Running Update

More than one person has told me they started running after they read my blog posts about using the c25k running program. Not sure whether they kept to it or not, but so far I’ve kept the running up as best I can. While I’m no expert, it seems like a well-designed thing that c25k comes with instructions on what to do if you’re not totally successful with any day or weeks run.

If, on the other hand, you find the program too strenuous, just stretch it out. Don’t feel pressured to continue faster than you’re able. Repeat weeks if needed and move ahead only when you feel you’re ready. The Couch-to-5k Running Plan

And boy howdy have I done some repeats. It took me 8 weeks to complete the first 6 weeks of c25k. And that’s even though I got a week ahead early on. In particular, I’ve struggled on my first two ‘long runs’ that have no walking breaks included. But with proper rest I’ve been able to do those  20-minute and 22-minute runs without stopping.

There are no more walk breaks in the program. Week 7 is three 25-minute, 2.5 mile runs without walking. Week 8 is three 28-minute, 2.75 mile runs without walking. Week 9 is three 30-minute, 3 mile runs without walking. This is meant to leave you prepared for a 5k (3.1 miles) the next run after the 9th week.

So far in the c25k I’ve been running for time, not for distance. The help of an Android app has aided me with the time and that way I’ve not had to plan routes for distance. I can just run and simply stop when the app says stop. But I also know that I’m not actually hitting the 1o-minute-mile pace intended for those runs.

I’ve had some guilt about this. Am I really doing the program if I’m not succeeding at both time and distance?

As of this post I’m officially calling ‘bullshit’ to that notion. I’ve run too many miles to disregard my efforts thus far. Doing anything this consistently takes too much energy to discount as not good enough. On top of this, I began this program with no goal other than to start exercising as part of a healthy lifestyle. I’m not racing anyone and I’m not trying to perform to anyone’s idea of what a good run should be. Running for time only and not both time and pace is still consistent exercise.

So I’m going to keep running for time and say that is victory. Anyone that can run for 30 minutes straight any day of the week is a runner in my book, and in a few weeks that’s exactly who I’ll be. Pace and performance might be a goal one day, but right now it’s not my concern. My concern is my health and determination to make myself better.

One last update: I bought some fancy running shoes. That was a good decision.

Fancy shoes are fancy. Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 8 running shoes.
Fancy shoes are fancy. Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 8 running shoes.

Lesson from Jogging Failure

Since June 16th, I’ve been doing the Couch-to-5k (C25k) running program. I really don’t like running and I’m surprised I’ve kept the habit this long. But I definitely needed to get my physical activity back up and running is free.

Last night was the first task of C25k that I couldn’t complete successfully. It was Week 4, Day 2, where you do the following:

  1. Warmup walk (5 minutes)
  2. Jog (3 minutes)
  3. Walk (90 seconds)
  4. Jog (5 minutes)
  5. Walk (2.5 minutes)
  6. Jog (3 minutes)
  7. Walk (90 seconds)
  8. Jog (5 minutes)
  9. Cooldown walk (5 minutes)

I had done this run successfully on Saturday (Week 4, Day 1.) Though I felt rough during the 5-minute jogs, I knew during that run that I would make through. Last night was completely the opposite. As soon as I started my first 5-minute jog, every muscle felt weak. My knees and feet were aching. I couldn’t even keep my head up or breathe well like I normally do. After the 5-minutes were up, I started walking home and that was it.

The Mental Conversation

When you’re taking that long walk home (it’s a lot faster when you run it…) your mind starts being cruel to yourself. All the reasons why you started running in the first place start coming back to say hi. I’m fat, I’m lazy, I’m unambitious — and that all starts to feel true since you just failed at something you know you’ve done before.

Next come the excuses. It was raining all day and even lightly a bit while running, so it was hard to grip the pavement. I didn’t have much time to let dinner settle so I was low on energy and my stomach felt uneasy. I’m stressed and couldn’t properly think of my form.

The Reality

The excuses don’t actually matter. The reality is that failures and breakdowns happen when you’re training your body for something it’s not ready for yet. If I could run for 30 minutes straight already, then yes, this 8 minutes of running is pretty pathetic. But 3 weeks ago I was proud of myself for running 8 minutes total in 90-second portions.

That’s right, Day 1 of C25k was 3 weeks ago! I’ve even been doing the training with not enough rest. This was supposed to be day 2 of week 4, and the reality is that it’s day 2 of week 3 on the calendar.

Tonight happened because my body was sending a message. I did the right thing by going out there at all, and I did the right thing by walking back. The now is exactly what it should be. The future is up to me.

The Plan

I’ve run every-other-day since starting the c25k, except one break of resting 2 days. I’m going to take another 2 day rest and run again on Friday.

Wednesday and Thursday will have lots of stretching.

When I do run on Friday, it’ll be re-running Week 4, Day 1. If these 3-minute and 5-minute jogs are where my body is at, it’s where my body is at. I’m not gonna rush this along and hit the 8-minute jogs of week 5 before I’m ready for them.

Most importantly, I’m seeing this as a failure of my muscles, not a failure of myself. I’m doing the part of this that I’m supposed to do: get out there, work hard, and learn the lessons I need to learn.

jogging-lesson

Fit

I’ve had Google Fit on my phone since upgrading to Android 5. I’ve used pedometers before, but for whatever reason I never was very consistent with checking them. Wearing? Not a problem. Actually learning or tracking anything? Problem.

Google Fit excels where I had previously failed. I find myself constantly checking the Android app and occasionally peeking at it on the Web too. Honestly, I probably look at it too much, because so far it hasn’t really driven me to adjust too many habits but it does lead me to remark almost every day that I don’t have enough activity.

Amber thinks it’s creepy that my phone “tells me [I’m] fat” but I think she’s mostly sick of hearing me say the phrase “Google Fit says…”

Today I made a point to work a different coffee shop, about a mile away, to see how many steps it was. The answer? 2,058 each way – about what I was expecting. The thing is, this makes me believe even less that I can actually make the time to hit 10,000 steps a day. The walking commute didn’t feel inconvenient, but the walking commute plus another 6,000 steps “somewhere” seems nearly impossible in terms of the time required alongside my workload.

So if anything, the Google Fit has strengthened to me the idea that aerobic-only exercise is probably a terrible idea for my lifestyle. I need to genuinely seek out a strength training solution to shock my muscles into change with less time.

But the walking commute and it’s 4,000 steps will probably stick around, too.