Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Nerd in Fitness 3 - First month of running

Instead of splitting up the various weeks in individual posts, I thought it'd be way more comprehensible to stick them into one. Because; most of the lessons I've been through apply to every week.

As noted in the previous post; during my first week of running I managed to complete a 2+1 record. Meaning; I did a warm up for five minutes, then ran two minutes, then walked four minutes and finally ran one.

During the following four weeks, I kept to the program; slowly I would escalate things and not really try to rush it. Not rushing things was actually harder than I originally thought. Sometimes I grew impatient, other times I got eager for results and a few times I simply had too much fun doing what I did. The program I follow doesn't recommend going for more than three runs a week, preferably with a day in between each.

The escalation is really slow, and then at times it spikes in ways that make you dread the outcome and fear for your life. The first time I was supposed to run for three minutes, I refused to believe it. Same thing when I was supposed to hit five. And to be brutally honest, in the beginning I was very close to utter collapse after barely one minute.

And this leads me to the fourth rule I learned the hard way.

Running Rule #4: There's no shame in pace
The problem with being alone in such things, is that you've got nobody to say stop and tell you when you need to tone it down a notch. So I think you'll just start doing what everyone else is doing since it seems to be working. In my case, I set my pace at the same level of those pro runners I so often saw outside my window.

I quickly realized, however, that this is a bar set way too high.
Most of these people have been at this for ages, and the only result (besides from a feeling of failure) is tiring out way too early. On the other hand, slowing down to a pace that is barely a notched up jog isn't what I was expecting my running career to be!

I'll be honest. This was pretty much my reaction whenever someone was faster than me.
But it was necessary, because otherwise my body couldn't keep up. My legs would simply refuse. Once I took this to heart, I not only managed to complete the times set by the program; I also managed to speed up certain distances, such as when going downhill or on even terrain.

It was all about finding the speed that worked for me, and be proud that this was a vast improvements compared to my usual standards.

And, of course, there's the mandatory one...

Running Rule #5: Gear, gear, gear
When I began running, I thought I'd be able to do well with just my old shorts and trainers. Fact was, this only worked well for the early runs, when I was doing 2+2 or below. Going higher than that simply wore out my feet and hurt.

Luckily, I have a girlfriend who's way more learned in the field than I am, so she was eager to take me down to the local store and get a proper set of running-shoes. Now, I'm not here to advertise, so I'll just say; finding a set of shoes that match made a world of difference for me.

The store I went to offered a running-test, in which they put me on a machine and filmed me as I ran. It was a weird feeling to say the least, but it helped a lot in deciding what kind of shoes I would need. There are so many options in this regard that I can barely differentiate them from one another (a quick google should help, though) and since they aren't exactly cheap, one might as well get the best.

I think I spent half an hour just trying them on and off in various sizes and models. I'm terrible when it comes to this; I pretty much just want to buy something and have it over with. Having a salesman and your girlfriend talk about you and your feet in third-person right next to you isn't a barrel of fun either, but I'm glad I made it through.

Running Rule #6: Music
One thing I've always known I wanted, should I ever start anything active, was music. I love music. It helps with everything. When I started running, I would bring my old mobile to take time, but it became extremely cumbersome, so setting up musical tracks instead worked wonders. I again decided that since I was anyway going to do this, I might as well get a proper MP3-player. I have a notorious reputation for breaking these.

In a way, I've found music to be a bit of a dual-edged sword. In one way, it really helps taking my attention off the fact that my lungs are screaming for air. But if it's too fast, I get carried away and unconsciously speed up my pace.

So far, I've stuck with fast paced combat music, such as from the Witcher and other role playing games. But slow music, I think, can be really good for those long runs in which its more about enduring than speed. 

Not just a great game; also perfect for running.

Running Rule #7: Determination!
All fun things come to an end. In the beginning, I loved running and wished I'd do it several times a day. Recently, I have to push myself a bit more, especially if it's cold or rainy outside. I know of the old cliché that getting started is half the pain of running, but keeping up determination has been a real bother for me. I like it, though, and I want to do it. Yet, getting out into the shoes is such a drudge some days.

When it comes to running and bad weather, denial will get you far

I often have to remind myself of why I do this. This blog has helped a lot in this regard.

So where are we now?

I didn't skip one day of running the entire month and I'm damn proud of it.
There were days, yes, when I wanted to just throw everything away and quit. These were the ones in which I needed to kick myself even more in the ass to get going. Knowing the great feeling of afterburn when it was over, was a strong motivator all in itself.

So this brings me up to my current stage: The 8+1!!

Achievement unlocked!

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