Tuesday, 28 August 2012

New beginnings

8 weeks ago I embarked on a journey.  I set a goal to run 5km in 8 weeks.  I want to be very clear - at that point I was not a runner in any way shape or form.

I weighed 98.8kg, ate poorly, slept poorly and my exercise was usually bike rides and walking.

On that day, I decided a lifestyle change was in order.

I began with small steps.  I downloaded two apps that I have found extremely helpful in my fitness and weight loss journey.  The first - My Fitness Pal - is a calorie tracker and fitness diary.  I record all of my food intake and exercise output each day.  I don't cheat.  If I have a bad day, that's in there.  I really am committed to being honest with myself.

The second application was Couch to 5k - an exercise regime that coaxes you out of your comfy lounge chair and out onto the road.  It starts out as an interval running program and progresses in gradual steps until you are running for 35 min uninterrupted - around the 5k mark.

Tonight I ran my first 5km ever and I'm feeling pretty chuffed with myself.  So what have I learned in that 8 weeks of running training?

  1. I like running.  Because the program is a gradual build up of stamina, I found it easy to stay motivated and continue pushing myself.  Running clears my head after a long day.  It makes me tired, but I've never regretted any of my nights spent running.
  2. Self-belief is a big part of success.  At the beginning of each run I would think through how I would tackle the run ahead. And at the end of each run I would congratulate myself on getting through the task.  
  3. Equipment is important - the right shoes, a good bra (ok, that's for the ladies in most cases) and comfy clothes can make or break a run.
  4. I can push through the pain threshold.  When it starts to hurt, I can push through that pain and continue running.  That has been a weakness on previous running regimes, but this time I was determined to push through.
  5. It's important to allow the body time to rest, recover and rebuild.  I only run every other day, and mix it up with cycling, walking and Zumba.  Last time I pushed it too fast and too soon, resulting in leg pain, foot pain, back pain and, you guessed it, I didn't finish the program.
So where to from here?  I have my first 5km twilight run on Saturday 22nd September.  At the end of that run, I'll evaluate next steps.  At this point I'm thinking 10k is my next goal.  The one after that is isn't set in stone either, but I can see something in the distance - just not sure what it is just yet.  

So if you, like me, are ready for some change in life, find yourself something you like to do and get out there and do it.  Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed and who will help you achieve that success.  Talk about it, be accountable, and most importantly enjoy what you do - it's easier to stay motivated when you're doing something you like and ultimately love!

Good luck!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

A girl can never have too many (running) shoes

Today I farewelled some long time companions.  They have been supportive, comforting and protective.  They have been there in sunshine and in rain, good runs and bad.  They are my ASICS Kayano 17's.

I still remember the day I bought them.  I had bitten the bullet and decided to shell out the $240 on a pair of good shoes to wear for general exercise.  I know I can get them online for cheaper, but that's a whole other blog for another time!  I went into Rebel Sport in the City and there they were - black runners, ready to challenge my credit card.  Something drove me to walk out of the store without them that day.  I made a beeline for the A-Mart Allsports further down the mall, and there they were - the same shoes on sale for $179.  It was like it was meant to be!

They are easily the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned and that's purely because I chose the best shoes to suit my running action.  The best money I have ever spent was at a podiatrist who custom made my orthotics and recommended the best shoes for my severe over-pronator feet.  Prior to this fit out, I suffered shin splints, tight Achilles tendons, fallen arches and no desire to run ever again!

But after almost six months on my feet through Zumba classes, walking, work and any other time I needed good foot support, coupled with almost 8 weeks of running training, I was beginning to get some of those familiar niggles in my ankles - a sure sign that it was time to replace my old faithfuls.

So off to the shoe shop I went, ready for a new fit out.  This time I knew I didn't have the cash for Kayanos, so thought I'd ask advice on similarly supportive shoes at a price to fit my budget.  The saleswoman was helpful and pointed me to ASICS GT-2170's.  I could buy the sickly pastel purple ones which were slightly cheaper as they were the previous model.  I opted for the new model based on colour!  However, no longer are shoes white, blue and silver.  The box proudly boasts Lightning, Blue Atoll and Charcoal as the colours!

Had my first run in them tonight.  To use Hayden's phrase (he too got new shoes today), "it was like running on clouds.".  I really hadn't realised how worn my old pair were until tonight's session.  It was like having a new spring in my step.

And speaking of spring - there was a touch of humidity in the air tonight.  Not long now until my night runs will have more of a balmy feel to them methinks!

Time for bed shortly as I have an early ride in the morning.  Keep an eye out for a Tuesday blog this week - that's the day I'm due to hit the 5k mark.  Until then, just keep on putting one foot in front of the other and keep on movin'.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Clothes make the runner

I've been forced to eat my words.  Twelve months ago, I swore I was not a runner and that I was never going to attempt running training again. I was content with my cycling and Zumba to get me into shape and gave up on being a runner.

For six weeks now, I've been following the couch to 5k running program.  It's an interval program that starts off with more walking than running, then gradually swings it the other way, until eventually you are running longer each session without the walking breaks.

I'm pleased to say I'm really enjoying the training.  Tonight I ran my last session of two separate runs, and from tomorrow I will be running one long run each session.

Am I worried? Perhaps a little, but then I've worried about how I'll go with most of my runs.  Will I be able to make it? Will I hurt my ankle? Will my knee blow out? Will I get heckled by real runners as they pass me on the foreshore?

My biggest concern was my feet.  I am a pronator and have had issues in the past with shin splints, fallen arches, sore toes and aching knees.  A visit to my podiatrist resulted in a lift being fitted into my left shoe to correct my shorter leg and brand new orthotics to fix my inward rolling feet.  I've felt the difference ever since, with no foot pain and only sore muscles when they first started to re-train how they work when I first got the adjustments.

Running was quite painful before these changes, but in the six weeks I've been interval training, I have had no issues with my feet (other than from pounding the pavement!)

Tonight, I had my first foot pain but I think I have its measure.  I worked a 7 hour shift today in the canteen at my son's soccer club - concrete floors and on my feet without a sit down break.  I stupidly wore my old running shoes.  There are three problems with this - no lift in the left shoe, store-bought orthotics and stretchy laces.  I thought I was so cool when I bought the stretchy laces for my first triathlon.  My podiatrist soon put my coolness factor to rest when she explained the damage that those stretchy laces were doing to my feet.  Needless to say, I retired those shoes from running and dancing and only wear them around the house. 

So after a full shift of wearing those bad choices, my legs were already a little sore.  Muscles that had been re-trained to do their job had slackened off and the ones who hadn't done that work for a while were quite vocal in expressing their shock at being put into action again.  I changed my shoes at the end of my shift, rested the legs for a couple of hours, had a gentle stroll to the local shops with Brendon and then started to plan my run for the night.  Firmly lacing up my black Kayanos, I set off on my session.

All was good to start, but about 10 minutes in I realised I had some pain in my shins.   At the walking interval it was markedly noticeable, to the point of it being painful and I found myself limping a bit through that particular interval.  I decided to analyse what I was doing when I started my next running interval.

It didn't take long to realise, I was curling my toes inside my shoes.  Why?  I hadn't changed my socks.  I was wearing  standard office socks - no cushions, no reinforced arch, just a pair of slippery, cotton socks.  My feet were sliding around inside my shoes, and in an effort to stop them from moving, I was curling my toes to anchor them. 

I spent the rest of the interval consciously holding my toes straight and concentrating on my landing and it worked.  Shin pain dissipated and run completed.  Who would believe that something as simple as custom running socks could turn a good run into a bad run?

So tomorrow I'm off to the sports store to get me some good socks.