I hate running, I like feeling awake

After skipping my run yesterday, and consequently feeling slow, tired and crabby all morning, there was no way I would let myself skip this morning’s run. I only had 5 hours sleep which, at this end of a 60-hour work week, isn’t enough but, as proved yesterday, an extra half an hour in bed really doesn’t change anything. It’s simply the reality of the first couple of weeks of any of my work contracts. I’m used to this tiredness and know that there is nothing to do except to survive until the next day off, and then make that one a very restful one.

Today’s session was 5 minutes running, 1 minute walking, 8 minutes running, 1 minute walking for 30 minutes. The 8-minute run intervals were tough. It felt like a big step up from the 5-minute run intervals.

Runtastic ‘helpfully’ announced “one quarter of interval complete, 6 minutes left…half of interval complete, 4 minutes left…three quarters of interval complete, 2 minutes left” through the 8-minute intervals. I appreciate that this is meant to be informative and motivating but, for me, it was taunting, mocking, heckling coming from my phone. I felt a little of the ‘slow and stupid’ feeling, but tried to keep this under control by running at about half the speed I wanted to run at so that I wouldn’t run out of steam. There were only two 8-minute intervals, which was a relief – if there had been any more I think I would have sworn at my phone and thrown it under the nearest passing truck. I tried to keep in mind that running is something me and body are learning to do. It won’t be easy for a long time, and if I decide to go beyond running 5km at a decent pace, there will always be days that are hard. I think of when I started to learn to play the flute: At the start, even getting a sound out of the instrument was hard. Getting a nice sound was even harder. Playing a series of notes, vaguely representing a tune, while maintaining a nice sound was harder still. But fast forward 9 years, and I was taking and passing my Grade 8 exam. (In this analogy, the Grade 8 exam is the equivalent of running a marathon or completing a triathlon.) I’ve only just started running. I’m barely off the starting blocks. Expecting it be anything other than hard is naive.

Now, as I sit on the train, I feel 100% more awake than yesterday. My lungs feel unrestricted, as though I was unwittingly wearing a band around my chest yesterday and just didn’t realise. I don’t feel amazing – there is no euphoric, delirious happiness here – merely less crap that I would feel had I not been for a run. This realisation is what kept me going during my run, and what got me out of bed and out of the door this morning.

While getting ready for work, I noticed that although you can see a little puffiness under my eyes, betraying the lack of sleep of this week, I otherwise look much healthier than I would normally would at this point in a fit-up week. My skin has a healthy colour, it’s clear, and looks hydrated.

I still hate running, but maybe it is worth the effort.


An extra 30 minutes in bed makes no difference

Yesterday was a very physical day at work. I am working on a theatre show and this week is fit-up week – the week where we bring all of the equipment and set into the theatre and build it and set it up. A truck arrived at the start of the day. We had to help unload the set because the equipment we were waiting for was on the back of the truck. This meant I spent around 30 minutes carrying large and heavy rolls of vinyl flooring on my shoulders before getting to our equipment. The upside of this part of the job is that it is a little like a weight training workout, but without the expensive gym membership. The downside of this is that I woke up this morning with sore, stiff muscles. I can count the knots in my shoulders, just by turning my head.

The alarm went off at 5:45am, and I hit snooze for the normal 15 minutes before deciding that I wasn’t going to go for a run this morning. Yesterday brought me to a 5-day streak of running every morning. Today could be my ‘rest’ day. I reset the alarm for half an hour later and closed my eyes again. Less than a minute later my alarm went off again. Aargh! I just want to sleep! I checked the time. Not a minute later, 30 minutes later. Time to get up. Less than impressed, I dragged myself out of bed and got on with breakfast and getting ready for work.

Here’s the interesting observation from this morning’s experiment in 30 minutes more in bed: it has had no appreciable benefit. I feel less awake and more grumpy as I now make my way into town. I feel sleepy and slow. I still want to be back in bed, and I feel less rested than I did the previous two mornings after running. I guess I’ve missed that kickstart of circulation, and with it a nice stream of oxygen being energetically pumped through my muscles and my brain.  It’s like that extra 30 minutes sleep never happened.

I’m now longing for Sunday, my day off. I will have my degree assignment to work on, but at least I can catch up on some sleep, and I won’t need to choose between resting and running.

Running in damp clothes

Yesterday, as predicted, was a long work day, 12.5hrs, getting me home at around 11:30pm. I have to be in work at 10am today, so the alarm went off at 5:45am. I hit snooze until 6:05am, unable to believe it was really time to get up. I considered resetting the alarm for half an hour later and skipping the run, but I fought this temptation and got out of bed. I couldn’t find my sports bra and t-shirt, and then I realised – they were still in the washing machine, clean but still wet from their wash cycle. Dammit. Both the bra and t-shirt are dry-fit, so they tend to dry quickly. I tried to speed this up with the hairdryer. They became coldly damp. I didn’t have time to get them properly dry so I pulled on the sports bra (it’s not an optional item and I only have one); cold, damp, like a swimming costume being used for a second time in a day – yuck. I couldn’t face the t-shirt so I put on a regular cotton t-shirt, jumper over the top.

Running in damp clothes sucks. The sports bra clung to me in a way that felt slimy and heat-sucking rather than supportive. Wearing a non dry-fit t-shirt, my sweat quickly built up under the fabric and then stayed there, adding to the slimy humidity on my skin. Half way round my run I could smell a vaguely mildewy scent coming from my clothes.

Today’s session was 5 minutes running, 1 minute walking, for 30 minutes. As yesterday, I cut my route to only accommodate the session. No muscle burn, but a lack of energy ultimately overcome by gritting my teeth. Slime against my skin – I can’t do that again.

Running in damp clothes sucks. Time to buy a second sports bra and dry-fit t-shirt.

Session stats:

  • Distance: 4.58 km
  • Total time: 34m 08s
  • Fastest km: 6:40
  • Slowest km: 8:22 (PB)
  • Average pace: 7:19 (PB)
  • Weather: 8 degrees, cloudy but dry

Time to prove that it’s more than novelty

Today is the first day of week 2 of my new running regime. It’s also the start of a heavy work week, so this week will really test both my resolve and my limits.

The alarm went off at 5:30am after a crappy night’s sleep. I got out of bed at 5:45, had a cup of tea, and got myself out of the door by 6am. My earliest run yet (*whoops without enthusiasm*).

Time being of the essence this morning, I cut my route a little to accommodate just the Runtastic training session, without walking to make the distance up to 5km. I selected session 6 from the training programme and set off: 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking, for 32 minutes – easier intervals than yesterday, but a longer session. It was ok, although my body resisted the first couple of run intervals – no burn though, just a desire to still be in bed and to be able to stay there for a few more hours. Impossible, regardless of the run.

The nice thing is, as I’m sat on a train into town, I’ve burned 60% of all the calories I plan on eating today already. I’ve reduced my target calorie deficit for this week as I know that the next 5 days are likely to be long and hard – hard cutting will only make it harder and more likely that I’ll break and binge on something sugary and delicious but macro-busting in a moment of tiredness induced weakness. This extra dose of calories gives me the room to snack (sensibly), throughout the day, as I need to.

Wondering how I’ll feel at the other end of the day. It could likely be a 13hr workday. I wonder if I’ll have enough energy to get out the door again tomorrow. 

Session stats:

  • Distance: 4.66 km
  • Total time: 34m 15s
  • Fastest km: 6:51
  • Slowest km: 9:56
  • Average pace: 7:21 (PB)
  • Weather: 5 degrees, cloudy but dry

Numb Run & Week 1 summary

I made it out this morning, despite the intermittent rain. I didn’t want to but I figured the sooner I did it, the sooner it was done and I could get on with the rest of the day. Session 6 of the training programme: 4 minutes running, 1 minute walking, for 25 minutes. Mostly, I was numb, mind elsewhere, feet just hitting the pavement one after the other, rinse and repeat. That is actually a good description of the whole day – just going through the motions.

Session stats:

  • Distance: 5.14km
  • Total time: 40m 42s
  • Fastest km: 6:40
  • Slowest km: 12:43
  • Average pace: 7:54
  • Weather: 12 degrees, sunny with intermittent rain


Week 1 – summary

Some soreness and stiff muscles at the start of the week, but a day’s rest halfway through seems to have taken care of that. I have been out for a run six out of seven days, which feels a little like a minor miracle. I still hate running but have a picture of how it might become part of my daily routine. I have completed two week’s worth of Runtastic’s training plan inside a week – my base fitness level seems to have been better than I thought. I have a heavy work week ahead of me but will be aiming, so far as it is possible, to run every day before work. Fingers crossed. If I can run every day while I’m working long hours on-site, I’ll know that I can really make running a daily habit, regardless of what else life throws at me. Either that or I’ll find out where my current limits are.

Week 1 stats:

  • Distance: 33.0km
  • Time: 04h 41m
  • Fastest km: 6:40 (PB) (+0:47)
  • Slowest km: 12:43 (-2:51)
  • Best average pace: 7:54 (PB) (+1:14)

Attack of the killer pollen

I’ve just got back from today’s run. I let myself sleep in a little to make up for a few nights in a row of less than my usual eight hours sleep. While this was a good idea, given that I have an extremely heavy work-week ahead of me, it meant that the roads were busy with people, and the temperature a little warmer. 14 degrees C is hardly the 30+ degrees that I experienced last week in south Spain, but it was enough that I didn’t go out with a jumper and started sweating pretty quickly into my run. It also meant that my face, always quick to colour through heat, exertion or embarrassment, quickly glowed a red-purple colour. Every person I ran past looked at me as though I was about to have a heart attack. No really, I wanted to tell them, I’m fine, it’s just my face. Here is a good reason for running at 6:30am – no one to witness my rosy face, and my embarrassment of it’s alarming colour only making the problem worse.

So add to this the problem of pollen. I suffer with Hayfever from March through to the end of September – I’m lucky like that. But, since this is the case every year, I have a routine of taking anti-histamines from the first day of March through to the first day of October. So far this year, armed in this way, Hayfever has not been much of a problem. Until today. As I made my way round my route, I could feel the gentle tingling sting in my nose. I sneezed, a lot. Thankfully I had tissues with me to deal with the constant stream from my nose. Add a bright red, streaming nose to my already glowing face and a pretty picture you do not have. No wonder people were giving me strange looks. All the same, I wish they’d kept them to themselves.

I had no stiffness after yesterday’s run, which was surprising but welcome. Maybe it’s a sign that my body has started to accept being made to work on an almost daily basis. If so, thank you, body, for adapting so quickly. Maybe it’s a sign that despite how the run felt, I didn’t push myself as hard as I thought.

I thought today’s session of 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking, 2 minutes running, 1 minute walking for 28 minutes would be easier than yesterday’s session. Nope. That extra 8 minutes, even with the alternating shorter running interval, made itself felt. It wasn’t burn in my legs though, it was my body’s reluctance to keep going. I felt tired and in constant battle with my willpower. When I came to the end of each walk interval I begged my running app to announce “end of workout” so I could walk the rest of the way. When it did finally come, I said “Thank you!” with such force that I made an old lady walking her dog jump.

Now that I’m home, I am sneezing constantly, and the tingle in my nose has spread to my throat. I’ve used a box of Kleenex trying to stop my nose from running, and now my eyes are itching and streaming. Time to get in the shower, and hope that removing all traces of pollen from me will do the trick.

Session stats:

  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Total time: 42m 10s
  • Fastest km: 6:53
  • Slowest km: 9:52
  • Average pace: 7:57
  • Weather: 14 degrees, sunny

Angry running

The alarm went off at 9am. I had planned to get up earlier but ended up reading until 2am, mesmerised by the end of the book I was reading for a review. Books, good ones, have that power over me – just one more page, just until the end of the chapter, well it seems silly to leave just a few pages left… you get the picture. I hit snooze for 15 minutes – I have never been able to leap out of bed as soon as the alarm sounds. It hurt this morning, and I was very tempted to turn the alarm off and keep sleeping until I woke up naturally, but I was determined to not let today turn into the waste of time that yesterday turned into. Just get on with it, I thought to myself. I grabbed my running gear as I walked down stairs, jumped on the scales (22.9% body fat – yes!), got dressed, made up a bottle of protein shake, heavily watered down, drank half of it, and walked out the door.

I had originally planned to redo session one of my training plan as doing session four would mean starting the week two programme ahead of schedule, but having had a day off yesterday it seemed lazy to give myself an easy run. I selected session four and got running: run for 3 minutes, walk for 1 minute. The 3-minute intervals were tough from the outset. A muscle in my right glute was twinging, and I wanted to turn around, go home, and go back to bed. No. Keep going. Grit your teeth, get through it, get home, get on. Don’t be a baby.

It was an angry run. The more I ran, the angrier I felt. I even started thinking about a conversation I’d had earlier in the week that had really pissed me off, and mentally had an argument with the other person, which just made me feel even crosser. But then, just as I was wondering how many more of these bloody intervals I had left, the Runtastic app announced “end of workout” in my ears. I was surprised. That seemed quick. I checked my phone: the session was 20 minutes long, and it was 20 minutes since I’d left the house. Ok then. I was half way through my 5km, so I walked the rest.

By the time I got home, my mood had lifted a little but had been replaced with a thumping headache. Thankfully, breakfast and a large cup of tea fixed that. I have never been a fan of breakfast, but have settled on porridge (with milk) with fruit as something I can stomach, which tastes sweet enough to satisfy my tooth, but without a heavy calorie toll. Tea is non-negotiable. I will not function or be capable of anything better than a growl without it.

The great news, given the disaster of yesterday, is that I didn’t let myself sit down on the sofa. I ploughed on through the todo list. So, lesson learned. When feeling crappy and unproductive, get out the door and get moving – it will save the day.