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…

Scratch That, Reverse It!”

IMG_0105.jpgI changed my mind! Some encouragement from the LiveJournal C25K community came at exactly the right time. I still had some energy, it had stopped raining, there was at least half an hour of daylight left…

So I went. And I’m just back from my first run of Week 2. Huzzah!

It wasn’t easy, though. The worst thing was that I’d had dinner. And not a particularly light dinner, at that. So that weighed me down. And having to run around the puddles didn’t help much.

But, aided by yet another Genius playlist — kicked off from The Go! Team’s Doing It Right, and finishing, rather ironically, on The Primitives’ Crash (“here you go/way too fast/don’t slow down you’re gonna cra-a-ash…”) — I managed it.

So, I guess that’s another lesson learned: if there’s a chance, no matter how slim, that you’ll actually get out and run, then go for occasional grazing style eating, rather than a big lump. Otherwise you’ll be carrying that big lump around with you for a half-hour…

Rain Interrupted Play

I’m meant to be doing my fourth run this evening. But the rain outside is way beyond Sunday’s drizzle, and into the realms of Heavy Weather.

I need some wet weather running gear (I’m woefully under-prepared for rain, clothes-wise.) I shall if I can buy some this week, even if it’s just some jogging bottoms rather than the shorts.

It’s not so much the running that worries me — I think I’d do okay-ish running through the rain — it’s that there’s still quite a lot of walking involved in the plan at this stage. And walking through rain this heavy while I get my breath back just seems like a dejecting thought.

Ho hum.

So. The weather forecast for tomorrow looks unsettled, but with some chance of a lack of rain here and there. And I think I’ve learned part of my lesson for running in the British summer — get out when you can! I should’ve looked at the weather forecast yesterday, and run then, whatever my training schedule said…

The Tide is High, I’m Rolling On

IMG_0096.jpgThis morning has been a morning of water. I have a lot to do today. After I woke up, had breakfast and had a shower, I looked out of the window.

Onto dreary grey drizzle. Meh. But, looking at the weather forecast and the rest of my busy schedule, I figured that drizzle might actually be my best option today.

So, on with the running gear and out into the rain. Carrying a water bottle for the first time. I didn’t seem to need it for the first run, but I got a little thirsty towards the end of the last one.

I twanged1 through my songs and happened upon Babyshambles’ Fuck Forever, which seemed suitably bouncy and rebellious, so I hit the Genius button, and my iPhone generated the perfect energetic playlist for my run, churning out:

  • Fuck Forever
  • Nancy Boy — Placebo
  • Ever Fallen in Love — Buzzcocks (as opposed to the Thea Gilmore version I very much enjoy, too)
  • Disco 2000 — Pulp
  • The Passenger — Iggy Pop
  • She Bangs the Drums — The Stone Roses

It even produced Alabama 3’s Woke Up this Morning for the warmdown. Classic.

Anyway. A slightly different run today. First off, I decided to start Get Running as soon as I got out of the door, rather than waiting a bit — I wanted to get through the run and out of the rain before it turned nastier. Earlier on this week there were sudden hail- and thunderstorms, so I figured I’d try to cut down my chances of getting caught out.

Second, as you can see from today’s picture, it was high tide and not low tide, like yesterday. Because of this, there must have been a few boats leaving the harbour, so my route was changed a bit: I normally cross the harbour by walking across the top of the lock gates, but they were open this morning, so that wouldn’t have got me very far!

So, instead, it was up a concrete spiral staircase and onto the A‑road flyover/bridge, which has decent enough pavement, to start my running just as I got to the top, luckily. Jogging is one thing; jogging up a spiral staircase seems like it would be a mite trickier…

And after that, pretty much as normal. It was a little harder, not because of the rain, but because my breakfast was still weighing me down a little — I baked fresh bread yesterday, and I couldn’t resist scrambled eggs on toast this morning 🙂 Next time, if I have the time, I’ll leave it a bit longer or have breakfast when I come back!

I arrived back feeling pretty chipper. Although I really must stretch after I’ve finished this blog entry and before my muscles cool down too much. Good job I’m a quick writer!

This is my third run, and the final run of the first week of the Couch to 5K program. So the next run will be a bit harder. But I have a couple of days off — Get Running is telling me that Wednesday would be a good day for the next run — so I should be doing it when I’m nice and fresh and ready. Until then, have a good week, everyone!

1 twang, (n): to flick vigourously through a list using Apple’s touchscreen interface, and stop suddenly, thus producing a pseudo-random selection.

Second Run Sorted

IMG_0092.jpgI was aching yesterday from my first run. And I was aching today from my first run, too.

It wasn’t terrible — I certainly had worse in my karate days, as kicking at head height definitely stretches the muscles more than running. Plus you tend to get hit, too 🙂

But I was a little apprehensive about tonight’s run. I walked home from work to make sure I was warmed up — that’s a couple of miles, at least, so it did the job. And then I did a quick change and got out there.

And it was fine. My aerobic fitness is definitely more of a limiting factor than my muscles. But even though I puffed a bit towards the end, it was fine, and I didn’t feel like I was seriously pushing any limits.

So, that’s the second run done! And I felt a little looser doing it, plus I’m starting to work out all the tiny niggles that will make running just a touch more pleasant — where best to keep my keys, how to stop the phone from rattling around in the bum bag, and all the other trivia.

Longer-term plans involve finding some different routes (I’ve been told that mapmyrun.com is good for this, but I’ve not tried it yet), and maybe making up some specific iPod playlists, but the Genius is actually working out pretty well so far…

Today’s photo is in the same direction as yesterday’s, but taken from the flyover on the way back from the towpath.

First Run Done!

photo.jpgThat’s the first run under my belt, then!

I got home from work to find the cheap bum bag (“fanny pack”, for you Leftpondians) that I’d ordered waiting on my doormat, which was handy. I hadn’t realised how difficult it is to buy running shorts with pockets, and I don’t like the idea of the iPod armband thingies for some reason.

So, I put on my new running shorts and my cheap Puma socks, both from TK Maxx, donned an old T‑shirt and my normal walking trainers (because they’re comfy, and because good running shoes don’t have to be expensive), popped my iPhone and keys in the bum bag, and got out there.

I’d grabbed the latest version of Ben’s Get Running App onto my iPhone. It worked a charm. I hit the “Run” button, and just followed the voice instructions.

Well, actually, I paused it for a couple of minutes during the warm-up to get closer to the safer and rather less public towpath, rather than having to run across dual carriageways or have all the car drivers laugh at me.

And that worked out fine. When I got within site of the path — which runs under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, as you can just about see from the picture — the five-minute warm-up was over, and the running had just started.

It wasn’t easy-peasy, but it wasn’t too difficult, either. Which I guess means I’m starting at exactly the right level.

In Week One of the Get Running plan, which is based on the well-known “Couch to 5K” programme first put forward by Josh Clark, you run for eight single minutes, interspersed with a minute and a half of walking to get your breath back. I was starting to flag a bit at the end of the seventh run, but that was a bit uphill, and I was better for the last one (possibly just because I knew it was the last one.)

It might not be a massive accomplishment for a fit person, but for a lardy geek who’s not done any proper exercise for a while, I think it’s probably a good starting point, and I’m just as proud of myself for actually getting out there and starting as I am for actually doing the running.

So, it was all good. I’m glad I had Ben’s app to keep me company — it prompts you all the time during the runs, which is great; you always know what you’re meant to be doing, and it does little “there are only ten seconds left! Keep going!”-style encouragements, which really helps. And it’s a human voice, not a synthesiser, too.

Plus the new version really did play nicely with my iPod. I’d chosen a bouncy song and hit the “Genius” button, which did as Apple promised and generated me a related playlist, of bouncy songs that helped keep me going. And instead of mixing in with the music at a similar volume, and thus being difficult to hear, which is what the first version did, the new version “ducked” the music down for every voice prompt, said its thing, then restored the music volume. Top marks to Ben for sorting that out!

Anyway. Can you tell I’m feeling all bouncy and enthusiastic now? Time to stop gushing words, I think. According to the app, my next running day should be Friday, so I’ll probably write some more 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 🙂