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.

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 🙂

Entering Week Three

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When I got home from work, the humidity-switched extractor fan in the bathroom was still running from this morning. It normally switches off after five minutes.

It’s that kind of day: hot and humid. But I was ready for a run anyway.

Today was the first day of week three, where the walk/run pattern kicks up another notch on the Couch to 5K program. Today would be two short runs and two long runs, with the longer runs being three minutes.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, three minutes, but it was certainly stretching my limits. Even on the first three-minute run, I was willing myself on at the end and panting a fair bit.

I took things easier for the third run, an intermediate, shorter one. I was helped by a slower runner overtaking me during the walking recovery — when the time came to start running again, I kept her in sight and tried not to catch up. (Luckily I was far enough behind that it probably didn’t feel to her like she had a strange, panting stalker 🙂 )

And that seemed to leave me with enough puff for the final three minutes, even though thirty seconds of it were on the uphill pedestrian ramp up to the flyover I have to run over to get back to civilisation!

So, successful, and I feel stretched to my limit again. So I guess my limit is gradually increasing, which is the whole point… Cool.

Or not that cool, in fact, as I definitely needed a shower when I got in. What happened to all that nice cooling rain, eh? 🙂

Anyway. I must figure out what’s causing my lower back/upper backside (top of the glute? Not sure) to ache towards the end of the three minutes, only on the left-hand side. I may be a bit out of balance. Definitely something to keep an eye on, and I’ll maybe go through it with my Alexander Technique teacher on Friday.

In other news, the iPod Genius-generated playlists are getting repetitive, so I’m trying out Potion Factory’s Tangerine, which can analyse your iTunes library, determine the BPM count/beat strength of the tracks, and generate playlists with various options, like one that starts off slow and builds up to tunes with a faster beat. I’ll report back once I’ve had a play!

A Bridge Just Far Enough, Thank You

IMG_0122.jpgJust back from the last run of week two. This was quite difficult, but I put that down to the fact that I’d already traipsed around the Harbour Festival for a few hours earlier in the day, where I also picked up a (very minor) bit of sunburn.

Also, I reckon I was running faster! The last few runs, I’ve been starting the iPhone app off as soon as I’ve left the house. This was the first run where the halfway point was exactly underneath the Suspension Bridge — I’ve always been just a little this side of it before. So, that was gratifying.

And, while it was difficult, I managed it. I was definitely flagging a bit by the penultimate run, and I don’t think I had much left by the end, but I’ve got a couple of days of rest before the next session, and I can always take that a bit slower if I have any trouble.

Today’s picture is a hot air balloon, clearly practising for next weekend’s Balloon Fiesta. I’m planning on getting up there for one of the 6am launches to take some photos. But I don’t think I’m up to jogging up there yet 🙂 Maybe next year!