Image: electricrunaus.com.au

Task #23 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Run a 5K fun run

The last time I put on my running shoes was sometime in 2012.  I’ve been itching to get back into running for a while now, but whenever the urge strikes I’ve always managed to blame my asthma or my dodgy knee for putting it off until ‘next week’.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the physio about my knee and she laughed when I said I was signed up for last night’s fun run.  “Well, that’s not going to happen is it?”, she said.

The thing is, I was determined to run this 5K whether or not my knee was busted, even if I hadn’t done any training.  When I put on those shoes for the first time yesterday I didn’t know whether I was even capable of running around the block, but I decided that I was going to give it my best shot and if it was all too hard I’d walk the rest of the way.

Tim and I signed up for the Electric Run months ago and it looked like so much fun that there was no way I was pulling out!


Tim and I started the race together, but after the first kilometre I told him to go on without me so that I could set my own pace.  My knee was in good shape most of the way so I was able to enjoy the light shows on the course and all the amazing costumes.  There were stacks of volunteers along the side of the track yelling encouragement and giving high-fives, so it was pretty much impossible to be sad!  Besides, I had light-up shoelaces.

tim shuttershades glasses
crowd finish laces
scarletwords scarletwords2 scarletwords4


It wasn’t all that long ago that I was running 5K three days per week, but for some reason this particular task totally psyched me out and I wondered if I’d be able to make it past the halfway point.  According to RunKeeper I actually ran a fair bit further than 5K last night (perhaps it was from weaving in and around all the walkers?) and only walked for 60 seconds of the whole course when I reached the top of a huge hill.  I lost count of the number of people I overtook so I’m pretty happy with how I went.

So basically I am a dummy for not starting my training months ago, and a dummy for letting this race worry me in the lead-up to last night.  I finished 10 minutes behind Tim but I still finished!  Maybe I’ll put the Colour Run on my next 101/1001 list?


Feel Good Friday

by Elizabeth on March 23, 2012 · 0 comments

in C25K, Feel good Friday, Health & Fitness, Running

Feel Good Friday is a small collection of the inspiring stuff I’ve discovered around the web.  It’s all about good health, happiness and the stuff that makes us feel good!  Please leave me a comment if you have a great article or blog post to share in next week’s round-up.


A big thanks to Kate for reminding me about this gem: women laughing alone with salad!

Simple tips and reminders about living in the now from Tiny Buddha.

Top 25 healthy fruits.  Most of my favourites are on that list.

Confessions of a personal trainer.

Biochemically speaking, your spin class looks an awful lot like a heart attack.  A small study has revealed that an hour-long session triggers the same chemical indications in the body as a heart attack.  (So I guess it’s not a coincidence that I think I’m about to die every time I try a spin class?)

Good news everybody!  We should all be eating chocolate cake for breakfast to help us lose weight.  (Pleasepleaseplease let this study be true?!)

Evidence is building that meditation strengthens your brain.

Here are 3 superfoods for a long life.

Reasons why you shouldn’t have more that 364 Facebook friends.  They forgot to add: Because you’ll never get anything important done!

Can’t function without your morning coffee?  Me too!  See how well you do at the caffeine quiz.

If you’re tacking Couch to 5K with an iPhone, this is the app you need.  Tim’s been using it to get back into running, and after watching the  introduction video I’m a little jealous that it wasn’t around when I went through it!  All the information you need is presented beautifully, and it guides you through your workout with audio prompts.  Very cool.

Speaking of C25K, make sure you’ve got the printable chart to track your progress!  Nothing feels better than crossing off each run as you complete it.  This post also has a bunch of tips for new runners that I wish I’d known when I got started, such as where to keep your key and how to strap down “the girls”.  I am such a fan of this program, and you can probably tell by the way that I never shut up about it.  Sorry!

I found these great DIY hair treatment remedies at Marie Claire this week.  I’m looking forward to trying one of these over the weekend.




I’ve been meaning to spread the word about Active Feet for a while now.  I went there after suffering through two pairs of painful running shoes – blood, blisters, the works.  They assessed my feet and running style on a treadmill before recommending the shoes I wear now – Asics GT 2170.  It’s been 6 weeks and not a single blister!  This place is owned and run by podiatrists and I recommend them for anyone Melbourne runners who need new shoes.  Plus, they’ll let you try them for 30 days and return them if they suck.  (Do I need to say that this isn’t a sponsored post?)

Oh, and there’s plenty of good advice over here about buying new trainers, too.


Happy Friday, everyone!  I’m looking forward to putting it behind me as fast as possible so that I can get on with my weekend.  Is it just me, or did this week have an extra day?


C25K… v2!

by Elizabeth on September 13, 2011 · 14 comments

in C25K, Health & Fitness

Remember when I used to be fit and strong, and running 5k a few times per week?

You probably saw me zipping around the streets of your suburb, only you wouldn’t have recognised me because I was travelling at the speed of light.  Perhaps you managed to catch a glimpse of the sparks flying off my shoes in your peripheral vision.

Well, perhaps not.  But two years ago I was running 5k with relative ease and I miss that.


(Original source unknown)


So it’s time to hit that pavement once more!  Couch to 5K was the secret to my success a couple of years ago, and judging by all of the traffic I get from your C25K google searches there are a lot of people out there who are on the same journey.  Especially that pesky Week 5 that scares the daylights out of us all!

This afternoon I went for my first run in a long time – probably my first this year!  I strapped on my shoes, strapped in my “girls”, and plugged in my trusty Couch to 5K iPhone app.  It certainly felt like my first run in a long time, but it felt good.

The Couch to 5K program worked brilliantly for me in the past, even though I started with a fitness level of zero.  By the end of the 9 weeks I was running (and I mean running!) the distance with confidence.  It taught me all about the power of mind over matter, too – it’s incredible how much further you can run when you know that you could make it to that tree/lamp post/intersection two days ago.

This time I made a cute chart to help me along.  You can have it too – just click on the image below to open up a high-res version in a new window.  You might notice that I have removed all references to distances, because how do you track that anyway?  The time-based program is the only way to go, especially if you’re using an iPhone / Android app or podcast to alert you when it’s time to run and walk.



While I was running this afternoon I thought about the tips that have stayed with me from the last time I did this program.  I thought I’d share them here for anybody who is considering C25K, or running in general:



1.  SHOES.  Over the next 9 weeks your shoes will be your best friend, or your worst enemy.  Do not put up with shoes that give you blisters.

2.  BREATHE!  Feeling good?  Great!  Breathe.  Getting cramps in your side?  You’re not breathing!  Feeling tired?  Breathe more!  Breathe from your belly, not your chest.  This is the best way to avoid cramps and keep good posture.  This will make for easier runs, fewer injuries, and the occasional honk from a passing car.  On a good day.

3.  LADIES, keep those boobs on a short leash.  There’s nothing more uncomfortable than feeling them land half a second later than your feet.  I wear two sports bras when I run.

4.  DITCH THE GEAR.  Try not to carry anything, it will distract you.  Pin your house key to the inside of a baseball cap, put your phone/ipod somewhere secure.  I always put my phone in an ipod sock and let them hitch a ride in my cleavage (see tip #3).  I run the headphone cord under my shirt (good for getting rid of tangles) and my hands are free!  Relaxed hands are a sign that your breathing and posture are under control.  And don’t carry water with you, nobody died of dehydration in 30 minutes.

5.  TUNES!  There is no way to do this thing without a kickass soundtrack.  My running music of choice is Streetlight Manifesto – Everything Goes Numb and now I can’t really listen to that album without feeling really itchy for a run!  Anything upbeat and energetic will do the trick, but be warned – the tiniest things can annoy you when you’re feeling fatigued so this is not the time to find out whether Nickelback is for you.

6.  ASTHMATIC?  Me too!  It sucks, but it’s fine.  Make sure you prep your lungs half an hour ahead of time, and always take your inhaler with you.  Stop when you need to, keep going when you don’t.  And see tip #2.

7.  REPEAT.  If you feel like you’re not ready to move on to the next week, it’s totally fine to repeat the week you’re on.  Anything you do will strengthen the foundation of the fitness that you’re building.  The next week’s program will be ready when you are.

8.  WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?  I get far more satisfaction from running all the way around a small park than running half way around a big one.  Also, I am more inclined to put on my runners if I’ve promised myself a pedicure when I get home.  Basically, I am like a four year old child who is bribing herself with narcissistic pleasures.  Work with yourself, not against!

9.  MIX IT UP.  Vary your route as often as you can.  I can’t run on a treadmill because it hurts my shins, but mostly because I get extremely bored!  It’s also much easier to trick your body into keeping going when you’re not measuring your run by the last one you did.

10.  DENY, DENY, DENY.  This might be the most important tip of all: DO NOT look at your watch!  I can guarantee that you will always feel revolting after seeing how much longer you have to go, as we naturally estimate we’ve been running longer than we really have.  Let the app or the podcast beep when it’s time to change, and don’t be tempted to peek at the time.  It’s just not worth the damage that it does to your state of mind.

 So.  Who’s with me?  Join me on this adventure and I will happily be your cheer squad.  I’ll write about my progress as I go – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly!


Help me, Internet!

by Elizabeth on November 30, 2009 · 6 comments

in 101 in 1001, C25K, Health & Fitness, Running


Cute cartoon from Everyday People Cartoons.

I’ve really slacked off in the running department during the past fortnight. Most of it can be attributed to Life, and it’s uncanny ability to get in the way of Stuff I Should Do, but there have been a few missed opportunities because I’ve just been feeling blah about it all.

It’s all a bit stupid, considering that I only have a few more runs to go before I can cross another thingo off my list. So what’s wrong with me?

You might remember my ridiculously dramatic post last week, where I compared my post-run state to that of a dying fly. Today’s run was almost as bad, and I’m sick of feeling so crap when I’m actually really enjoying the act of running itself!

The problem seems to be stitches. It’s strange that I am suddenly developing such horrible cramps when I run, as it’s something I didn’t experience at all until just a couple of weeks ago. Today’s was so bad that it felt like a broken rib was digging into my stomach every time I took a step. Even running up and down a low traffic island was excruciating, to the point where I had trouble breathing for 15 seconds afterwards. It’s like a horrible bruise that’s getting pounded with a stick every time I move. Unsurprisingly, it is most unenjoyable.

The most frustrating part is that I didn’t feel physically tired, but had to “protect” my stupid injury by reducing my pace and pushing through it. I felt like I otherwise had the strength and stamina to run really well today. The will was there, but my diaphragm didn’t get the memo.

Has anyone beaten the battle against these cramps? I’ve read plenty of theories about what causes them, and the most likely scenario in my case is that my asthma is causing me to breathe unnaturally. I’ve been conscious of all the flowering stuff in my neighbourhood during the past few weeks, and the unavoidable way in which I suck in all their lovely pollen as I run past. I’m sure this isn’t helping my lung capacity when I need it most.

I’ve heard other theories too, such as too much salt (or too little salt), or too much water (or too little water). With advice like this is it any wonder I’m confused?

Please discuss any theories, advice, experiences or laments in the comments. I’m off for some recovery sleep!


Well, that sucked.

by Elizabeth on November 24, 2009 · 5 comments

in 101 in 1001, C25K, Running


It’s safe to say that tonight’s run was not one of my best.

Last week I only ran once, and it really sucked to lose the rhythm that I’ve kept up since I began Couch to 5K at the end of September. I blame the loss of momentum on a few things, but mainly it was my weekend away and having part of my arm butchered. Both of them were pretty good excuses, but the setback was frustrating.

I’ve been feeling blah all day, but really needed to get back in the saddle and go for a run. Perhaps my blahness was a sign of things to come though, as tonight’s run was probably the worst one I’ve ever done!

Here are a few reasons why it sucked:

•  I got a crippling stitch in my diaphragm, which lasted for 22 minutes of my 28-minute session.

•  Blisters. Blisters that made me feel as though my feet were bleeding.

•  Did I mention that Melbourne has commenced fly plague season?

•  ASTHMA. In retrospect, the asthma was probably responsible for my stitch as I was breathing unnaturally the entire time.

•  As a result, I needed my inhaler much more than normal. And this may have had something to do with my overwhelming urge to vomit towards the end of my run.

• I found myself 15 minutes from home, and so irritated by all of the above that I actually ripped my headphones out of my ears because my music was annoying me. It was as though my brain couldn’t take any more information than what it already had to deal with. Weird.

• Getting home aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand… headspins. That’s the part where I sat on the front porch for a few minutes, because walking through the front door no longer featured in my short-term plans.

By the time I had recovered enough to actually come in from the street, I just walked straight out to my back deck and stretched out – face down – in order to relieve the horrible cramp in my abdomen. I was sweaty and gross and wheezing and picturing the weepy guests at my funeral, when I was overcome with the sudden urge to turn my head to the other side.

And then, I saw it. Right beside my head was a little message from the Universe; a metaphor that would equip me with the tools to whine on my blog like I have never whined on my blog before.

I called Tim and asked him to bring me the camera.

A couple of hours has passed, and I feel only marginally better than this fly. In fact, last time I checked the little dude was still wriggling around a bit… so I guess he’s in for a painful death like the one I’m experiencing.

The good news? I finished. One more 28-minute run later this week, and then I can finish up with three 30-minute runs. I’m pretty sure I’m not even going to notice that extra two minutes…

What happened to that euphoria I wrote about in Week 4?


Couch to 5K: Five to go!

by Elizabeth on November 17, 2009 · 1 comment

in 101 in 1001, C25K, Health & Fitness, Running


Click to see the full-size chart.

Today I began Week 8 of Couch to 5K! I ran my longest time and distance yet – 4.6km (2.9 miles) in 28 minutes. It’s hardly a record-breaking pace, but I did it.

And I only have five runs to go before I can cross this one off my list!

Today I chose a new route, and seriously overestimated the time I expected the course to take. I found myself very close to home with 13 minutes still to run – it was devastating! Digging up the motivation to keep running for that long was really difficult because I’d already fallen into “home stretch” headspace.

I dealt with it by setting small short-term goals, and used a long uphill stretch of road to take my mind off the clock. I discovered that lungburn will take your mind off almost any problem.

It was a beautiful afternoon to be out running; the sun was out, and there was a beautiful cool breeze. There were a lot of other runners on the road, and I couldn’t help but make some observations. First of all, drivers will almost always wave you across the road if you run “on the spot” at an intersection. The sight of an impending cardiac arrest seems to bring out the charitable side of most people! Secondly, most other runners will acknowledge you with a nod or a smile as you pass. It’s like a secret club.

(Thirdly, those runners who choose to ignore your very existance are always – without exception – women. Women who suddenly run taller and faster until they’re out of your line of sight!)

My iphone buzzed in my hand about 800m from home to let me know that my 28 minutes was up. Despite the fact that I felt physically spent, I decided to see how long I could sprint at full pace. I was amazed to discover that I was able to sprint an entire block, more than 60 seconds, after my 28 minute run! It really blows my mind that I have come so far, given that 60 seconds of jogging was the absolute limit of my stamina in Week 1.

There’s really no denying that interval training programs such as C25K can produce incredible, measurable results.

It’s hard to believe that this time next week I will be running my last week of the program. I’d better hurry up and figure out what I’m going to do once it’s finished – you can bet that I won’t be undoing any of my hard work!

{ 1 comment }

Couch to 5K is part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge.

I have a confession to make.

Today I really did not want to go for a run. I was feeling dehydrated (thanks for the heatwave, Melbourne!), and the sudden explosion of pollen in the air had transformed me into a walking snot factory for the day. To say that I was feeling unmotivated is an understatement.

Thank God for new shoes, and my inability to resist them!

I had imagined that my new running shoes might transform my running experience into something angelic and cloud-like, perhaps increasing my stride threefold with their trampolinesque properties. I mean, they can’t charge a couple of hundred dollars for shoes that don’t possess superpowers, right?


So I threw on some lycra, laced up my new shoes, and blew my nose a few hundred times. Despite the heat, and despite the severe respiratory distress, I was determined to glide through the streets of Melbourne with the finesse of a seasoned runner. A seasoned runner, that is, with new shoes.


Maybe I should have bought the $300 shoes.

I mean, all things considered I did pretty well. To have run 25 minutes (again!) without walking, and while I was feeling less than physically fantastic, is a pretty huge sign that I am improving. Remember when all C25K asked of me was 60 second bursts of jogging? Those 60 second runs represented the absolute limit of my capabilities six weeks ago, so to be running for 25 minutes is nothing less than incredible. I think it’s important to look at the big picture occasionally, because it provides much-needed perspective.

Having said that, last week’s 25-minute run felt so much better than today’s. I felt more fatigued this time, lost a lot more sweat, and yet felt as though I was travelling so much slower. I still managed to cover 4km in that time, so I think I’m on track to achieve 5km in Week 9 without too much trouble.


While running this afternoon I thought back over some of the little lessons I’ve learned since beginning this thing. I know I wrote some of these down in the past, but here are some new tips that might help other runners at this stage of the program:

  • My Couch to 5K iphone app continues to be a major motivator when I run. However, here’s a new tip! When you reach the end of Week 6, and you’re down to single running sessions, switch your phone to mute. Your music will continue to play, and the app will buzz in your hand when it is time to start and time to stop. Muting the phone prevents the audio prompt from telling you when you hit the halfway point, which is a major advantage in my case! There’s nothing worse than thinking that you’re on the home stretch, only to find out that you have another 12 minutes to go.
  • Belly breathing is something that I have always done naturally, perhaps because of my background as a singer. It is the opposite of shallow breathing, and necessitates the use of your diaphragm. Last week I had some excrutiating stitches that I now attribute directly to my breathing. I think I was trying to improve my posture by keeping my belly in, and it resulted in spasms in my diaphragm. Google it, it’s apparently a common rookie mistake!
  • Don’t forget: the first half is ALWAYS so much worse than the second half of any run. Get into a good rhythm, breathe, and remind yourself that the rhythm will come and the discomfort will lessen. And at the end of it all, you’ll be one session closer to Week 9!

Is anyone else out there still doing this thing? Tell me how you’re going!


Learning to love running

by Elizabeth on November 1, 2009 · 2 comments

in 101 in 1001, C25K, Health & Fitness, Running

Last time I wrote about Couch to 5k was about a week ago, and I had just completed Week 5 with a bang. That post was written after my first 20-min run which, despite my concerns, was not a fatal experience.

And then I had to go and jinx myself with the final sentence:

“My greatest hope is that my body remains injury-free, and continues to adapt to this foreign sensation!”

Well… way to go, me! I’m sure you can guess what happened next.


Last Monday I began Week 6 feeling fantastic. I was looking forward to a much easier session than the one before it, with three runs (5, 8 and 5 minutes) and two 3-minute walks in between them. It should have been an easy 25 minutes, but a few minutes in I was feeling terrible. I suddenly felt lethargic, my legs felt like lead and I had to concentrate really hard on putting one foot in front of the other.

I finished the session, but by the time I got home I was miserable. My neck felt a little out, and I was dripping with sweat for the first time since beginning the program. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, but rather than let it psych me out I decided to put it behind me and just get a good night’s rest.

The next morning I couldn’t turn my head to the left. Like Zoolander, I had ceased to be an ambi-turner.

In hindsight, I’m pretty sure that I came down with some sort of bug last week. I felt a bit “off” for a few days, slept really hard every night, and woke up each morning not feeling refreshed. My theory is that I held my body differently during my run to compensate for the sudden fatigue, which led to some sort of pinched nerve in my neck. I kept it in check with anti-inflammatories and a wheat pack for about 5 days until it was mostly back to normal.

The hardest part was accepting that I would have to take some time off running. Obviously it would have been pretty stupid to compound the problem by pushing through it, so I decided to take a week off.

Today I re-started Week 6. Once again, I found this particular session pretty difficult, but that can almost definitely be attributed to the fact that I took a break. It was nowhere near as hard as it was a week ago, which sort of confirms my theory that I was fighting off some sort of bug last week.

I guess the most interesting part of this experience was the way I coped with not running. It’s become such a big part of my life now, even though I’m still a beginner, that it was noticeably absent from my routine last week. There was a small degree of anxiety over how well I would pick it up again this week, but mostly I just missed hitting the streets and feeling healthy. I really look forward to the stage where I can run for 20 minutes without any apprehension, just for that feeling, a few times a week. That’s freedom right there – using your own body to cover a stack of ground, and feeling even better on the other side of it.

My medium-term goal is to reach that place. In the short-term I still have a month of C25K to finish, but if all goes well I can wrap this baby up by the end of November!

(That wasn’t an invitation, jinx gods.)


Couch to 5K: Week 5

by Elizabeth on October 25, 2009 · 29 comments

in 101 in 1001, C25K, Health & Fitness, Running

Yesterday I finished Week 5 of the Couch to 5K (C25K) – a nine week interval training program that promises to have you running for 30 minutes, or 5k, by the end.

Last week’s program had me pretty worried, so I thought it might be worthwhile writing something short about the way it turned out for me. There must be other people out there who are googling the hell out of C25K to see how others are handling it – so here is another person’s account!

Week 5 is traditionally the week when most people drop out of C25K, for reasons I completely understand. On paper it looks unachievable to the beginning runner, as it sets a goal that is far beyond anything we’ve had to achieve up until that point. Here’s what I mean:

Week 5, Day 1: Three 5-minute runs, with 3-minute walks in between.
Week 5, Day 2: Two 8-minute runs, with one 5-minute walk in the middle.
Week 5, Day 3: Run for 20 minutes with no walking.

At this stage in the program the longest interval we’ve ever had to run without walking is 8 minutes. How was I ever going to run for more than double this time?

Fear of Failure

I didn’t actually believe that I could do the 20-minute run. In truth, I never feel completely physically spent after each running segment in my sessions, but I have come to rely on those short “rest” periods of walking to prepare my lungs for the next burst of punishment. The prospect of cutting out the walks completely scared the crap out of me!

All I can say is that I attempted it with the best possible attitude I could muster. I assured myself that if I didn’t make it this time, it was okay to try it again until I met the goal. I reminded myself that plenty of other people repeat entire weeks until they are ready to move on with the program, and that it was okay to be one of them.

I fired up the music, started my C25K app, and turned the screen of my iphone off. I decided to forget about the clock, and just run.

20 minutes later I stopped!


I won’t lie – there were times when I wanted to walk. I didn’t get any of that euphoria that I wrote about on Monday, and that made every step a little bit harder. However, I don’t think that it was any more difficult than the first time I ran for 5 minutes, or 8 minutes – or even the first time I ran for 90 seconds! I remain amazed at the way that my body continually adapts to the new challenges I put in front of it.

The key, I guess, is making sure that you pace yourself. I kept a good steady pace throughout the entire 20 minutes, but this time I didn’t go out of my way to choose lots of hilly streets or force myself to extend my stride. The challenge of running for 20 minutes was enough, I saw no need to overachieve.

I covered 3.2km yesterday, which included a 4-minute cool-down walk. Tim commented that I didn’t seem out of breath when I got home, and it’s true – my recovery time was pretty much contained to those 4 minutes. My biggest challenge during the run was to manage my asthma, as I have become quite reliant on my inhaler halfway through my sessions. I couldn’t have used my inhaler without stopping momentarily yesterday, so I managed it with my pace instead.

So – with Week 5 out of the way I have one month of running to go. I am bracing myself for some fairly big challenges over the coming week, including four 25-minute runs, three 28-minute runs, and finally three 30-minute runs. My greatest hope is that my body remains injury-free, and continues to adapt to this foreign sensation!


So, the weirdest thing just happened.

This afternoon I got home from work feeling exhausted. My entire day was spent putting out metaphorical fires at work, in preparation for a major event that my office is running tomorrow. And since I will be out of the office tomorrow to set up for this event, I also had to get a bunch of tomorrow’s work done too.

Today was Run Day. I could have done it tomorrow, except for the fact that I’ll be tied up at work until about midnight and there won’t be an opportunity. So when I got home I reluctantly put my shoes on and ran in the direction of a nearby pharmacy, figuring I could kill two birds and get a prescription filled.

Today’s program was three 5-minute runs, with a couple of short walks to break them up. Even though I took the scenic route and chose a couple of little hills, I found myself close to the pharmacy halfway through my second run. I decided to run far beyond my original destination and cover some new ground rather than just running in circles to make up the time.

By the time I finished my third run I was at the pharmacy door, and I was completely spent. I’d made sure that my last minute or so was a really strong pace to make the most of my session. The five minutes I spent waiting for my prescription was a very welcome relief.

My heart rate was still nice and high when I left the store, so I thought I’d give it a little extra time. No clock, no set pace – just an opportunity to jog along the backstreets and keep my heart rate nice and lively. I thought I might stretch it out a couple of minutes longer, just for a bonus.

I ran from that store all the way to my front gate, door to door.

Google Maps tells me that this last little “bonus” was 1.5km, and at my jogging pace it took about 10 minutes. Something weird happened where I wasn’t in any pain or discomfort anymore, and I didn’t need to stop for anything! I didn’t even pause to cross roads – just kept jogging until a break in traffic opened up. I know how insignificant this must seem to anybody who has ever been able to run… but this is a completely new experience for me!

This has taught me so much about the role my mind plays when it comes to exercise. I believe – without a doubt – that I could not have covered that much ground if I had been conscious of time. It’s strange how I kept setting myself new goals along the way home, only to find that I didn’t need to stop once I reached them.

So, runners? I get it now. I really, really get it.

And I want more.


Couch to 5k: The first month

by Elizabeth on October 18, 2009 · 6 comments

in 101 in 1001, C25K, Health & Fitness

Part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days challenge.

I’ve spent my entire life telling anybody who would listen, “I can’t run”.

I have always been able to walk and swim long distances, usually stopping out of boredom rather than exhaustion. Growing up I played a lot of netball and touch footy, and was a fit and healthy teenager. I remember attempting a regular morning jog during those years and quitting out of frustration.

My asthma has to have played an enormous role in shaping this belief. There have been periods throughout my life where it has been difficult to get enough air into my lungs when I wasn’t exercising, and there’s probably no form of exercise that relies on lung capacity more than running. I remember that swimming was a fantastic sport for me because the rhythm of the strokes helped me to regulate my breathing. It all just flowed.

The time has come to challenge more of myself. Yeah, running is hard. At the moment it is not the most natural feeling for me to deliberately provoke my lungs into war. And yet, along with the right medication, this is exactly the best way to prevent my asthma from running my life any longer.


I am not exaggerating when I say that the Couch to 5k program pulled me out of a largely sedentary Winter. For six months I ate delicious pastas, curries, stews, rice and potatoes and loved every second of it. What I didn’t love was the extra couple of kilos at the end of it!

So when I began this 9-week running course a few weeks ago I think I must have started with a fitness level of zero. No-one is more surprised than I to find how much I am enjoying it!

Yesterday I finished my fourth week, which means I’ll hit the half-way point of the program in a few days time. The satisfaction that I feel after each session is indescribable, and I find that I am even looking forward to my evening run. I’m really quite astounded to be feeling so relaxed and “in control” about something that I have always been scared of!

Here are a few things I have learned in the first month of the program:

  • It doesn’t matter how cold it is, how much it is raining, how tired I am or how crappy my day was. Three minutes after putting on my shoes and leaving the house, I will be as “into it” as I am on a good day.
  • I need to LOVE the music I listen to while I run. This is not the time to try out an album that is “just okay” – the music I choose can really make or break the quality of my session.
  • The first half of my session will always be harder than the second half. I don’t know why, but it’s true.
  • I feel far greater satisfaction running all the way around a small park than halfway around a large park.
  • The first time I have to do a longer run as part of my program I choose a brand new direction and set of streets. It gives me the advantage of something new to look at, and prevents me from recognising a landmark from a shorter run. Basically, it’s about keeping myself distracted and in denial!
  • I often find that I have to pace myself during a longer run, and don’t run as naturally as I would like. Now, after finishing every session, I give it one last sprint. I can’t even describe how good that feels.

I apologise for evangelizing on the subject of running all of a sudden, but I really am astounded at the difference I have seen in myself in such a short time – in my stamina, my attitude and my body. I’ve been treating my body like crap for years, and I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is responding so well to a little tough love.

According to internet experts most people quit in Week 5. It’s easy to see why, given that by Friday I will supposedly be running 20 minutes with no walking! I admit to being a little bit intimidated by the prospect of running for this length of time, but it has helped a great deal to read the stories of other people who have done the program. I can’t deny that this has been done successfully by people who face bigger hurdles than me, especially in terms of weight, age and attitude. I think I just need to accept that it’s going to suck, it’s going to hurt, but it’s well within my ability to see it through.

And if I can’t do it on the first attempt? I’ll try, try again. It sounds like many people end up repeating a week of the program until they are ready to move on, and that sounds like the most sensible approach. My focus is on remaining injury-free, increasing my stamina and making it through to the end of Week 9 (in however many weeks it takes!).

Wish me luck…



Later this week I’ll be writing about my progress with the Couch to 5k running program, but in the meantime I wanted to tell everyone about this iPhone app. It is one of the main reasons why this challenge has been a pleasure to commit to, rather than a battle!

The Couch to 5k app works on the iPhone or iTouch, and gives you audio cues during your workout. Start playing your music before launching the app, and the audio cues will be heard right over the top. This makes it possible to forget about your watch and simply concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

I know that there are other C25K apps out there, but this is the only one I have tried. I chose it based on its high user reviews, and haven’t found any reason to look for a better alternative. In fact, short of running my sessions for me I’m not sure what else it could do better!

Well worth a try if you have an iPhone. If not, try googling for podcasts that do a similar job.


Last week I took myself to Albert Park Lake for one of my sessions, which involved dodging the poo of a couple of hundred black swans. They were beautiful to watch though, especially the little newborn cygnets!