When I first started out running back in November 2016, the aim of the game was to lose some weight (I was 12 stone 7 at 5 foot 5”, with a BMI in the unhealthy range). I started out with the notion that it wouldn’t be too difficult to jog at a slow speed, as I could walk for miles with no issues, but I was sorely mistaken. Instead, what I encountered was real hard work – I was out of breath easily and suffered with a lot of stitch. I felt uncomfortable and very self-conscious about being the most out of breath, red and sweaty person on the treadmill. I felt crazily unfit as everyone around me seemed to be running at a much quicker pace and weren’t even breaking a sweat. My first tracked “run” is shown below:
I say “run” as this was actually mainly fast walking, but even that was such hard work and I struggled to get through the planned 25 minute session.
Since then my fitness and running ability has improved and I have managed a run of 40 minutes non-stop (28th March 2017), after a 5 minute warm up and then a cool down period afterwards. I now no longer worry about what other people think when they see me running, because I know that I am improving and pushing myself, and that’s what counts.
As you can see, my pace was quicker for this run and the distance also increased. It felt a lot more comfortable than my first attempt, despite being at a quicker pace. My heart rate increased towards the end as my stamina really started to take a hit; originally I was aiming to run non-stop for 35 minutes (my best at the time was 30) but as I hit the 35 minute mark I was feeling like I could push for more, and a good song started playing in the gym, so I went for it – I noticed that my heart rate had increased but just wanted to push through to hit the 40 minute mark (I like rounding my numbers up to 5 / 10 – bit of OCD – I also hate it when people put the radio or TV volume on an odd number). As soon as I hit the 40 minute marker, I quickly turned the speed setting on the treadmill down as my calves were feeling quite tight, but I managed to walk it out during my cool down walk. I was red faced and covered in sweat, but I felt amazing to have beaten my personal best, and by more than I was hoping!
My very first 5k attempt was at my local Parkrun, and I completed it in 46:11. As soon as I crossed the finish line I felt sick and sore, I couldn’t physically run anymore and even the walk to the car was difficult; this is when I realised just how unfit I really was – I was one of the last to finish and just looked like a red, sweaty mess.
Since then I started doing intervals where I walked for a bit, then ran, and then walked. I started out following the Couch 2 5k plan of 60 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes; even this was a real ask and I often struggled to complete the run sections during the middle of the session. Using the C25k plan, it is suggested that you complete the above session 3 times and then move onto the next if you are able; I had to repeat the first week a fair few times and then started to wonder why I was finding it so tough, and if anyone else was experiencing the same. I joined a Facebook running group (Running The Distance) and asked if they had any advice. I was told that I was probably doing the run sections too fast, and that they should be as quick as my walk if need be. I took this advice on board and started to slow my run sections down; I then found that I breezed through week 1 and moved onto week 2, which added 30 seconds to each of the run sections – again it was tough, but eventually I got there. After week 2, I started to do my own intervals and push myself depending on how I felt on the day – 3 minute run, then walk until I felt I was able to run again, and so on. Each time I tried to push my run section to be a little further, or to shorten my walk sections. I found the treadmill useful for this sort of training as I could set the speed setting and just run at a constant pace; I find that I unintentionally run faster outdoors.
My first 10k run involved a lot of run / walking, but as it was my first 10k event I didn’t know what to expect or how my body would handle the distance. Once I reached the 7km mark, my walk sections got a lot longer, and I only managed 3 short run sections (all less than 90 seconds) in the last few kilometres.
I set myself a goal to complete a 5k in under 40 minutes, and I accomplished this during my first 10k event in March (39:08) [above] – I was actually quite surprised with this, as it was my first 10k event and I wasn’t really pushing for speed, as I didn’t want to tire myself out half way through. My next 5k goal is to break 35 minutes, and then eventually 30 minutes. My current 10k personal best is 1:22:28, and I am hoping to get that to under 1:20:00 and then eventually under the 1 hour mark (UPDATE – May 2017 – 10k time = 1:14:58). I haven’t set time goals for my half marathon or marathon events, as at this point, I will be happy just to finish.
I always try and set myself goals, both long-term and short, as I find it helps me to push myself further and gives me more motivation to train, but it also allows me to see my progress and then if I’ve had a bad run I can still look back and see what I’ve achieved. I will talk about some of my personal goals in my next post, and provide tips on how to set your own goals that will not only motivate you, but also provide a challenge and sense of accomplishment.