Just a Quickie

Just a quick update! Thanks for the birthday wishes, all. I’ve been a bit off the grid since Friday, as my phone line has completely died, taking my ADSL down with it. Thanks, BT! With good luck and a following wind, apparently BT may be fixing the problem, which is at their exchange, tomorrow.

I’ve not run since Wednesday. I’ve been a bit busy, then a bit birthdayed, then a bit tired. Normal service with the running, as with the telephone, should be resumed tomorrow…

Get Running!

Seeing as my snowbound exercise regime is so limited at the moment, I figured I’d post some news about the iPhone app that got me started with running!

I hadn’t done any proper exercise for a couple of years. I’d given up karate following a snowboarding injury that kept me out of the dojo for six months, and an optician’s warning that I was at risk of detached retina, so I shouldn’t  “do anything stupid like taking up boxing.”

Then my friend Benjohn asked me to put a quick website together for his first iPhone app, called Get Running. Based on Josh Clarke’s “Couch to 5K” plan (“C25K” for short), it’s designed to get people running from scratch. I wrote some marketing for Benjohn, played with the application a bit — then pretty much decided that if I was going to be involved with the project, I should really, you know, run.

So, back in July, I started following the plan. The thing I most liked about Get Running was that it was simple. Everything was done for you. You kicked off whatever music you thought would get you going, started the app, and pressed the “Run” button. After that, you just followed the instructions. The nice voice (Benjohn got his friend Clare into a recording studio, I think) told you to walk for five minutes to warm up, so you walked. It told you to start running, you started running. It told you you were halfway through this bit of running, you were grateful. It told you to switch back to walking for a while, you walked.

At the halfway point, it told you to turn around, so you turned around and headed back home, all the time guided and encouraged by the voice. In the first release of the app, the instructions were a little difficult to hear over the music, so Benjohn worked on that, and it now fades the music down, speaks to you, and fades the music back up. It’s really slick.

And at the end of the run, it would update its little “Progress Path”, a sweet scrollable graphic at the bottom of the app’s home screen, and show you how far along the plan you’d got, and which day would be best to run next.

Because Get Running did everything else for me, all I needed to do was get out on the days it told me to get out, and do exactly what it told me to do. And before I knew it, on the first of October last year, I’d finished the C25K plan. I was a runner. Or at the very least, I was a jogger!

And that’s how I got started. Since then, I’ve run 10K in training at least twice, I’ve learned to run up stupidly long, steep hills, and I’ve entered my first race. I’m fitter, I’ve lost some weight (I would say I’d lost half a stone, but Christmas helped me put some of it back on!) and I’ve taken at least a couple of really good photos that I wouldn’t otherwise have got, because I’d have been sitting on my backside at home, rather than jogging past the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or around Durdham Down.

Today Benjohn released a new version of Get Running on the iTunes Store. It does everything the old one does, but has some bug fixes and a cool new feature — it can post status updates to Twitter and Facebook, too. You can edit the status text before sending it off, and you can even have it use whatever Twitter client you prefer using on your iPhone, if you do that sort of thing.

I don’t think this is just a gimmick — public commitment and public updates of your progress are a great way to keep yourself going. That’s the reason I started this blog in the first place!

So, if you’re thinking about starting running, even if you’ve never run a step in your life, then Get Running! It got me started, and I loved the feeling of running my first 5K. At £1.19, on the UK store, at least, it seems like a bargain.

Skipping a Day

Yesterday, all else being equal, would have been a run day for me. Certainly Get Running suggested it would be.

But, I think one of the many helpful ways to stick to an exercise plan is to look ahead and be realistic about when you just can’t fit things in. And yesterday was one of those days. It started with a 4:45am alarm to get me up and ready to get out of the front door by 5:20, so I could walk up to the Balloon Fiesta dawn launch and get some pictures.

Then I had a full day at work, a walk home and back again, and then an 11pm finish after taking more photographs for a work awards evening.

So, no running for me, and I knew in advance that the day would be like that, so I’d planned not to run and feel no guilt 🙂 Especially as I walked ten miles, which is quite a lot of exercise, even if it didn’t involve running!

Unfortunately, today is more of an issue. I didn’t sleep well last night (odd, after a twenty-hour day with ten miles of walking. And annoying. Grr!) and I feel crap today. I have a headache, and virtually no energy.

So, I don’t know whether I’ll struggle out or not. My current plan is to try to take a nap this evening, at around fiveish, having laid out my running gear ready to go. Then see if I can bounce up and out for a quick half-hour run afterwards.

Until then, though, I think I’ll mostly be pottering about the house, doing not much more than vague tidying-up, listening to a few comedy podcasts, and making sure I drink plenty of water. Well, posh water; my favourite pick-me-up cold drink, Purdey’s, was on sale in Holland and Barrett, so I’ve just indulged 🙂

Two by Two

IMG_0119.jpgJust nipped out and did run number two of week number two. The same run as last time, only vastly easier on a non-full stomach!

Luckily I didn’t have hammering rain to put me off this evening, so getting out there was easy. It was raining a little bit (hey, Bristol’s Harbour Festival starts today, and rain’s fast becoming a tradition) but nothing serious.

This made for fewer puddles, which was handy. I’m going to have to find an alternative route at some point, something with a pavement that actually drains after rain. And some lighting, as I don’t want to be running in the dark later on in the year!

Today’s music wasn’t so hot; I started off a Genius playlist from a song that’s less bouncy than usual, and some not-so-hot number cycled through because of that. Not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with The Eel’s Susan’s House; it’s a great song, but it’s not exactly the cheery or energetic fodder that works to get my legs pumping 🙂 At least I got some PJ Harvey (This is Love), and the Clash’s White Riot definitely helped me through the home stretch!

Anyway. Next run on Sunday, and apparently there might be some better weather by then…

Starting from Scratch

Today, I start running.

Obviously, I’ve run in the past. At some point. But this will be the first time since school that I’ve run for the sake of running, rather than running for a bus, or running as part of some other exercise.

The closest I’ve come in recent years would be the jogging warm-up at my old karate club. And since I quit karate, a few years ago now, I don’t think I’ve run at all, for any reason.

Which might explain why I’m so lardy and unfit right now. I’m definitely the heaviest I’ve been in some years, and fairly unfit, too. I’ve not done regular exercise, apart from walking to work, in months.

And I feel pretty terrible, and I think my health is suffering because of my lack of exercise, and I feel like I have to do something to lose some weight, and I don’t want to starve myself on a diet. I kept the weight off fairly well when I was exercising regularly.

So, when my friend Ben asked me to knock up a website for his new iPhone application, Get Running, it felt a bit like a message from the universe. “Get running,” the universe was saying to me. “Get off your arse.”

And here I am. Ben’s given me a copy of his iPhone app, which is based on the “Couch to 5K” plan. It gradually builds you up from a nice gentle start, alternating running and walking, right up to running for a whole half hour, or about 5K.

Which was another hint I got from the universe recently. I told my upstairs neighbour, Sian, that I was thinking of doing this, and she (as  a much fitter person, and an occasional runner) pointed out that the run around Bristol’s harbourside, which is right on my doorstep, is pretty much 5K.

So, I guess I’ve got a target, a way of measuring my success, and a way to get there.

And, to help with my motivation, and to track my progress with some words, I figured I’d start blogging about it, too.

I’ve postponed my start a bit — mostly because it was absolutely chucking it down with rain on Sunday. I’m not sure I feel ready now, but you have to start at some point, and if I waited until I felt ready, I’d probably still be waiting in 2017. And it looks like a nice sunny day, at the moment.

So, today, I start running. Or at least some gentle jogging, interspersed with some walking to recover.

I hope.

If you see another entry on this blog, you’ll know for sure 🙂