This time a week ago (Saturday), I completed my 5k run in the beautiful seafront setting of Southsea, Portsmouth, UK. The sun was shining and the scenery couldn’t have been more perfect.
I achieved my goal – which was to run the entire distance – and I finished in a reasonably respectable time of 39mins 52 secs. I would have liked to have been closer to 35mins but considering the hit and miss nature of my training over the last month, I was thrilled just to have finished.
Having a laugh pre-race
Having completed the race I thought that would be me done, but oddly, it’s not. I like the feeling of being fitter – even if I have not lost any weight as yet – and so I have decided to continue running with an aim of getting a faster 5k time in the future. I am also going to try to increase my distance and am looking at getting a 10k plan which I would like to try to run in Spring next year.
The all important ‘finishers’ medal
I wouldn’t say that I have enjoyed this journey – the training has been challenging and the race was much harder than I thought it would be – but I do feel proud of myself for sticking with it and knowing that I can achieve something like this has pushed me onwards. I am never going to be the most natural or fastest runner in the world, but if I can keep going and benefit from the fitness then I reckon that can only be good not just physically but, perhaps more importantly, mentally.
Thanks for following the journey with me!
Courtesy of nenetus via freedigitalphotos.net
I have been training for a number of weeks now and I think that my body has finally accepted that we are doing this. After missing three training sessions last week I was concerned that I would have gone backwards but in actual fact, I was able to run a fairly respectable 30 mins without too much difficulty on the next run. I am hopeful this means my body and me have turned a corner.
Today I decided to try for my longest run yet and managed 35 mins, again without too much difficulty. I had more in the tank although I am not sure how much, but that is major progress for me. I feel like once I get into the swing of it I can keep going a while longer, which helps me to get through mentally – talking of which…
Mental strength is still an issue for me. I no longer find myself wanting to give up after 5 mins and by and large, with the runs that I am doing, I no longer get to the ‘giving up’ stage, but I still have to do a lot of talking to myself. Sometimes I motivate myself using landmarks e.g. running to the next lamppost and then the next car etc… Sometimes I keep myself going by thinking how annoyed I’ll be later if I don’t complete the run. The one thing that I have found with my mental strength is that as the physical running becomes more comfortable, so the mental side is less tough. Runners out there, is that what happens?
As it stands I cannot see me having the mental capacity to manage longer than a 5k run but I am enjoying feeling fitter, thus a 10k is not out of the question in the future. Will my mental strength continue to improve along with my physical strength?
Thoughts and advice all much appreciated.
My last two training runs of 20 mins and 30 mins respectively, have gone really well. I have found that my breathing is getting much better and that my legs are not groaning quite so much. Moreover, I am starting to get a little bit faster as I am running further in 30 mins than I was previously. Part of the improvement is undoubtedly down to keeping at it but I am sure that part of it is due to finding my rhythm.
At the beginning of a run I feel dreadful. Everything hurts (despite warming up), I am puffing and panting and mentally I cannot imagine running for even five minutes, then, after a short while things start to settle down which is what I have now come to recognise as my rhythm. My legs start to work in tandem rather than against each other, my breathing settles into a pattern and my arms pump at an even pace that I am able to sustain.
Running uphill is not fun! This is not part of my route but does depict a typical English country road.
When I get to this point the actual running part doesn’t feel so bad – the only downside is that whenever I hit an uphill climb, the rhythm is affected. I have been told that the best way to run up hills is to use smaller steps and I find that this works, however it means that my stride is shortened and I have yet to manage to switch comfortably from my ‘normal’ rhythm to an ‘up hill’ rhythm and back again. Still, to have two decent runs under my belt without too much drama feels light years away from where I started!
I haven’t measured my distance yet although I plan to do that on my next 30 minute + run. I don’t think I am too far away from 5k so, with less than five weeks to go until race day, I feel more confident than I previously have, that I will be able to do this.
After my break and subsequent backward slide, I have finally managed to get my 5k journey back on track. Well, just about.
I downloaded a training schedule from the Great South Run website which is designed specifically to get me ready for the actual race and so far I have been following that. On Sunday I had to do my longest run to date – 30 mins – and it was a case of jogging and plodding but, the important thing is, I managed it! I began to find it really tough at about 23 mins in but I just kept telling myself I could do it – and I did.
At this point I know that I couldn’t have gone much further but, when I think about where I started, I know that I am making consistent progress. The next few training sessions are shorter distances designed to increase speed – yeah, right. I’ll report back how those go next week!
…and too much chocolate.
Getting back into running training was something I was dreading. I’ve not exercised for over three weeks now what with work, holidays and other commitments, so I was not looking forward to the day when I ran out of excuses. That day was yesterday.
In deference to my lack of exercise I opted for a ‘short’ run which under normal circumstances, I can complete. It totals at around 3.5km so a little over halfway towards the end goal.
I am pleased to report that actually, it wasn’t as bad as I feared although I didn’t run the whole distance. I did intervals as and when my body dictated – or rather my breathing dictated. When I could breathe, running was fine. When I couldn’t breathe, not so much.
Sura Nualpradid via freedigitalphotos.net
I have asthma and I have discovered that I can’t take in as much breath as I would like to when I am running, which I think is where the difficulty with breathing comes from. I have decided that I am going to do alternate days running and yoga in the hope that I can gradually improve my breathing and get to that all important goal.
So, all things considered, not too bad a return but I am not going to lie – this is really, really HARD!
Don’t get too excited, I’m not there yet. I’m currently at about 4k (give or take the odd walk uphill!), but I have learned quite a lot so far, so I thought I would share my top tips:
- Always take water with you – if you are dehydrated then it is much tougher to breathe steadily.
- Magnetic knee and ankle supports are worth their weight in gold.
- It’s okay to walk during your run. It’s better to walk some and get there slowly than push yourself and get injured.
- Improvements come in really small increments.
- The first session back after a break is the toughest – it feels like the training has gone backwards.
- Getting out three times a week is about right to improve at a reasonable pace.
- Slow and steady is fine.
- Don’t get bogged down with timings – eventually times will get faster but if they don’t, it’s not important. Achieving the distance is what matters.
- Running with your body upright really helps. If you are leaning forwards then you are putting additional load onto yourself and it makes it much tougher.
- Keep focused on the horizon and try not to drop your head.
- An additional form of exercise (eg. pilates or yoga) can help massively with strength and conditioning.
- Don’t beat yourself up because you are going slowly – congratulate yourself on getting out there instead.
As I said I am not there yet and the journey is tough. Some days it’s like I am right back where I began but then others, it’s an easy ride. Hopefully if I persevere then it will even out and eventually I’ll be running the distance at a consistent pace.
Does anyone else have any top tips?
To date I have done most of my training on the old railway line which runs alongside the river behind our house. The terrain is uneven, sometimes muddy and there are plenty of ups and downs. It is a beautiful route, the views are spectacular, however, because it is one long track, it is a case of running half of your desired distance and then turning around and retracing your steps.
Last week I decided I fancied a change and went on a circuitous road route taking in various local estates. Although not as pretty, the route did not repeat and within the first few minutes I was finding the going somewhat easier. There were still plenty of ups and downs – more ups than downs I am sure! – but my breathing was much more consistent and I managed to achieve my longest run to date: 4.4km, 31 minutes. Interestingly I also went a little faster – my split times being 30 seconds or more quicker on the road route.
Sura Nualpradid via freedigitalphotos.net
I was not aware until I compared the two that there would be that much difference based on the terrain, but I found it a real eye opener.
For the future I plan to alternate my training so that I am still giving myself the challenge of the trail run but I feel confident that by also training on the roads, I will be able to improve my stamina and times more readily.
Does this reflect anyone else’s experiences?