Still in One Piece

3 Feb 2017

That’s the end of Week 4 of me and my partner in crime, Mrs Persuasive, learning to run with our local JogScotland group. I’ve now completed 9 runs (and a replacement MuTu Intensive session at home today because 2/3 minxes are off school ill and I can’t go out).

New things this fortnight: me and Mrs P went for our first run by ourselves last week because we want to up our sessions to 3 times a week. We happened to stumble on a wee circuit along single track country roads that is hilly and exactly 6km long. Perfect!

I’ve not been finding it hard to motivate myself to go running at all. Partly it’s because me and Mrs P car-share to get to the JogScotland group in a nearby town, so we’d need a cast-iron excuse to dodge going; partly it’s because I do love how good I feel at the end of each run. I’m sleeping better, too. Though that should be a no-brainer – the minxes need to be sufficiently active during the day to not transform into wide-awake devils that night, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it works for insomniac adults, too.

The other thing that’s motivating me enormously is seeing steady, obvious progress each run. It’s not just subjective improvement: once I figured out how to work Endomondo on my brick of a phone, I can see my speed and the length of time between walk-portions increase with each running session. I’m still only around the pace I can fast-walk, though: my latest personal best is upping my 5km jog/walk time to 46 minutes (4 mins faster than I walk it, and 10 minutes faster than a fortnight ago).

Early days, early days…

A huge epiphany for me this fortnight is what warming-up does. I don’t mean the general ‘prepare your body for exercise’ – we all know that. It was when the group leader explained why warm-ups feel difficult (it’s all about the acceleration involved from moving your heart rate from resting to working. It’s a really big increase. After that, any increases in effort as you run for the next half hour or so are much smaller, so are less uncomfortable). This makes logical sense to me. But I suddenly understood why I find the first 15-20 mins of each session really unpleasant, but after 30 minutes I feel like I could keep going all night. If only I’d sussed this before, I’d have persevered past those first 20 minutes of previous exercise sessions over the decades…

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. I never thought I’d still be doing this jogging lark after 4 weeks, still be enjoying it, and still be in one piece. Though stupidly I overdid this morning’s MuTu session and am starting to hurt a bit – I made a rookie error of jumping into one of the tougher Intensives with ridiculously heavy weights. I was also a bit slack in maintaining good form. Eejit! I know better than that. So right now I hurt, but it’s not from running…

It Doesn’t Hurt

20 Jan 2017

It’s now 2 weeks since I started jogging with JogScotland, and I thought I’d start to write reasonably regular howgozit accountability posts.

So, how’s it been going?

Well, I’ve now been out jogging 5 times and (whisper) I’m really enjoying it. Remember I thought I’d hate it and be in bits? Well, I also thought each running session would only last around 20 minutes or so. I was wrong on all counts. The first session was just over an hour of walking / gentle jogging. Although I was a bit stiff the next day (hey, I’m 45, unfit and overweight!), nothing actually hurt. Subsequent sessions have been just under an hour.

This week I felt that there was a big jump in difficulty in terms of walking less and jogging for longer in one chunk. The first 3 sessions I felt a bit torn: on the one hand it was marvellous that I could keep up with all the other absolute beginners (a first for me), and that we were actively encouraged to keep on chatting and use the difficulty in maintaining a conversation as a guide to getting the effort right. Not a problem, I can do that! The group leader kept our speed slow and steady. But on the other hand, I felt a bit frustrated that I can walk our usual 5.5km route faster than we jog/walk it. Still, I trust the group leader. It’s a new and different way of doing things. And the old way I’ve always done things hasn’t worked up till now (go full tilt. If no success, beast self harder. If still no success, increase beasting until physical breakdown. If still no success, sulk and give up).

I worried a lot about my feet: despite being a beginner runner, I’ve chosen to run in barefoot-style shoes. I’ve been walking in them for 8 or 9 years to (successfully) strengthen very weak ankles that used to suffer sprains and twists every few months. I tried on a very old pair of old-fashioned wedge-heeled trainers I found at the back of the wardrobe (about 15 years old, but worn only twice). They felt awful, like I was wearing tight platform boots. But I’ve had to run often enough in the past to know that as well as running like an egg-whisk (think flappy knock-knees), I also have a very, very heavy heel strike. Bash-heel-then-flap-sole-down-splat. I can’t afford to splash out on new running shoes just now, even though I know that these and a good sports bra are the only running essentials all newbies need. Well, I got the sports bra in the M&S half-price sale (hooray!) and decided to wear my comfiest Vivobarefoots and just concentrate on placing my feet a bit more softly than usual.

breathosI was very bemused to discover that I must have got a free upgrade to ‘normal feet’ at some point in the past decade without me noticing: it feels that l pretty much land on the ball of my foot and push off on my toes. I don’t get sore feet (though sometimes the back of my toes ache a little). I certainly don’t get backache from jarring my heels on the pavement. This is amazing!

So how are the old stats? Well, after 5 sessions I can jog/walk 5.5km in 55 minutes. It’s maybe 50/50 jogging and walking. The first 20 minutes feel horrible, then after 30 minutes I start to feel quite normal and even happy. The warm-down feels fantastic – I can’t get enough of the bend over and stretch your lower back stretch.

It’s very early days yet, and the minxes are still giggling at the sight of their old ma heading out the door encased in tight leggings with a smile on her face, but so far so good.