Motivations and Milestones

Today I had a revelation. I ran this morning – hitting a sub ten minute mile incidentally – and found cause within myself to contemplate my motivations for doing so. I ran with a friend and she was discussing with me her absolute admiration for a lady at her gym who ‘has the most amazing body’. After a few minutes it became clear that this woman spends hours at the gym, exercising relentlessly, and eats with military precision. Good for her, and I do not think she is right or wrong. I do not care in fact. What I realised, however, is that very different reasons and motivations drive different people. I formulated an aphorism, which obviously is a rule with exceptions, however I am now convinced that, in the main, those who run in gyms are neurotic, whereas those who wish to run outdoors are ambitious.

Ultimately, whatever drives a person to run and exercise is their business and as long as they do not hurt themselves or others I see no problem. This did explain a great deal of the difference between I and my friend as well as our differing philosophies. She wishes to be thin at all costs. I wish to conquer as much of the world as I can before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Neuroticism versus ambition.

Today’s Run

Today I ran four miles, the first of which was the sub ten minute one – progress! I ran plenty of this on the trail and I have to say that right now it feels as though I am at the bottom of a significant curve of improvement and growth. Fingers crossed that my feelings are telling me the truth.

Strava

That is three days of cycling followed by three days of running. Given the time and distances involved now I will try to alternate.

How to go From Couch to 5K in Four Days. Bonus Level: Records Broken Also

After outlining my running ambitions previously I managed to get injured practically the next day. No good deed goes unpunished, right? I guess I asked for it really. Even more astounding is that the injury was in fact gout. That is right, a (then) almost, (now) completely teetotal, vegan, twenty five year + veteran cyclist, runner and swimmer received a diagnosis of gout. Unbelievable. I can only presume that it runs in the family because you do not get lower risk than me for gout, typically the disease of ale swilling, red meat guzzling, Henry VIII type bloaters. Ho hum, so it goes. I have beat it into retreat with careful diet management, dispensing with crap shoes, exercising and resting properly and so forth, and now I am back on the trail.

How I Did Couch to 5K in Four Days

As silly as it sounds, I just did it. I have noticed that, for me at least, when I take a break from running the first three or four stints back on the road are like dragging a sack of lead around. Only after I push through this do I start feeling the Afterglow of Champions (I just made that up but I am so trademarking it). The sense that, suddenly, out of nowhere, the agony of laborious effort is receding and suddenly I feel as though I can run a marathon. It is a great feeling and I appreciate it more and more with age as my body starts to need more work to maintain great health and performance.

The sequence is as folows:

    Day one: 2 miles
    Day two: 2.5 miles
    Day three: 3 miles (probably 5K)
    Day four: 3.5 miles (definitely 5K)

On the way I scored my fastest 5K and recorded several fastest miles, with my current best being 10:30, which is bang average really, but still an improvement. All of these runs were done in a fasted state. I am still fasting 16/8 and intend for that arrangement to be permanent. Right now my trousers are falling down as the weight is falling off me, and I am not fat at all, but I am shedding residual body fat so quickly that I need new clothes already.

I have to once again acknowledge the power of incremental change. Ever since I was a wee nipper I have known its power, as my mum stopped smoking when I was very young, and ran to the traffic lights on our road and back. Eventually she ran multiple marathons. It is that simple to me. Start where you can, go where you want, do a little bit more the next day. Small beginnings, no matter how insignificant they may seem in the moment, yield results you could never dream of because no matter how little you do, it is more than nothing.

Here in England the NHS is always pushing Couch to 5K as a great achievement, and for sure it is for anyone, but simply by pushing myself pretty gently in increments I am already there. At this rate hitting marathon distances by the end of the year seems trivial. Doubtlessly it will not be that simple, but it will not be that hard either, provided I give the effort that I know I can and I do not get injured. Combining this with a high protein, low GI diet I am making gains that seem remarkable but which are really just good outcomes based on the science.

My ambitions to run ultra distances are intact, as is my body and I am going to do it if it kills me. Remember folks, it does not matter who you were yesterday as long as you are better tomorrow. Past is prologue, the future is for gods!

Strava Data

I’m so Ashamed

Today I ran for the first time in over a year. In the past I have put some impressive distances on my personal scoreboard but right now I am pretty much beginning from square one. To be fair, I have never been a keen runner, or a good one for that matter. I like trails but generally tolerate running the roads at best. Lugging my large frame around on a run is probably the only time I envy skinny little guys who are nine stones wet through.

Today’s Run
Today’s Run

I posted a one mile run at 10:34. Which is crap, but it is better than not running. I have maxed out at fifteen miles at my strongest. Right now I feel as though that would be impossible, which is obviously the best reason to push on and beat that record.

Sweet Cleats, Fail on the Trail

Today’s run was well over ten minute miles because I had a brain fart halfway through and decided to go off road. Sadly I don’t own a pair of cleats so the boggy terrain slowed me right down and turned a planned 3.5 miles into 3.25. Running through mud doesn’t half rev the engine and sap one’s energy.

Details

As well as the trail I ran a slightly adjusted on-road route with an uphill start so that last quarter of a mile hurt. It crushed me to not do 3.5 miles but running through pain causes injuries. It’s never worth it as the losses outweigh the gains by a country mile.

Positives

In addition to an extra quarter of a mile the positives of this run were the lovely warm sun and also the feeling of running in nature, away from people under a tree canopy. I also encountered a heron on the trail.

What a fine, beautiful animal.

Concluding Thoughts

Slower but further. I learned that I need to plan trail runs properly and invest in some cleats for seriously muddy running.

Progress is progress…

Pushing On

I am in the habit of starting small and building quickly. That’s what I have done in the past and I am doing it again now. Yesterday I swam and today I pushed myself further on the road.

Swimming

I started yesterday with what I thought was ten sets of 50 metre intervals. I either miscounted or I forgot to record one of my sets with my swim watch so I’m posting a 450 metre swim rather than 500. Whatever, it’s a start. I’ll soon be pushing up to swimming an hour nonstop as I did previously.

Running

Today I added half a mile to my previous 2 mile run on Monday. My time is abysmal here, over 10 minute miles, but hey, distance is distance and I’ve never been a particular fast runner.

My struggle is often what to do once I get to high distances when it comes to running and swimming. When cycling I would always commute so it was easy to be consistent. I guess we’ll see how I motivate myself with leisure exercise. Stats below.

Weather permitting this weekend will be two mountain hikes in the Yorkshire Dales.

Achievement Unlocked: Sub-Ten Minute Miles

Another day, another run, another milestone passed. I am currently focusing on improving every aspect of my running. My last run was a great feelgood moment as I learned that my flat course running is a lot faster than I had previously suspected. Today I have broken a speed barrier, pushing through the ten minute mile frontier. This was a conscious effort on my part, not just for the significance of the time itself, but also in an attempt to drive up my heart rate during runs. It is a rather cruel irony that the fitter one becomes and the more fat one burns, the harder it becomes to get even fitter and burn even more fat. Such is the way of things. As one’s metabolism accelerates the body requires more effort to work up a sweat and do serious exercise. Of course, the pay off here is that it also means one is capable of more and more over time. I have observed this over the last fifteen years or so with cycling. I am capable of cycling miles and miles without feeling serious fatigue and my endurance is such that cycling 100 miles is not exactly a huge challenge. When it comes to running I do feel some supplementary benefit as a result of my prowess on two wheels but in this new arena I am largely a beginner.

In making a concerted effort to up my pace and heart rate I learned again that the limits I previously felt by virtue of my body signalling to take it easy were simply illusory. The body is all about economy so far as I can tell, stretching out the calories one has for as great a length of time and effort as possible. I make no claim to expert knowledge here, rather it just seems intuitive that a hunter/gatherer species would be built that way via the marvels of evolution.

Data

Rather irritatingly I can’t download GPX files from Runtastic at the moment so data is all I have today.

  • 5.04 miles
  • 49:49
  • 9.52 minute miles
  • 804 calories
  • 230 feet climbed
  • 130 bpm average heart rate

For what its worth I am surprised at my progress in running. I have never been a strong or fast runner, nor have I particularly enjoyed that much in the past. It has been a pleasant surprise to get this far.