Tuesday, 31 May 2011

C25k Week 7 Day 1

What? Er.. where is Week 6 Day 3 then? Let me explain..

As you will know from previous posts, I had two failed W6D3 runs owing to bad legs, bad pace and (possibly) bad shoes. I had been in two minds yesterday as to whether to run or not. My legs are still pretty beaten up. But as it happens there was a bit of family tension in the house owning to three very bad nights sleeps preceding. I decided that the best thing was for me to definitely go out into the open and cool off for a bit.

All of this meant I started with a mean determination. Being that I had failed with 2 attempts at 25 minute runs coupled with coming back from injury, I really didn't know what to aim for. In the particular mental state I was in, during my warmup walk, I went from thinking I would be able to do 25 minutes, to just doing 20 minutes (W5D3) to going back to intervals (W6D1) to completing all 30 minutes (Yeah... right!).

In the end, I plumped at aiming for a 20 minute straight run and then see how I felt at that point.

My bravado seemed to be quashed after around 6 minutes (Those first 10 minutes always seem bad). My heart rate was high 160's, I was puffing well and my legs were heavy and aching. I knew that I also faced two big inclines. I got through the first incline with my heart rate up to 175 before the nicest section of the run, a big decline - HR 168. My route then presents a LONG sweeping incline which is nasty. This is the point where on the previous two runs, I quit. My firm belief is that its times like that portion of the run that you separate the men from the boys. It's torture and all I could do was give myself a verbal kicking and try to speak out some song lyrics that seemed pertinent for the occasion. Having to through the worst of the hill, I realised that I had pushed through 20 minutes and I felt I still had a bit more to give. I also thought that at that point, it would be a shame not to try and hit 25 minutes. Those minutes were long and gruelling. I check the watch about 20 times in those few last minutes.

At 24 minutes, my pace for the the run was 7:06/km. I decided to do what I could to drop that to sub 7:00. I SPRINTED for two full minutes and in doing so hit exactly 7:00/km. I had to stop at that point and to go further would have been plain stupidity. I was already on a big incline, my HR was 187 (highest ever) and my shins were past sore.

I was elated with my run to be honest and I consider the run solid enough to bump me onto Week 7 (which is 3x 25 minute runs).

My legs are in fairly bad shape today, but I will see how they go for tomorrows run.

My Stats:
3.73 km @7:00/km

My Vitals:
164.9lbs, Body Fat 22.1, BMI: 23.7

Thursday, 19 May 2011

C25k Week 6 Day 3 - FAIL (again) + Injury

I've had a recurrence of the injury that kept me out of running for 3 weeks. Hopefully this time it won't be as serious. I am certainly skipping tonight's run.

In my first failed run, I had switched back to the (shop recommended) Nike ASTs. Not only did I not complete that run because of the fast pace I set, but I also hurt my legs quite a bit.

Think I had recovered, I tried another run on Monday going back to my Lunarglides, but personally, I think that the damage had been done with the ASTs and my legs could not cope. I managed around 16 minutes of running this time at a spot on pace of around 6:45/km My legs were hurting pretty bad and my breathing labored. It was mentally one of my toughest runs yet and I held off quitting a number of times before that point. I tried to make it to 20 minutes but simply could not.

My legs have been painful and even walking at points is proving difficult. I still don't know for sure if my problem is overworking or the damn shoes.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

C25k Week 6 Day 3 - FAIL

Horrible, Horrible, Horrible

Today was a 25 minute run - at least it should have been. Basically, I set off WAY to fast. My fastest pace was 4:48 FFS, and that bit was not on any downhill slope either. I completed just short of 13 minutes running and knowing I could not complete the run decided to take a 1 minute breather (I was at a 6:15 pace afterall so could afford to drop back a bit). It turned into a 3 minute walk and about 2 minutes further running before I quit and plodded home.

Very dissapointing, but my hope is that it was purely down to my overconfident start and that more watchfulness on my pace will serve me well lon later runs.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

C25k Week 6 Day 2

Progress. Real Progress. Despite tiring near the end of the run, this was one of the best yet. I actually think this eclipsed that 20 minute run in terms of how I felt afterwards.

This run represents the last that contains intervals in the C25k Program. From here on in, it's straight running that starts with my next run of 25 solid minutes. The day two run was 20 minutes running with a 3 minute walking period in between then.

Really, I've got so many positives in regards to this run it's unbelievable.

1. Pace - In the past week or so, I've aimed for 6:40/km in the running phases and 10:30/km in the walking phases. In earlier run's I've sometimes run too fast and then needed to walk incredibly slow to recover. I've found the walking intervals to be more telling in this aspect because when you've run too fast, you just cannot do a "brisk" walk. My stats reveal running intervals of 6:34 and 6:30 and a walking interval of just 9:33!

2. Attitude - I used the warmup to reinforce myself. I told myself that 10 minute blocks of time are childsplay to me now. To remember how far I have come, no longer struggling to complete 60 seconds of running. After the first 10 minutes, I did not want to slow for the interval and near the end of the three minutes I was anxious to get running again - so much so that I actually took of about 10 seconds early. Having run the route a couple of times, I knew the ups and downs of the routes and knew where to slow and speed up.

3. Heart Rate - After my first 10 minute run, I was expecting to get my HR down to mid 140s during the recovery walk. To my astonishment, it dropped all the way to 135. I think this is more a sign of my fitness than anything else. I peaked at the end of my run at 176 and so I knew I had more in the tank (previous peaks have been 184). For such a long period of running, I am very pleased with my Avg HR of 161.

4. Other bits and bobs - My weight is at the lowest point since starting. I've lost 16lbs in 3 months. More importantly, my Fat % has dropped to the lowest since I have started and it represents a 5% loss overall which is tremendously good to see. Lastly, our cat which had mysteriously disappeared for 24 hours returned as I was weighing myself last thing at night!

I'm not naive enough to expect days like this even half the time, but they are bloody good when they come along. In fact, tonight is takeaway night so I guess that fat % may well creep up a bit!

My Stats:
3.37 km @6:49/km

My Vitals:
163.8lbs, Body Fat 20.5, BMI: 23.5

Monday, 9 May 2011

C25k Week 6 Day 1

On paper, this run seems to be a lucky break after that 20 minute run at the end of Week 5, but it was clear after half the run that that was a massive error in judgement.

Firstly, in my defense, I've got a cold again. So much so that I am actually going to skip todays run altogether. But back to w6d1, back to intervals. Running periods of 5 mins, 8 mins and 5 mins with 3 minute rests between. Probably, this was the worst and most punishing run I have experienced in the program. Perhaps it was my cold, I don't know, but my heart rate was really screwed. I spent over half the run with an average HR of 172 and 18% of the run with a HR average of 182! My legs were also still very sore from the previous run and I tired so quickly.

That said, there were positives.

1. I finished it despite 3-4 times being at the point of giving up.
2. I finally ran over 3k, my first short term target.
3. My pace was generally good. I had in mind a 6:40 running pace and 10:30 walking pace. My running paces were 6:21, 6:51 and 7:13 and my walking paces were 10:02 and 12:38. Considering I was suffering, that's not too shabby.

My Stats:
3.20 km @7:29/km

My Vitals:
165.0lbs, Body Fat 22.3, BMI: 23.7

Thursday, 5 May 2011

C25k Week 5 Day 3 - aka "That 20 minute run"

If there is one thing that all Couch to 5k runners hold in common, it's shear dread of Week 5 Day 3. For anyone just starting on the program and possibly failing, like I did to run those group of 1 minute runs, you will probably look ahead in the schedule at this day that sticks out like a sore thumb and shake your head in disbelief.

I think frankly, that many people give up on the program in this week because it seems too much, too soon. I did complete it yesterday and it was well, an odd experience.

First things first - the new route. It has very obvious uphill and downhill areas but nothing like the gradient I face in my old route. I found that I could adjust my pace to cope and keep my HR just about in check so that helped. The route is around 4km so I knew I would only get part of the way around, but it gives plenty of growth over the next few weeks. My target is to graduate from the program running slightly over 4km if possible. I had it in my mind where I roughly wanted to finish in the route and I fell short by a couple hundred meters and when I got to one point after about 9 minutes, I remember thinking "Am I only here!".

Secondly, my pace I felt was just about where I want it. I wanted a 6:40 pace which would have got me over the 3km mark, but I made 6:52. I started off at a 6:00 pace, then a 6:10 and I managed to maintain a 6:40 pace a good deal of the run. All of my 1 minute splits after the 10th minute were 7:00+ (except for the last one) which is why my time gradually creeped out.

I remember on a couple of occasions needing to talk myself out of quitting and heading back, partly because of my sore legs and partly because of the exertion. Having my HRM, I knew that my HR had not exceeded 179 so I had no excuse to quit running, only to slow my pace a little. Amazingly, I got a second wind in the last couple of minutes. The last 1 minute I ran a pace of 3:22!! I felt like I could have gone on for another minute or so, but decided not to push it.

At the end of the run, I can't say hand on heart that I felt elation, although during the 10 minute walk home, it did dawn on me that I had achieved a tremendous task and I was proud. I hurt in my legs pretty bad and for the first time, I had a mild stitch as I was running. I was a little disappointed that I didn't make 3km (although I do expect to hit that next week).

I've woke up with all part of my legs sore and tired. I am glad for the two day break before my next run. I feel encouraged that I can make it to the end of the program and that I can make good progress toward my goals from here on in.

My Stats:
2.92 km @6:52/km

My Vitals:
165.6lbs, Body Fat 22.6, BMI: 23.8

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Running With GPS and HRM

I am a person who loves number. I am a person who is very competitive, always striving to better myself. Naturally with running, I enjoy seeing graph and line charts of my performance as it (hopefully) improves. I feel it really gives me something to aim for and KNOW that I am making progress. I got into the buzz of running statistics as I started C25k with Nike +GPS on my ipod touch/bluetooth GPS but it didn't work. This was a shame because the website is really nice. You can set goals and see your progress towards them and other features such as colour scaling runs. Overall it's a nice site for beginners. But as I say, my bluetooth GPS did not work with it and I was concerned that I couldn't import/export from the site should I wish to switch to another running site - it's just not flexible enough.

I tried a few different apps in the app store - making tracks, runkeeper and mapmyrun. All had their benefits, but I plumped for runkeeper in the end. I like the runkeeper website with it's built in graphs and it's integration to facebook/twitter, but I also liked the app very much and especially the audio cues at preset time or distance intervals. You can tell after say 1km your time and pace.

I used this solution for the first few weeks up to my injury and a little afterwards and was MOSTLY happy with it, but it had drawbacks.

- My ipod had to stay unlocked (sensitive to button presses) and in my pocket. This meant firstly if I wanted to see my pace at any point in time, I had to gingerly take it out of my pocket being careful not to touch the screen. I've paused many a run doing this!

- You have to wear headphones. I used the NHS C25k podcast which was great, but I found my earphones sometimes came unplugged, pausing the podcast or got snagged on a zip and fell out my ears etc - these are real distractions. One run my headphones gave out and I had no idea whether I should be running or walking!

- The GPS sometimes cut out (unbeknown to me at the time). All that hard work - none of it tracked.

- The GPS had problems with bad data points. Some runs were logged as 20-35% longer because of bad data point mapping. There is one bit of my traditional route where I go under the road and my GPS screwed every time. Correcting this took sometimes 30 minutes plus on the website and other times it was just quicker to delete the data and plot the route manually (losing pace data in the process).

- HRM function. As you get into running, you realize that tracking your heart rate would be both beneficial and cool. The options for doing this on your Ipod/iphone with runkeeper are limited to an expensive proprietary piece of hardware.

I would point out that a new iPhone 4 worn in a specialised arm carrier would probably solve some of the above, but there was enough to make me want to switch.

My solution was a Garmin Forerunner 305. I picked one up new from Amazon for just under £100. I'm in love. Here's why:

- It's not as big as you think. Don't get me wrong, it's not an everyday watch (it's battery only lasts 10 hours) but it's light and you won't notice it.

- I can use it with the runkeeper website for posting runs to facebook twitter. You "post new activity" from the website, connect the watch via usb and hit import. There it all is, pace, HR and route.

- The GPS has been flawless. Coming home from a run and knowing that the data is accurate is how it should be. I don't have to inspect the route and spend 30 minutes correcting the route before posting it. It's entirely trustworthy. Even the bit where I run under the road is interpreted perfectly. I don't get a great deal of spare time between work, family and exercise so I REALLY appreciate this - I could not go back to the inaccurate and less functional GPS.

- Combining with Zonefive Sport Tracks software. WOW! The detail this combination can provide is totally awesome. It automatically reads the splits so I can see my running pace and my walking pace. I can see how many minutes I spent in Heart Rate Zone 4. I can see just how that bloody hill kills me and how long it took to recover.

- Preset intervals. Using the PC software, I can preset the watch to follow the C25k Intervals and have it give me a bleep countdown to the next interval.

- Totally custom display. When I am running, I can see my lap (interval) pace and time so I know that when it says 5:30m/km I need to slow down and I can see how long I've got left to recover. I also have it show my total distance so that I can push right at the end and I have it show me my current heart rate so I know if I am pushing too hard.

- I don't need to worry about pockets, headphones, valuable iDevice getting rained on/stolen - just my running :-)

I have to say that this device is one of the best gadgets I have ever owned. It has helped me understand my running and it's value has been immense.

So in summary, I just run with the 305 and then upload to both runkeeper and Sporttracks when I am done. Runkeeper gives me a nice pretty overview of how I am doing and gives me encouraging popups like "New Personal record - total distance" as well as updating my facebook profile for accountability and further encouragement. Sporttracks give me the wealth and depth of statistics about the run and helps me learn where I can improve the next time I run. Lastly, I found a plugin for Sporttracks that overlays a colour coded pace and heart rate worm over the route, just like the Nike site. This was the first eye candy cool feature I fell in love with and now I can finally have it.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

C25k Week 5 day 1 and 2

Ive missed out on A couple of posts recently due to a busy 4 day public holiday mostly devoted to DIY around the house.

I completed Week 4 without too much fuss. In fact at 2.98 kilometres, Day 3 was the furthest I have ever run.

Week 5 is the one that I and many who have embarked on C25k believe is the one to dread. The upswing in actual running time as well as three progressively harder runs in a row all point to trouble ahead! Only a week or so ago, I was dreading 3 minute runs BUT my next run will be a 20 minute straight run! Yikes.

Week 5 day 1 was horrible on the timing with the middle 5 minutes beginning right at the bottom of the hill I run. I completed in a real pant and my HR was over 170 for the entire third 5 mintue interval.

Week 5 Day 2 Was manageable but I did struggle in the last 4 minutes of the run. After the first 8 minute run, my HR recovered really well and I felt up for the second and last run. I kind of got a second wind and pushed myself too far. I paid for it! I was very happy to hear those blessed Garmin bleeps to signal the end of my run.

Tomorrows 20 minute run is the one I have feared since Day 1 of C25k. Seeing how my heart rate went up to about 95% MHR after the first 8 minute interval yesterday, I don't see how I can tack on a further 12 minute run and expect to survive it. What kills me I think is firstly my pace - too much running not enough jogging. Secondly that bloody hill at the first kilometer. To get through it, I am going to try and find an alternate and flatter route and really try my best to slow down even more (it already feels like I am walking!)

My Stats:
W4D3 2.98 km @7:13/km
W5D1 2.89 km @7:15/km
W5D2 2.92 km @7:10/km

My Vitals:
166.4lbs, Body Fat 22.7, BMI: 23.9