Running

startchute

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

panorama

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?

{ 3 comments }

Nightrunning

by Elizabeth on June 19, 2012 · 1 comment

in Health & Fitness, Running

I have a confession to make.

Earlier this year I made a big decision to improve my health.  The motivation came from a pretty dark place (too fat, bad skin, feeling old and tired) but I decided to harness it anyway and channel it into something positive.  I completely overhauled the way I was eating, I went back to running a few times per week, and 12 weeks later I was lighter and feeling great.

Six weeks ago, for reasons I can’t fully explain, I stopped running.

I think about running every day.  Every day.  I think about how good it feels to provoke my lungs into war for half an hour or more (and win!), and to be able to breathe deeper than ever when I’ve recovered.  I think about the freedom that comes from powering my journey with my own two legs, and the satisfaction of running 1km further than I’ve ever run before.  I think about the delicious dull ache in my muscles the next day, and how they nag at me until I use them some more.  It’s addictive.

So it makes no sense that I stopped.  And when the running stopped, my eating began to change as well.  I kept eating all of the right food, but I started eating other stuff too.  Sugar.  Salt and sugar and peanut butter! and more chocolate than any one person should consume in one sitting.  It wasn’t satisfying (except for the peanut butter; that’s my crack cocaine) but it patched a hole where running used to be.  At least for a little while.

 

Last week a guy I work with mentioned that I was looking fit and he asked me how I was doing it.  I told him about my running and we got talking for a while.  Running is a major part of his life and he was full of advice about where to run and how to hit my next distance goal.

It was during this conversation that I realised exactly how long it had been since my last run.  I heard myself as I told him all of the reasons why I can’t run at the moment – too cold, days too short, not safe after dark, I’m a girl! and it hit me that I was being really, really stupid.

Bigtime stupid.

 Whether you think you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right – Henry Ford

 

The fact is, it is harder for me to find time to run at the moment.  I already have to get up at 5.30am to make it to work on time, so I can’t run in the mornings.  I don’t get home until after 5pm at the absolute earliest, and with these short wintery days there’s not much daylight left by then.  I can run close to work, but I’d worry about my safety when it came time to get back to my car in the dark.  There’s very little street lighting near home, so that’s not possible either.

Except, that’s a load of crap isn’t it?

I can’t do this, but I’m doing it anyway.  That was my mantra last night.

 

Yesterday I read Melissa’s excellent post Breaking up with myself.  She wrote about the falling into a slump of sickness and laziness and fatty food, and then she said she was going to fix it.  It was such a simple message, but it reached me at the right time.  Why the hell was I wasting time on this annoying, lame version of me anyway?

So when I got home from work yesterday it was late, and already dark.  I changed into my running gear, strapped on my shoes and plugged myself into my iphone.  I played my most tried and tested running playlist and turned on the GPS.  And then I made myself a promise.

See how it goes.  You can turn around if this doesn’t work. 

So I ran.  4km later I stopped, and I came home feeling like a million bucks.

 

The hardest part of running is not the running.  I learned that really early on when I tackled Couch to 5K, but for some reason I need to be reminded of this constantly!  If I can just get my shoes on, shut the door behind me and run, the rest of it takes care of itself.  I’ve never once stopped after ten minutes because I don’t feel like it anymore.

Running at night is different, and it involves some risks that I don’t have to worry about during the long days of Summer.  But running at night is not impossible if you choose your path well, tell somebody where you’re going and keep your eyes open.  As long as you can see where your foot will land, you won’t be injured. 

And the best defence against the cold is to run faster. 

 

So, that’s that.  The lazy, lame Winter edition of Elizabeth has packed her bags and called herself a cab.  She’s probably looking for a housemate, so if you’ve got a big TV and a cheese platter she might give you a call. 

But take it from me, she’s trouble.

Forget about that chick.  Come for a run with me.

{ 1 comment }

Feel good Friday

by Elizabeth on March 30, 2012 · 1 comment

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

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.

 

Cooking Light has identified 42 of the most common cooking mistakes.  Heaps of great advice here!

Earlier this year I was briefly interested in the concept of barefoot running, although I wasn’t ready to take the plunge myself.  The more I’ve read on this topic, the less I believe that barefoot running is a good idea for most people.  Have you tried it?  What do you think?

Last weekend I had a horrible head cold that was threatening to move to my lungs, but I was also due for a run.  This article helped me decide what to do: should you run when you’re sick?  (In my case, probably not – but I took a short run anyway!)

Speaking of colds, I was happy to read this list of 7 healing foods to fight colds & flu.  Now I know why garlic does such a good job at clearing out the germs!

Do you have a green thumb?  I love keeping plants on my desk at work.  They break up the sterile environment, encourage conversation (“This is my fern, Laverne!”) and they also mop up some of the nasties that end up in our air.  As long as you have a natural light source or a desk lamp there’s a plant that will grow in your workspace.

I really enjoyed nutritionist Kathryn Elliott’s article about the danger of over-sentimentalising butter, and what the manufacturing process really looks like in Australia.  Worth a read.

Did you hear the good news this week that chocolate lovers weigh less?  There are all sorts of theories that discuss the whys, so my advice is to make sure you have plenty of chocolate within reach before you begin your research!

I received an email this week about MoodGYM – an innovative, interactive web program designed to prevent depression. It consists of five modules, an interactive game, anxiety and depression assessments, downloadable relaxation audio, a workbook and feedback assessment.  It looks like fantastic interactive resource which uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to explore negative emotions – and it’s free!

 

And finally…

Jo Goddard came up with 4 foolproof ways to make a baby laugh. If you can watch this video without grinning like an idiot please consult a cardiologist immediately.

 

Happy Friday!

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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?

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Help me, Internet!

by Elizabeth on November 30, 2009 · 6 comments

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

exercise

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!

{ 6 comments }

Well, that sucked.

by Elizabeth on November 24, 2009 · 5 comments

in 101 in 1001, C25K, Running

bullrunfail

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?

{ 5 comments }

Couch to 5K: Five to go!

by Elizabeth on November 17, 2009 · 1 comment

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

week8b

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!

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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?

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.

tired-track-runners

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.

run

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!

{ 6 comments }

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.

track-runner-fail

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.)

{ 2 comments }

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!

casket

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!

{ 29 comments }

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.

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c25k

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.

swan

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!

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