Saturday, January 31, 2015

Run Five: Me...anxious to exercise?

My run today started later than we planned, but it went very well. I leveled up to the Week 2 plan -- 90 seconds of running alternating with 2 minutes of walking -- and it went very well. 

My goal for the run today was to run all of one of the 90 second running intervals and at least 60 seconds of the rest. (There are a total of six.) I totally made this goal: I ran all of two of them, all but seven seconds of two (and boy was I ticked when I checked my app and saw how close I'd come), and just a little over sixty seconds of the other two. 

One of these days, I won't be be
setting "best pace & distance" records
every day. And I'll be sad.
I felt good the whole time -- no shin pain or any thing else. I had a little bit of a stitch in my side after the last run interval, but it didn't start while I was running and it went away quite quickly, so I don't think it meant anything.

I was looking forward to getting out all day, but we had errands in the morning and were making chili this evening and that's a big project. (It takes both of us working over two hours to get the chili in the pot and simmering.) By the time the chili was going, I was fidgeting and just itching to run. That's kind of a new experience for me. 

I treated myself to a cup of hot cocoa after my run -- apparently it's got the perfect balance of carbs and protein for a post-run snack. An hour and a half or so after that: awesome chili! :D

Next run is scheduled for Monday. Goal for the run -- run all 90 seconds of at least 4 of the running intervals, because darn it,  I was so close today, and at least 60 seconds of the other two. Once again, if I can do all of all of them I'll be overjoyed.

I'll also be overjoyed if I'm as excited to go out on Monday as I was today. :D

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Run Four: Overjoyed!

"Next run is scheduled for Wednesday. Goal for the run: Run all 60 seconds of at least seven of the eight running intervals. (I thought about going for all eight, but decided to keep the goal more achievable in the interest of having fun.) If I can do it without my shins hurting, I'll be extra happy. And I'll be overjoyed if I can do all eight. "     -- from Run Three post
That's how my last post ended.  I ran this afternoon and am now officially "overjoyed" -- I ran all 60 seconds of all eight running intervals. :D I even lost track of how many intervals I'd done, so I wasn't counting down until I was finished.

I am also officially "extra happy" -- my shins didn't hurt at all either.

It was basically awesome, is what it was. I'd been a little worried about going out because it's pretty cold out (wind chills in the teens) but I did and I accomplished something that I honestly didn't think I could do. :D

My shins didn't hurt but my calves are a little crampy, Or sore. I don't know exactly -- this is pretty much outside my body-knowledge as I've never used my muscles like this before. I have always had incredibly tight calf muscles, thick and almost *hard* sometimes. I'm trying to do some stretches (without going crazy) and some massage to see if I can loosen them up and maybe get them happier.

Anyway, back to the awesomeness -- I thought after Saturday that I was going to need one, and quite possibly two, remedial weeks at the week one level (60 seconds running, 90 seconds walking). As it turns out, I'm getting better faster than I would have guessed. This is exciting. Apparently I only needed one remedial *day*. That's so cool!

Unfortunately, I didn't run into any runners to share The Smile with but that's okay.

I went around and around a parking
lot today. But it was all good.

Now I have a quandary: Am I ready to start the week two level (90 seconds running, 90 seconds walking)? Should I do one more at this level so I know today wasn't a fluke? I don't feel like I'm ready for week 2, but maybe I'm just being timid.

Even if I'm not totally ready for it, I'm going to go for it! I mean it's not like I was ready for week one when I started it, right? .

Next run is scheduled for Saturday. Goal for the run: All of at least one of the 90 second running intervals and at least 60 seconds of the rest of them. I can do it. (And if I can't, I'll just try again.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Run Three: Out of the Neighborhood

All my running stuff. The little nubby foot massager ball in the middle is my best friend right now. 
Because of some exceptionally tricky weather today, I have no idea when I'm going to get home from work. So I decided to bring all of my running stuff (see photo above) and go out for "Run" Three on my lunch break.

First and most important: My goal for this run was to run all 60 seconds of at least five (of eight) running intervals. I achieved it! :D

I'm two for two on this goal-setting thing. My goals aren't especially hard-ball at this time, but they are a stretch for me. I was really pushing through the fifth of the intervals. I also, for the first time, ran more than half (quite a bit more) of all of the running intervals.

I am not ready to move onto Week Two of the Couch to 5K program, but I may not need more than one remedial week at the Week One level.

C25K app log of today's run. The GPS track looks like
dog smoking a pipe.
I was very shy about running at lunchtime at work -- my office is very near to the United States Naval Academy (just a couple of blocks away) and there are often groups of young, fit and healthy midshipmen running on the streets around here. And then there's me -- middle-aged and one run away from looking like a waddling duck, right? It would have been hard to feel part of the Secret Runner Society.

(Though how awesome if I'd gotten The Smile in return.  I may have to rethink being shy.) 

Jogging around my office building and its associated parking lots also had me at risk of being seen by coworkers. I'm not really ready to discuss this running program with my coworkers  yet. I want the habit to be more solid and maybe to be running at least as much as I'm walking.

I succeeded in achieving my goal for the run, but I had some shin pain again today -- it seemed to come up worse when I was walking than when I was running. I'm not sure what to make of that.

I don't *think* it can be attributed to my shoes -- before my first run, I went to a specialty running store and got the shoes in the picture above. They're New Balance Something Somethings (last year's model so they were on sale). The very nice folks at Road Runners fitted me and analyzed my gait and made me a pair of custom insoles and everything. I tried on like five pairs of shoes and liked these the best, though I don't *love* them.

Maybe I should have held out for True Love.

I can exchange them up to 90 days after I got them, so I have quite a while yet to decide if I want to go back and look for that True Shoe Love. :D

Next run is scheduled for Wednesday. Goal for the run: Run all 60 seconds of at least seven of the eight running intervals. (I thought about going for all eight, but decided to keep the goal more achievable in the interest of having fun.) If I can do it without my shins hurting, I'll be extra happy. And I'll be overjoyed if I can do all eight. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Run Two: The Good, The Bad, and the Less Ugly

C25K app log of Week 1, Day 2 -- it stops
recording at the end of 30 minutes. I really
did go all the way back home. 

I'm just a an hour or so back from my second "run". I use the quotes because week one of the Couch to 5K program I'm doing is 60 seconds of running alternating with 90 seconds of walking. Week 2 is going to be 90 and 90. I'm going to need at least one remedial week at the "week one" level. I am emphatically not going to be ready to level up after one more "run".

I have three thoughts about today's run which can be summed up as the good, the bad, and the less ugly. Also there was something kind of awesome. Or at least inspiring.

Less Ugly: I did not run like a duck this time. I stayed what feels like forward and up on the balls of my feet and didn't slap my whole foot flat on the ground on landing. I didn't feel like I was waddling horribly and my arms weren't flapping around. As this was my one stated goal for this run, and I achieved it, I'm pretty pleased about this. :D

Bad: There was a hill and it was very very bad. I now know that I am not in any way ready for hills. Unfortunately, the most pleasant place to run near our house goes along a lake at about 75 feet lower elevation from here. The pace and elevation chart that my phone made for this run shows me going along at a rather pleasing level of effort -- until I started coming back up that hill. Once I started with the *up*, my pace dropped and my perceived effort-level spiked. Neither ever recovered, even when I was back on the flat. The lake run will have to be a reward for when I've gotten more endurance and more strength in my legs. (Or have someone to pick me up near the lake and drive me back up the hill. But that would be cheating.)

Good: I did not have any shin pain while running. At least not in any sustained way -- whenever I started to feel it, I'd shorten up my stride a little and it would stop. My calves got tired but my shins didn't hurt.

Bonus Goodness: I was doing a little research into how long I needed to wait after lunch before going running and read several different articles recommending a snack of about 150 calories after the run. One of the examples of an appropriate snack with the right balance of carbs and protein was chocolate milk. So when I got home I made myself a cup of hot cocoa -- on the ground that the only difference between chocolate milk and hot cocoa is temperature. If hot cocoa after a run (in the winter) can be justified as something that will reduce muscle soreness, I'm all in. :D

The coolest thing of all was during a couple of my running intervals -- while I was going down the hill to the lake (so life was still good) an Obviously Extremely Fit Dude was running up the hill (really fast) and he gave me a nod and a smile like we were part of some shared society. I got another Secret Runner Society Smile from someone else when I was running along the lake. That was pretty awesome. Even more awesome because they didn't see me staggering and wheezing along as I was going back up the hill.

Goal for next run: Run all 60 seconds of at least five of the eight running intervals. I'm pretty sure I can do this, because I think I did three today. (I did mention needing a remedial Week 1, right?) Next run is scheduled for Monday.

Friday, January 23, 2015

First Run: If it runs like a duck...

Yesterday, I did my first run of more than ten steps or so since I was in high school back in the Reagan administration. The first term of the Reagan administration.

I've dreamed of running, quite literally. I've had several powerful dreams of me running easily and freely on wide paths through grassy hills. In these dreams, my feet feel light and my gait is springy and I can hear the sounds of nature around me. I can feel that I'm expending energy, but I'm not getting exhausted. 

I've also had waking thoughts of taking up running before, most notably several years ago when I had a rough go with plantar fasciitis in both feet. At that time, being able to move pain-free was a strong motivator but I was limited by the fact that I was hobbling more than I was walking. By the time I'd stretched, yoga'd, massaged and walked my feet out of pain, the motivation to run had turned into a motivation to hike in the woods.  

The reality of my first run last night was in all ways entirely unlike my dreams. I wasn't moving easily and freely. I wasn't even running most of the time. (I'm doing a Couch to 5K program that starts with 60 seconds of running alternated with 90 seconds of walking, repeated for 20 minutes.) I certainly wasn't hearing much of nature over my breathing and the sound of my feet on the sidewalk. And I was definitely getting exhausted.

The first couple of running intervals were especially ugly. I ran like a duck -- landing on my whole flat foot all at once with a nasty jolt and a slapping sound. I was waddling and my wings arms were flapping around awkwardly. "As graceful and easy as a running duck" is not a phrase you're ever likely to hear, let me just say.

I figured out pretty quickly that I could run better if I moved my weight forward a bit so that I landed on the balls of my feet rather than flat-footed. That gave me more of my dream-stride -- it seemed lighter and springier. I even seemed to use less energy that way.

Until my shins started hurting. 

I always get shin pain when I walk too fast, so I don't think this had anything to do with impact from running -- my shins get sore from holding my toes up so I can walk without dragging the ground. Or something like that. Apparently there are shin muscles (who knew? I thought it was all just bone there) and mine are Not Strong. 

Both the pain and the duck-running are signs that I need help with form. After I got home, I asked (and looked online) for advice and have learned two things, both of which appear to be held with religious fervor by People Who Run: 
  1. It is imperative for good running form and avoiding injury that you land heel-first when running.  
  2. It is imperative for good running form and avoiding injury that you land on the mid-foot (ball of the foot) when running.  

In the absence of a consensus on this issue, I'm going to work on landing on the balls of my feet on the grounds that it actually felt better as I was doing it. 

My next run will be Saturday or Sunday (depending on weather). Goal for the run: No ducks.

Note: GIF from, not mine and I claim no credit.