Featured

Motivation; The beginning. 

I just spent 40 minutes writing a big long history of my reasons for starting a blog. Then, clumsy as I am, managed to delete the whole poxy lot. 

So I’ll look at the silver lining and take the opportunity to NOT moan and for once just get on with it. 

So here are my main reasons – 

  1. I am a ridiculous over thinker desperately looking for a way to focus my mind. 
  2. I haven’t done regular exercise for a long time and quite frankly am feeling a bit tight in my clothes. 

“I want to learn to run.”

My Facebook is full of people who have discovered running, gotten addicted, and never looked back. 

I want to be one of those people. I want to have something to focus on, to improve on, and to make me feel good about myself. Something I can do on my days off and not have to wait around until 6pm when the masses finish work and the ram packed fitness classes start. Something to help calm my relentless mind. 

I am under no illusions. Yes you can go back to basics and “just run” but to be able to build up stamina and form is a task not taken lightly. It takes time and dedication and I think I may be ready for that. 

This blog is a way of holding myself accountable. For the days when I’m sore, tired, and quite honestly can’t be arsed. It may not be a particularly riveting read but I’m going to do it anyway. Or that’s the plan. 

Where I’m at…

So after my last post about how I’d fallen off the waggon I’ve completely neglected my little personal blog. However, I’m happy to report that I’m still very much working on improving my running (jogging slowly). 


Running and fitness. 

I finally defeated W4D1 of C25k!! Admittedly I had to have slightly longer walking breaks between the running periods but I completed all of the running parts and was so so proud of myself! 

I’ve only attempted D2 once and was going pretty well until some grown men with a remote control car scared the dog, resulting in her sprinting away terrified across the field and me having to chase her. Needless to say I did not have it in me to complete after that. 

As I’ve previously mentioned C25k isn’t really fitting me as well as I’d hoped so I’ve been doing a lot of other running between sessions; intervals or just jogging/walking for the hell of it with no set times or measurements. One evening I really just wanted to run so I went out in the rain, found a trail and just went for it. The air was warm, the rain was cold, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I don’t even know how far I went or at what pace but it was lovely. 

As before, my very inconsistent Nurse rota is a bit of an issue as I’m trying to give myself rest days but then sometimes can go 4 days without a jog because I’m working nights or have been in work and don’t want to run after a 12 hour shift on my feet. Having said that, doing shorter jogs and not pushing C25k is easier on my legs so I could do a quick jog around the block. 

I’m also doing a lot of walking lately which the dog is loving! We’ve been out exploring so much in the last month and it’s a nice change from the park I was doing laps in – much more interesting! 

My ever ticking mind…

The increase in exercise has done worlds of good. I feel better both physically and mentally; I’ve improved my diet drastically to fuel my body, losing weight in the process and feel much more comfortable with my body, and now have an outlet when my thoughts are tumbling around. 

I think I’ll always be a slave to my hormones and am pretty awful a week before my period but for the rest of the month I’m feeling much more content, or when I’m not I have a way to make myself feel better. I still tick over while I’m running but it’s much better to think about my speed, my breathing, watching my footing on uneven ground than it is to fume about the clutter in my living room or the fact next doors cat keeps shitting in my front garden! 

When I started I never truely believed I would finish C25k and although I’m doing it less and less I’m not upset about that – I’m accepting the fact that being rigid isn’t working for me. I’m improving nonetheless and that’s all that matters. 

Fitbit

A little mention about my Fitbit – I’m obsessed! I always thought they were a silly gimmick but as someone who tends to focus on numbers I find myself wandering up and down the stairs or around the block to hit my daily goal. I only had a Fitbit One because in work I have to be bare below the elbow but I’ve now bought a Charge 2 aswell and wear that when I’m jogging. I love looking at which HR zones I’ve been been in!

And so… 

I may not be exactly be on the course I originally planned and my 3 month C25k subscription has run out. I will renew it after I finish my night shifts next week because I still ultimately want to complete it. Regardless of how long it is taking, my lifestyle has dramatically improved and I’m very glad of it. 

Mindfulness when away from home; food and exercise.

Last weekend I went home. I’ve lived away from home for over two years and don’t get to go back very often because of my dodgy nurse shifts, so took advantage of annual leave and went to spend some time with my family and friends. The absolute highlight was spending time with my nephew, who at 1 year old doesn’t really know who I am yet *sad face*.

Aside from the lovely family and friend time, I was very mindful of staying active and eating well. My main goal is the activity, but I’m aware that in order to do that I need to fuel my body properly. 

Food. 

My mum has a cupboard on the wall in the kitchen that is essentially dedicated to cakes, biscuits and sweet treats. Anyone that knows me knows that I have a notorious sweet tooth and will always find room for dessert. When I lived at home I would sit in front of the tv with a cup of tea and devour a whole pack of biscuits in one sitting. Every time I go home I head straight for the cupboard. Not this weekend. I made a conscious effort to avoid it like the plague, and in all honesty the only time I struggled (as opposed to habit) was when I was bored. Well done me! 

Having pre-warned mum that I’m trying to eat a better diet she happily obliged and made sure that my meals were balanced and nutritious. Yes, I’m a 28 year old woman and can (barely) cook for myself, but my mum loves to look after people so I didn’t not feel guilty about being fed. She’d be offended if I said no! 
I also ate out a few times and was again extra-specially good. On an unexpected trip to Nando’s I had chicken salad, and at the park with my friends and their children I had a spicy chicken pasta salad. On Friday night I took my parents out to dinner as a late Father’s Day celebration and to break up the chicken salad party had a lovely steak with onions, tomato, peas and only ate half the chips. No dessert. 

Exercise

Lately I’ve been hitting my 8000 step target most days so I’ve increased my daily Fitbit step goal to 9000. On days off work I find reaching my target much more difficult to achieve, with this weekend being no exception. 

Both Friday and Saturday I saw friends, and as the weather was nice suggested that we go for walks in the park with their respective dogs and children. Two birds with one stone. Saturday, being friends-with-children day, was slower on the step front, so at 20:30 while it was still light I went for an evening walk and added 3000 steps to my total. Goal met! 

Determined not to fall off the wagon I had packed some shorts and my running shoes  with the intention of actually walk/jog/running at some point. Then when I told one of my friends (we’ll call her T) about my pursuit towards 5k she confided that she can easily run 5k on a treadmill but is terrified of running outside alone. T had even worked out a route near her home but just didnt have it in her to do it alone. So, once I’d gotten her to agree to forgive my absolutely appalling lack of stamina, we decided to do it together. We’ve done a lot of things together in our 15 years of friendship but exercise is not one of them! 

I arrived at T’s house at 10am on Sunday morning and we got going. The weather was warm and humid already, and while T didn’t even break a sweat I found it really difficult. The intention was always to walk and jog but being with someone who doesn’t even break a sweat while I’m struggling to breathe and not throw up isn’t ideal. It did mean that I (she!) pushed myself much harder than usual. 




It’d say over the whole 5k I probably only jogged for about 1k of it – the rest of the time I spent puffing and panting and feeling nauseous. Had I thought about it properly I should have done less because usually I don’t go anywhere near that far so it was a big big increase in distance. 

I did a lot of apologising for holding T up so much and felt pretty embarrassed but she was great and kept encouraging me. Luckily we are good enough friends that we can say pretty much anything to each other, and I laughed pretty hard when she later said she thought I might punch her. 

Once I had composed myself I did feel proud of myself. 42:38 is now the time to beat. I checked my local parkrun times and the most recent slowest time was around 55:00. I’m certainly not ready for parkrun yet but I have a goal in mind.

As for T, she said now that she’s actually gone out and run along the road she’s not as afraid, and thinks might go out alone. I’m sure her time will be a hell of a lot faster than our joint effort and I’m very proud of her for it. Goals!! 

Getting back to it following a C25K meltdown. 

My last post was over a month ago. Let me explain…

Week 4 Day 1 broke me. I just couldn’t get past that 4 minute run. All-in-all I attempted it three times.

3 minute run / 2 min walk
4 minute run / 3 minute walk (x2)
3 minute run / 2 minute walk.

 
To cut a long story short, during my first attempt I had to finish both 4 minute runs early and walk for about 30 seconds of the run time. The second attempt a few days later was essentially the same. I did complete the whole session both times which some may have accepted and moved on, but I really found it awful; so was determined to finish more comfortably. On the third attempt I was too hot, felt a bit sick and gave up about half way through. Literally just stopped, got in my car and went home in a rage. 
  

Following the stroppy third attempt I worked 3 night shifts and had gotten into the habit of not running when on nights. The fortnight following that I spent soul searching. I found plenty of excuses why not to go; work, too tired, my period, too hot, too busy etc. 

Essentially I was upset and frustrated – even though I knew it was highly likely that at some point I would need to repeat. I was angry that between W3D2 and W4D1 I was expected to jump from running 2.5 minutes to 4, never mind that W4D2 then expected me to magically run for 5 minutes. WTF?! It was completely unrealistic and quite frankly was setting me up to fail. 

At this point it’s worth mentioning that my boyfriend was working away for three weeks and I was rattling round the house alone. I generally enjoy my own space but I was missing his company. If I’d had any sense I would have thrown myself into running as a distraction but, alas, I used the time ruminating and feeling defeated. 

It’s also worth mentioning that I really dislike discussing fitness and physical activity with my boyfriend. He’s been trying to get me to join a team for years, and while I see/saw (ha) running as a huge mountain to climb he thinks I’m being dramatic. He’s lot fitter than I am, captains his rugby team and plays or trains three times a week. Don’t get me wrong he’s no athlete but he is hands-down fitter than I am. Anyway, he’s been supportive of my goal and shown a genuine interest so I swallowed my pride and confided in him. It felt good to get my frustration and disappointment off my chest. 

Between us we came to the conclusion that I need to shake it up. I’m very good at fixating on plans and guidelines, which didn’t appear to be working for me. So the plan is to continue running but to chill out and go off piste a bit. Which is what I’ve done over the last 10 days. 

Some days I go to the park and run around the outside of the fields. No tracking, no time and distance goals, I just run until I can’t, and then walk until I can run again. Once my boyfriend came with me and carried on running for some of my walk – I would never have let him see me in this state before. Sometimes I do short bursts and sometimes I run until I can’t breathe. I also took my kit and went for a jog on the way home from a night shift once. It was only for about 10 minutes but it was 10 minutes more than previous night shifts! I’m not actually sure if I’ve improved because I haven’t tracked it. 

Regardless, in a round-about way, I’ve been running. 

I would like to get back into 5k Runner now that I’ve sorted my head out. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to attempt W4 or maybe fall back to W3. Regardless, if I do struggle with that 4 minute run again I won’t let it defeat me. I’ll run for a shorter period before the 4 minutes. Or I’ll have a bigger walk break before. 

Ultimately, the goal is to be able to run 5k; not to complete a programme word for word. 

Week 4 Day 1

3 minute run / 2 min walk

4 minute run / 3 minute walk (x2)

3 minute run / 2 minute walk.

Today was the first time in what feels like a long time that I really couldn’t be bothered. There wasn’t really a reason for it… I just didn’t want to get changed and go out. I’d even made a point of having a decent breakfast to prepare, but as the day went on I felt less and less inclined to go. Consequently, getting changed and walking down to the park was an achievement in itself.  

On the walk down (literally; it’s downhill) I realised that not only was I hungry, it was warmer and more humid than expected. I found myself wishing I’d worn shorts. 

I was shocked to discover that after only one session with three minute intervals I was suddenly expected to run for 4 minutes. Twice. That seems like a huge increase to me.

I managed the first 3 minute run fairly well. On the first 4 minute run I got to three and a half minutes then had to walk. Not too bad for the first attempt I’d say! The second 4 minute run was disappointing as I only managed 2 minutes 20. Then I managed to complete the second and final 3 minute run. Just about. 

The heat really got to me. According to my iPhone the temperature was 20 degrees and the humidity 63%. I usually get a bit hot but this was something else – the sweat was pouring from me and I could feel my skin radiating. The longer periods of running were no doubt the cause but the weather certainly did not help. 

I found my headphones so listened to music again today. At one point the music was so distracting that I took the earphones out. Silence was much nicer. My mind was racing.  The football season appears to have finished because the pitch I usually run around now has no goals and the lines have not been repainted. As a result I spent a fair bit of my run trying to work out where I should be running! 

I will definitely be repeating today’s session before moving on. 

I appreciate this post is full of excuses and complaints, but despite the fact that I’m disappointed in not completing all of the running intervals I’m actually proud of myself for… 

  1. Going out when I didn’t want to,
  2. Keeping moving even though it was walking instead of running,
  3. Getting to this stage! I ran for three and a half minutes today! 
  4. Not quitting. I really wanted to quit. 

    Observation

    • My feet were very sweaty today and socks were soaking when I took my shoes off. I usually just wear normal cotton socks. Maybe I should get some sweat wicking sports socks. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? 
    • Once I’d huffed and puffed my way home, stretched and caught my breath I once again felt really good. 

    Week 3 Day 3

    2 minute run / 2 min walk

    3 min run / 3 min walk (x2)

    2 minute run / 2 minute walk.

    I did this run on Saturday (today is Tuesday) so it may lack detail. I had a very busy day but was really aware of squeezing it in because I knew I would be hungover on Sunday. I was correct. 

    Anyway, as always my plan for the day changed, and without going into unnecessary detail, I was in an absolute rage by the time I got to do my run. Such a rage infact that I only did 2 minutes of the usual 5 minute warm-up walk before I couldn’t take it anymore and just took off. Yes, I know I was silly. 

    It may have been a blessing that I was in such a rage because I spent so much of my time infuriated and running it over in my head (no pun intended) that I forgot to stress about the fact that I was doing my first three minute run. By the time it occurred to me I was already 2.5 minutes into it, and dug deep. Surprisingly, it wasn’t breathlessness that I had to contend with, it was heavy legs. They felt like lead; but dammit I dragged them! 

    My only real observation on the day was that I missed listening to music (forgotten headphones). I was still in a foul mood when I finished but once I got home and showered started to regain a sense of composure. 

    Looking back, I’m proud of meeting that three minute target, as it seemed quite frankly impossible when I started this process a month ago! 

    Week 3 Day 2

    1.5 minute run / 1.5 min walk

    2.5 min run / 2.5 min walk (x2)

    1.5 minute run / 1.5 minute walk.

    On Saturday night while falling asleep I remember feeling pleased that I would be running again the next day, only to realise to my disappointment that I would actually be in work and have to wait another day. I think that is a good indication of how I’m feeling right now. 

    After a few days rest I’m back to it –  in the woods today! I was visiting nan and the dogs anyway, so killed two birds with one stone and did my run while I was there. 

    W3 D2 was the same as W3 W1 – so I knew I was capable of doing it! Mindful of the importance of finishing comfortably and not just scraping along, I really paced myself; pulling back my speed and shortening my stride. While the 2.5 minute intervals certainly weren’t easy I managed to run (jog!) right to the end of them. The 1.5 minute runs were a treat! 

    Again I listened to music and found it to be a nice distraction. Mentally singing along stops me counting down the seconds. 

    I also tried to pay attention to my foot strike. I’m getting random minor shooting sensations in and around my knees, and am aware of my shins and ankles. It isn’t an issue and not what I’d class as pain, probably just where I haven’t put them to use in a very long time, but I’d rather pay attention now and avoid injury wherever possible. 

    I’m now working nights for the next three, and am highly unlikely to want to run after a shift. I tend to get up, eat and go straight to work so I won’t be running before work either. To that end, I’ll be having a few days rest before attempting the dreaded 3 minute runs on W3 D3! 

    Week 3 Day 1

    1.5 minute run / 1.5 min walk

    2.5 min run / 2.5 min walk  (x2)

    1.5 minute run / 1.5 minute walk. 

    Today I got up at 11:40. Generally an early riser, this is clearly a sign that I’m struggling a bit at the moment. I’ve been stressed with a family issue, and have been feeling pretty drained – more emotionally than physically, or so I thought. I also had a blood test recently which revealed I’m borderline anaemic. Nothing a tweaked diet shouldn’t fix. 

    Anyway, after a decent breakfast, downloading a few songs, and putting the washing on the line I walked down to the local park for Week 3 Day 1. 

    I’m pleased to say I now feel fairly comfortable running for 1.5 minutes. The same cannot be said for today’s step-up to 2.5 minutes of running! My legs were fine… but my chest was screaming! The first time around I gave in and walked with 6 seconds left. The second I got all the way through but made the mistake of bending over to catch my breath at the end, feeling lightheaded upon straightening up. It soon cleared and I continued with my walk and subsequent easier 1.5 minute run. 

    Despite being proud of getting through the 2.5 minute intervals I felt like a bit of a cheat. Without counting warm-up and cool-down the session was only 16 minutes long. Yes the longer run was an achievement, but it felt like a bit of a cop out. 

    After walking home I felt I still had more to give, so did a few sit ups and press-ups before stretching. I’ve been reading about crosstraining, and at some point will need to add some other form of exercise, especially as my shifts restrict the frequency of my runs. 

    Today I ran (well jogged slowly) to music for the first time. I’m not really into upbeat dance music so I went with Jay Z and old Kanye West. I’m also toying with digging out an old Eminem album. Music was a nice distraction when I was struggling – I mentally sang along. 

    Observations

    1. Holding my phone is a bit annoying – must look into arm bands. 

    Tomorrow should be a rest day but I then have work Saturday and Sunday. Not sure whether to run tomorrow or to wait until Monday. I don’t want to push too far and end up injured, but am eager to get back out again. 

    Week 2 Day 3

    1.5 minute run / 2 minute walk x 6 

    My run of 3 night shifts is over. The plan to run on Sunday morning on the way home from work was scuppered by the fact that I’d had a really busy shift and didn’t have time for breakfast. On Monday morning when I finished I was so tired that I just went straight home – I could run in the afternoon after a sleep. Tired as I was, my body and mind refused to sleep, and after a few hours of listening to the tv I think I managed a fitful hour and a half. 

    Feeling grump and tired,  rattling round the house alone was only going to frustrate me, so I got my kit on and walked down to the park. Today I had company; my chihuahua Lily. I thought she was going to be a bit of a pain as she likes to sniff every 3rd blade of grass but she’d been neglected while I tried to sleep so it was only fair to invite her along. 

    Having struggled with w2d2 and knowing that w2d3 meant I would have to do more of the 1.5 min intervals I considered repeating my previous run, but decided to go ahead. If I then failed I would repeat the longer session. 

    I’m actually really glad I moved on today because I genuinely enjoyed my run. 

    I moved to a different part of the park and chose one football pitch to run laps of. The ground was flatter and there were clumps of grass that I used as targets to get to when I was flagging. Despite the normal shortness of breath towards the end of the running stages, I felt great! After the last walking interval I even considered doing another 1.5 minute run for the sake of it… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

    Despite earlier expectations it was really quite nice having the dog there because she pottered around and wandered off while I walked, then did a little chase when I started running. Not that she ran for 1.5 minutes with me but it made me laugh and lifted my spirits. Afterwards my mood was much improved. I felt full of energy and much more human. 

    In Fitbit world my kilometre split was slightly slower than it has been, but I ran further and for longer so I’m very happy with that. 
    Observations

    1. No more weird midsection itching 🙂
    2. My shins are still a bit tender when I begin but it eases quickly. 
    3. I think I need a distraction now that the length of time running is increasing. Is music a good idea? I don’t want to be more concerned about switching songs than finishing. Or is that the point? 

    Tomorrow I am off work and then back in the day after. Im still trying to use rest days wisely so may wait until Thursday to run again, although the way I feel right now I want to go sooner rather than later. This is good!! I’ll see what tomorrow brings. 

    Week 2 Day 2

    Yesterday I had some bad news and was desperate to go out and lose myself in breathless oblivion. However, both of my shins were a bit tender and left knee was niggling, so I chose to rest instead. I’m not sure if I’m being a bit of a hypochondriac; as a chronic overthinker, as well as a nurse (trained to look at signs and symptoms), I was probably being a bit dramatic. However, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and injury in new runners appears to be a common problem, so I abstained. 

    Consequently, I was very much looking forward to my run today. Today I went to the local park/fields. It is a lot more exposed than the woods. The day is once again grey and windy… but so far no rain! As always I began with a warm up walk, and today’s programme was the same as yesterday. 

    1.5 minute run / 2 minute walk (x4)

    1 minute run / 1 minute walk (x2)

    Today I found it very difficult to catch my breath. My chest was tight and I really struggled to regulate my breathing.  Twice I was considering stopping to walk when I got to the end of a running stage. I pushed through, but admittedly found it very difficult. At one stage I decided to alter the route I was running to avoid a very minor incline. To be honest I think it was more of psychological hurdle, but it made me feel better nonetheless. 

    I was very annoyed with myself when I realised a few minutes in that I had forgotten to start my Fitbit timer! I always wait until the end of my warm-up walk to start it and then stop it before my cool-down walk but got lost in the running and forgot. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a big deal, after all I did the session, but I like to compare the kilometre splits. 

    So below are the limited stats from the 5k Runner app. 

    As you can see I did my own thing in terms of a route. The time and distance also include both 5 minute warm-up and cool-down walks. 

    This is the incomplete Fitbit version. 




    Observations

    1. I am much more self-conscious knowing that people can see me from across a field. I probably look ridiculous.
    2. I was quite upset by how much I struggled today. It didn’t even rain. 
    3. The fact that I can’t accurately compare w2d1 and w2d2 frustrates me. 
    4. I should stop moaning – I finished the run didn’t I?! 

    For the next three nights I will be working 19:45 to 08:15. I definitely won’t run tomorrow, but would like to think I will on  Sunday morning on the way home from work. This may be a bad idea due to being tired, but if I don’t go Sunday morning I won’t have managed three runs in a week and will regret it. I’ll have to make sure I eat in work beforehand. Also, I’m a bit  concerned that I won’t be able to manage the step-up in the next session, so may well decide to repeat this one. 

    Who knows. The weather may be awful. My shift may be awful. Only time will tell!