Monday 19 May 2014

Today - C25K Evangelist.

If you told me a few weeks ago (when I was struggling to run much more than 60 seconds non-stop) that I'd be running more than 30 mins non-stop and getting such a kick out of running that I feel absolutely gutted when I have to take a rest day, I'd have told you that you were crazy. But that's exactly where I am today.

Today I completed Week 8, Run 3 of the Couch to 5K Programme and I now look toward my 'graduation' week with a view to the future. Apart from my Race for Life next month (you can sponsor me here by the way),  I'm thinking that eventually I'd like to try working my way towards being able to run 10K. It'll take me a good long while I'm sure, but it's good to have something to aim towards.

Today I've lost interest in pretty much any shopping except for workout gear (more posts about this soon) and I've turned a drawer completely over to running clothes/accessories. I've also become quite the C25K evangelist - extolling the virtues to anyone who strays near to me the benefits and finer details of this life changing process. I really can't imagine how I waited this long before getting on this journey to running. Roll on week 9!

Sunday 4 May 2014

Does this mean I'm officially a runner?

So I set off this morning full of optimism, but a bit nervous of the prospect of running for 20mins non-stop for run three of week five of the Couch to 5K program. I fired up my iPhone app and a very chipper Laura (the voice and coach of the NHS C25K programme) greeted me and assured me that 'I could do this' and that she'd 'be there every step of the way' letting me know how I was getting on. 

So I breezed my way through 5 lovely minutes of warm up and Laura cheerfully informed me it was time to start running. I was at the point on my route where this usually happens and all was good with the world. Off I trotted and although I felt a little heavy legged to start with, after my first hill (which occurs about 60secs in) I was doing ok.

I continued on my usual route and I got to where I usually am about 8mins in and I expected to hear from Laura to tell me this was how far I'd done half way through my last run but no. 'Ok' I thought, 'perhaps she's holding out for half way - she's such a cheeky tinker!'. But no. Nothing. I don't want to fish my phone out as this is sure to disturb my rhythm, so i keep running. And running. And running. No sign of Laura. Bitch.

After what seemed like an eternity I decided to slow down to a walk and have a look at my phone. App is running (no I hadn't paused it by mistake!!) and says i've been running for 4 mins. FOUR! Now sadly I didn't take notice of what time I left the house (think I need a watch) but I know it's not 9mins ago. I'm thinking nearer 40. 

But all is not lost. I use a Fitbit so I fire up that app and it proclaims I've had 42 active minutes and have covered 4.34 miles so far today (I've only been up and down the garden to sort the chickens and dogs a couple of times before heading out)!!!

Once I got home I've fired up the ol' laptop and plotted the route I ran today. I ran for EXACTLY 5K. 5K!! 

So Laura. I'm not happy you let me down when I needed you most, but I'm ECSTATIC that I can officially run 5K! And definitely in less than 40mins for my first ever try. Happy Days.

Saturday 3 May 2014

Signed Up! Race for Life.

Well I've done it. I've signed up for a 5K for Race for Life for Cancer Research on the 22nd of June. Terrifying. 

So to keep me on the straight and narrow with my running so I don't embarrass myself too badly on the day I need your donations! 

You can visit my Just Giving page here - don't forget to tick the box for Gift Aid if you are a UK Tax payer and please give as much as you can for this great cause. Anything is much appreciated!

Now there are no excuses for slacking with the exercise! Have you signed up for Race for Life too? I'd love to hear about it if you have!

Friday 2 May 2014

Yurbuds Inspire for Women - Review

I've got very small earholes. Ear canals. And while you might think that's not too much of a distressing affliction, if you've ever tried to find earphones to fit into teeny earholes you'll appreciate my woe. I'm not a fan of those earphones that rest in the cuppy bit of your ear. It all feels a bit perilous and I can't keep those in at the best of times, never mind when I'm running (shockingly my new favourite pastime!) so while I love my iPhone the earphones that come with it don't get much love from me. I've tried a few other makes and models and even with the smallest size earpieces these in-the-canal earphones work their way out at the slightest hint of movement.

While perusing some running forums I saw some recommendations for the Yurbuds Inspire for Women. I picked up the pink pair (from Amazon for £21.25) to match my new Nike Trainers.

These earphones are designed especially for smaller ears and have a clever way of fitting, with a short tube that goes slightly into the ear canal with an outer section that fits in the part just outside the canal. You pop the tube section into your ear with the cable section pointing downwards and a little to the back. You then rotate the earphone forwards until the cable sits slightly forwards in a conventional fashion. This locks them in place. The Inspire for Women comes with two sizes of earpiece (4 and 5) and I used the smaller of the two.

Yurbuds are guaranteed to 'never hurt or fall out' and they are definitely comfy. I forgot I was wearing them after just a couple of minutes and there was absolutely no sign of them becoming dislodged throughout my run. I'm also really glad they are water/sweat proof as even at this time of year rain is a definite danger at any given moment!

I found them to be great sound wise. A nice depth of tone for my playlists and I also liked they they allow some degree of ambient noise to still be heard. Many earphones are understandably designed to cut out these background sounds, but where running is concerned I'd rather be able to hear cars etc coming thanks very much!

The model I chose doesn't have any volume or phone controls and I do wonder if I should have gone for the next model up, if only so I can skip tracks that I'm not loving during my runs, but if having to create a more fine-tuned playlist is the only downside to these earphones then I can make my peace with them!

Thursday 1 May 2014

Get Running! NHS C25K

At school I was one of those kids that always tried to come up with a reason why I wasn't able to do PE. Apart from swimming there wasn't much that I really fancied doing and the absolute worst case scenario was the prospect of cross country running. I have no idea how far we were expected to run (probably about a billion miles) but I'm sure it was always without exception  snowing or hotter than the surface of the sun on those fateful days...  All this makes it all the more surprising that I'm thinking I might be turning into someone who actually LIKES running! 

As you may know I've been on a bit of a weight loss journey and without a goal weight in mind (I'm in that weird place that this is the thinnest I've ever been as a grown up - probably thinner than the aforementioned cross country period of my life!) so feel a little bit without something to aim for to spurn me on. I've been walking lots since the arrival of my fitbit back in June of last year and I've been mulling over the prospect of kicking it up a notch for the last couple of months. Of course the shabby weather of winter is always rather off putting but with a temperature rise of a few degrees and the need to take my mind off a few things recently I've grabbed the bull by the horns and downloaded the free NHS Couch to 5k app for my iPhone.  Download it here.

I definitely had some degree of fitness from brisk walking for several miles at a time so can’t say I was quite starting at ‘couch’ but running is definitely a whole new ball game for me. The program is based on the premiss of interval training with runs of varying lengths interspersed with sections of brisk walking. I’ve found this to be a great way to start with running - it gives you encouragement that you are building stamina and gives you small victories along the way.

The app is great with a virtual coach called Laura who offers tips, guidance and encouragement every step of the way. She lets you know when to run and when to slow down and is there to encourage you to keep running when you might be flagging.

The programme starts gently with 60 seconds of running interspersed with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20mins bookended by brisk 5 minute warm-up and cool-down walks. This session is repeated three times over the course of a week with a days rest in-between each session to let your body recover. In practice this can mean that you run three times some weeks and four runs on others - strangely I’m quite grouchy on a rest day - I just can’t wait to get out again as soon as possible!

I’m currently on week 5 of the programme - renowned to be the week where it steps up a notch with much longer periods of running but still I’m loving it! If you’d told me I’d be typing that just a few months ago I would never have believed it!

Stay tuned to my blog for more fitness related posts including some reviews of some new aquistions!