Today would be one of those old fashioned “Dear Diary” days. More than the usual criteria necessary to write a blog – something actually happened that, at least from my viewpoint, was rather important.
I spent the day painting the kitchen – the last of the rooms at home that needed a fresh lick of paint. Being such a cavernous space, the chore took me the best part of a day, even after starting quite early on.
By the time the evening was well and truly upon me, there was an obvious whiff of paint fumes lingering in the house, and I was sick to death of staring at the pale white, apple-y shade of wall – a massive departure from the pale white, apple-y shade of 24 hours ago.
Long story short, the treadmill wasn’t looking an appealing option at that minute. It was a pretty warm day, and there was the usual lack of a breeze coming into the house. Plus, I was starting Week 4, and “Woman” was expecting a big increase in performance from me….well, 30 seconds more running anyway.
And so I laced up my trainers and headed outside.
Actually, it wasn’t that spontaneous a moment. After shaking off the idea of getting onto the treadmill at about 6pm, I then sat down and thought about going outside. It was still pretty warm, and I figured that I should wait for the sun to go down, and maybe try things out at 8pm. That gave me 2 hours to think about it properly.
This all sounds rather pathetic. After all, I’m sure 95% of runners out there set out on Day 1 by walking out of their house and just putting one foot in front of the other.
But, as it stood, I was interval training. I was running for what was, to a third person, not a great deal of time, and then walking causally whilst my sweaty body recovered in a series of pants and wheezes, and my heart was deciding whether to leap out of my throat, or risk hanging around inside me for a while longer. This was not a good look to be sporting on my local pavements.
By 7pm, I decided that I could get over myself, and then turned back to my dear old iPhone to see if I could get some App support.
As previously, I already had an App in mind when I did so – the Nike + GPS program. Without going into too much detail, Nike + is a system which involves you popping a little sensor into the sole of expensive Nike trainers with a little hole to fit said sensor, and then either your iPod or a Nike watch can track your movements and make a good guess at your speed, distance and calories.
However, instead of paying £14 for a sensor, you can pay £1.99 for the Nike + App, which works with the GPS chip in the iPhone and basically removes the need for a sensor in your shoe, and live tracks you on GPS. This way, you get your speed stats, calorie count, as well as a pretty Google Maps-embedded illustration of your route, which is colour coded to show you the green parts, where you were actually running, and the red sections where you were walking and gasping for breath.
App installed, I rather cleverly dual-ran both the Nike App and my Couch to 10k App, meaning I would get the best of both worlds – GPS tracking, and “Woman” telling me when to run and when to walk.
Setting off, I already had a route in mind. My parent’s house was roughly 5km away according to Google Maps route. 5km sounded perfect, particularly as that was the sort of distance that my treadmill always tells me I’ve done once “Woman” allows me to stop.
In lieu of giving you a blow-by-blow account, let me just summarise and highlight by saying how much of a pleasure it actually turned out to be.
The day before, I had been speaking to my runner-colleague at work, and he was telling me how much more impact a road run has on your knees. I can’t really concur with that.
My route took me through Newcastle town centre, and then down the long, straight road to my old village, across a sports field and ultimately into my parents’ housing estate. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t find it difficult, because I really did. The interval training meant that I worked through about 4 or 5 sessions of running and walking by the time I reached the outskirts of my village, and by this point I was tired and ready to give up. Furthermore, a stitch suddenly developed on my right hand side – an enemy I recall well from my, what, three school cross country sessions.
I confess that I faltered on the next session when “Woman” asked me to run for two minutes again. However, after falling behind briefly, a ran a little longer during the walking bit to make up for it, and before I knew it I was at my parents’ driveway.
When I say “before I knew it” I mean it too. It took me just under 40 minutes to travel 5km (I know, rubbish, but let me get to my point). On the treadmill, when I thought I was pushing myself to optimum speeds, that same distance takes me the entire 50-60 minute interval training session. Clearly I was running much faster than I thought I could.
Outside my parents’ gates, I could hear them sat out on the patio enjoying the evening, so I decided to shout to them to get their attention. It was only at this stage, letting out a breathy, high pitched “Hello!?” that I realised that I was actually worn out. My voice was so distorted by my run that a further two shouts didn’t convince my parents to come to unlock the gate for me. Which left me ringing their phone and telling them where I was. It turns out I sounded like a neighbour. A female neighbour no doubt.
I was offered a welcome glass of orange squash, and my parents looked at me rather proudly, seeing me sat with them in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts and trainers. It was at that point that I remembered that the last time they had likely seen me in such a combination of items would have been at my Year 6 sports day. And even then, failing to win any races, I hadn’t made them proud in any sporty sense.
I told them about my plans to run a 10km run, and this seemed to send them back into their original mindset, thinking I was rather delusional, but cute for imagining I could do such a thing. They then asked me if I was planning to run back home for another 5km, but when I looked at the clock and realised Sarah was due home from work 20 minutes later, I sheepishly asked for a car ride home. This seemed to settle my parents’ worries that I was an imposter, and Dad drove me home.
Back home, I logged onto the Nike website and checked my data out. It all read rather well, if I do say so myself. And there is something to be said, something rather rewarding, at being able to look at a map and seeing a decent-sized line drawn upon it, knowing that was you not too long ago.
There is also a much more friendly lady who talks to you through your earphones on the Nike App. She told me when I had run a kilometre, and then would tell how long I had been running for and what my average pace was. “Lady” is much nicer than “Woman,” but both are equally important to me during a run.
In conclusion, I dare say that I’m going to be returning to the local roads. I thought I’d be freaked out at being seen in public, but after not dripping in sweat – clearly thanks to the airflow caused when actually travelling during a run – I was only about as 10% as sweaty as indoors. And I figured that when people drive past me during my 2 minute run sessions, they will only assume I’ve been running for miles. And if someone sees me walking, they’ll just think I’m walking home on a cool down or something. And if the worst comes to the worst, and someone thinks I’m unfit? Well, I should just remember that I hate the general public anyhow.
This would be a good moment to misquote Doc Brown in an appropriate manner. But I figure it would be a bit pathetic.