Reasons to get out of bed…

Posts tagged ‘Couch to 5K’

The Diva Dash

As I had mentioned last week, while completing my master’s thesis and not blogging, I signed up for 2 more races. I’ve already talked about my overwhelming excitement for The Color Run. Today, I’ll talk about the other run I signed up for: Shape Magazine‘s Diva Dash in September! This is actually an obstacle course… which I’m completely scared of.

Now let me explain, I’m not really afraid of the obstacles… I’m afraid of looking like a fool. I’m not a good little runner who also cross trains… If it’s not a muscle used for running, it has NO strength!

Side note, I never thought I would run an obstacle course. So how did I end up signed up for one?

Peer pressure!

Source: for sale on ūüôā

My thesis project was a play with 9 women (and 5 men) in the cast. A few of the people in my cast were also in a fundraiser for a local group that happened to be a staged murder mystery. One of the women in both plays invited the women from the two plays to participate in this event with her. And a bunch of people got excited and joined. There was a lot of hype! I didn’t want to be left out! Plus, I figure if I’m ever going to do an obstacle course, an all women one sounds ideal…¬†and having 10 other friends with me should make it easier more fun. Granted, I don’t know all of the women yet… but I know most of them. The ones I don’t know seem funny so I think it’s going to be a blast.

The obstacles don’t look terrible either, from what I’ve seen in YouTube videos, there are some balance beams, some climbing nets, climbing over walls, and army crawls. There should only be 6 (they occur every 1/2 mile). I think I can survive. There is only one obstacle so far that makes me nervous. There is a photo of an obstacle from another city where the women had to walk through water (looks like a lake) up to the mid-thigh, around some stuff. “Why is this so terrible”¬†you ask?¬†Because I’m not looking forward to soggy shoes. I wouldn’t mind crawling through some mud, but wading through water in my beloved running shoes, uh-uh, doesn’t sound like a good time! After that obstacle, I know I’m going to be running with the following sound effects: squish (“yuck!”) squish (“gross”) squish (“ew” “Jen, suck it up and get over it!!!”). I may need to purchase some fast-draining, running shoes. Suggestions?

For all my silly complaining, I KNOW this is one run that I will be very proud of myself¬†once it’s over. And I’m SURE I can handle the obstacles! (I just might make some funny faces while completing them… and I might need to lift some weights this summer)

And to make it better, the group will be occasionally training together to become better runners and to strengthen other muscles. (Shape even has a training suggestion we could follow.) Added fun! I never get to run with other people, so I’m really looking forward to this. But on that note… what’s the etiquette? I know we have a variety of skill levels (ranging from someone who just ran her second half marathon to someone who hasn’t run in 15 years – since her freshman year of high school – but is starting the Couch to 5k). What’s polite? Do we all run together at the slowest person’s speed? Do we just run by ourselves? Do we naturally break into similar skill levels?

For our first training session, there will only be 5 (maybe 6) of us so the small group thing probably won’t work super well. Please, please, please send your suggestions! I don’t know what’s polite and I don’t want to come off as a jerk just because I always run alone.


Sneakers Pounding Pavement Again!

I went running outside this past weekend and I’m in the best mood because of it!

I would typically consider myself to be a “trail runner.” Although I should mention that I live in a¬†pretty¬†urban environment… so the closest¬†thing I find to a trail is paved… but it’s near a river and there are some trees! I count it! (and I ignore the apartment buildings and grocery store and bus stop on the other side of me). If I lived somewhere more rural, I’d totally be running on paths through woods, etc. I also refuse to run on the sidewalk down the street (I mean… I do… but only for the 1/4 mile to get to the trail) – there is no way you’ll find me willingly running down the sidewalk on main street (or any of the other busy streets near me). So… because of my obstinance, I’ve been forced to run inside this winter. It’s too dark when I get home from work. And it’s cold and I’m a giant wuss when it comes to cold! Oh, and I’m not a morning person; nope, nope, nope.

But finally, this past weekend felt like spring. When I noticed it, I simply had to strap on my sneakers and head outside. What motivated me was the feeling of missing something great.

A few things I realized when I was out there:

  • I probably should have brought gloves and earmuffs… it wasn’t THAT warm! It was only about 40¬įF.
  • I never run in cold weather… my lungs didn’t know how to breathe! I was actually wheezing and coughing for HOURS after coming home, but luckily it passed without a problem.
  • I took off a LOT of time this winter! Whoa, out of shape!
  • I have MISSED my trail!

It was a pathetic run overall… as in, I only ran about 1/2 a mile before needing to walk. But that 1/2 a mile was the fastest I have ever run on the trail, so thank you treadmill boredom that made me increase my speeds. So I walked, and ran, and walked, and ran. All in all, it was like when I first started last year… I’m pretty sure it even took me my old speed to complete the 5 mile loop (based on how far I made it through my iPod’s playlist).

Sadly, I limped home… which was a new development. The back of my left knee was screaming, which is weird, because my left knee never hurts (and if it does, the right hurts worse). My hips used to hurt together… and then my ankles… but those strengthened up. My LEFT side has never hurt before my right side. I’ve had surgery on my right leg… so it’s always the weak one. I’m SHOCKED the left knee hurt (and it hurt for DAYS)… over-compensating maybe?

Also, my upper back hurt a little. That’s easy to understand though, those muscles got lazy having the cup holders on a treadmill. My arms haven’t had to carry my iPod nor water bottle in months.

It feels really good to be out there again! I’m so looking forward to spring!


My Feelings on the “Couch to 5k”

I mentioned the Couch to 5k training program in my last post and I thought I would devote an entire post to the idea.

I’m actually a very big fan of the program and I certainly recommend it to others (including my best friend, she lives half way across the country – otherwise I would run with her on her new [future] quest to be a runner this summer).

I mentioned in my last post that I didn’t actually finish the Couch to 5k program… well I sort of did because I completed two 5k races last year. Quick recap: started the program, ran 5 weeks (out of 9), got busy with life and stopped. Started again and ran another¬†4 weeks (weeks 4 -7), got busy with life and stopped. THEN it got nice out! The reason I stopped the Couch to 5k program was because I stopped running on a treadmill and started running outside, but I used the same training and philosophy of the program. I built up slowly and kicked some 5k butt!

A little past the finish line (and off to the side). Trying to celebrate, but also trying to drink water.

And in the process, I learned to love running.

That’s the main reason that I recommend it to other people and think it’s a great idea! There are two other reasons that explain why I think it’s a good program, so let me expand. To do that, I’m going to quote from a book I love so much I actually handed it out as gifts this holiday season (and I would recommend it to anyone!): The Complete Book of Running for Women¬†by Claire Kowalchik.

1) It’s ok to start slowly:

“The reason many people (non-runners) say [running] is painful is because they go out for their first run and virtually sprint for as long as they can – which isn’t very long – with their chest heaving, their tongues lolling, their muscles straining until finally they¬†can go no further. They stop and pant, hands on their hips, wobbly kneed. ‘I – gasp – hate – gasp – running.’ they say. So would I if I ran like that¬†every day. (page 4)”¬†

Running isn’t about going as fast as you can for as long as you can! Running can be enjoyable. I like that the Couch to 5k creates small goals and gives new runners the permission to walk. (Because they may not otherwise give themselves that permission but should!)

2) The treadmill BLOWS! (I’m in New England where it’s cold and dark… the treadmill is important)

“The first 10 minutes go by pretty quickly, but each minute after that can feel like an hour if you don’t figure out some distraction…. It’s a matter of perception, according to exercise physiologist and runner Ken Sparks, who does all his speed training on the treadmill. Nothing is moving around you; your brain notices that you’re working really hard to go nowhere. (page 252)”

Ms. Kowalchik recommends mixing up your workouts: vary your speed or incline based on music or when commercials are on if you’re watching TV. Or just vary speed and incline to make your workout feel like a game. Plus then you’re only focusing on short increments of time. I’ll talk about this more in another post…

However, the C25k program follows that in the early weeks by mixing up how long you walk vs run.

So if you’re new to running, good luck! Have faith in yourself! Don’t be afraid to take it “easy” – you don’t have to sprint the whole time! And make it fun if you can!

Afraid of the Gym?

Hi! Have you found my blog because you’re one of the many people searching for motivation to go to the gym? Was it your New Years Resolution and now you’re second guessing yourself? Welcome!

Last night, I finally returned to the gym after a short hiatus and I was thinking about all of the people who are starting to go to the gym this month after their own hiatus. Let me tell you, I was NERVOUS!

If you’re not familiar with me, let me tell you about my own sordid work outs. In December 2010, I started the Couch to 5k program… by myself on the treadmill at my gym. I made it about 5 weeks before school started up and I quit going to the gym. During spring break, I went back, I started around week 4 and made it to about week 7 before giving up again because life got in the way (and let’s face it, the treadmill isn’t that fun). When nice weather came around in June, I started running outside on a trail near my house. I loved it! I ran when I felt like and I walked when I felt like it and I felt that people didn’t see me long enough to judge me. I still think the Couch to 5k program is great and I totally recommend it to people even if I wasn’t really able to finish the program per se… but I ran two 5ks last year… so I sort of finished the program, right? I never really considered myself a “runner” though. But I will own up to the fact that I wasn’t afraid of the gym anymore.

I¬†like going to a gym in my office building now that’s cold (instead of the giant, warehouse-like gym that I pay for near my house). I also like going to the office gym because it’s usually empty. I haven’t gone running since Thanksgiving, it was time to get back into it! And last night was the night!¬†Before the holidays, I had lost my access card to my office and had to get another one. In order to get into the gym, the access card has to be put on an approved list (we have to sign something that says we can’t sue if we hurt ourselves in the office gym). I wasn’t sure if my new card had my old card’s approval, so I popped by the gym before getting ready to make sure I could get in. Unfortunately, I saw that the gym was pretty full (with people I work with everyday!)

While I was changing into my gym clothes, I was actually freaking out a little bit. How out of shape had I gotten? Would I make a fool of myself? Etc. And I had only been away for 41 days! I can completely sympathize with the gut wrenching fear one might feel after being away for a long time!

So I want to offer you a few positive thoughts before you find yourself in a locker room, clutching your sock, wondering if you should just go home (that may be personal experience talking).

  1. Lots of people are starting out at the gym as resolutions. It’s not like you’ll be in a room filled with fit people and you’ll be suffering alone. Most of the people there will be new to the gym! You’ll all be starting out together!
  2. The treadmill blows! Even someone who is rocking it out, is mostly cursing out that they are on the treadmill at all, and they are cursing out the treadmill!
  3. You’re there for YOU! Not them, so don’t worry about them!
  4. Most people aren’t actually caring about you because they are thinking about their own workout.

In fact, here is a short list of things that I think about at the gym that actually have anything to do with the people around me:

  • Wow! She’s running really fast! Oh… oh, she’s getting off the treadmill! After only 10 minutes! Yes! She may be faster, but I can stay on here longer! (even if your longer is only 20 minutes)
  • I wonder if the person next to me is thinking I’m doing a good job. Do I look good on this treadmill? I feel like I do!
  • Yay, I’m not the slowest person in here ANY MORE!

See? They’re all really about me, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other people were like that too. Please don’t feel that all eye s are on you… because they most likely aren’t!

Don’t get discouraged! No one is judging you the way you think they are! I’ve been there: thinking everyone thinks I look like a fool. In reality, no one cares how you look!

Good luck!

I’ve posted these motivational posters before, but they are my favorite, so I wanted to share them again. They are my gym mantras and I hope they help you out!

And a new one that I love:

Good luck!

Oh, and as a really sad note, I used to be able to run 5 miles without walking. Last night I could run 1 before needing a break. If you’ve had a hiatus, you might not be as fit as you once were, but if you still with it, you’ll be back to where you want to be!

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