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February 22, 2010

running and walking and huffing and puffing

Posted by dogpossum on February 22, 2010 9:57 AM in the category c25k | Comments (0)

So I'm still on the couch to 5k plan (which I talked about here.)

Even now, I'm still surprised by the reality of exercise. Simply put, it's good for you. I know, in my brains, that it's good, but it's quite another thing to feel the goodness in your body. I'm fairly fit. Pretty healthy by your average person's standards, sort of okishly fit (but really needing to get in shape) by a lindy hopper's standards. This means that I can walk up and down stairs without puffing, I walk to and from the station or to the shop without any effort, and generally find a walk of a kilometre or two easypeasy. It also means that I can ride my bike around doing errands and small bits of commuting without any real effort, I can dance most tempos without fear, and that I have very good balance and coordination on bike or on legs. It also means that I feel that lovely endorphine rush-and-jump about ten minutes into exercise... or two songs (six minutes) into dancing.
I think of this as a basic level of fitness. Enough to stop me blowing up. But it's not really being fit - not properly 'in shape' for lindy hop. It's enough to be at that minimum level of exercise doctors recommend, but it's not enough for badassery. And I like a bit of badassery. I'm hoping that the c25k will get my fitness up high enough that I can lindy hop like a mofo, that I generally feel pretty good, and that I keep bung foot pain-free by having decent body awareness, flexibility, muscle strength and efficiency and lower weight (though this isn't really going to happen because I put on muscle like a mofo and that makes me heavier than just plain jellyblubber). A physically smaller body is nice as it gives me a greater range of movement, but a fitter body is nice not because it's smaller, but because it's muscled, and muscles mean moving without straining things or hurting myself. Also: wicked ripped.

I didn't think I'd like running. It's dull and repetitive, it's kind of harsh on the body, you go out and display your sweaty, puffing self to strangers, etc etc etc. But, surprisingly, I do like it. I like swimming laps, and that's repetitive. But c25k is structured and progressive - you have clear goals to achieve, and something to work towards. It's not as hard on my body as I'd thought. I do get a bit achey in a used-muscle way after a run (quads! argh!), but since I've started running my post-orthotic-acquisition toe-ache and foot-pain has disappeared (finally!) I've also managed to keep my bung foot under control (knock on wood), so that injury isn't troubling me (beyond a bit of normal used-muscle ache). I am noticing a bit of ache and reactive irritation because my right ankle doesn't have the range of movement I need (I can't bend it far enough because I broke it yonks ago), but this is mostly transferring to my hip and knee. This is something I do need to sort out, especially as it's also affecting my right arm and shoulder. But, generally, running has reduced my aches and pains rather than increasing them. Now I just need a good solid yoga program for restorative work and I'm rocking. I actually don't give a crap that people see me puffing and panting and kind of stumbling along the footpath. At 8am there are plenty of other puffing stumblers, thai chi oldies and, of course, cockatoos. And they're busy with their own business.

There has been a whole range of other good changes since I started running. I have:
- had insane amounts of energy. Even on - especially on - the days I run;
- felt cheery and positive rather than mildly worried and self-doubting;
- been better company (less with the worry and slump, more with the perky and confident);
- achieved more during the day (because of increased energy, less worry, greater efficiency and ability to focus, more confidence, less pain, etc);
- had less foot pain in my bung foot (huzzah!), which has led to improved mood as well;
- had more control of my muscles and better muscle tone. This means better posture, less neck/shoulder acheypain, easier breathing (less slumping!), and orsm dancing. Better muscle tone means I'm dancing with more control and energy, and also with greater 'accuracy', which is both pleasing and ego-boosting. It's also meant I don't waste as much energy when I dance, and so have greater stamina;
- been less interested in high-fat, high-sugar snacks and had a more balanced appetite generally;
- left insomnia behind. Far, far behind. I don't get to bed quite early enough, particularly on the nights before I get up earlier to run, and this is kind of wearing me down a bit. But the energy I get from running is making up for that.

These are all things I relate directly related just to taking up an interval training program which runs for 30 minutes and is done three times a week. This is in addition to my other exercise stuff (dancing, cycling, walking, etc). Just three 30 minute sessions a week. I'm not even running very far (not even 5k yet - and probably never) or very fast. Imagine what I'll be like in five weeks!

Apparently a common pattern is to be full of confidence and positivity in weeks four and five, and then just giving up. Week four has been a harder week. The running sections suddenly increased in week three, but week four has longer running sections and fewer repeats of the walk/run patterns. So I've really felt it pushing me harder in this week. I guess that's the point - the training should get steadily more challenging.

I hope I don't give up. But I do think the next couple of weeks will be challenging: I'm off to Blues Before Sunrise, a blues exchange, in Melbourne on the 5th March, and will be dancing quite a lot there until I get home on Monday. This will have me starting the week 6 runs on a Friday in Melbourne, the morning after I dance. That'll be challenging - new location, morning after strenuous exercise, first day of a new week (which is a bit hard). I've managed to make the program a bit easier for myself by accident: I start the new week on Friday and run Monday, Wednesdays and Friday. So I feel as though I'm mid-way through the week of runs when I start on Monday. Which seems easier, less intimidating than coming out of the weekend into a new block of new runs on Monday.

But I'm also worried that I'll get an exchange flu at BBS. In fact, I almost certainly will (as I usually do), and that'll mean at least 3 days sitting down. And my return to running will be delayed. Boooo. I'll also be coming back to a pretty hard core semester, the first week of hardcore lectures/readings in that week that I arrive home. Which may be complicated by an exchange flu. Double boo.
Well, I guess I'll just have to wait and see. I wish I could say that being fitter keeps me from getting colds, but it's not the case. My allergy issues mean that I tend to get respiratory infections and snotty nose/coughy chest colds more than other people. Which is arse. But I'm pretty healthy otherwise, so it's not a big deal.

Fingers are crossed, though. Til then I'm just going to enjoy running healthy... was, though, a challenging run. The dryer weather after a wet patch means that there're lots of flowers blooming at the moment, and I've had to get onto the antihistamines. Today's run was challenging because I was so short of breath. But I'm just going to pretend it was because I was tired or a bit fatigued from fun stuff on the weekend. Wednesday's run will be easier. Even after a Tuesday night of dance classes!

One of the things I'm trying to keep in mind, is not to overdo it. It's a bit too easy to burn really hot and bright in the first few weeks of a regime when it's all new and you're feeling all enthusiastic. But it's also a bit too easy to injure something, overdo it and become a bit tired and dejected. So even though it's tempting to add in runs (I did quite want to go yesterday morning), I'm trying to keep it to three runs a week. I'm also doing dance classes on Tuesday nights, which is a new thing, and actually physically a bit challenging - for bung foot at least. And then of course there's also at least one night of social dancing per week. So that puts me at 5 sessions per week, when I used to only do about 2. All that in addition to what I think of as 'incidental' exercise - walking and cycling about the place on errands or for commuting.
I really really don't want to overdo it. I don't want to hurt my bung foot and set me back again (which is depressing and horrid). I don't want to push myself too far and get shitty with it all. I don't want to end up too tired too soon. I figure I can stick to the c25k schedule, the social dancing and the classes. We added in a 2 hour Big Apple session this week, which my body really felt, and which I should probably position more carefully in my week - leave a rest day before and after. In the case of solo jazz stuff, I'm especially wary of my foot, as jazz involves a lot of jumping and twisting and turning, and is generally much harder on my feet and body than running. I do NOT want to hurt bung foot, as recovery will involve a long rest period and no dancing for ages. And pain. And miserableness.
I'd really really like to add in a weekly yoga class, as yoga is a perfect complement to aerobic exercise. It works as resistance training, but it's also very good for improving your technique and body awareness. It makes you use your muscles properly which is important for preventing injuries. But I can't find a good class, I don't quite have the money for it, and I worry that it will push me over my fitness limits. If I wait a week or two the c25k will only get more intense. And I'm beginning to really feel as though I need the good, solid stretching and strengthening of yoga. It's also an excellent antidote to the adrenaline charged go-go-go of running and dancing.
...I think I've just convinced myself to try the Iyengar classes at the Leichardt Yoga Room. Egads. But I miss yoga. A whole lot.

Right, that's enough talk about exercise. Except perhaps to reiterate the point that exercise is good. Really.

Btw: if you're interested, you can search for me - dogpossum - on to see what I'm actually doing, exercise wise.

Posted by dogpossum on February 22, 2010 9:57 AM in the category c25k


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