Week eight: Begin with a brisk 5-minute walk then 28 minutes running.
Last week I was supposed to complete 3 runs. I didn't.
This week I devised a catch-up plan with the aim of completing week 8 by today and starting week 9 on Friday. I haven't.
I've totally lost my way and the worst thing is I'm not sure I even care.
There's a part of me that still really wants to finish the Couch to 5K plan and put a big tick mark against my Grr Argh Challenge but there's a bigger part of me that thinks "what's the point? you've proven to yourself you can run, you know you can do it so lets move on to something else".
The big question is though would I be thinking this if I didn't feel so ground down by life at the moment? Because if the answer is no then I have to keep going otherwise I'll just end up beating myself up about yet another project that I've started but haven't finished.
And deep down I know the answer to that question is no but you know what? it feels easier to make excuses not to run right now:
It's too hot
The muggy weather's antagonising my asthma
My period's finally come back
My back aches
I'll do it tomorrow
Lets face it, they're rubbish excuses; even I can see that. But they're a symptom of the miserable, fed up attitude that kicked in when, in the same short space of time, the car broke down, 3 big household appliances went to household heaven, and everyone started to sleep badly.
I can't see a way out at the moment. Like I said, I just feel so ground down by it all and I find myself over-analysing everything. I am so tired of feeling haggard, exhausted and frumpy. I hate feeling like an empty shell that has nothing to offer, no special skills or interesting conversation; it makes me feel really insecure and vulnerable.
Starting to run gave me back some of my original sparkle but it's gone again. So what do you do when this happens to you? Inspire me world! I can't stand feeling like this.
I'm going to let you into a little secret; I've had a horrible time trying to choose a birthday present for my dad.
I really wanted a meaningful gift (rather than a useless bit of tat with 60 scrawled over it that would soon be forgotten about whilst simultaneously cluttering up the place) and I only had a small budget with which to find one. It shouldn't have been that hard a task should it? Aargh!
Although I eventually settled on a gift, it's not the ultimate birthday present I was dreaming of for him. But I recently realised that's because what I really wanted to give him isn't a tangible, material object, it's what's in my head and my heart when I think about him.
So dad, if you're reading this; I love you!
When I think back over the years, there are certain memories that jump out at me:
Burying you in the sand on our holidays in Wales
Getting the dinghy out whenever we went to the seaside
Exploring your shop, which seemed like an Aladdin's cave of wonder and mystery to the (much) younger version of me!
Watching the Tour de France with you
Mammoth Sunday bike rides
Hanging on for dear life on the back of your motorbike
Scrubbing the Sunday roast tins with Jif
Sliding around in the back of that old Jag you loved (but which made me feel really car-sick)
And while there are lots of memories that make me smile and laugh, there is one in particular that fills me with a very different emotion...
All my life you've been passionate about music and I can't put into words how incredibly proud I am that at "a mature age", you learnt to play the guitar and then threw yourself so wholeheartedly into singing and playing in a band as well as running a local open mic night and organising other music events. You may not do all of those things now but I will forever think of you as my father, the rockstar!
And this is why I struggled to choose a birthday gift for you; because what means something to me isn't a "thing", it's the memories conjured up by the music we've shared and the music to which you've introduced me. And this song here is, randomly, the one that means the most to me:
I'm going to stop now because I've made myself cry! Just, Happy Birthday! You mean the world to me xx
There are times in your life when you meet someone, quite unexpectedly, with whom you have an immediate connection. This happened to me not long after I joined twitter when I started to exchange tweets with today's guest poster, Liz.
There aren't enough words to express the depth of my admiration for this lady. Not only is Liz warm, friendly, kind and funny but she has a wonderful attitude towards life. She's not one to be found on the sidelines watching it passing her by; she gets in there, tries things out and embraces opportunity and experiences joyfully.
Getting to know Liz has also given me the opportunity to get to know more about myself but I'm not going to talk about that right here and now because I've promised a guestpost on the subject for Liz's blog. You'll just have to keep your eyes open for that instead!
You can find Liz on twitter here and seriously, follow her!
But before you do either of those things, have a read of this...
I am a runner.
It happened almost by accident. In 2006, I was pregnant with my first child. In the twenty-nineth week of that pregnancy, during a routine appointment, the midwife realised that I had all the signs of early onset pre-eclampsia and I was sent to the hospital. I was there for a few days, injected with steroids and told to expect an early delivery to save both of us. A couple of days later, I went home, only to end up doubled up in pain. The pre-eclampsia had got worse and I’d also got HELLP syndrome. The pain that I thought was indigestion was really my liver shutting down.
I was rushed into hospital, stabilised and then given an emergency caesarian section. My daughter was born weighing only 2lb 11oz and was rushed off into the neonatal unit before I’d even seen her. I didn’t find out until much later that they’d had to resuscitate her at birth. Thankfully, nine weeks later we were able to bring her home and she’s now a bright and beautiful five year old with no signs of the story of her dramatic arrival.
Despite going through all of this, which really was the most difficult time of our lives, we decided a couple of years later that we’d like another baby. To assess the risk of me having pre-eclampisa again, we had a meeting with a specialist consultant. His advice? There was a one in ten chance of it re-occuring and the best thing I could do to bring down my risk and lower my blood pressure was to get fit. The fastest way to get fit? Running...
The problem with running was that it initally brought out the child in me. The one who took extra German classes so that she could miss PE. The one who hated sports day. It’s not that I didn’t like to be active, I rode, ran and played outside as a child all the time. I just hated the competitive nature of PE at school, whether that was as part of a hockey team or running the 800 metres and that was what I still thought of ‘running’.
So, I struggled with the idea of running as an adult. I needed to get fit quickly, and cheaply though so really I had few options. The treadmill was quickly ruled out. I didn’t have one of my own so it would have meant joining a gym which I wasn’t going to do. I am a member of a gym now, but still haven’t got over the ridiculous progression of our lives that means we have to go to a special place to run, row and climb nowhere!
I also knew that, left to my own devices, I’d carry on with the sedentary lifestyle that had contributed to the pre-eclampsia in the first place, whatever my good intentions were. I needed a running partner. Someone to encourage me to start, and to keep on going. Someone with a vested interest in keeping me fit and healthy. My husband.
We started running together each week. When I say running, I really mean jogging a few steps, keeling over with breathlessness, walking a bit, running a few more steps, and so on. Over the following weeks, I was running a little more, walking a little less and feeling better than I’d done for years. Yes, it was painful. Yes, I was slow. And yes, I spent a lot of time lagging behind my already-fit husband cursing in his direction as he reminded me of the good it was doing me; the most maddening thing I could ever be told.
Apart from knowing that he was right, and that I was working for a healthy pregnancy, I kept going because I had muscles in my thighs that I never knew existed and I was surprising myself by enjoying it. It worked too - in May 2009 I gave birth to a healthy baby boy after a normal pregnancy, with my blood pressure only going up during the birth. I even managed to run a 5k race in the early stages of my pregnancy before my anxiety about keeping the baby safe made me give up running until after he was born.
We ran, and still do run, off road. This has made a huge difference to me, because it appeals to that child who spent her time outdoors. I run through the woods and along bridle-paths. In the Spring, there are bluebells scenting the air and keeping me going. In the Autumn I run through crunchy piles of leaves, kicking them in the air as I go. In the Winter, I skate like Bambi over frozen puddles or sink in the snow. Always, I run through or jump over puddles. It is fun. I’m not the fastest of runners, I know that I’m slow, but it doesn’t matter.
These days, with two small children and a full time job, I have less time to run. My knees are creaky and my feet are often sore. But when I have the time, I run.
Each workout, I managed to run about 2 miles in 25 minutes, sometimes just over this, and although this is a little short of the 2.5 miles that the plan indicates is needed to put me on target to be able to run 5k in 30 minutes, it's phenomenal to know a couple of months ago, I couldn't, and didn't, run at all. Look how far I've come!
The high spot of the week occurred just as I was about to start my 5 minute cool-down walk in workout 3. Husband had put together a playlist for me to listen to and had snuck one of 'our' songs on, which he knew would a) make me feel good and b) put a big smile on my face. It did both of these things when it came on and I really couldn't have ended my session on the treadmill in a better way.
Here it is for your delectation:
I'm keeping it on my playlist as I think the number of bpm will help me keep a nice, steady running pace plus it's really happy and uplifting.
Another surprise track on my playlist was "Just Like A Pill" by Pink. I would never have thought to add this myself but thanks to husband, it's another song that's staying on and which gave me a much-needed boost due to its energy and attitude. In case you haven't heard it, here it is:
And finally, I need to ask a question. What do you do if you get a stitch when you're running? Am I supposed to stop? keep running and breathe through it? or is there something else I should be doing? I'd really appreciate any advice you can offer.
I've managed to lure the delightful Amanda Jennings to write a guest post for me. She's an actual, real, published writer whose first novel "Sworn Secret" is out on 16 August 2012, which I'm incredibly excited about on her behalf!
Amanda's currently working hard on her next book. At least she is when I'm not distracting her with talks of the apocalypse! You can keep up with all of her shenanigans by visiting her official website and following her on twitter. I can say with complete authority that she loves a good natter!
And now, over to Amanda: no pressure, but this had better be good!...
When the zombie apocalypse is upon us, when the virus has
attacked 90% of the human population, when hordes of dead-but-walking bodies
romp the planet in search of living flesh in a gluttonous frenzy akin to
students with the munchies craving Monster Munch from the late-night garage,
the lucky few – of which I intend to be one – will need their wits about them.
They will also need a carefully packed handbag.
My pre-Zombie Apocalypse handbag – a cheap, mock-leather
shoulder bag – at the time of writing, holds the following: some used tissues,
a manky apple core, some loose coppers with bits of chocolate and biscuit
crumbs stuck to them, crumpled Tesco receipts, a lip gloss, a hairy hairbrush,
a book of stamps with no stamps in it, and two pens, one that works, one that
doesn’t. None of these things is going to be remotely useful when the undead
are attempting to chow down on my softer bits. So as soon as the first zombies
appear I shall jettison this and replace it with my Zombie Apocalypse Handbag
How to Put Together the PerfectZombie Apocalypse Handbag of Joy
The bag itself:
Practically speaking, this should ideally be a medium-sized, robust rucksack
with multi-pockets and adjustable straps. However, I suggest now is the time to
grab a Hermes Birkin, the must-have bag beloved of celebrities of the likes of
Kim Kardashian and her pals. You won’t have to pay the $10,000 price tag, of
course – and this is one of the Zombie Apocalypse plus points – you can loot
one! I do think this is worth doing as one should never underestimate the
importance of looking stylish whilst running for your life.
Sugar: You will
need some sweets. When being chased by salivating zombies it’s difficult to
predict how long you’ll need to keep running. There are bound to be times when
you need a rapid injection of sucrose to give you that extra energy boost. But
what to choose? Now this is important. You mustn’t
go with your favourites – in my case these would be Werther’s Originals or
Swizzels Love Hearts – if you do, you’ll eat them all in one go. You need to
pack something not-so-tasty. Top of the list is a tin of Fisherman’s Friends
though a decent second choice would be a dozen party-size packets of ParmaViolets.
Weaponry: In an
ideal post-Apocalyptic world you would have a handgun. However, it’s tricky to
walk into a shop and buy one. If you can, great, if you can’t, you will need a
good alternative. In this case, a sharp implement that’s sturdy enough to
penetrate a half-rotten skull is essential, but not something so lethal that if
you fall whilst fleeing you run the risk of impaling yourself. Go for something
handy-sized, pointy and made of metal, like a sharpened marquee tent peg or a
WWII Japanese Samurai Katana with sheath.
your current partner becomes a rancid, bloodless zombie, you will need to
consider protection of the sexual kind. Who knows what urges may overcome you
in the Apocalypse. A handsome living man, in fact ANY living man, is going to
look irresistible next to those leering, putrid corpses. Stress, excitement, an
overdose of Parma Violets, all these things are likely to weaken your resolve.
WARNING - this is NOT the time to fall pregnant!! Morning sickness, sore feet,
backache, indigestion, and an extra two stone are the last things you need when
trying to escape a dead dude’s mouth. Not only that, but nobody knows how long
the undead will remain walking and hungry. Childbirth leaves you vulnerable,
prone to tears, and desperate for doughnuts. You do not need this. Condoms are essential.
been suggested that fireworks in the night sky can distract a herd of zombies
and hold their attention just long enough for the averagely fit human to make
their escape. It’s impractical to carry fireworks, not to mention unwise, but a pack of sparklers might just save your life. I’m of the belief that no zombie
could fail to be mesmerised by a sparkler. You will obviously need a lighter as
well. A wind-resistant Zippo is ideal.
A vial and syringe:
When you reach Nirvana or the Ark – or whatever the VIPs have decided to call
the zombie-free haven in the Highlands surrounded by barbed wire and heavily
armed snipers – they are going to want you to fill out forms, sign papers, and
provide proof you’re definitely alive before they call off the dogs and open
the gates. Syringe some blood, fill the vial, and post it though the letterbox
as soon as you arrive. Hopefully, they’ll have the results of your blood test
back before the ungodly swarm of dead locals in tattered kilts surround and
Methylated spirits: At
some stage during the Zombie Apocalypse, when life itself seems futile, you
will need a little drink. But rather like the sweets, there’s no point in
packing a beer or a Tesco Finest Pouilly Fumé because you’ll drink it before the Apocalypse has even been
declared official. Meths will make you go blind or kill you, but without doubt
death by Meths is preferable to death by ravenous zombie.
So there you have it, my Zombie Apocalypse Handbag of Joy.
Obviously, you can customise your own handbag by adding a few items of your own
choosing – fiendish Sudoku or a small colouring book perhaps – but as long as
you have the above ‘capsule items’, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance.
Week six: There are three different workouts for this week. They are as follows: Workout 1: brisk 5-minute walk, then 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 8 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running. Workout 2: brisk 5-minute walk, then 10 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 10 minutes running. Workout 3: brisk 5-minute walk, then 25 minutes with no walking.
Both last week and this week, I've been fortunate to chat to a few other people on twitter who are at a similar stage of this Couch to 5k plan as myself. What struck me is we pretty much all feel the same way about the workouts that involve pure running; the head says no and the more we put off doing it, the more daunting it seems.
So in case this helps anyone else, here are the techniques I've used to get me through the workouts that involve long(er) periods of running:
1. It will never be as hard or bad as your head tells you it will be. You will get through each workout and you'll feel relieved and incredibly elated at your achievement.
2. Try not to think of The Run as being 25 minutes long (or however long it may be). I find it really off-putting and quite scary to think of myself as having to run for that long.
3. Consider breaking The Run down into mini-sections or markers in your head. This will make it much more do-able and easy to tackle. For example: I will run at this speed for the next 5 minutes/for the length of this song. When you hit that marker, immediately set your next goal based on how you're feeling right in that moment. My markers are never longer than 8 minutes as in my head, I'm confident I can manage to run non-stop for at least this length of time.
4. Listen to music that you love and which inspires you to keep moving. Earlier this week I started a run with only the radio for company and the majority of the music that was being played was appalling. It made my run so much harder because I couldn't distract myself from the timer on the treadmill and boy did that make the minutes stretch out!
5. You'll hit a point in The Run where your head will start shouting at you to stop as your legs can't keep going. It's a lie! Keep running! This has been happening to me in the first 8 - 10 minutes of the workouts and once I've pushed through this point, I find my feet start to find a natural rhythm and my body relaxes into it too.
6. Make yourself accountable to someone and agree with them you'll complete The Run by the end of a certain date. Having a deadline will give you that push to get on and do it and the support and encouragement of a good friend is invaluable. If you want to, you can tweet me and we can motivate each other!
Have you got any tips for completing longer runs? How do you push through the mental barriers that try and stop you from physically reaching your running goals? I'd love to hear from you.
You can follow Ruthy on twitter, where she's known as @minibreakmummy. You can also listen to Ruthy's audioboo audioblog here.
And now to the main attraction...
Zombies shuffle slowly and relentlessly along. I can easily outwalk them! No need to break into a sweat. It's all about stamina and being able to keep going, not sprinting away and getting a stitch and collapsing with exhaustion.
So I'm going to slow the pace down a little here. Running is not my thing. Instead, I am walking back to happiness. Since I started having regular lunchtime walks a year ago I've never felt better.
Walking has several advantages over running:
* I can fit a walk into my lunch break
* It is not necessary to change into special clothing
* No need to take a shower afterwards
* Plenty of time to appreciate the scenery
I was involved in a 4 week trial of using a pedometer. I aimed for 10,000 steps a day, but didn't always manage it. My percentage body fat decreased from the 'cause for concern' bracket to the 'healthy' bracket. I had to hand the pedometer back at the end of the trial but ever since then I've almost felt like I am wearing an imaginary pedometer. So I do not use the campus shuttle bus or accept lifts home from the local shops, because every little bit of walking helps.
Walking is also very uplifting. It helps me to 'unscrunch' myself after a morning sat in front of the computer in my office. I can breathe the air into my lungs and clear my head. It makes me feel good to be alive.
I am seriously coveting Ruthy's shoes! I love this style!
My last update was on 21 May 2012 and since then, I've only run twice. Yep, you heard that right, in the last 2 and a 1/2 weeks, I've completed 2 runs so I haven't even completed week 6 yet.
I actually feel okay-ish about this. We had another period of illness here and with the baby waking more in the night, I spent a lot of my evenings in the last couple of weeks either enjoying doing nothing or reading. I also managed to lose my sports bra (and trust me when I say it is impossible to run without it).
I feel a bit guilty that I don't feel guilty about the fact I've been so slack! Maybe it's because the 2 runs that I did went well. Maybe I'm just being a bit kinder to myself. Whatever it may be, it's okay. This is my challenge and even though it's taking slightly longer than it should do, I'm still working on it. I haven't given up.
I've been keeping a note of my run times, distance and calories burnt using the Runkeeper app and I can see I've been averaging a 14 and a 1/2 minute mile. I'm surprised and pleased by my consistency but if I don't get back on track and put a bit more effort in, I'll find by the end of the plan that I may be able to run for 30 minutes but I won't have reached the 5k in 30 minutes marker that I'm aiming for. And there's a competitive streak in me that says to feel like I've truly succeeded, I need to be able to do this.
Apart from buckling down and getting on with some good old fashioned running, is there anything else I can do to improve my speed and distance? I'd love to hear your tips as well as your stories about how you got yourself back on track after an exercise blip.
I also need to get myself a spare sports bra. I've had a quick google to get an idea of what's out there but if you've got any recommendations, I'd really appreciate them.
If you've ever struggled with your weight or wondered how to kickstart your weightloss efforts, I hope today's guest post will inspire and motivate you.
Written by Tina, it reveals how she managed to lose 60lb in a year and change her BMI score from "obese" to "healthy" with the right incentive, an eating plan that worked for her and the introduction of an exercise regime.
Having supported my husband when he needed to lose 7.5 stone and seen the hard work and commitment it takes, I have the utmost admiration for Tina's achievement and I'm sure after you've read her story, you will too.
In her own words, Tina is "a Mummy, a Wife, A Geek and a blogger! I blog about my family's adventures, our loves, hates, successes and failures. I am a huge fan of gadgets, technology, history, and lego (See - told you I'm a geek)! We live in Manchester, and our 11 month old Son is nicknamed Batman. I am currently pregnant with baby number 2 (Robyn) - due at the end of June!".
Way back in 2009, my best friend got engaged. At the time, I was 14 stone 8lb (204lb), and OBESE! When she asked me to be her chief bridesmaid at her wedding the following Summer, I knew immediate action was required. I had tried (and failed) at countless diets in the past, so this time I monitored my food intake for 2 weeks, to see what my flaws were. It became very obvious that I was eating too much fat. (Cheese, margarine, pastry, olive oil, etc). I decided to create my own meal plan based on a low fat diet. As a vegetarian, I get limited protein so I guess this is why cheese had become such a staple part of my diet.
On July 1st 2009, I began monitoring my fat intake. I kept it below 20g a day (of fat - not saturated fat). I also did 30 minutes a day, 7 days a week on my Wii Fit. I weighed in weekly and blogged daily on my weight loss blog. I found I got a lot of support from other "losers" and they encouraged me a lot to stick with it. By 1st August, I had lost 14lb! (1 whole stone in 1 month, and I hadn't been near a gym). I continued the same way, and by my birthday in November, I weighed 11 stone 10.5lb (164.5lb)! I had gone from being OBESE to being in the normal BMI range in just 20 weeks!
By this point, it had become harder to lose the weight. I was losing 1lb a week at best, and it was frustrating. I decided to switch things up and bought a couple of exercise DVDs. I had become a huge fan of the American version of The Biggest Loser, and bought Jillian Michaels' 30 days shred. I swear to god, that DVD almost killed me, but it did the job and kick started my metabolism again. It was a 20 minute workout, and very intense, so I did that for a month.
By January, I was down to 11 stone 1lb. I then found out I was pregnant, and we were thrilled. In February, my other half popped the question! I was continuing to eat healthily but had increased my daily fat intake to 40g a day - the recommended amount for someone of my then weight. At the end of February, we found out at our 12 week scan that we'd lost the baby. We were of course devastated, and initially, I wanted to eat everything in sight. My other half managed to prevent this by ensuring the cupboards contained only healthy things. I was very poorly after the procedure to remove the baby, and lost a lot of blood. It was May before I felt fit enough to start exercising again, but as I was still losing blood, I could only do light exercise.
I had signed up to do the Race For Life in July, so I started walking 5k a day on the treadmill. By the time the race came around on 4th July 2010, (a week before my Bridesmaid duties were to take place), I was down to 10 stone 4lb (144lb)! I had lost 60lb in a year! I managed to finish the race for life in a fairly good time, despite only doing half of the C25k training. I finished it in 35 minutes, 20 seconds.
The day of my best friend's wedding rolled around, and I wore a size 10 dress! It had to be taken in to fit me! I had NEVER worn a size 10 in my life! When I was initially fitted for my dress, she said I needed a size 20 dress, so I had lost 5 dress sizes by the dress maker's reckoning!
Since then, I have had a baby boy, and am now 8 months pregnant again. I suspect I will be a good 12.5-13 stone once I have had my baby, so I shall once again be taking to my low fat plan (after breast feeding duties cease, of course)!
If I had to suggest one thing to people trying to lose weight, it would be a support network. I genuinely think I did as well as I did because I had the support of my other half and an amazing online community.