Hitting my first 5K : When you stop wondering and just go get on with it!

After a pretty successful week of interval training, cycling and spotting Lego Dinosaurs in a retired Coal Mine a thought started to seep into my head.

“When will I be ready to hit the 5K mark?”

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t shake that thought.  It was like someone had been bullying me in my sleep telling me I’d never do it! We had a few errands to run … including picking up some bike racks from an eBay seller and me fantastically falling over all their stuff in the garage, knocking a hyper expensive bike of its mount in the process. Not fun!

Over a coffee on the way home, I was still reeling from feeling like a buffoon, and with that thought of the 5K distance in my head, I decided enough was enough.

I was going to get out there and do it.

I had a route in mind that I had walked not long ago that was around the right distance and if I was short I’d just run a bit of my normal interval route. Saying that, the start of the run was going to be a near kilometer and a half of steep uphill running. When getting ready, I was planning my rests as it was obvious I was going to stop at some point, so decided on 30 second rests if I was finding it really hard, enough time to catch a breather and crack on.

After a 5 minute warm up, I got to the start of the hill climb and set off…

46 minutes later and I’d done it! My first 5K. I didn’t stop, I wasn’t in pain and that hill climb I just took in my stride. I smiled so hard at the end of that, and to be honest, I’ve not yet been able to wipe it off my face.

After 7 weeks of training and eating well, 11 lbs lighter and with a cracking pair of running leggings (yep, those) I hit my first 5K. I can’t believe I made it! But hey, it all totally works, and taking it slow and building up is the way to do it, all it costs is your time!

I still have 3 weeks left on the 5K plan, and I’m still going to finish it. At least now those 20-30 minute intervals should now be less of a strain on my mind and I can really enjoy the run. Plus sticking to the plan should mean I have a better time to compare today with the final 5K I do in 3 weeks.

I wouldn’t say I’d encourage you to do what I did today, but if you fancy going at it early, do what I did and plan ahead what you’ll do if you need to stop and how far you’ll push yourself before you call it quits.

It’s crazy how much has changed in the last few months, but now I’m more excited than daunted about completing my next milestones. Plus a lot of people have suggested I get down to a parkrun and now, I’m more confident than ever to give it a go!

 

The Hidden Community: How I found strength in strangers

When I set out on my running journey I thought it would be a mostly solo affair. I knew that once I got stronger and fitter, I’d be able to join in a ParkRun or local 10k and maybe meet some people there that were in the same boat as me!

What I didn’t expect from sharing my story and videos online, is that I would find a hidden community of runners and fitness enthusiasts whose sole purpose is to keep pushing each other forward. There are hundreds and thousands of people just like me out there who share their thoughts, tips, good and bad days (and sometimes really bad days), to make sure you know you’re not alone on your journey. Each one of them is ready to drop you a line, answer your questions and just give you a positive push in the right direction that makes that next run feel less lonely.

In the past two weeks since I’ve been using my twitter account, I’ve had great conversations with complete strangers. We’ve talked about running gear, what to think about when running, how to get over distance humps and suggestions for my first 10k race! (I’ve also discussed lots of off topic things like Lego collections too!)

The thing is, I’ve never used twitter for this before. In my past twitter life, I’ve had an account, followed a few things I’ve been interested in and generally been a bit snarky to people. But over the past few weeks, I’ve come to discover the real use of social media (I guess the clue is in the name!) and how no matter what community you might be looking for, it’s out there and ready to take you in with open arms. Don’t be afraid to ask people for advice or their opinions, most are ready to message to you back straight away and give you a helping hand.

So the next time I head out on the road, I know I’m not running solo, I’ve got a whole team behind me, pushing me on to do better, to run that bit harder and reminding me to inspire the next group of would-be runners to get their shoes on!

Thank you to everyone who follows me, I really value your time and your willingness to help. I hope one day I can repay the favor.

Andrew

My Running Gear

Picture of my Running Gear

Don’t be fooled by all these fitness adverts or fitness/fashion blogs.

You don’t need to be wearing the latest gear to start making a difference and get fit. No amount of Nike ticks or Adidas stripes on your shiny new clobber is going to make any difference to those first weeks and months on the road or in the gym.

I thought I’d do a post on the gear that I’ve been using in my first 4 weeks of my fitness journey in the hope that it inspires you to raid your wardrobe and get out there. (Unfortunately I know this is very male-centric so I can’t give any top tips on leggings or sports bras other than they’re probably vital and come in many various colours) – Edit:  Although with my lovely manboobs, a sports bra could be really handy! A Bro-Bra? The Bro’ob Tube? …..

My stuff ranges from the cheap to expensive and you’ll see why as we go. Truth be told, the cheap side is the actual nuts and bolts of running, the expensive is my unhealthy obsession with gadgetry!

So…

My Running Clothes… Picture of my Running Gear

Firstly, I grab any t-shirt I have lying around. The older the better really. I will sweat into this thing so much and destroy its armpits beyond compare so not my favourite The Verge shirt for sure (plug!)

I have a long sleeve running top I picked up from Aldi for about £6. It’s great, has reflective material on the back and is really breathable whilst keeping me warm.

My shorts are just an old pair that I think I acquired from an old housemate of mine many years ago. Basic men’s running shorts with netting to keep your valuables safe at all times! The shorts have two zip pockets which are adequate to hold my phone in one and keys in the other.

In this weather, gloves are valuable and so is a good woolly hat if you have one. Usually depends on the temperature, but my gloves have been on for every run so far and it’s nice to keep your fingers toasty when bobbing about at 1 or 2 °C.

Topped off with a real bright white pair of cheap running socks from Primark for a couple of pounds.

Shoes …

New Balance Trainers for Running

I picked up this pair of New Balance running trainers years ago from I think TK Maxx in Manchester for about £20. They’ve never really gotten much use but I’ve always thought they were super comfy and as I knew at the time, from a pretty reputable maker of running shoes.

Shoes are vitally important and I know most blogs or advice columns would advise you to go to a running shop and get fully fitted etc before putting foot to road. If I’m honest, I don’t really have the money to drop on an expensive pair of shoes and I firstly wanted to make sure that I was committed to this journey before I really invested any money into it. Once I think things are progressing where I’m actively running 5K on my own a few times a week I’ll explore a new pair, but for now, these bad boys have done me no wrong. Super super comfy and fit great!

Gadgets…

Now I’m going to preface this bit again by saying that you need none of this to do what I’m doing at the moment. I’m just a bit of a gadget fiend and I love having all the stats of my runs and intervals available to me on my down days. I find it super interesting.

Interval training could be done with any normal watch as long as you can remember what you should be doing at what time.

First off is my phone. I have an iPhone 6 which fits snuggly in my pocket and runs my Runmeter app. The Runmeter app is a bit of a fuggly looking thing, but works really well and the stats and customization aspects to it are endless. I got it as it looked the kind of thing that in the future would be really useful even if I’m just using the bare bones of it now. This app also sends data to my Apple Watch which displays my intervals and stats through the run. It’s great as I don’t have to keep looking at my phone to see the timers and gives me other info like heart rate and pace so I can keep slow and know when I’m rushing. It also gives you GPS tracking so you can see on a map where you ran and the different speeds on the intervals. I’ll do another post about my watch as in it’s day to day use, its health features really can spur you on to get out of your seat and be active.

Lastly, I have a pair of JVC running headphones that we’re about £6 on Amazon. They are an over the ear clip which means they are super sturdy and I can just listen to a podcast while I’m jogging about. The good thing is that they allow enough ambient noise through so you don’t feel like pedestrians, other runners or traffic are sneaking up behind you and you can still be very aware of your surroundings. They also let the Runmeter app give me voice notifications of when to run and walk so I don’t need to be glued to my watch for those instructions.

So as I said, the basics are pretty cheap and as I found, I already had most of what I needed hanging around the house!

That’s one less excuse you can use for getting out there!!

 

Day 18: Snow Running and End of Week 3 Update

Today was my last run of week 3. It snowed. It snowed a lot!

 

I really struggled with the idea of having to go out in it. It was going to be freezing cold, slippy underfoot and a half hour of misery and drenched clothes.

Oddly, something in me kicked me to get my gear on and get out there. Normally this would just not happen in a million years, but in the last few weeks, I have been more inclined to push through those little mental blocks you try and put around yourself.

Yes, the 5 minute warm up walk seemed to go on for way too long, and I was already collecting enough snow dust to become a mobile snowman. In the first  3 minute run stretch however, it felt great. I was keeping cool and keeping steady underfoot and it was pretty exhilarating even though I wasn’t really going at any considerable speed.

I imagine it to be similar to running in the rain and letting the elements help you rather than letting them put you off.

15 minutes into the run and quickly the snow started stopping and the sun burst through. It was awesome.

What did I learn? That the elements should not stop you from getting out there and putting foot to the road. It was just what I needed for the end of the week and a real good kickstart to the weekend! You’ll always feel better for getting out there and exercising, and every time you do, the next time becomes just that but easier!

Week 3 upped the game a bit in terms of intervals, as the runs went up to 3 lots of 3 minute long runs. They felt long at the start of the week, but today (and probably helped by the weather) it breezed by. It’s astonishing how in the space of 5 days, that first struggle is so easy by the end. I can’t wait to see how that progresses over the next few weeks as they again increase steeper in difficulty.

Lastly, I’ve started a page detailing the training plan I’m following that I’ll update at the start and end of each week with any tips I think you’ll need or things I wish I knew at the start. Hope it helps you kickstart your running or exercise goals!

Thanks again for your time, video update coming next Monday and any questions feel free to get in touch!