Monday, November 30, 2009

training to run - week 2

I just finished week 2 of my Get Running program. I have to say that I'm feeling really great and in better shape after each run.

This past week's running worked like this: 6 repetitions of running 1 minute 30 seconds and walking for 2 minutes. It may not sound too difficult, but after not running for a few years it is quite challenging.

The first day of running was last Thursday...that's right, Thanksgiving. I made the executive decision to run early, before my special day of consuming deliciously unhealthy foods. Judging by the turkey induced coma/hangover I incurred, I believe I made the right choice. The rest of my day consisted of watching Home Alone and sleeping.

As for the running, I was pleased to find that running an extra 30 seconds wasn't as hard as I'd imagined. At least not for the first couple sets. After the third set I was so winded that I could barely breathe. The British-voiced woman on the program spoke up afterward, telling me that I was halfway done and could turn & go home if I needed to. After a moment of contemplation, I turned my headphones up a notch and ran harder. It's a good feeling when you don't give up.

Speaking of music, I'm finding that pop radio produces a lot of great running tunes. In heavy rotation at the moment is the new Weezer album as well as select Black Eyed Peas songs. And Miley Cyrus. Ahem.

Saturday was day 2 of week 3 (got that?) and I was happy to discover that I didn't become winded until after the 4th set of running/walking. However that morning the sun decided to come out and I had to shed clothes. I had worn a light track jacket and a beanie and both of them ended up hanging from a low branch on a tree until I finished.

One thing I realized on Saturday was a pain in my lower stomach. I recognized it immediately, thinking back to the days when I ran in high school. My carbonated drink habit had caught up with me. Even though I was only drinking 1 every other day, I could still feel it. My decision? Cut 'em out.

After that realization, I also decided to cut back on food somewhat. I began portioning it out a little better later on that day and the next and, in turn, had the best running experience of all today.

I went out after doing some warm up stretches into the cold dusk after work this afternoon. On my walk to my running grounds (local cemetery that is packed with nice paths & such) I was sure to warm up even more, stretching my legs out and walking very briskly.

Once I got to the cemetery and was prompted to run ever so politely by the friendly British voice on my iPhone, I felt some pain in my leg and side. I decided to go ahead and keep running, and after a minute both of the pains went away. I assume I just had a couple cramps I hadn't stretched out. My next obstacle was breathing. I have a bad habit of taking short breaths which tire my body very easily.

I pretty much had to regulate my breathing as I ran, teaching myself to breathe in slowly and exhale slowly (like Wii Fit has taught me). That was no easy task, but I found that I had much more stamina and by the 6th run, I had found an amazing pace and felt I could run forever.

So that was week 2. If you're reading this and you're a runner, please give me some pointers! I would love to hear what anyone out there can share.

Monday, November 23, 2009

training to run - week 1

A couple weeks ago I got the itch to do something productive and healthy for myself. I decided to start running. So I went on a short run one afternoon to see what I could was ugly.

I felt like I'd taken a Tyson punch to the gut while simultaneously a giant hand squeezed my lungs until I nearly hyperventilated. Out of shape is another way to describe how I felt. Of course that wasn't really a surprise since I've been carrying around some extra weight for a little while now.

Despite my initial discouragement I decided to seek help. Since my iPhone is always on me in one way or another, I thought I'd look to see if there were any apps for training someone to run. Turns out there are quite a few! I decided to use one called Get Running ($2.99 on App Store).

Get Running trains you slowly from a novice level to a full-fledged runner. Or so I read. I had to give it a try.

So this past week I did just that, and I have to say that I feel pretty good. The first week of training consisted of 3 days (like, for example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) of alternating running/walking. To begin, a pleasant-sounding British lady starts speaking instructions, telling you exactly what to do. You start by warming up for 5 minutes (I just walked briskly for this time period) and, after the 5 minute period is over, she comes back over your headphones and tells you to begin your first run.

After a minute's time your first run is over. She then instructs you to walk for a minute and a half, only to run again for another minute. Overall the run/walk combo repeats 8 times.

What's cool is that while this is going on, you can play your music in the background. I have an awesome playlist full of pop music that gets me pumped (I'm on sort of a pop kick these days).

Also noteworthy are my running grounds: the local Holly Springs Cemetery. You may think it's weird, but the cemetery is full of paved trails and hills that prove to be challenging for me as a beginner. Not to mention it's easy to run when a ghost may or may not be chasing you...

My first day of running was TOUGH. I managed to finish with only 2 thoughts of suicide...I kid. I did want to stop and just go ahead and let my heart explode. It was pounding like crazy.

The second day was even harder, much to my surprise. My muscles ached, as did my knees. After my 4th round of running/walking I felt like stopping. The program actually gives you a chance to stop if you so choose after the 4th round...but I didn't do it. I had to prove to myself that I was serious. I was actually proud of myself after I finished out.

Today I completed my first week of running in a different location. I had left some clothes at my parents' home in Waterford, including my running clothes. So I went back down there today since I had planned to go there anyway for dinner and ran along the surprisingly busy streets. I also had a chorus of dogs barking their hearts out at me as I ran past their territories. At one point I had two dogs trailing behind me. Anyway, to my surprise and good fortune, I didn't get winded until I finished my 6th round today. This was a marked improvement and gives me hope since the next week (beginning Thursday) I will have to run for a longer period of time.

You may ask why I would be doing this at 26 years old. Well I used to run in high school, but I never really took it seriously. I did it because I was talked into it, basically. But after the year my brother has had with cancer and its' complications, and after hearing of benefit runs to raise funds and awareness for a possible cure, I think it's a great thing to be part of. Also just being able to use my body for good seems like such a liberating and spiritual thing. Not to mention I'll be in pretty great shape!

So until my next complete week of running, enjoy life.