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04 September 2012 @ 09:47 am
Couch to 5K  
...or in my case 4K.

In the name, more or less, of not getting any younger, I have taken up running.

I got the idea from, of all places, a Charlie Brooker article. He mentioned an iPhone app which would take you through a running program starting with short runs broken up by periods of walking and working up to a long half hour run. So when I finally broke and purchased a second hand iPhone the "Get Running" app was one of the first I purchased and installed. This probably entirely demonstrates the power of suggesting to someone that they get to "level up". It turns out "Get Running" was just an instantiation of the (possibly NHS) Couch to 5K program which you can also download for free from the NHS website though not, I think, in a form that allows you to play your own music while the nice lady tells you to run, or walk, and so forth.

Today I reached the final half hour run. One of our local parks has a handily laid out 2K circuit which is how I know I've only hit the 4K, not the 5K mark distance wise. I've not really decided whether I think the distance or the time is the important part here. I have downloaded an NHS podcast for "Couch to 5K graduates" which claims to improve running speed but it would mean listening to their choice of music - not that random slow ballads and odd bits of plain song or whatever iTunes shuffle decides to serve up today are necessarily the best things to run to!

I'm not sure I've noticed much difference though I must be fitter. I gather, looking at various websites, that the long runs which start in week 5 are often the hardest part of the program. But it must be said I found the 1.5 minute short runs in week 2 and the 3 minute runs in week 3 the real battles and once I'd got through them, it was mostly a case of keeping going. This may be that once I'm running for a longer time my brain has an opportunity to move onto other topics not just "OMG! I'm running!" and I've actually found it quite useful thinking time. In fact, when the nice lady breaks in to inform me "only 20 minutes more running to go", I often hit a "OMG! My Legs! So tired!" moment until I manage to distract myself away from the whole running business once again.

I did notice, at Summerfest, that my back was much better. I normally end up with terrible back ache after even relatively small periods of standing still (I'm fine walking, and it doesn't hit me when lecturing so I obviously move around enough when I'm doing that). I'm not sure if that is the running though or the "legs, bums, and tums" exercises I took from the NHS website to do in the "rest days" between runs. My right big toe has gone numb, mind you. This is definitely a post-summerfest thing and I'm sure was caused by all the standing (especially since ladyofastolat reports the same condition) but a bit of googling reveals that badly fitting running shoes can also cause this and since my running shoes were selected entirely on the basis of being the cheapest available in Decathlon the time may have come to get a proper pair fitted.

I'm not sure if I've lost weight because I've not been weighing myself. I don't feel as if I have. I'm aware that I've been slowly putting on weight over the last couple of years so it may be that I've just slowed up that process, or that I'm compensating for the extra calories burned by eating more. The next project is going to be regular weigh-ins and an attempt to at least bring myself back under 10 stone in weight. At the moment I feel large so just getting rid of that vague dissatisfaction would be a win. NB. I know I'm not vastly over a sensible weight (for a value of sensible based on BMI which again I realise is only a guideline). I personally consider my ideal weight to be somewhere between 8 and 9 stone. This is the weight I was in my early twenties and is towards the top of the "normal" range for my height according to BMI and doesn't seem an unreasonable goal since I'm currently 10 st 5.

I'm definitely not keen on what I assume is the endorphine rush (which is a shame since this is supposed to be one of the perks of exercise). I feel oddly disassociated and a bit woozy after a run, and I'm sure my chances of getting run over on the way back from the park are higher than on the way there.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/75349.html.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on September 4th, 2012 10:46 am (UTC)
My aspirations have not got further than looking at running kit on racks, so I am impressed.
louisedennislouisedennis on September 4th, 2012 11:44 am (UTC)
I did it the other way around and refused to purchase anything before I'd been running at least a week and even then I tried to keep expenditure under about 30 quid.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on September 4th, 2012 11:45 am (UTC)
Well, that removes my excuse!
louisedennislouisedennis on September 4th, 2012 11:58 am (UTC)
I'm terrible for believing that I would be oh so much more productive if I only had the right stationary. It's a trap I work to avoid these days though even so stationary sometimes happens in spite of myself.

I felt buying equipment should be the reward for actually running, rather than vice versa. I've been dithering over weights and strength training exercises for this reason.
Elaine of Astolatladyofastolat on September 4th, 2012 11:15 am (UTC)
I'm still dithering about trying this. I'm deterred mostly by fear of damage to my ankles, which have always caused me problems. But the main thing that's tempting me is that I definitely felt an improvement in fitness when walking c. 35 miles every weekend in the New Year, but it all took so LONG, and I lost whole weekends to it. It's very tempting to try something that will (I hope) increase fitness while only taking up 30 an hour or so every other day. Somehow hearing from a "real person" who's done it successfully is all that much more powerful than reading a random endorsement online.

Both my big toes have gone numb (well, apart from the parts of them that hurt instead) so it's odd that only one of yours has. I don't think I noticed you standing on one leg for long periods of time, so maybe it's exacerbated by an ill-fitting shoe on just one foot?
louisedennislouisedennis on September 4th, 2012 11:47 am (UTC)
I'd say "talk to your GP" except that my experience has made me somewhat dubious about asking GPs for advice. I don't know, maybe try the first week or so and see waht happens to your ankles.

I get pins and needly type sensations in my toe periodically but mostly I'm just not feeling anything on the left side of it. I'm 90% sure the problem is a a compressed nerve and that can be caused both by standing and by badly fitting running shoes. I figure even if Summerfest caused the numbness, the shoes may be hampering recovery. Googling hasn't turned up much beyond that compressed nervous are tricksy things and often nowhere near the site of numbness, and lots of people claiming to have had no feeling in their big toes for years and years.
bunn: Brythenbunn on September 4th, 2012 11:23 am (UTC)
I believe muscle is a lot heavier than fat, so weight may not be the best measure anyway?

Do you enjoy the running, or is it a purely dutiful sort of thing?
louisedennislouisedennis on September 4th, 2012 11:55 am (UTC)
Converting weight into muscle might be another explanation, but I strongly suspect that my body just self-regulates towards gradual weight gain, and burning more has naturally segued into eating more (which is good in a way. I like food). Daily weigh-ins plotted up on a graph have proved a very effective tool for weight loss in the past so I'm hoping that just setting up the graph again and going back to regular weighing may be all the stimulus needed to regulate input-output a bit better. At any rate I'm definitely heavier now than I have been for 7 or 8 years. Even the loss of 3 pounds would put me back into the range I'm more used to.

Do you enjoy the running, or is it a purely dutiful sort of thing?

I don't really know, to be honest. I'm not bouncing around excitedly wanting to go for the next run but I don't resent running in the way I, for instance, resent needing to take a shower afterwards and having to wait two minutes for the water to warm up and so on and so forth. I think the fact I've found the time useful for thinking has helped a lot in terms of not viewing them as a chore that prevents me doing something else more fun/useful. I'm also pretty goal-oriented so it will be interesting to see how I feel about them now the notional goal has been achieved.
bunn: Brythenbunn on September 4th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
I am a bit tempted to try running with Brythen. Not that he would consider any speed I can achieve to be 'running', but at least it would be company!
fredbassettfredbassett on September 4th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
I keep considering running, but my knees are pretty crappy, so I'm not sure they'd stand it.

I like swimming outdoors in summer, but due to the crappy wether not much of that has been done in the UK, biut mainly in Francem where I walk more as well.
louisedennislouisedennis on September 4th, 2012 04:18 pm (UTC)
I find the logistics one of the difficult things about exercise. All sorts of things I could do would involve driving and paying and changing and stuff I have no time for!! I was quite surprised that the running didn't turn out too faffy but its certainly what stops me attempting to swim more often.
fredbassettfredbassett on September 4th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
I can't stand all teh faff that goes along with gyms. Swimming is great for me as when it's OK to swim outdoors I can just walk 5 minutes to the lake. But I loathe swimming pools.
wellinghallwellinghall on September 4th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
This is just the sort of post that makes me feel (a) lazy and (b) guilty :-(
louisedennislouisedennis on September 4th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
I don't think you should. Taking up running seemed like a good thing for me, but it does take nearly two hours out of my life per week and everyone has their own priorities - I really dislike advice places which say "just an extra half hour per day" or whatever because my days are scheduled pretty tightly and half an hour isn't easy to find.

I don't, for instance, read books or newspapers or watch nearly enough interesting things on telly as I feel I should.
wellinghallwellinghall on September 5th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your comments. Running might not be the right thing for me, but I do need to find suitable exercise of some description. Maybe, with my ankle finally on the mend, I can get out and about a bit more while we are on holiday.
sophievdennis on September 4th, 2012 11:29 pm (UTC)
So, I'm terribly jealous you're running as I loved running until I did my knee in doing it. [Insert yet another reminder to self to do knee exercises].

If you find goal-driven smartphone apps motivating, Andy and I are liking MyFitnessPal. It's a weight loss mobile + web app that tracks whether you are on target on your daily calories. It has a massive user-generated database of calories and nutritional info for just about every food under the sun, plus the phone app has a nifty barcode scanner for extra laziness. If you enter what exercise you've done that day it sets the calories burned* against what you can eat, which I find great for "if I go for a walk I can have chocolate" motivation. There are charts and graphs.

* Probably wildly inaccurate, but never mind.
louisedennislouisedennis on September 5th, 2012 08:10 am (UTC)
B's younger brother has been using some kind of calorie counting app successfully and I wonder if this is it. I've always thought calorie counting a bit too much like hard work but maybe I should give this a go.