When I started the 9 week Couch to 5K plan at the start of November I knew that Christmas would fall in the middle of it.
So the original idea was that I’d do the first few weeks, write off the Christmas-New Years period and restart in 2012. What I didn’t forsee was that by week 6 I’d actually be enjoying the running and also that it’d give me the perfect excuse to slip out of the house for half-an-hour when I needed a break from some family members. This is why I went out on Christmas Eve despite still nursing a bit of a hangover.
The decision had been made because I was operating under the Dirty Harry-ism “A man’s gotta know his limitations” and I kind of knew that the festive period would see me overindulging in food and losing my urge to go out running.
And I did overindulge- curry, cider, cakes, big Christmas dinner, Quality Streets and biscuits all passed my lips.
But I have to be honest, while I did pig out a fair bit there was some level of self control and I made myself walk away from the table a couple of times only half-stuffed. I probably ate less than I have at a previous Christmas other than 1985 when I was still on a milk-only diet.
It was still a disgusting display of gluttony, but it was Christmas and we have to be realistic, I may be eating better and exercising more but inside I’m still the same guy who once ate a pudding that contributed 200% of the RDA of calories. So its probably going to be a lifelong battle between the me who wants to run a marathon and be able to look at himself in the mirror with pride, or at least not revulsion, and the me who loves pizza, booze and ice cream, and is inherently lazy.
After a rough running session on Thursday I repeated that session on Christmas Eve afternoon, and did a 20 minute session on Friday.
I was quite impressed with myself, I’d pushed through, exercised some self control and kept up with the running. But then it came to today when I was due to round off week 6 with a 25 minute run.
I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was back at my mum’s and I knew the route was going to be all hills. I’d spent the morning sleeping off a night shift and then gone to pick some stuff up at my place. I’d quite happily have spent the rest of the afternoon slumped on the sofa doing quizzes on Sporcle and watching old movies while playing with my new mobile.
But I kind of knew I should crack on and with some prodding from my mum, I pulled on my shorts and set off.
I should also probably thank my big sis, Beck and my brother-in-law Allistair who’s Christmas present for me was a bottle of special cider and a Nike pedometer, this little gizmo is fantastic and probably one of my favourite presents this year. It measures how far you’ve run and how fast, as well as showing how many calories you’ve burnt off.
But mainly it serves as a tool to show if I improve and also gives me something to compete with. In 20 minutes on Monday, I managed 2.64 kilometres. Not knowing if this was good or bad I decided to spin it positively and decided it was alright.
So I stuffed the gizmo into my trainer and set off for a 25 minute run, setting myself a target of hitting 3K. And not dying.
25 minutes? It was like jogging through an entire episode of Friends.
I set off, knocking on a timer on the iPod and cranking up the 101 Running Songs mix.
The first five minutes, as ever passed easily, and when I checked the time for the first time I realised I’d done 7 minutes, more than I’d expected. I was feeling pumped, the run had been fairly easy so far, and I’d done the first hill, the first of the 4 uphill sections I knew I was facing.
It didn’t matter to me that it was the smallest and easiest, I was jazzed, and even still had the energy to join in with Reel 2 Reel and yell “Move it!” at the appropriate times. This actually served as a bit of a motivational tool and I sped up a little.
I cracked on and reached the second rise, where a couple were walking a pack of dogs- a Jack Russell, 2 massive Alsatians (one muzzled, never reassuring) and some mutt of unknown origins.
Part of me wanted to just get by them as soon as possible, but this was the same hill where my pride had caused me to knacker myself out as I didn’t want to slow down and look lame in front of a girl with a delightful derriere. I knew that if I pushed myself too hard now my legs would be dead and I was still less than half way into the session.
So I controlled my pace and passed them at my usual speed, I then went down the hill, turned and began the climb again. I almost lost my footing but managed to get up the hill and passed the dog walkers just before I started up the fourth and final uphill sections.
This slowed me a bit but I reached the top and checking my time I was pleasantly surprised to find I’d done 20 minutes already, and while there was a little soreness in the legs I mainly felt really good.
I managed the last five minutes easily enough and was happy to see that I’d managed to do 3.19K, meaning that I’d beaten my guesstimate target by 0.19K. I wasn’t even that tired and caught my breath within a minute or two of walking.
I even shadowboxed and strutted up the hill to my Mum’s house as “Eye Of The Tiger” filled my ears.
I’m glad I kept up the running over Christmas, I’ve pushed on further and feel even better about myself.
I’m more confident about week 7 now, which previously had looked extremely daunting-
3 25 minute runs.
But today’s run has filled me with more confidence for next week and now I have a target to beat. Can I beat 3.19K? Tune in next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel.
Listened to today– Hey Ya!- OutKast, Eye of the Tiger- Survivor, Runaround Sue- Dion, Boogie Wonderland- Earth Wind & Fire, Can’t Stop Moving (Mirwais remix)- Sonny J, Beggin’- Madcon, Get Over It- OK Go, Runaway- Del Shannon, I Like to Move It- Reel 2 Reel, Sandstorm- Darude, I See You Baby- Groove Armada.