A Change In Routine

Since returning from our fantastic honeymoon in Italy, things have been a little crazy over the last month.  After only a few days of being back at my desk in Birmingham, I set my e-mail out of office to “I am out of the office until September 17th” and put my lunch in a tea towel (carrying it on a little stick like Dick Whittington) and set off to the big smoke A.K.A. London town where I will be spending most of the summer providing IT Support for the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show and the 2012 Olympic Games.

12 hour days at the RHS show combined with being away from home meant that I could only squeeze one 3 mile run a week into my busy schedule, which was a little frustrating but on a positive note my leg now feels perfectly fine.

When visiting family in Derby, I decided to run from the train station to their house which worked out quite well as it was exactly 3 miles. Whilst running, I was thinking about missing our annual pilgrimage to the Glastonbury Festival and as if by magic a signpost for “Glastonbury Road” appeared.

A reminder of how much I miss Glastonbury this year during my last run.

I had to document the moment by taking a quick photo and chuckled to myself before arriving back at my parents house looking like an out of breath sweaty mess and hit their shower when I walked through the door like I did 20 years ago.

As soon as the RHS Flower Show had finished, it was time to head straight to the Olympic Park which means with travel, I am out for 15 hours a day meaning my running regime has been put on hold but I am still managing at least one run a week which is fine but I have one eye on the Birmingham half marathon in October and if I really want to think about entering then I need to think about increasing my mileage.

Hopefully being surrounded by sport this summer will be enough to keep me inspired but even if that doesn’t do the trick, maybe this picture on the Olympic park will be enough to keep me running.

Maybe this is a sign...

Maybe this is a sign…

However the positive aspect of being away from my 9-5 desk job for the whole summer means that I have been walking 8-10 miles a day, so although the running as taken a backseat at least the miles are still being covered.

Being away from my usual routine until September will make this quite difficult but I’m not giving up just yet and can be quite stubborn sometimes so watch this space.

Get Running: Couch to 5K – Week 6

This has been a tough week, which involved having a nice 5 days off work, so my normal regime of running home has been interrupted leaving me to gather some motivation. Throw in a sprinkle of crappy wet  British weather and the added temptation of many chocolate Easter Eggs at my disposal and you have the perfect recipe for a disaster.

However, Kerry has decided she wants to start the app during our bank holiday break after feeling both excited and eager to get cracking, which was just the kick up the backside that I needed. After 25 minutes with Kerry doing week 2 though, I was left wanting a little more so ended up doing my Week 6 run immediatley afterwards, meaning I have been notching up 4.5 miles a day.

I think this has actually done me some good in building stamina because today I completed Week 6 and Run 3 of the app which consists of a 25 minute run with no breaks, which is a massive achievement for me considering I am a self confessed couch potato who could not run for 1 minute without stopping for a breather just over a month ago. I guess this is where the app says “no more mr nice guy”  because every run from now on has no breaks, and will consist of 25, 28 and 30 minute runs.

All this is quite strange for me because this is everything that I have always been against, but it was more than amusing to see the hilarious Charlie Brooker go through a very similar experience after being bitten by the Get Running App and how he has now become a runner. You can read the article here.

One of my biggest weaknesses is warming up and down correctly, I feel quite self concious about stretching in public so although I always warm up with a 5 minute walk and warm down with a 5 minute walk, I think its time for me to take the art of stretching a little more seriously. Although these are quite easy to get online, quite a few people reccomend the iPhone app Stretch Guru: Run, so I might give this a run out (see what I did there).

The main reason for my sudden attention on stretching is because I picked up an annoying and frustrating strain/injury in the most unlikely of places. My legs are feeling great and I pace myself, so gasping for breath is not a problem. Just when I think all bases are covered and I have everything sussed, I am struck down with troublesome upper back pain just below my right shoulder blade.

Kerry offered her healing hands and just like Mr Miyagi she found straight away that my backs was full of knots. A few quick excercises on the area and my back was sounding like a bowl of Rice Krispies. So as I begin to take stretching more seriously to avoid rolling around the floor on a few tennis balls in the future. Luckily Kerry ‘Miyagi’ has been able to sort out the knots but I consider this a very valuable lesson learned.

My main calling points at the moment to get me through each day and keep me running are:

There are no more easy rests between runs now, as the next few weeks consist of longer runs with no breaks, so things will start to get interesting as my time with the C25K app reaches its final stages. I will refrain from calling myself a runner until I have mastered 5k in under 30 minutes without stopping and entered a 10k race, so this acidental athelete still has lots of work to do.

Get Running: Couch to 5K – Week 5

Just when I was all settled into my new healthy routine, I was sent a tough week of tests which could quite easily send me back to where I started. Saturday was my Grandparents Diamond Anniversary meal, On Sunday it was the wedding day of my good friend Sam which involved enough delicious food to rival an episode of Man vs Food, Tuesday I found myself in hospital for the day and finally my friend Keith generously decided to bring in £50 worth of big cream cakes into the office for his birthday on Thursday.

There was a fair amount of fun to be had though, and at Sam and Lin’s wedding we even attempted to recreate the album cover of Ocean Colour Scene’s Moseley Shoals at The Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa.

New Ocean Colour Scene tribute band launched in Leamington Spa.

On top of this, my usual 5 nights of running after work will be interrupted, which means I will require extra motivation because I am on annual leave for 5 days. Even with all of these temptations aside, I also noticed that week 5 of the app suddenly jumps from several 8 minute runs with a few minutes rest in between to one 20 minute run with no breaks.

My biggest challenge of the week though was the British weather, I have been somewhat spoilt over the last few weeks with running in the sunshine. I have been leaving my work feeling like a battery hen in an office with artificial lighting, air conditioning and no windows, only to be set free by running in the great outdoors with the euphoric feeling of being alive. By contrast this week was a little different as the hot sunshine was replaced with cold winds, cold temperatures, rain, sleet and even snow!

So all in all quite a tough week if you are trying be a little more healthy and that’s before I even mention the words Chocolate Easter Eggs or deals of 6 Cadbury Cream Eggs for £1.00.

Enough of me moaning like a big girl, I started Week 5 on the Get Running Couch Potato to 5K this week which started nice enough with several 5 minute runs, the following day increased to several 8 minute runs but then on Thursday went up to 20 minutes! I must admit to being a little apprehensive about the 20 minute run with no rest but guess what? I only bloody did it, and it was easier than I thought.

Some of you reading this, you may think that’s nothing to get excited about, but on March 17th this self confessed couch potato struggled to run for 1 minute without gasping for breath and sweating like John Prescott in a pie shop. So it just goes to show how quickly your body can adapt and how good this app actually is. My only complaint was that the friendly voice of Claire seemed to leave me to my own devices during the 20 minute run, but I she must have her reasons eh.

For anyone that is nervous about the upcoming 20 minute run, my best advice is to arm yourself with some good tunes, and remember these words “Throttle…Throttle…Throttle”. If you suddenly find yourself gasping for breath, you are running too fast. Simply slower your pace and I guarantee that your heart rate will slowdown, your breathing will become easier and you will feel like you can run much longer than you think. I figure that speed will come later, but right now you just have to concentrate on building stamina.

Another tip is to aim for 5 minutes, then when you reach that 5 minute part of the run, say to yourself another 5 minutes etc. I think much of what we are doing is controlled by your very powerful mind, so if you can trick it, just a little bit you will be fine.

To be honest what carried me through this run was AC/DC singing Highway to Hell very loudly in my ears, you don’t need to worry about sore legs when you have the power of rock on your side.

All in all it has been an eventful but fun week or dare I even say an adventure and I’m loving every second of it.

Get Running: Couch to 5K – Week 3

Don’t worry there won’t be any pictures of me holding out a baggy pair of trousers away from belly like Barry Bethnal with a caption like “I’m Barry Bethnal & I lost shit-loads of weight” but I just wanted to show anyone that is thinking about starting the C25K that if a self confessed couch potato that couldn’t run for 1 minute 3 weeks ago can do this then anyone can.

You may recall I mentioned in the previous post, that the “Get Running App” has 3 runs to perform each week , so because I am running 5 days a week I get to dip my toes in the following weeks run.

When I first tried the week 4 run, I felt gutted that I failed on the first occasion, but rather than feel sorry for myself I always made sure I paid it back by doing an additional short run at the end. By the end of this week though, I’m proud to say that week 4 of the app has now been mastered and over the moon that I am now running for 16 minutes of a 28 minute run.

As I progress on the Couch Potato to 5k program, I do wonder how I will cope with the longer runs, but one lesson that is quickly learned, is just how fast the human body adapts to your new regime. The highlight of this weeks runs was when Claire said with perfect timing during the intro of Bitter Sweet Symphony “you have ten seconds until your next run” I needed no further encouragement than that song, the five minutes whizzed by and I loved every second.

This was a massive turning point as I completed the run, I was actually enjoying what I was doing and it felt great. Never underestimate the power of your mind or music for that matter and if me rambling away isn’t enough to inspire you then spare a few minutes to watch this video.

When I have to run for a train now, it feels fantastic that I don’t spend the next 5 minutes coughing and trying to catch my breath, but most importantly I enjoy it and actually feel better, which can only be a great thing. Eat less but but move more is all that you need to remember and don’t let a massive failing diet industry tell you any different.

No more kit has been purchased this week, I have a pair of running shoes and a great running playlist, what more could I possibly need? Sometimes it is hard to believe in this media fueled 24 hour society, that life really is that simple but you know what? it really is.

Have no fear though, I still enjoy a good old fashioned Cadburys Cream Egg and a few JD and Coke’s over the weekend, so there is no chance of me ending up “boring” just yet, after all the secret is everything in moderation and that includes moderation 🙂

For those of you that are considering giving the Couch to 5k app a run-out, I believe that it is now available on both Android and iPhone, so if you can squeeze 30 minutes out of your day, why not give it a try. You will feel more alive than slouching in your chair watching the One Show, I can guarantee you that much.

Get Running: Couch to 5K – Week 2

One week ago, I am ashamed to say that running for 1 minute without stopping was somewhat of struggle but it was made much easier, thanks to the mystery voice of Claire coming through my earphones telling me to keep going. For those of you new to the app “Get Running – Couch Potato to 5k” Each week contains 3 runs that alternates between walking and running for the first six weeks, to ease you into running. As I have decided to do this 5 times a week, this means I sometimes dip into the following weeks exercise routine if I feel ready.

So by the end of my second week of dragging myself out of my armchair, I have just started week 3 on the app (hope this makes sense) and my small baby steps have led to an early mini milestone of being able to run for three minutes several times during each run. This might sound quite amusing to some of you reading this but Claire was quick to motivate me by saying “this is three times more than you were able to do last week“. Since you put it like that Claire, maybe I’m slowly getting the hand of this malarkey.

As my lung capacity slowly increases, my shins and thighs ache a little less I thought it was time to drop by Boots to see if my new walking/running combination has resulted in any weight loss.

I lost 5 pounds and somehow gained .4cm in height...

I wasn’t expecting any great results this early on but I have lost 5 pounds and somehow gained .4cm in height but I suspect the latter was caused by me looking down rather than ahead during the first weight check, either that or I was sneakily wearing a pair of Cuban heels.

Although I have only been doing running for only for two weeks, I am seeing definite improvement which just makes me want to do this even more and dare I say that I am actually enjoying this which makes it even better. It is quite interesting how it makes you evaluate what you are eating too. When you discover that there are 284 calories in a Twix Bar, suddenly that equates to a 25 minute run, is one Twix really worth a 25 minute run?

Don’t worry, I have never been the kind of guy to count calories and I’m not going to start now, but its just a case of being sensible and no matter what anybody tells you it really does boil down to moving more and eating a little less but everyone did that then a billion dollar diet industry wouldn’t exist would it?

Enough rants from me, if I’m going to run 5 nights a week, I’m going to need more than a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths to progress without niggling injuries. So I turned to the internet and the vast running forums to get some advice on some reasonable running shoes without breaking the bank. I somehow ended up on a Daily Mail article that basically suggested running shoes are bad and we should run bare footed but I think running barefoot in the Black Country would bring more risks than wearing shoes. As I will be running straight from work, I am not brave enough to get on a busy commuter train wearing five fingered shoes.

Pro Grid Ignition 2 Running Trainers

After seeing several fantastic reviews on running forums for the Saucony running shoes and the fact I could get them for £20 despite an RRP of £59.99 it was an easy decision to make. My first impressions were a massive step up from the crappy old pair I had been attempting to run in. The two massive differences I notice are the fact they are incredibly light and the independent heel crash pad for increased cushioning makes a massive difference.

My final purchase of the week was a pair of classic Ron Hill Tracksters, sure as we head for summer, shorts would be more appropriate but once again my nightly run is straight from work and I don’t fancy being sat on a train during rush hour looking a cross between Alan Partridge and a member of the 1982 England World Cup squad.

Next week I expect to be running for 5 minute intervals, as the pace slowly picks up but I am genuinely still excited about it all and very optimistic that my 10k race target by the end of the year could be a reality.

My current kit consists of

  • New pair of Saucony Pro Grid Ignition 2 Running Trainers
  • Ron Hill Tracksters
  • X-Cellerate Stamina Mens Full Zip Hooded Running Top
  • Get Running C25K App
  • Run Keeper App (to map where I am and save stats etc to view on website later)
  • Spotify App with a running Playlist
I will forget about my non existent speed for now and continue to do what the app tells me, but rest assured I will return next week to update you on my progress.