First 10K

So today was the day I finally racked up a full 10km distance run. 63 minutes. Nowhere near my goal of course, but at least – at last – I have my first benchmark to work against.

So I need to knock 18 minutes off my time. Er…okay.

Today’s run came courtesy of Woman’s Week 7 Day 1 interval training. This week, she had me running for 4 minutes and walking for 2, and knowing fully well how much I’ve struggled over the past few weeks due to my pace, I decided to tone it down.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been running on the roads and on the treadmill anywhere between 11-12kph, which isn’t far behind my ultimate race pace of around 13-14kph. However of course, I’m nowhere near race condition, and I really shouldn’t be trying to push myself to those speeds until I get the stamina worked out. I can run at 12kph, but just not for long enough. 15 minutes constant running is nowhere near 45. So, swallowing my pride again today, I realised that I needed to refocus my short term goals on actually running for a longer period of time.

I ended up arbitrarily deciding to run at 9.5kph on the treadmill, and then toned down my usual 6kph walking pace to 5.7, which felt more natural and allowed me to catch my breath, as Woman wanted.

I have to say, it worked really well. Normally, after about 30 minutes, I’m mentally ruined (as my recent post mentioned). Today, even running the extended 4 minute bursts, with less time to recuperate in between, I was still feeling fresh around 45 minutes.

It was then that I realised that I was heading for around a 9km finishing distance, based on the 60 minute programme. I was feeling a little bit sick of constantly missing the mark and not racking up that elusive 10km, so I decided to run for as long as took to get me to 10.

And then my brain ran a quick body check again, and agreed that I could actually run a bit faster at the end*. And so, with 1.6km left, I dialled the treadmill up to 11kph and got the job done. 63 minutes. Very happy Gaz.

I think I’m happier still as today I got off the treadmill knowing that I can get better, and go faster and for longer. Last week, running so fast and burning myself out quick was really demoralising. But, now I feel like there’s more to come, and not that dreaded “wall” everyone seems to refer to.

*This was, in no small part, due to the fact that my iPod running playlist decided to fire some tracks from the Rocky soundtrack at me. You really have no idea how great those scores sound until you feel like you’re hitting the mental wall like Rocky always does. For reference, my favourite track is ‘Going the Distance”, which I think is from Rocky II’s soundtrack, but is no doubt on most of them, like “Gonna Fly Now” is.

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A Pass!

Aside

By the by, I passed that distracting, yet very important work exam today. Woo-hoo! Which means I can forget all about worrying about studying for a resit and properly focus on my personal goals from here on out. What a relief!

Druggie

Today marks my 10th day on nutritional supplements.

No, not those weird “illegal in 44 states” Soviet Protein shakes. I’m talking about moderately sensible, yet slightly overpriced vitamin and mineral supplements. Currently, I’m taking three tablets every morning:

1. “Wellman” multivitamin

2. High-concentration Cod Liver Oil

3. Omega 3, 6 and 9 (why are all the good Omegas multiples of three?)

I’m doing this for two main reasons:

1. People, and magazines, have assured me that Cod Liver Oil is good for joints, and can lessen or even neutralise things like that painful knee I had a few weeks ago. Similarly, Omega oils do something equally good for runners.

2. Guaranteeing 100% of the recommended daily intake of every vitamin and every mineral is bloody hard. I mean, for crying out loud, the government now tell us that you need “5 a day” of fruit and veg to get your vitamins and fibre and whatnot. Which is five handfuls of fruit and veg. Which is both difficult to fit into my normal meals, as well as expensive. I probably get 2 or 3 a day based on their handful-sized measurements. At least now, if I take these tablets, I can eat what I can and not worry about getting the full benefit.

All of these sorts of tablets tell you that you need to take them constantly for at least 90 days to start to benefit from them, so I’ve got a while to go yet before I should start reporting on their benefits (or lack of), however – coincidence or not – my knee responded well to the road run last night. I feel a bit achy in general today, but I don’t have any specific joint twinges. So, who knows – maybe that could be my good friend Mr Cod oiling me up nicely?

Brain Power

Just completed my first road run in a while. Used my foot pod/sensor instead of the GPS, just to see how accurate it was. I clocked up 8.2km, which seemed about right.

Back home afterwards, I was seriously dripping in sweat. I don’t really remember sweating so hard before, but maybe I have rose-tinted glasses in hindsight.

The best thing about the foot sensor compared to the GPS is that the sportsband can give you a “live” pace readout, whereas the GPS app can only tell you your average pace over the last km run. So tonight, working through Week 6 Day 3 with Woman, whenever I was running I was doing roughly a 5min/km, which is obviously 12kph. That’s a little bit faster than I was pushing myself in the gym, and probably why a) I was travelling further in less time, and b) why I was completely shattered after less than 30 minutes, and really struggled to get through the last half an hour.

The point of tonight’s post wasn’t about boring stats, but it was about the classic saga of “mind over matter”. The simple fact is that, when not on a treadmill which propels you ever forwards (unless you chicken out and hit the speed buttons of course), but on the road, when Woman tells you to “Run Now!” you have to regulate yourself to run until you hear from her again. And right now, those three minutes – running at what is probably a pace too fast for my stamina* – is a nightmare.

However, the nightmare is completely physical. Yes, my heart and lungs are moaning, and yes my legs feel tired, but what actually happens is my brain just tells me “You know, you can stop? This isn’t a race?” And, more often than not, the brain wins.

And so I slow to a walk, and immediately kick myself for stopping. Yes, I’m panting and catching my breath and gratefully lowering my pulse, but I really wasn’t dying a moment earlier. It’s very annoying.

Damn you, brain!

*Another weird thing is, although I looked down at my sportsband and saw that I was running a bit too fast (ideally I want to run at about 10kph at the moment, and not 12kph) for the life of me, I can’t slow down. I only have one running speed, and right now that speed seems to be getting faster and faster. And that really isn’t a good thing until my stamina catches up.

Being Tired, and The Great North Run

Last night’s session at the gym was a bit rubbish really. I went with the intention of not running at all, seeing as I felt a big groggy. But, no sooner had a I laced up my trainers, I thought the treadmill was a good idea.

I decided to run without Woman, and it was lucky I did, as after about 3.5km my body gave in. It was just tired. Bored. Both maybe. I ended up walking for the next 10 minutes whilst I waited for Sarah to finish her session with Girlie (who, I did not realise, is actually a Man…awkward).

I couldn’t really do much else really either. I think I did about 5 minutes on the rowing machine, and did a bit of leg work on the weights kit, but I was in the shower well within the hour.

It was all rather demoralising really. However, thanks to the wonders of science, I may have found some form of consolation.

Sarah’s all-singing, all-dancing heart monitor has been tracking everything we have been up to all week, and according to the very clever looking charts on the website/software, we should really have avoided “high intensity workouts” for 24-48 hours over the weekend. It turns out that our big walk up in the Yorkshire Dales was a heavier workout than I figured.

My imagination alternates between this room of scientists working out my fitness levels, and Chloe O'Brien in CTU hacking her way to the truth.

Anyway, so today I rested. Which was apt, as I ended up watching other people running on TV. The Great North Run. My friend Scott was up there somewhere, and despite completely inadequately training, he actually turned in a semi-decent / non-walking time of 2h10m.

Watching running is far harder work than actually running, I can assure you. And the BBC are especially annoying in their direction. Particularly how it is exactly the same every year. I would have had no clue if I was watching a repeat or something live. And every year, despite the fact that we can receive transmissions from Mars, the camera on the back of that motorbike always breaks and cuts out during the more interesting moments.

“Up North” they don’t seem to bother with implementing any crowd barriers, and all of the crowd kept jumping onto the road behind the elite runners, just to get in camera shot. Which was fine, apart from the fact that they jumped directly into the path of the rear cyclists who nearly fell off their bike more than once. What is it about the general public and their idiotic need to get onto a camera for 3 seconds?

My last observation was the high proportion of normal fun/club runners who are ridiculously skinny vs muscular. Skinny is never a good look on a man, and unless you are an Olympic marathon runner, I can’t see it being very easy getting through a normal life looking like one. Plus they all insist on wearing equally skinny vests and tiny shorts. They look weird and they are enough to put anybody off taking up running. Even me, during my lazier moments.

I couldn’t even watch the whole run, for crying out loud. That’s how lazy I was today. Dear God, will I ever complete this quest?

Injury Number 2

People, we have a problem. Another injury.

I have poorly toes.

If an artist were to paint my toes. And if my toes were broken.

No, I haven’t broken any bones. Nor have I technically broken any skin on any toes either. The fact of the matter is that I was rather negligent with cutting my toe nails for the past few weeks, and the long nails sort of grew inwards a little bit. So when I was running and walking they were digging into the delicate tips of my toes and ended up peeling back a layer or two of skin by a couple of millimetres.

So yes, it really is as bad as it sounds. I would appreciate prayers in the coming days please people. Beckham had a nation praying a few years ago, and so I expect about 1% of that sort of attention. So maybe about 50,000 prayers please. Thank you.

Walking

First of all, can anyone else remember a show called “Watching” from the 1990’s? It was this rather low-budget ITV show which aired on a Sunday night. It wasn’t anything special, but each episode had a different “___ing” title, and I used to really make a big deal over wondering what the next episode would be called. Writing “Walking” as this post title just reminded of that. That’s all.

Secondly, I appreciate that this is a running blog, and therefore walking should not be classed as an associated activity. But the way I see it, today was just another active day to be chalked up as a training session for my overall quest.

Sarah and I went to the Yorkshire Dales today. It should have been yesterday, but we slept in, and then that actually turned out to be fortuitous due to the rain. We alternately went to the gym instead, and I clocked up another 7.5km on the treadmill (“Week 6 Day 2” with Woman). Today however, the forecast looked considerably better, and indeed we had a wonderfully sunny day.

We started off in Skipton and ended up in Malham – both being places which were held fondly in Sarah’s childhood memory bank, and worthy of a refresh for her sake. I myself was never taken to the Dales as a child, but had been everywhere else instead. So, for me, it was a nice change to see some different countryside.

Malham village is located next to some rather big hills. There is bound to be a geological name for it, but sufficed to say there is a big sheer rock face with limestone steps winding up the side of it, and at the top there is some rather interesting lines in the rock caused by freeze-thawing. And that is literally as well as I can describe it.

Go on then, you tell me what it is.

We walked roughly 5 miles, up the horrendously steep limestone steps, and then up and down the undulating countryside in a big old circle, past a waterfall, and back to the car, all in about 3 hours, including a little picnic break on the top of the big rock. All very nice, and judging by the aches my body is telling me about now, it was a really good workout, and a nice change to the gym. The massive patch of sweat on my back, hidden away under my rucksack until I sat in the car, would also testify to that too. Yuck.

Armpits didn't look to clever, either.

The real reason I wanted to write this blog post, besides logging my activity, was to voice my sheer hatred of walkers. Or ramblers. Whatever you want to call them.

Not taken on today's walk, but this is exactly what I was looking at.

You see, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a fan of walking. Today cemented that opinion further. On a nice sunny day in England, there are few things better to do than go for a stroll in the countryside. Sarah and I planned ahead appropriately for today. We both wore decent walking shoes, and had a rucksack each with some food in for lunch. I had my SLR camera in the bottom of my rucksack, and Sarah packed her “pack-a-mac” style waterproof coat just in case. Finally, I tied a hoody around my waist just in case one of us got chilly (which Sarah always does, and did). So, other than having a bag on our backs, we didn’t look all that different than we normally do. Why should we?

Everyone else however was dressed up like they were scaling Everest. Everyone had a shirt, topped up with a fleece, topped up with a waterproof jacket. Then they had another type of jacket tied around their waists. Then they wore those cargo trousers with eighteen pockets, each big enough to carry a portable stove. Then they had the big walking boots with the giant laces tied into quadruple knots. Then they each had a massive, brightly coloured rucksack on their backs, and the man/leader in each couple had a waterproof pouch hanging around his neck with an Ordinance Survey map folded to the correct section. And finally, they all walk around like devolving quadrupeds with the assistance of a pair of blingy graphite walking sticks.

Before today, I was worried that I, and perhaps the rest of the running world, were going a bit over the top with our shirts, shorts and trainer obsessions. But my god, walkers are utterly ridiculous. I mean, come on, who needs a god-dammed map on a signposted, clearly gravelled footpath on a 5 mile circuit? One woman was climbing the aforementioned limestone steps – granted quite steep – but making double the effort just to use her sticks as well as her feet on every step. She wasn’t very old. She didn’t have balance issues. She had just purchased some stupid sticks and now felt obliged to make them seem worthwhile. Good god.

These new fangled carbon walking sticks are just some pointless invention, up there with the tongue cleaning pad on toothbrushes. Man wasn’t almost wiped out due to lack of tongue hygiene before the tongue pad came along. And people who weren’t biblical Shepherds survived just fine trudging across the land without a stick in each hand to stop them perhaps suddenly just leaning forwards a la Michael Jackson and not coming back up.

Walkers also walk ridiculously slow too. I accept that I may have a fair pace on me at times, but we must have overtook about 8 different groups of people on our 5-mile walk, and we didn’t even set off a few minutes behind them either. It seemed like they had been out there for hours, sauntering along with their sticks, commenting on how today was a three-layer day and not necessarily worthy of a fourth waterproof coat. I have news for you, walkers – I just wore a Polo shirt and made it back to the car in half the time you took. Think about that one.

I even had time to pretend to scale the rock face. Badly.

Anyhow, I think tomorrow might be a worthy rest day. I might even go for a road run on the weekend, just for old time’s sake.

Note to everyone: if you ever see me carrying a walking stick, snatch it from my hand and beat me to death with it. I’ll thank you just before I black out.