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C25KRunning

C25K – Week 9 – Run 3

7th August 2018 — 0

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The last run of the program W9D3, it’s graduation day and I’m determined to go out in style by completing my first 5k.

By my calculations (based on previous runs) I’m looking at another 8-10 minutes of running beyond the 30 minute primary goal of today’s session.

Up until now I’ve been running routes that tended to have an incline. My secret weapon in this endeavour is a pool table flat route along the riverside country park, and by a complete fluke it’s almost dead on 5k end to end, it must be a sign.

I decide to walk to the park, which in of itself is a 30 minute walk as I have some errands to do en route. The weather is sticky, it looks like the darkening cloud cover might finally deliver some real rain later, in the meantime a fewer small showers during the day have done nothing but make it feel muggy. Not ideal running weather, but it doesn’t matter I’ve run hotter and damper in the last 2 months.

I finally reach the park and set off at a slightly quicker than normal pace, I’m really banking on the lack of hills enabling me to up the pace a bit, which in turn should mean a time closer to 38 minutes and I can finish just that little bit sooner.

5 minutes in and I’m coming around a blind corner on the outside just as a mountain biker comes hurtling past. It’s clear he’s not going to be able to stop in spite of his best efforts and I have to dive out the way. No harm and like true Brits, both parties are apologising profusely as we head away from each other. Note to self, on tracks with cyclists hug the inside of the corner rather than the outside, it’s probably safer.

Out to ten minutes, it’s going ok, but I’m not really enjoying it. The humidity feels worse than most of my previous runs, and there is practically no breeze. Worse still the tide is out and the river bed is properly stinking, some full on botanicals for you gin lovers. I’ve also realised my originally planned route is going to leave me at the far end of the park, doh! I need to switch it up and start running the long leg out now so I’m running back, otherwise I’m looking at an 1+ hour warm down walk home. I hand’t factored that into my route when I was armchair planning with Google Earth.

15 minutes and I’m going up the only real incline on the entire route, it’s two small hills back to back. Nothing major but by the time I’d got over the second one at about 20 minutes I’m starting to feel it. More so the humidity seems to be making my profuse sweating totally ineffectual. I do a quick status check, everything is fine, no reason to stop running, looks like I’m clear out to 30m.

25 minutes, I’m really not enjoying it now, I’m having to slowly start digging in a bit. Then my phone goes, it’s my sister I’m expecting her call, just not right now. It’s an important family matter, not right now. I do the maths, could be another 12-14 mins before I can ring her back. I tell myself there is no way I’m going to stop before 30 minutes I will complete the program and the primary goal at ALL COSTS!

I push on convincing myself, she can wait 12 minutes. The distractions aren’t helping, I’m now worrying about what she’s going to tell me when I speak to her. The last few minutes of the 30 are grim, but I just keep slogging away at it, I’ve been here often enough now to know the score, my pace is getting slower and slower. I finally get the 30m well done from Laura, and I’m thinking ok let’s just keep going to 4k at least that’s only a couple of minutes away.

My phone goes, it’s my sister again I can’t ignore her this time, given the situation. So I pull up and answer, but I’m secretly relieved I didn’t have to do another 8 minutes. Shame on me! Walking back having spoke to my sister (which was good news) I’m struggling to see this run as a positive. Yes I’ve finished the program that I started all those weeks ago, but I’m frustrated at myself for not finishing it with that all important 5k trophy.

The stats. My fastest average pace to date, resulting in a new PB to 3km.

 

But, I’m honestly not happy. I’m not happy at getting all the way out to 30 minutes and then being relieved that I didn’t have to do the extra 8 minutes, it’s pathetic. I’m not happy that I let the weather impact me so or that a phone call distracted me as much as it did. I’m really not happy that I robbed myself of the 5K I desperately wanted out of today’s session.

Before I even get back home, I’m critically analysing the run, deconstructing all it’s little mistakes and failures and I’m getting angry, I’m planning the next run in my head and I’m making mental notes to address my short comings.

And I think that best sums C25K for me, it’s true legacy. There is no happy ending, or big celebration party or even a pat on the back. Instead, there is a genuine hunger to go further and faster. Even if I had reached the 5k mark on this run I’d have been annoyed at the time, in fact I realise only now there was no way I could ever complete C25K and be happy.

A little over 2 months ago, I could hardly run for 8 minutes and that was with 90 second breaks, I now consider 20-25 minutes the commute time to where I need to start working. Where before I was beset with malediction both physical and mental, I’m now increasingly able to run without drama, to focus purely on the running.

It’s a truly stunning transformation and one I could not have comprehended even a couple of weeks ago. C25K works! It does exactly what it says on the box, you WILL be able to run for 30 minutes by the end of it. But be under no illusion that it will not be easy, “Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy” (Nicholas Sparks). But you might just find yourself standing on the top of this peak espying a misty summit in the distance with envious eyes.

Now I’ve got to go and figure out what I do now. I’m obviously going to go get me a 5k for starters. I’ll probably follow that up with trying to bring my 5k times to something approaching 30m as a hopefully achievable target for my old bones. I might take a closer look at 10k, I like the idea that it goes back to interval training as that has worked so well to get me to 5k, and I understand improved pace is almost a side effect of distance.

I need to put some structure around all this starting with a new app. It’s farewell to Laura, I’ll only hear her voice in my dreams or more likely nightmares; “You’ve got this!!!! Argggghh!!!”. I think I might have a touch of Stockholm syndrome.

Run Rating : 

 

 

C25KRunning

C25K – Week 9 – Run 2

5th August 2018 — 3

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It’s my second to last run in the program and I’m pondering speed or distance all the way back to the Great Lines. Part of me is determined to make it into the fort this time, it’s the middle of the day so there’s no reason those gates should be closed.

I decide by the time I’m hitting the field that I’m going to up the pace, not insanely, but enough so it still feels comfortable. I’m working on the basis I MUST do the 30 minutes, it’s the primary goal and non-negotiable. If then I’ve still got legs I can make a decision about going for the distance.

I am conscious that the hill climb to the top of the fort shouldn’t be underestimated and that’s going to be the tricky bit on this run. So off I set it’s pretty warm and I’ve got my shades on for a change, so I’m looking really cool!

I am struggling to settle in the first 5 minutes, an intermittent stabbing pain in my back reminds me I’ve been sitting awkwardly on the couch again. I try to straighten up and un-tense as I’m running oddly to avoid irritating it. At the ten minute mark I’ve got it under control, but I’m still not enjoying it. It’s too warm, I’m sweating at an even faster rate than usual, my super cool sunglasses seem to pooling the sweat and then releasing it in streams, my eyes are stinging and I can’t see properly. Then to further compound my growing catalogue of issues, there’s a stabbing pain in my left knee, it’s a bit worrying and it takes a few strides before it thankfully subsides, I must have just caught it oddly. This is not fun at all.

I push on to the 15 minute mark, I’m running alternate routes through my mind, I know if I go up to the fort I’m not going to make 5km, I’ll be trading distance for height (honestly I should be a glider pilot). My pace will also inevitably drop off, so the chances are it’s going to mess up both of my secondary objectives. I get to the go/no go point and decide it will be the fort, convincing myself it’ll count more than numbers in app. That and I will have my 21 gun salute damn it!

It’s tough, I’m slowing right down, but I’m still just about going. I know it’s bad I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, never a good sign it seems to act as my reserve tank. I dip into it at my peril.

I get to the garrison church, a slight plateau before a short shallower climb up to the fort entrance. The sweat in my eyes is continuing to be a constant annoyance and I’m desperately struggling to try and spot if the gate is open from a 100 yards out. To my joy I can see a gap, it’s open, I’m finally going to storm the fort. It only occurred to me writing this now that I should have taken the sun glasses off it would have been far easier, clearly I wanted to look cool more than actually see at the time.

Through the gates, I stop for 10 seconds to snap the photo of the cannons (I earned it) and then up to the top of the fort via a very steep ramp. Back onto the flat and I’m struggling to recover before the next steep (but thankfully short) hill climb up the ridge. I get back on the top of the Great Lines and I’ve got about 3 minutes left. I’m just hanging on at this point (like a spent boxer to his opponent), any idea of a sprint finish or carrying on to hit 4k (let alone 5K) was lost somewhere on the hills. Laura announces the last minute, time is slowing down like a scene from inception.

Finally the 30 minutes are up, I’m still running for 10 seconds (the time I stopped to take the photo), just to be honest to myself. I engage stagger mode, tip my head down and I have a stream of sweat (not droplets an actual stream) falling onto the dust. It takes me a good 5 minutes to walk this one off, luckily I’ve got a 15 minute walk home.

Throughout the entire run I can feel my demons lurking in the dark places. Every time I confront them they scutter away but they are not gone, they are dogged, watching, waiting, biding their time constantly looking for a weakness.

Shout out to Rosie Fraser for the cool Unsplash background.

Needless to say, they could smell blood and they were ravenous (I haven’t been feeding them much lately), I could hear them circling, snarling. The heat, the hill, my back, my knee, the sweat I was feeling hunted all the way to the finish line. No out and out attacks, just the promise of one if I strayed off the path. Luckily I’ve got enough experience at this point to avoid the darkest paths through the woods.

Stat wise, my first reaction was disappointment, the average pace although quicker by 40 seconds over last time I felt it should have been faster. Luckily the 1km split times, revealed a better story on the flat I was achieving just over 7:30 min/km, which would equate to a sub 40m 5k if it could be sustained.

The stand out track of this run was:

The Flood –  Take That

I think this ended up on the playlist when looking for rain related tracks last week. Either way it’s a cracking track, especially when you are trying to drag yourself up a hill. My take on the lyrics:

“We will meet you where the lights are,
The defenders, of the faith we are.
Where the thunder turns around
They’ll run so hard we’ll tear the ground away.”

In my mind the light is at the end of a very dark wood, and I am the defender of the faith (that I can do this), and I’ll run so hard I’m tearing up the tarmac.

Although no one understood,
There was more of them than us learning how to dance the rain.
(learning how to dance the rain)
There was more of them than us now they’ll never dance again.

No one ever understands of course, there are more demons than us (me), out there learning to dance at my pain. Now they’ll never dance again! Still amazes me how I can spin lyrics in duress to my own inner monologue.

I have one run left, my final run will be on the flat (not sure where yet, I’ll need to get a spirit level out) and I’m going to aim to run for 40 minutes or 5k whichever comes first and I WILL finish the program in style.

Run Rating : 

C25KRunning

C25K – Week 9 – Run 1

3rd August 2018 — 0

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Into the last week of C25K and it’s all just straight 30 minute runs, the finish line is within sight.

I’d decided to take an extra day after the last run as my quads hadn’t recovered and I’m not going to risk doing myself a mischief, not when I’m this close to finishing. Better to be safe than sorry.

It was the right the move with an extra day my legs were fully recovered and I was eager to get back on the road.

I finally decided it was time to mix it up, to stop circling the local park like a demented fly and start running a route. Out with Google Earth and the tape measure. The biggest green area in the area is aptly called the Great Lines and it’s a huge field bordered on one side by the idyllic town of Gillingham and overls the historic town of Chatham. Sounds beautiful, and for all the trash talk both towns rightfully receive, on a warm summer evening with a cool breeze blowing across it the Lines is an ideal area to run.

It’s also a run I’ve done and loathed many times before back when I was a kid (when there were still horses on the field) it formed the cross country route for the local school. Many a damp, misty morning I’d struggled to get round this field and that’s back when I thought I was fit. So the thought of going back and running it properly seemed like a fitting way to finish the C25K program. Ok I’m 30 years late, but I’m sure my old gym teacher will probably still be waiting.

So I’d plotted a route that took me around the Lines and through the public parts of Fort Amherst. Not many can boast Napoleonic fortifications on their running route and I imaged the cannon’s firing in salute as I went past.

It’s a good 15 minute walk to get to the field, lots of good warm up time. I launch the app 5 minutes from the field and start my mental prep. I’m out here to do 3×10 minutes, and on the face of it that shouldn’t be a problem. 5 minute warm up over, I set off at a very conservative pace.

It’s fair to say the field has changed a little since my school days, it’s now got a tarmac path for starters, no need to dodge the horse shit in the long grass anymore. The horses are long gone, they even mow it now, it’s a proper recreational area, the UK 2012 Olympic legacy lives on. My only company on the field is an extraordinary number of Ravens, I’m sure if I was superstitious I’d be worried, right now they’re on my path and need to MOVE! Not one had three eyes!

Laura, announces 5 minutes just as I’m passing the Naval Memorial. Ho hum, I was hoping she’d only announce 10 minute intervals. But it turns out she’s going to do practically every 5 minutes, it’s actually a reminder I don’t want, when my mindset is 3x10m. Anyway in no time we are 10 minutes in and it’s all been either flat or down hill and I’m absolutely guilty of going slower than I need to, but it’s a new (old) route and I don’t want to get caught out.

Half way it’s all still down hill, I’m loving it, although that’s about to end as I hang a left and start my run towards the fort proper. Now an interesting fact about forts, it turns out it’s quite an advantage to shove them on top of hills, particularly if you are trying to hit Dutch/French ships from afar as they go up the river. I turn the corner (about the 20m mark) and it’s all up hill in an increasingly steep incline, good job I’ve been taking it easy, I’ve got something in the tank for this.

My breathing up until this point had been well under control, not even labouring at 20 minutes. Yes it was a slow pace even by my standards but it’s one I knew I could easily keep going out to 30 minutes. Even the climb up to the fort wasn’t proving that tough, I was having to put a shift in, but I still wasn’t tapping into the red. Another 50 yards I can see the gate into the fort, head down I push on 1812 overture playing through my mind.

I get to the gate only to realise it’s bloody locked, damn I check the time, they lock it over night and I must have just missed the cut. Bugger, that’s screwed up my route, more importantly no bloody cannon salute for me. I turn round and start heading back down the hill, frustrated but secretly thankful for a downhill stretch. By the time I’ve got back down the road, everything is back under control, Laura chimes in well done, you’re 30 minutes are up.

In the background I’ve also got Endomondo tracking the run and giving me 1km stats, the last one I had was 3km quite a while back and I’m thinking I’m not done here. I’m feeling good (not surprisingly) so I’m thinking let’s see at least what it takes to get to 4k. So I push on, in fact I’ve picked up the pace dumping the reserves I’d been holding back. 5 minutes later Endomondo chimes in at 4k. I seriously ponder going the extra kilometre, but my quads are burning again and I sense I’m in danger of pushing my luck.

I settle for my furthest distance and longest time so far, 4k in 35 minutes. I’m reasonably happy with that. I might have been able to reach 5k but I’ve got 2 more runs in the program to get there. I am determined to get one under my belt before we are done even if that is looking like a 45 min run at the moment. I think next time I’ll do the same route and try and pick the pace up a bit, and those fort gates better be open or I’m going to be storming the fort.

This run was powered by my standard running playlist (see other posts) the only new track that stood out was:

Army of Me – Bjork

I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to realise what a great running track this is. It’s got a grinding industrial beat that is perfect for lolloping along to and the lyrics uncannily match my running mind set these days. Right down to my brooding anger for any type of mental negativity trying it’s luck.

“Stand up
You’ve got to manage
I won’t sympathize
Anymore”

Yeah enough of my bullshit, I’m not entertaining it anymore. C25K for me now is an exercise (no pun intended) in management, managing my wishes and aspirations against my capabilities, a dance along a razor blade.

“And if you complain once more
You’ll meet an army of me”

A warning to my inner demons to not even try it, because there is an army of me. The army is all the other me’s that succeeded in the face of negative nonsense and I can call upon them if need be to get through this run. We are not stopping.

“You’re alright
There’s nothing wrong
Self sufficiency please!
And get to work”

This echoes my own thoughts and coping strategies in these runs, my routine self-health checks inevitably report there is nothing wrong! Keep my shit together and keep running. All in all it’s a great track to run to, shame I didn’t have it locked and loaded for W5D3.

I have two more runs to go and I need to run longer and faster if I want to hit a half decent 5k number. I’m probably playing it a little too cautious at this point. The irony from someone who’s couldn’t run a minute only a couple of months is not lost one me. I know W9R3 is not the end of my running so there will be time to work on both of these , I’m seriously starting to think about going to 10k before the end of the year. What a transformation that would be.

But, I need to balance the wish to finish the program with a 5k and not pushing myself so hard I pickup an injury that could take me out of the game, the forums are littered with stories of the unfortunate. We’ll see on the next run what’s really possible.

Run Rating : 

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C25K – Week 8 – Run 3

31st July 2018 — 0

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Last run of week 8 and it’s another 28 minute’s of fun back at the local park. I was tempted to mix it up and try a different location but I thought I’d stick with the park and compare the Endomondo stats to see if there’s any measurable progress.

It’s a fairly lazy walk up the road, a full afternoon of puppy mayhem with little respite and I’m not really feeling up for this run. Usually I’m chomping at the bit. I try to shake my self out of it before I hit the park, worried that it’ll be an exploit I’ll be using against myself in a few minutes.

It’s another early evening run, perfect running weather not to warm and there’s a refreshing cool breeze. The park is fairly busy, lots of people enjoying the sun. In another amazing stroke of luck I start the run at the top of the park (it’s uncanny ;->). Settle into my standard shuffle, I’m conscious of going a little bit quicker than usual, always the case when I start recording runs. Let’s hope it’s not too quick, I won’t know for 20 minutes.

Laura chimes in at 5 minutes, and then at 10 minutes. I easily get out to 10 minutes these days before my breathing starts to become a thing I need to focus on, a fact I find totally staggering given I couldn’t control my breathing though 1 minute on W1D1. It appears I’ve built up some real stamina over the last few weeks.

Laura announces the half way mark (14 mins), I’m expecting my old friends to try it on and sure enough they’re trying to convince me I’m not really up for this. It won’t work, I do the usual status check:

  • legs – fine, little bit heavy, quads are starting to light up, nothing to worry about
  • feet – good to go. I did have some mild foot ache at the 5-10 minute mark, but it’s gone now
  • stomach – as usual warnings about slowing it down on the steepest part of the incline, but other than that no problems.
  • lungs – laboured going up, recovered going down – it’s all good but there is a slow trend towards heavier breathing as per usual.

The conclusion, no problems, no reason to stop. It doesn’t matter what my mood is I have no reason to stop. I hit the 20 minute mark and it’s the 3rd time up the incline. It’s not fun but it’s well under control, more so than the last two runs.

I’m just coming down the incline at the top of the park and Laura indicates we have 5 minutes to go. Do I want to pick up the pace? I’m not feeling the need to go nuclear, there will be other days to leave it all on the field. Let’s just bring it home and draw a line under week 8. I minutely pick up the pace anyway just to show willing and I make a special effort to keep my form clean for the last 5 minutes.

Hanging on, hanging on. Call it already Laura! Hanging on … hanging … she finally hears my pleas, just after I reach the top of the steepest part of the park, thanks! Stagger engaged I head towards the exit. I’ve recovered. i.e. my breathing is back to normal within 90 seconds. Amazing. I can definitely feel this one in my quads, they are burning from the effort. Good that means they’ll be stronger next time, but it does make the walk home a little bit interesting.

So another solid performance. Physically it felt ok, I again successfully managed the situation without hitting the red line or blowing a gasket. There was probably a bit of fuel left in the tank, but then there will need to be for next week.

Mentally I’m over the moon, I have struggled throughout the program with a continuous cacophony of negative thoughts, engineered to undermine my every step. These last couple of runs, I have to listen very hard to hear a defeated and frustrated grumbling voice. They sometimes half-heartedly try it on but I’ve seen it all before and we both know it isn’t going to work. I have a whole bag of shhhh and it’s got their name on it:

I now run for the most part focussed on the task, like the captain of a ship I just keep an eye on a set of well established processes, tweaking here, adjusting there. It’s not even a full time job, I catch myself day dreaming, the sort of random thoughts you’d have watching clouds float by, before having to remind myself to check back in.

The status reports I’ve described aren’t hyperbole, but a very real mental dialogue/coping strategy that forces my inner demons to put up or shut up. I discussed in a earlier post the huge mindset change that asking yourself to “prove I CAN”T do it” makes, at least to me. Each run adds adds more evidence that I can do it, making it increasingly difficult for negative thoughts to succeed.

To reach the point where I can day dream while running for me is utterly staggering when only weeks ago every run was trip to hell and back, I entertained every pain, every doubt, every fantasy failure scenario. It’s a change that eclipses the physical improvements of the program.

Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable

It looks like I was over optimistic in my last post that I was looking at 36-38m, it’s more like a solid 40m run looking again at the stats. Another 10 minutes! This run was slightly quicker than the last, which is good. But I think I’m going to have to really take a closer look at my pace in Week 9 and see if I can start cranking it up. I don’t want to be out there all day.

Looking out to week 9, adding another 2 minutes is obviously not that much of a concern. In fact I’m looking forward to mentally just running 3x10m, rather than the odd milestones that got me to 28 minutes. But upping the pace is going to be a fine balancing act, get it wrong and I could end up giving giving my demons the ammo they so desperately desire.

Run Rating : 

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C25K – Week 8 – Run 2

29th July 2018 — 0

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I’d waited most of the day in the hope that the rain would abate, but it was fairly obvious by 3 in the afternoon it wasn’t going to happen. After almost a month without rain and the last 2 weeks a scorching heatwave, I’m not complaining.

I was also not going to use it as an excuse. Today is W8D2 and one way or another it’s going to get done. The way I sweat the end state is going to be the same in any event, i.e. I am going to look half drowned.

I’d deliberately not eaten since breakfast, in prep for running and by mid afternoon I’m starting to get hungry. Finally my hunger won out, I threw on my running kit and headed to the park in the pouring rain. I had tried on a light weight waterproof jacket on the way out, but it was obvious it would have only acted as a personal steam room. I’ll need to look into some all weather kit, as a treat when I complete the program.

It’s fair to say I was drenched by the time I’d reached the park and I had garnered some surprised looks from several drivers. My first scan of the park, reveals sheets of pelting rain and it appears to be completely empty other than a pissed off looking squirrel.

As I’m doing my warm up walk, I realise I was wrong, there were several dog walkers out there walking their water logged pooch’s. I guess there’s no negotiating with a pup when it comes to walkies. An experience I can look forward to in a couple of weeks when Archer will finally be able to meet the world.

I had seen a word of warning on /r/C25K about watching your footing in the rain, so I was critically scanning the route as I walked round, sure enough several patches of super slippy wet leaves, a couple of sizeable puddles at the lower end of the park and mishmash of branches and twigs strewn across the path. Nothing that can’t be danced around.

Laura announces the end of the warm up and it’s time to get going, what a stroke of luck I’m at the top of the park (rightttt!). I get my head down, mainly to try and keep the rain off my face but also to spot for suspicious looking leaves.

Out to 10 minutes and no issues, other than I can sense the annoyance from the dog walkers. The fact I had choice and instead of sitting in the dry reading the Sunday paper chose to be in this down pour (in a bloody t-shirt), let’s just say it’s a good job I’ve got earphones. Laura announces we’re half way, there’s a half hearted effort from my negative voices, but at this point in the program they’ve lost all credibility and they know it. Try again at 20 minutes, yet again I conveniently forget that Laura doesn’t announce 20 minutes any more.

22 minutes in and Laura announces 5 minutes to go. I’m heading back down the incline (I still can’t bring myself to call it a hill) and once again I’m trying to plot a last 5 minute route that minimises having to go back to the top of the park. In a unprecedented flash of anger I pull a U-turn and start straight back up the incline, fuck you negative voices, yes I know it’s you cut that shit out. 22 minutes is the commute time to the pit face, this is where I start work, this is where we will start counting. Get your arse up that F****** HILL! There I said it!

I start digging in, my brain is back on board and provides the updated end point, just after the top of the incline. My pace automatically slips down a gear, I’m skirting the edges of what I can do without losing control and spiralling into a puffy mess. The brain kicks in with an update on the end point, we won’t be getting to the top of the park after all. I don’t care I just want to finish one of these runs going uphill without playing chicken with a heart attack.

Laura finally chimes in, my calculations of the finish line were accurate to the metre, I’m starting to think it might be my secret super power. I’ve managed to finish strong, there’s nothing left in the tank, but I didn’t have to dig into the emergency reserves to get here. I take my cap off and let the rain wash the sweat and spit off my face, mission accomplished.

The playlist for this run was a hand crafted selection of tracks featuring rain, Wen and myself had put together just before I headed out and included such classics as:

  • I wish it would rain down – Phil Collins
  • Here comes the rain again – Eurythmics
  • I can see clearly now – Jimmy Cliff
  • Red rain – Peter Gabriel
  • Stormur – Sigur Ros
  • November rain – Guns N’ Roses
  • It’s raining again – Supertramp
  • Have you ever seen the rain – Creedance Clearwater Revival
  • Only happy when it rains – Garbage
  • Set fire to the rain – Adele
  • After the Storm – Mumford & Sons
  • Africa – Toto
  • Rain – Madonna
  • Rainy night in Georgia – Randy Crawford

It really helped, what can I say I’m easily amused. The stand out track for me was Stormur. My grasp on the Icelandic language may be non-existent, but the main crashing beat of the track kicked in as I resolved to push myself back up the hill, and it provided an excellent backdrop to my own thrashing efforts.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

I’d turned on the Endomodo app to collect a whole bunch of disappointing stats, chief amongst them my pace. Even allowing for the fact I always forget to stop the app until half way through the cool down walk. I’ve still got a LOT of work to do.

Extrapolating the data, I’m looking at best at a 36m run and more likely closer to 38m assuming the wheels don’t come off completely in that last EIGHT minutes. Where the hell am I going to find EIGHT minutes, I can’t imagine the 3 x 30 minute runs in week 9 are going to fully prepare me.

It’s a problem for another day, I have 4 more runs to sort out first and this nonsense is just ammo for my inner demons.

Let’s finish on the positives. It was another good run and I’m really enjoying them. Dodging the puddles and leaf landmines was a great distraction and I managed my pace nicely to my capabilities and bought it home on fumes as opposed to having to glide to the finish line.

Best of all no reoccurrence of pain in my left knee, phew! So there is progress here it’s just not as spectacular as earlier in the program. One more 28 minute run to go and then we’ll get into the last 3 x 30 minute runs, not long now.

Run Rating : 

 

C25KRunning

C25K – Week 8 – Run 1

27th July 2018 — 0

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It’s taken me 3 days to get back out running, I’ll admit I lost a bit of motivation somewhere between the insane heatwave and picking up a couple of nasty mosquito bites on the ankle and shin. The result of standing around in the middle of the night in shorts waiting for a puppy to do it’s business, idiot!

I react really badly to bites since since a bite that developed into full blown cellulitis creeping up my leg a few years back. So a couple of days of antihistamines luckily did the trick once again and the swelling finally receded. Unlike the heat.

I was honestly going to welch out today, I had convinced myself I needed another day to recover (or avoid the heat). Luckily, I’ve been finding motivation in such times in the Reddit C25K forum. If you are doing C25K or planning to do C25K do yourself a favour and give it a try, it’s just real people doing sweaty impressions of beetroots.

Anyway it worked, two posts in particular did the trick. Nobodez hitting W6D1 . The dude is rapidly becoming a legend on the forum, and Gaffaj who’d just done his W1D1 in the same heat I was currently hiding from. It was the kick up the arse I needed to get back out there.

So, back out to the local park, it was just past 7pm and it must have been 32c+ with most of that radiating back off the baked tarmac. But there is hope, a cool wind is picking up and in the distance some interesting looking cloud formations are forming, and the possibility of storms have been forecast. I’m seriously considering offering up a rain dance, to break this drought. I need the rain, my poor pup needs the rain and my lawn most desperately needs the rain.

Off we go, steady pace and Laura checks in at the 5 minute mark. It truly is amazing only weeks earlier I thought running 5 minutes was madness, now I struggle to settle down into my running in 5 minutes. The shooting pain I had in my knee at the end of the last run hasn’t resurfaced so that’s a positive.

At the ten minute mark Laura checks in again, I wasn’t expecting that it caught me out. I’m definitely into my running at 10 minutes heading up the incline for the second time. 14 mins, half way and Laura checks in again, dear god woman I’m trying to run here give it a break. Head down again and I know I’m putting some real effort in, somewhere around the 18m mark, up the incline for the 3rd time.

This last stretch seems to be dragging, where’s Laura? Come back all is forgiven! I’m starting to have to dial it back a bit, another trip up the incline is going to be tough, best not to get too panty. Where’s Laura, FFS she’s gone off in a huff. I’m starting to think the app has crashed and she chimes in “5 minutes to go … you got this”. Damn you, oh  5 minutes you say, yipee.

The last 5 minutes where tough I won’t lie, I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth, trying not to dig into what little reserves I had left. I hadn’t had a single negative thought in the whole 20 minutes period, not one, that’s unprecedented. But at the 23 minute mark, I’ve got an entire chorus screaming for me to stop, trying every trick in the book to get me to quit this abuse. Where the hell is Laura with the 60 second left alert, I’m dying here.

Laura finally pipes up, and I actually groaned, I’m dead on my feet and I’ve got another minute. I can make it, I will make it but it’s going to …. hang on what? What did you say? It’s over? I’m still running I can’t believe it I must have misheard, there’s always a last 60 seconds announcement. I’m playing tricks on myself, surely. Laura starts the post run cool down chat, I can believe it, she’s getting her own back on my mid-run snappiness.

And then it happened, at first I though it was sweat hitting my hand, but no there it is again, it’s …… R A I N. The prophecy (forcast) is true and the heavens open …

We runners have a saying, God created C25K to test the faithful. one cannot go against the word of God (Laura)! Damn I should have the Dune soundtrack playing, I’m amazed Toto didn’t do more soundtracks.

The park by this point is empty, no one to witness my “stagger strut” to the exit. The rain is coming down so hard it’s bouncing back off the ground to waist height. W8D1 done and rain in the desert, what more could I ask for. A great end to a tough run and a reminder that I almost missed out because of my laziness.

Run Rating : 

C25KRunning

C25K – Week 7 – Run 3

23rd July 2018 — 0

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Last run of week 7 and it was a 25 minute scorcher, at least this time I didn’t suffer from bad diet choices.

I finally got to the park about 7 in the evening and it was super toasty. It was very busy, surprising for a Monday but we don’t get good weather in the UK very often and people make the most of it. There’s BBQ’s on the go, about 50 odd people doing a fitness class on the green and the usual crowd of kids, teenagers, OAP’s.

There’s even the chap who over took me last week. I don’t get it, he’s wearing what looks like a cotton grey shirt and he’s clearly been running a few minutes and there’s not a sign of sweat on him. He’s not human. I decide to run the opposite way around the park to avoid him lapping me multiple times.

Off we go, slow and steady, I’ve mentally broken this run down into 4 stints of 5 + 7.5 + 7.5 + 5. Started at the top of the park, not by chance I know exactly where to start the app so the 5 min warm up walk coincides with a nice down hill start. So needless to say the first 5 minutes were a breeze, it’s going well. Even the heat radiated off the tarmac isn’t cramping my style. Up the first climb back to the top of the park, having to put a shift in to get to the top and my breathing is started to get laboured (standard) but I know I can recover on the down hill part.

Out to the half way mark at 12.5 minutes and I realise there’s something very wrong. It takes me a full minute to realise there’s no voice telling me I’m only half way and it’s going to get so much harder. It usually chimes in about the ten minute mark and is screaming by half way. What the hell, no interrogation? Great, push on.

Here comes my running nemesis, I can’t believe it he still not sweating, seriously it’s the hottest day of year. We break the tension with a curt nod of recognition. I’ll have to try for a high 5 at some point, if only to find out if he has sweaty palms.

Second time up the incline, and I’m definitely feeling it now, I’m having to dig deep and I get to the top puffing and panting. It takes the whole down hill section to pull myself together. Next time up the incline and I’m starting to really struggle, time to take inventory:

  • legs – feels like I’ve got diving boots on, but they’re still down there somewhere pumping away
  • feet – no problems, but they’ve been pretty much numb for the last 5 minutes so anything could be going on.
  • stomach – no problems here, I can feel the effort to get up the incline in the pit of my stomach but I wouldn’t call it nausea.
  • lungs – taking one for the team, well off of a sustainable rhythm but only need to hang on for another minute, just get to the top of the hill.
  • mouth & throat – that’s new, whats the problem? Try swallowing once in a while you twat, the dry air and excessive panting has turned my mouth and throat to sandpaper. I try to summon some spit and swallow hard. The irony of being covered in water and struggling to get another spit to swallow isn’t lost on me.

So it is doable, we will get to the top, I never had a doubt (much). Laura chimes in with 5 minutes to go and right on cue the voices start pointing out that means another time up the hill. They’ve got the working out and everything and they are right if I thought last time round was hard, I haven’t seen anything yet. Well I’m definitely not quitting but I’m mentally re-working the route to see if 5 minutes means I can take a short cut and avoid some of the incline and still end up near the park exit. Yup I can hang a right and avoid the majority of the hill, crisis averted.

A minute later, I’m almost at the fork in the path, left up the incline or right round the easy path? A new voice chirps in “What’s it going to be? Give in to the negative voices and take the easy path or grow a pair and get up that incline one last time.” My first though was it’s a trap, it’s some trick to make me fail, but I’m running out of time left or right, choose! At the last second I pick left and with a massive pump of adrenalin pull it together and drag myself up the hill one … last …. time.

I’ve got to the top, the wheels are coming off, I can’t see for sweat in my eyes and Laura is there with “60 seconds to go, if you still have something left speech …” you are shitting me aren’t you. Oh what the hell, I pickup the pace and lunge forward, in for a penny in for a pound. I was pleasantly surprised to still be conscious when she finally waved the chequered flag. A spectacular transition to a staggering walk that saw me almost fall of the path (it was 3 metres wide).

Walking back I start to realise how hot it is, I look like I’ve been water boarded, it takes me a good minute to raise enough spit to swallow. Today’s playlist was a random selection of tracks I’ve thumbed up at some point or another. On the most part not hugely inspirational except for:

Breathe Me – Sia

This is a beautiful track, and not one I’d have ever thought to put on a running list but it really helped me through the last 5 minutes of the run.

“Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And the worst part is there’s no one else to blame”

The lyrics register and I’ve got sweaty goosebumps, it feels soooo cool in the heat. I grit my teeth and dump a ton of adrenalin into my system, I’m on borrowed time now.

“Ouch, I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found
Yeah, I think that I might break
Lost myself again and I feel unsafe”

Last time up the incline, I’ve definitely lost myself again, my form has gone to shit and I’m not going to find it again on this run. Yeah I’m close to breaking that’s for sure, and unsafe yeah I’m seriously wondering if my knees are going to give out in the last few metres.

That was the last of the 25 minute runs, onwards to the 28 minute runs. I’ve already rationalised it as just running 25 minutes and then hanging on for another 3 minutes, that seems possible. The only slight worry is by the time I’d walked home my left knee had a stabbing pain in it, fingers crossed it’s nothing serious.

Run Rating : 

 

C25KRunning

C25K – Week 7 – Run 1

19th July 2018 — 0

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Well we are into the long runs now, no more breaks starting with a re-run of 25 minutes. So it was back to the local park on a blisteringly hot Thursday evening, I tend to be favouring the park because of my full-time dog minding duties, it means I can be in and out in 45 minutes.

Usual types at the park, mostly flat out on the grass. It was pretty damn warm. I’d made sure I’d had a good glug of water before heading out, anticipating it might get a bit sticky.

I’m a bit embarrassed to talk about any form of incline having just watched Geraint Thomas win the Aple d’Huez in a spectacular sprint finish after climbing a mountain for most of the day, in the process securing back-to-back wins and holding onto the yellow jersey. But today’s run was definitely an uphill battle.

To mix it up I decided to run clockwise round the park, I tend to favour anti-clockwise for no particular reason. The park itself is on a slight incline, so for about a 1/3 of the run you are going uphill, doesn’t matter which way you go round, there’s a 10 metre difference according to Google Earth. Anti-clockwise is steeper but shorter, while clockwise is shallower but probably twice the distance. Having run both now I absolutely prefer the short sharp shock as opposed to the prolonged grind. But it’s good to mix it up I guess.

All the usual warnings from Laura about pacing and off we go. We hit the 5 minute mark and I’m still settling in – i.e. probably going too fast and having to back it off. Amazing to think in earlier weeks 5 minutes was a target and now it hardly counts as a warmup. Laura chimes in at the half way mark, the negative voices have been trying the old “not even half way, and it’s going to get harder” routine since 10 minutes. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to stop a couple of times.

Instead I performed the mental status check I did on the last run, tell me why I should be stopping:

  • legs – not ideal, my thighs are burning more than usual, seems to be the result of going down the steeper down hill. But no show stoppers, might want to take it a bit easier down hill next time round.
  • feet – no problems
  • stomach – no real problems, dial is just nudging the red, particularly on the up hill climb, take it easier
  • lungs – having to work quite hard going uphill, but I am able to recover to a degree going downhill

In conclusion, the usual bunch of issues to manage but no show stoppers. Get your head down, crack on and check back in 5 minutes.

Laura chimes in at 20 minutes, it’s fair to say I’m not having fun but I’ll be buggered if I’m going to quit a 25m run at 20m, even if the latest status check is indicating the legs are starting to suffer quite badly, a couple of staggering steps testify and the lungs are slowly failing to fully recover on the down hill, so it’s all getting a little bit choo-choo.

Luckily the last 2 minutes was all down hill, that was a bit of a break. 60 seconds to go, Laura is tempting me to step it up again. I’m thinking I could probably pick the pace up a bit, but let’s not go mad, I know how long 60 seconds can last when you hit empty. So I pick it up and got to the finish line fairly strong.

This session was harder than the last 25m session, I think because it’s difficult to completely eliminate the over confidence at the start of a repeat run. I know I’m doing it and I dial it back but it’s still quicker than the super tentative pace the first time around. I also really felt this one in my thighs, more than any session so far, good hopefully it’ll translate into more stamina next time.

This outing was the usual running playlist the only new track on it was Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine. It kicked in the last 5 minutes, there really isn’t a “running” message in the whole track, except the last minute’s worth of “F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me” coincided perfectly with the last uphill slog, when my body was pleading to stop, guess what my response was!

Run Rating : 

C25KRunning

C25K – Progress Summary

18th July 2018 — 0

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I’ve had a go at summarising the overall ratings of each run over the course of the C25K program, just to see if I could spot any patterns. The rating is a summary of  my general feeling about a run, bold rows are the first run at a new time. There are at lot of factors that ultimately decide for me if it was a good or bad run, including (in order):

  • mental – by far the biggest factor (75%+) in any run is my mental attitude going into and during. I’ve turned up to races already defeated and turned easy runs into a waking nightmare.
  • physical – I have over done it on a few occasions on the rest days only to regret it the on the next run, e.g. went walking for 10 miles, spent 2 hours on my hands and knees gardening.
  • food/water – I need a good 4-5 hours between eating and running to avoid any issues, in the same vein I try to avoid turning up with any unnecessary extra weight if you get my drift. I don’t think I’ve run far enough that hydration has really made a huge difference to me, even if I am sweating from the start.
  • weather – not a huge factor unless it’s high humidity, muggy weather tends to sap the strength out of me pretty quickly (it’s just nasty). Similarly time of day in the end didn’t make any difference to me, although I have a preference to get it done early in the day, just got get it out of the way.
  • kit – so far hasn’t made a huge difference to the outcome of a run. Obviously running shoes are the most important piece of kit to get right, Be careful breaking them in, that you don’t end up breaking yourself, as I almost did.

My rating would typical take into account all of these factors.

Week – Session  Date (d/m/y) Summary  Total Rating
Week 1 – Run 1 16/05/2018 8 x 1m 8m

Week 1 – Run 2 18/05/2018 8 x 1m 8m

Week 1 – Run 3 21/05/2018 8 x 1m 8m

Week 1 (Rerun) – Run 1 23/05/2018 8 x 1m 8m

Week 1 (Rerun) – Run 2 25/05/2018 8 x 1m 8m

Week 1 (Rerun) – Run 3 31/05/2018 8 x 1m 8m

Week 2 – Run 1 03/06/2018 6 x 1.5m 9m

Week 2 – Run 2 05/06/2018 6 x 1.5m 9m

Week 2 – Run 3 08/06/2018 6 x 1.5m 9m

Week 3 – Run 1 11/06/2018 1.5m + 3m + 1.5m + 3m 9m

Week 3 – Run 2 13/06/2018 1.5m + 3m + 1.5m + 3m 9m

Week 3 – Run 3 15/06/2018 1.5m + 3m + 1.5m + 3m 9m

Week 3 – Run 3 (Extra) 16/06/2018 1.5m + 3m + 1.5m + 3m 9m

Week 4 – Run 1 18/06/2018 3m + 5m + 3m + 5m 16m

Week 4 – Run 2 21/06/2018 3m + 5m + 3m + 5m 16m

Week 4 – Run 3 23/06/2018 3m + 5m + 3m + 5m 16m

Week 5 – Run 1 25/06/2018 3 x 5m 15m

Week 5 – Run 2 27/06/2018 2 x 8m 16m

Week 5 – Run 3 29/06/2018 20m 20m

Week 6 – Run 1 02/07/2018 5m + 8m + 5m 18m

Week 6 – Run 2 (FAIL) 04/07/2018 2 x 10m 20m

Week 6 – Run 2 (Rerun) 06/07/2018 2 x 10m 20m

Week 6 – Run 1 (Rerun) 12/07/2018 5m + 8m + 5m 18m

Week 6 – Run 2 (Rerun) 14/07/2018 2 x 10m 20m

Week 6 – Run 3 17/07/2018 25m 25m

Week 7 – Run 1 19/07/2018 25m 25m

Week 7 – Run 2 21/07/2018 25m 25m

Week 7 – Run 3 23/07/2018 25m 25m

Week 8 – Run 1 27/07/2018 28m 28m

Week 8 – Run 2 29/07/2018 28m 28m

Week 8 – Run 3 31/07/2018 28m 28m

Week 9 – Run 1 03/08/2018 30m 30m

Week 9 – Run 2 05/08/2018 30m 30m

Week 9 – Run 3 07/08/2018 30m 30m