Monthly Archives: April 2010

20 minutes and counting…

Since identifying that I might actually enjoy running, I’ve started going to the gym without a dread of ‘I can’t do it’, more a wonderment of ‘Wow, this running lark is getting a little bit easier!’ After completing my cardio, I jumped onto the treadmill for the 20 minute rolling hills program (still thinking ‘eek, gradients!’) Annoyingly, I had forgotten to pack my headphones so could only watch the tv screens ahead of me and listen to the gym soundtrack which luckily, was pretty good. I did a steady 5 minute walking warm up and then started to jog.

The usual routine consists of me telling myself not to look down at the time/distance for as long as possible, because once I have, the countdown to finishing starts in my head and I seem to be checking every minute before I get to the end! This time, I decided to jog and only look at the time when I got to the point of tiredness and wished it would stop. Now, I can only guess but after about 10 minutes, I was still running on changing gradients and feeling comfortable, it was really strange as over the past 6 weeks, I could only identify with running for a few minutes and then really wanting to stop! I kept jogging and didn’t check the time because by now, I had made a pact with myself that I could get to the end of 20 mins without stopping.

Curiosity about the remaining time was killing me but, I refused to look as I needed to proudly tell Nick the Trainer and Other Half that I ran 20 minutes and it wasn’t a struggle. Suddenly, the treadmill slowed down and that was the end of my programme, woo hoo! I can genuinely say the first 18 minutes were comfortable and, it was only the last two where I could feel the familiar pain of the DREADED STITCH starting and I was breathing more heavily.

After many weeks of complaining to Nick the Trainer that I wasn’t making any progress, out of the blue, my running gene has finally kicked in! Next step; getting fitted with real runners shoes (cause I’m a proper runner! :o)

Note to self: sign contract before celebrating…

After the fantastic high of verbally being offered my ‘dream job’ as a Web Editor 5 weeks a go, my spirits now resemble a brightly coloured helium balloon that has slowly started to wrinkle and deflate, hanging there with hope that it may become its former robust, skys-the-limit self. The reason for this is I still have no contract, nothing in writing whether paper or email, not even a quick scribbled note on the back of a beer mat – nada!

 The delays have arisen, so I’m told by agency girl, because;

a) They thought the whole cv sorting/two-step interview process would
take 6-8 weeks. As I also had another potential job lurking, they turned the whole process round in a couple of weeks to get me

b) The guy currently in post has ‘contractual issues’ which have been in the process of being sorted out since I got the offer

I’m constantly reassured by agency girl and the guy who hired me that I am ‘perfect for the role’, would ‘fit in well with the team’ and ‘they really don’t want to lose me’, despite the inordinate amount of time it is taking for me to be issued with a contract. I put up with these assurances for 3 weeks, no longer wanting people to ask, “When do you start your new job?” as I genuinely wondered whether I actually had a job anymore. During this time of doubt, I was contacted by another agency girl with a potential PR/Copywriters role within a lifestyle brand for 12 months. Mentally cheered by the fact people think I’m still worth offering an actual contract to, I read the job description and asked her to put me forward for it.

At this point, I thought it would be useful leverage to use with (as I now lovingly refer to it)  ‘fake job’ agency girl; she could pass on the fact that other people were contacting me as this is what had got them moving so fast originally. I told her the next time she called and it had the desired effect(?) that a whole week later, she came back with a potential solution: would I do freelance there while the contractual problems got sorted? I said I would consider it as long as the hourly rate matched the offered salary and off she went to present her findings. The same day, PR job agency girl called to say they want to see me for interview and would ring with dates the next week. On Friday, potential interview dates for 28th April and 4th May were sent to me with exact times to follow on Monday, still no word from ‘fake job’ agency girl about the freelancing.

Being incredibly truthful, patient and more than a bit fed up at this stage, I emailed PR agency girl to say her job had evolved from potential leverage into front-runner, if the interview went well and the vibe felt right (I honestly believe the interview is as much for your benefit as it is theirs when it comes to checking each other out). So it’s a question of once again becoming that enthusiastic, brightly filled balloon of energy that people want to hire, contract and all..!

Overcoming the 5k barrier…

I’m faithfully following my 5k running plan and at the gym last night, I bumped into Nick the Trainer. He asked how it was going and I proudly told him that I had my first outdoor jog under my belt! I also told him I felt that I wasn’t really improving very much as I get to 3k and, can’t wait to stop. (Thinking about it objectively of course, I have improved as I didn’t use to be able to run 1k without stopping, but that’s the perfectionist in me!) Nick the Trainer suggested it was time I got over the psychological barrier of never having completed a 5k and, should come in and do an exclusive session on the treadmill, jogging and walking as needed to complete a full 5k. With this idea firmly planted in my head, we parted company and despite having already done my weights, I decided I would have a go at the full distance.

I had previously been running 3 x 1k with a 2 minute walk in between each km, so I thought I would see how far I could stretch that. I did a warm up walk for 0.2k, ran the first km and walked for 0.2k, repeated this a second time, ran the third km and walked for 0.25, ran the fourth km and walked for the final 0.15k – in 40 minutes I had walked and jogged my first 5k!

It turns out that Nick the Trainer knows his stuff! Although my plan is to be able to run the whole Race for Life 5k without stopping, just knowing that I can complete it in one gym session was another huge confidence boost. Tonight, I went for my second ever outdoors jog and the 20 minutes constant running wasn’t quite as painful as the first time round. As I completed my 5 minute walking cool down, a strange thought entered my head: I think I might actually start to ENJOY running in the very near future..!

Pounding the pavements for the first time…

After singing the praises of Nick the Trainer to my Other Half, he decided to book in for a session to try to sort out his problematic running gait. It was during this time, Nick the Trainer asked him if I had been doing 5k training programme no 4 – running outside for 30-40 minutes. Other Half laughingly told him I had only done the outside running programme from inside of the gym on the treadmill and, proceeded to relay the conversation to me when he got home that night. Feeling slightly shamed at this truth and worried about letting Nick the Trainer down, I decided that Monday was the day to try it out…

I usually go to water aerobics at the gym on a Monday lunchtime, so I decided I would leave early and jog there instead of driving. The route is pretty flat, snaking through an industrial estate so I wasn’t battling rolling hills on my first go. I was however, carrying my gym bag full of swimming gear and despite the padded straps being on the tightest setting, it bounced around like a hyperactive child on popping candy! I quickly got hold of the excess loose straps and tied them together in front of me to make the bag more fitted to my body and, this really helped give some stability. I also used my Get Running app to give me verbal updates about how long I had been running for, I needed all the motivation I could get when I couldn’t see time or distance ticking away like I do on the treadmill.

Straight away I found that I run more slowly outside, it turns out that when I don’t have a rolling pace to keep up with, my own pace is even slower! This proved to be advantageous in the dreaded stitch arena – I didn’t get one for the whole run, yay! BUT, it made absolutely no difference to the time it took for my tomato coloured jogging face to arrive i.e. within about the first 5 minutes! Despite the goal being a 30 minute jog, I could only manage 20 minutes and thought it wise to sit down outside of the gym for 10 minutes, in an effort to reduce my face from scarlet to a more palatable fire engine red…

The pool had never been so welcome, despite a 45 minute session of water aerobics in front of me and a 40 minute walk home afterwards. As I started to sink down under the cool water, I swear a little bit of steam came off my rosy cheeks!

Final 5k training programmes…

So, feeling invigorated at the start of each new workout and shattered by the end, I tried out programme 3 on my 5k training schedule:

Treadmill  20 mins of hill intervals at a constant speed

Weighted Lunges  2 x 20

Swiss Ball Alternate Leg Raises  3 x 20

Seated Row Machine  3 x 12

V-sit Twists  3 x 20

Rower  400 metres

Hmmm, rolling hills on the treadmill?!? That’s seemed a bit adventurous when I am only just managing to jog any sort of distance on the flat, so I approached this with much trepidation. I only put the hill programme on level 1 which meant the incline didn’t rise any higher than 3.5 (3.5 what, I’m not sure but it was enough for me to cope with at this early stage!) I wish I could tell you it wasn’t as bad as I feared but, I found it tough and got the dreaded stitch earlier than usual. I managed to do a bit of mind of matter and spurred myself on to get to the end, even though I kept wondering why on earth I’m doing something that doesn’t come naturally to me at all…

Programme 4 is simply this;

Outdoor Running for a minimum of 30 mins, including 8-10 x 30 second sprints every few minutes, building up to being able to maintain a constant run for 40 mins.

So far, I have done this outdoor running programme once, in the gym! I know, I know, it appears as if I’m slightly crazy because;

a) Race for Life is outside in a park

b) The park is not completely flat (mores the pity!) and I need to be able to run up gentle gradients

But what can I tell you? I’m a beginner and taking all this running stuff 1 training day at a time, this includes only exposing my tomato coloured jogging face within the safe confines of the gym for now..!

Next 5k training session…

Having started and survived the first of my new 5 km training programmes, I thought it was time to give programme 2 a go:

Single-leg Press  2 x 10

Adductor Machine 2 x 10

Abductor Machine 2 x 10

Treadmill  3 x 1 km with 3 minutes recovery walk between sets

Ascent Trainer  20 mins on rolling hills programme

Swiss Ball Crunches 3 x max

Let me tell you now, single-leg presses are a lot harder than you would imagine! It seems logical that if you can push 40 kg with 2 legs, then you simply half this weight for single leg pushes. Maybe I am just a complete wimp but I couldn’t push more than 12 kg with 1 leg! The weight machines are programmed so that if the stack of weights touch, it assumes you are at the end of your set, not that you simply need a few seconds rest from the heavy weight counterbalanced by your foot! Therefore, I find I have to go slightly lighter to make sure I can do all 10 presses in the set.

The best thing about this programme is the 3 x 1 km runs with the 3 minute walk in between. Although it’s difficult, the short recovery walk meant I didn’t get a dreaded stitch, (ALWAYS the worst thing about running for me!) and I was able to run each kilometer without stopping. This is a huge confidence booster and makes me feel that running a full 5 km is actually in my future grasp..!

Training for my first 5k run…

Well, after much pondering about whether to sign up for a 5k run or not, I decided to just get on and do it! I’m all signed up for the Cancer Research Race for Life on 18th July and, full of nervous enthusiasm, started the first of my 4 new gym training programmes – Programme 1;

Swiss Ball Squats  3 x 15 reps

Hip Bridges (Alt Leg Extensions)  3 x 20 reps

Swiss Ball Roll-Outs  3 x 5 reps

Chest Press Machine  3 x 12 reps

Diverging Pulldown Machine  3 x 12 reps

Treadmill  20 min run inc 5 x 1 min sprints

Wave Machine  5 mins

Nick the Trainer was on hand to check my posture during each exercise although thankfully, he left me alone when it came to the treadmill. My face gets redder with every minute I’m on there and, I resemble a very ripe tomato at the end of 20 minutes! I was worried about the sprinting element as I cannot emphasise enough that I ONLY JOG, I DON’T RUN, but it turns out that 1 minute sprints are just about manageable for a beginner. Although I spent a good 10 minutes stretching at the end, the next day I ached in places I didn’t even know existed! 

Ah, the pleasure and the pain of a brand new gym routine… I’ll let you know how the training progresses!