I caught the running bug!

View of Yorkshire Countryside

Today was supposed to be a rest day.

Yesterday I’d done a 24-minute interval run that went great with 2 nasty hill climbs. I was prepared for today to get some work done, take it easy and get prep work done for a job interview I have tomorrow.

Around 1pm I started to feel really run down. I was getting worried about tomorrow and those creeping thoughts had started to get into my head. I sat on the sofa for a break and went to switch the TV on. As I lifted the remote to turn over from whatever BBC One had on at that moment (the usual couple buying a house but hate it and want to move to the other side of the world but have bad debts and really should be baking with Mary Berry in the countryside kind of thing), when I turned it off and really thought about what would make me feel better.

It used to be that I’d jump to eating food, playing on the Playstation, throwing on an old film or seeing what’s new on YouTube. Today, though, a new thought had crept in.

“Go for a run.” it said.

“Are you sure, I mean it’s my rest day and I ran yesterday and yes I can see it’s a gorgeous day but really?”

“Go For A Run?”

“But…..well I could but you know, isn’t it bad not taking a rest?”

“GO FOR A RUN”

(the above is for dramatic effect like other bloggers do 🙂 … this was more of a conversation with my girlfriend where she suggested a run would do me a world of good and stop me worrying…..she was right!!)

So I got changed. I wanted to go out. I was ready to go out. I knew that after my run I’d be back on top of the world. I’ve trained my body over the past 2 months to crave that endorphin rush at the end and that feeling of achievement.

So what distance to do? Well, it really was nice out and I’d been cooped up all day. Where I live is slap bang in countryside-ville and any route I take can get me up into Hills and Dales pretty quickly. I wanted a bit of an explore, so I thought I’d do another 5K. I know now I can do it, I enjoyed it last week and it sounded like a decent length of time to be out.

The view 5 minutes up the road, that’s Emley Moor TV Mast in the distance.

It was great. I didn’t lose my breath, had a good hill climb at the start and by the end, had shaved 2 minutes off my first 5K run last Saturday.

It was at the end that I knew. The running bug has sunk its teeth in hard!! I never thought I’d even get to a stage when I would use running as a mental kick and not just for losing weight.

It’s amazing to think my body now craves that feeling. That the next time I’m feeling concerned or troubled I can lace up and brush it off. The best thing was, it gave me time to review all my prep for tomorrow and meant I came back feeling ready for a different kind of challenge.

It’s the end of 8 weeks since I first launched this blog and the idea of running a 5K felt like a huge challenge and a monumental task for a very overweight guy. Turns out, 8 weeks is really short and you’ll be shocked at how much you’ve changed, not only in the mirror but also inside your own head.

After tweeting my success I got a great reply from Barrie Williams which I’ve included below. It’s a very succinct quote and one that I think will ring true for me and also a lot of you guys too. Don’t over think it, and if you gotta run, RUN!

Till next time!

A

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

Recipe: Aubergine with Lamb and Pomegranate

Super tasty low-calorie meal (rocks in at 490 per person) which will fill you up for sure!

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 2 Aubergines halved lengthways
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 200g lean minced lamb
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • Parsley, Chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Place the aubergines in a roasting dish skin side down. Lightly cover with some of the olive oil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and spices cook on medium for about 8 minutes. Add the meat, pine nuts and puree, stir and cook for a further 8 minutes. Just before the end stir in the pomegranate seeds.

Remove the aubergines and top each half with the lamb mixture. Pop back in the oven for a further 10 minutes and then serve with some chopped parsley!

Enjoy!!

(recipe from the 8-week blood sugar diet by Dr Michael Mosley)

 

Breaking through the Wall

Today I ran for my longest interval run so far, which included a stretch of 12 minute running. Now I know to some, 12 minutes may seem like nothing but to me, it’s a huge leap forward from just 4 weeks ago when I was just doing 1-minute intervals and getting super tired out.

Through this training, there have been some runs where I’ve really struggled and often the thought slips into my mind that I want to stop. It starts off small and slowly but surely, after every single step it gets louder and louder until your internal voice is begging you to stop and just sit down and give up all this running lark.

The odd thing for me, though, is that so far, it’s not won. Not once. In the past when I’ve thought I should get fit I’d go out for 10 minutes, tire myself out and then never do it again. My body rebels and made me feel stupid for even trying and might as well say “oh just get back on the sofa and order that garlic bread you like”. In the past 5 weeks, though, something has changed and I’m ready to keep fighting back.

The thing is, I think this time has been different as it feels as though I’m running to get my life back. I know that sounds very dramatic but in a way it’s true.

Since late last year, I’ve been actively looking for full-time work as the freelancing work is not really turning out as expected. The people I work with are great but finding work is inconsistent and when you have grand ideas of buying a house and starting a family, you really need something solid and a healthy regular paycheck. My job hunting had been lazy at best, maybe one or two applications a week with the dullest cut and paste CV and Letter you’ve ever seen. I threw my hands up wondering why I was getting no responses but deep down I knew that my heart wasn’t in it and I was applying for roles that were of no interest to me. When money is the only driver, making any actual connection to what your doing is very difficult.

Mid-January and I decide to kick off my fitness program and site. The first week was tough, slow and made me feel extremely unfit. However, week 2 starts and I start to feel better mentally. I can feel those endorphins after the runs. Maybe I’ll have another look at those job sites. Maybe I should tailor my letters to these employers directly.

I started to realise that after every run, I have more energy. I feel like I have more time to focus on me. Of course, I’m enthused about my own progress running, but I’m also enthused when I sit at my desk and do work, look and apply for jobs and generally day to day I’m ready to handle what comes my way.

When it comes to running, and I want to stop, I know that if I stop, I won’t feel good for the rest of the day. I won’t be able to finish projects I’m working on. if I stop I won’t get those Jobs I applied for. So I push on through. It works. Every time.

I’ve managed to train my brain to fight back and prove to myself that if I get healthy and achieve what I’ve set out to do, then all the other things I want will follow suit. Now I’m not saying it’s all mystical and that it will work, but it’s a damn sight better than sitting on the sofa, sipping cups of coffee and thinking I’ve got everything in the bag.

As I started this post, today I ran in the wind and rain thanks to Storm Doris and didn’t stop. I stuck to the plan. And even though I got home soaked wet through, frozen and red raw, I felt good. I warmed up, hammered that jobs site and got these thoughts out of my system.

So next time you feel like you want to give up, push on through. Keep going and be persistent and consistent. It’ll pay off, and maybe that attitude will trickle into other parts of your life. One change here may open many other doors down the line and I guess you’ll never know till you give it a shot. Halfway into my 5K plan feels like the best thing I’ve ever achieved and I can’t wait to see where I am in another 5!

Thanks for reading and feel free to get in touch with any thoughts and questions you might have! Happy to hear from you 🙂

 

Cheers,

Andy