully I’ll be prepared for the start of week four, then, on Thursday. And hopefully the weather will hold!

Today’s picture is from Friday morning’s dawn launch at the Balloon Fiesta (which was the main reason for the majority of my walking over the weekend.) You can see the other photos from Friday morning here.

Week Three, Run Two

Just a quick update — I did indeed go for a nap, then get out for my run. And it seemed a lot easier than the last one, too, which is encouraging, especially as I was so tired this morning!

So — never underestimate the power of a power nap! Never shying from the geeky, of course, I use Pzizz for my nap needs. It’s odd, but it’s good…

Right. So, one more run to go of week three, which I may do tomorrow, just to catch me back up into my normal pattern. If not, then Monday for sure.