Running Playlist

Get Running: Couch to 5K – One Year Later

Where does the time go? Exactly 12 months ago, I was measured for my wedding suit only to be told I was a 38” waist which was just the kick up the arse I needed to take immediate action. Luckily I was able to combine my love of the great outdoors and listening to music to try and get to grips with running.

I quite literally started out with an old pair of trainers, a Spotify running play list and the Get Running C25K App. It was bloody hard work and was horrified to discover that I couldn’t run for more than a couple of minutes without gasping for breath. However the app gradually builds you up with a combination of walking and running until it finally installs the running bug deep into your soul and within 2 months I was running for 3 miles without any problems at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no athlete and never will be, but by making a few adjustments I was able to lose 2 stone, squeeze back into a 34” waist and even completed the Birmingham Half Marathon but the craziest part of all of this and I can’t believe that I am writing this down but I actually love it!

It is very easy to see why they call it the running bug because if I am stressed out after a bad day at work, had a heavy night on the beer or over indulged on food, a quick 30 minute run makes me feel me so much better and clears my head. The weird thing is when the snow settles, I’m actually gutted about not being able to get out there and I am the least likely person to ever say that.

#c25k

So a year on and my biggest battle is motivation but looking at my runkeeper, I have enjoyed over 100 runs, ran for over 370 miles and burnt a whopping 56,000 calories. So if you are reading this thinking of starting out, if a self confessed gaming couch potato like me can do it then anyone can.

You don’t need fancy clothes, £100 trainers or expensive gym memberships; it’s just you and the open road. My best advice to you all is ALWAYS remember the old adage of “Running is 90 percent mental and the rest is physical.” Despite this advice, people tend to spend much more time preparing physically than they do mentally. It really is that simple.

As for myself, its time to look at booking a race on the horizon to keep me motivated and something to aim and push for, although I completed the half marathon in October it seems a lifetime ago and running for more than 5 miles fills me with dread, but once again its all about the very powerful contraption in your head. The mind is a very powerful tool that just requires a few Jedi mind tricks to trick it into getting your arse in gear.

Enough of my ramblings, spring is officially here, so if you were thinking of starting to run, now is the perfect time to start.

 

 

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To Run A Half Marathon or Not To Run A Half Marathon…

So the Olympics is over, and I get a little rest before returning to London for the Paralympics, there is a certain amount of irony in working at the biggest sporting events in the world because they have actually slowed down my running.

Despite working 15 hour days, I have always made sure that I got one run a week under my belt and despite looking like one big sweaty mess at the end of my runs, I can now run for 10k  (6.2 mile) again without too many aches and pains the following few days.

The good news is that because I was walking 8-10 miles a day on the Olympic Park, my weight has stabilised under 14 stone, to be honest I had no idea how overweight I actually was until I saw a video entitled “Neil eats a cake” which was filmed back in January. This video alone gave me one of those infamous Gok Wan moments.

Seriously though, I feel so much better now and the fact that I actually enjoy going out for a run, is something that still baffles me to this day. Maybe it’s because I can combine my love of listening to music, iPhoneongraphy and being in the great outdoors. To be able do what you actually love and enjoy is a special gift in my eyes.

I ponder which of the 8,000 Olympic Torches this is…

My original goal when this self confessed gaming, geek loving couch potato started this malarkey way back in March, was to enter the Birmingham Half Marathon in October. Have I given myself an unrealistic target? Is a question that I have asked myself a few times, especially considering the huge chunk of my time that has been taken up by working away.

However, I can be quite stubborn and determined when I want to be, so my plan is to try and push myself to 7-8 mile over the next 10 days before committing to pulling  this off, but I predict there will be an entry to the half marathon with my name on it.

I am not interested in being the best of the best or getting a better time than anyone else that I know, this is something that I want to prove to myself and if an overweight geek with zero fitness that sits at a desk at work or an armchair at home can do it, then anyone can. The fact it has not eaten into any of my personal time and doesn’t require any expensive gym memberships either, really leaves no room for any excuses.

My first challenge came this week, when my 6 month free Spotify Premium trial from Virgin Media came to an end, but as my running playlist is my best friend, it was a very easy decision to make. I even dabbled with a playlist containing songs from the Olympic Opening Ceremony and A Message To You Rudy by The Specials set the scene perfectly for a summer run.

Neil’s Final Thoughts

For me the Olympics inspired so many and gave the nation something to be proud of again, for a moment this celebrity obsessed country forgot about The Only Way Is Essex, Geordie Shore, Big Brother, Kardashians and the X-Factor.

You cannot help but think that if the media promoted role models like Jessica Ennis and less of your Jordan’s or Big Brother contestants, maybe our children would grow up with more positive role models.

If everyone stopped watching inane, self-inflated people on that box in the corner of the room and realised that being famous for 15 minutes is actually quite a miserable and empty existence compared to the rewards gained by dedicating ourselves to good old fashioned hard work to achieve what we once never thought possible, then maybe just maybe this world would be a much better place.

Suddenly I hear myself talking like my Dad, so maybe its time to sign off, until next time, take care of yourselves and each other.

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.


Get Running: Couch to 5K – Run Fatboy Run Week 1…

From the age of 25 to 35, I remained at a steady 12 and a half stone (79kg) no matter how much food or drink that I consumed, but after a few fantastic years that involved the lethal recipe of good times and contentment, somehow I find myself weighing 15.5 stone (98 kg) so its time to become the jolly fat fella or try and do something about this predicament that I have gotten myself into.

A direct debit to a gym membership usually means just that, who can motivate themselves to be plugged into rows of machines and find the time out of an already busy day anyway? Most people I know end up paying a large monthly sum of money to sit on the couch promising to make a start next week.

So the gym is out of the question because it’s not for me, but how can I find something that I can do each day to get in shape that doesn’t cost much but allows me to combine my passions of music, technology and photography?

Suddenly all my questions are answered when I discover the best selling Mobile Application “Get Running” and their Couch Potato to 5K plan in 9 weeks.  The blurb on the website says “Get Running builds your fitness up in manageable stages. At the beginning, you walk and run, never running for more than a couple of minutes in a row. In week five’s sessions you’re running for fifteen minutes  three five-minute runs, with walking in between. By the end of the Get Running fitness plan you’ll be running for thirty minutes solid!”

Maybe I can get inspiration from the movie Run Fatboy Run

This is exactly what I had been looking for, I can do it on the way home from work which doesn’t eat into my leisure time, listen to music from my specially created running playlist, enjoy the great outdoors and maybe even get some cracking iPhoneography shots along the way.

In order to motivate myself and track my progress, I thought I would document the plan here on my blog to see if an out of shape, chubby chaser really can lose weight by following the simple concept of eating less and moving more, will I fail or succeed?  This is my journey…

Week 1

  • Old pair of trainers
  • 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

At this moment in time, I am not concerned with buying expensive trainers and checking my gait at a local running shop, the intro is a combination of walking and running so will see how it goes for the first few weeks before I get kitted out properly.

Despite being very out of shape, the Get Running app started the pace perfectly and the friendly human voice in my ear was encouraging and felt like I had something to aim for. Just when you get out of breath through running you get 90 seconds to catch your breath and start again allowing you to build fitness gradually.

I simply get off the train home a stop earlier and head back which is around 2.3 mile journey so actually takes very little time out of my day and more a case of just replacing bad habits with good ones.

This week I have burned around 1750 calories ran/walked for 11.5 miles by simply changing the way I come home from work which has shown me that anything is possible but my biggest battle is going to be keeping motivated and making this new habit a regular occurrence.

My legs ache a little but certainly not enough to make me want to stop, and at this very early stage, it is much easier than I was expecting, and that’s coming from a fat boy like me.