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Couch to 5K: Week 6 – Running Maintenance

Awhile back I promised to write a little bit about the problems I’ve encountered while running and how I’ve dealt with those issues.  I um…  procrastinated and um…then kind of forgot.  Shocking, I know.  But today, a friend wrote to me on my Facebook wall and it reminded me that I really wanted to document all of this.  So here I am!  Documenting.

I think the first thing to know is that the internet is your friend.  There is NO END to resources out there.  I know you’re probably thinking, “Um duh, Heather!”  I think my very favorite way to learn is though a very basic form of crowd-sourcing.  I LOVE posting a question or problem on my facebook wall and seeing the variety of answers and ideas.  Real experiences are so much more valuable to me than textbook cases.  So, hopefully some of my experiences can be helpful too.

I’m having trouble with my lungs can not seem to get a deep enough breath. I don’t smoke or have many allergy problems, also & this maybe a question for a doctor, today my knee & neck randomly started hurting after my run. Last I am looking for a new pair of shoes, just wondering what you run in… thanks again

Breathing: The first few times I ran, I DIED.  I mean like crazy heavy breathing that left me feeling more winded than anyone in there right mind would want to be.  I attributed it to being a beginner and just kept on.  One problem for me is I HATE feeling like I can’t breathe and when I am winded like that I tend to panic, only making the whole situation worse.  I knew I needed to relax and when it didn’t improve much, I started to wonder if I was breathing incorrectly.  As it turns out I was doing it ALL wrong.

First things first, breathing in through your nose and breathing out through your mouth doesn’t count for running.  Nose breathing isn’t going to get you enough oxygen to carry you through your run.  The idea is to breathe IN through your nose and mouth at the same time getting as much oxygen as possible.  Take breaths from your belly, these are deeper than from your chest.  Then breathe OUT through your mouth.  Every so often I also exhale quite forcefully to rid my lungs of excess CO2.  If my lungs are holding any CO2 then that’s space where oxygen can’t be.  The other biggest help for me was keeping a steady breathing pace, rather than breathing erratically.  This took A LOT of practice and didn’t come naturally, but once I got it…  I got it.

Livestrong has some great advice on breathing.  Although at this time I find trying to follow a 3:2 ratio is unreasonable for me.  I also breathe quite loudly and the article suggests I shouldn’t.  I believe this is partly a beginner problem as my lungs are still adjusting and strengthening.  When I run I do seem to get a little winded within a few minutes, but as long as I practice what I know about breathing I do level out and hit a point where I feel like I could run forever.  (That is IF my calves would hold out!  All in good time I am sure)

Knees: I have experienced some sore knees, but this was not until after I ended up with nasty shin splints.  What I learned from friends and articles was that sore knees can be due to a tight IT band.  So I began some stretches that were directly related to that.  Also, I  used advil to keep inflammation down and ice for 20 minutes ASAP after my run.

Neck: I really have no advice here.  Although in the beginning I did have some neck trouble.  I have a large chest.  It took awhile for my neck to become accustomed to the new activity.  I don’t mean running.  I mean the bounce CAUSED by the running.  I have the sports bra of steel…  but still.

Sneakers:  I was wearing these.  But after a few weeks I realized that they aren’t made for feet.  They are terribly stiff and too narrow in the toes.  I very quickly hated them.  Now I wear these and I’ve been love from day 1!  These are a minimalist shoe and really do make me feel like I’m barefoot.  Honestly, I haven’t had any knee pain or shin splint pain since I started wearing them (this may or may not be a coincidence since I put all the work in to get rid of those issues).  The biggest differences I notice is 1. comfort level and 2. my feet are working harder so they were more tired after a run the first 2 times I wore them.  I’ve run in them 3 times, so this all has plenty of time to change.  Also I bought a half size up in my running shoe.  I am normally a 6.5, but I bought a 7.  Feet swell during running and you need room for that in your shoes.

I think the very best thing that I’ve done for myself is maintenance.  Running is really hard on the body and can require a lot of maintenance work.  Especially in the beginning.  Every time something comes up, I research the heck out of it and deal with the problem immediately.  For example, when I began an old painful hip injury resurfaced so I looked up hip strengthening exercises and within 2 weeks I was pain free in my hip.  When my neck was sore, I found some stretches for sore necks and did them faithfully for weeks.  Same with my shins and my knees.  I’ve also recently started doing yoga from runners.  I hate yoga.  Errr…  I hated yoga.  Now I look forward to it and know that it is helping me.  In the long run (no pun intended) all of this is paying off and means I can run farther and actually feel good about it and not like I’m about to die a thousand times over.

As someone who hated exercising on purpose, I can truly say that I look forward to our runs.  5 weeks ago, on day 1 of Couch to 5K 60 seconds of jogging left me completely winded, but 2 days ago I ran for 20 minutes without stopping!  (Woot!!!)  It’s a big challenge and you CAN do it, but you HAVE to listen to your body and take care of it when it needs you to.  When I wanted to start running the maintenance part didn’t really occur to me.  Now I like to think of it as working out the kinks.

Happy run/walk/jog!  How are YOU doing?

(Have more advice?  Post it in the comments!)

Cto5K Week 4: Making Serious Progress

Today wasn’t the best day on earth for self-adoration.  Then 6:00 came and TJ and I headed out for our run/walk/jog that I talked about last week.  When we returned I was bragging ALL OVER THE PLACE about my performance.  I fucking rocked it.  Like a boss.

Week 4, Day 1 of Couch to 5K looks something like this:

  • 5 minute brisk walk
  • 3 minute run
  • 90 seconds walk
  • 5 minute run
  • 2.5 minute walk
  • 3 minute run
  • 90 second walk
  • 5 minute run

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to move on yet.  I had almost convinced TJ that I wanted to repeat another day from week 3.  Then at the last minute I just said “oh whatever” and went for it anyway, because I’m either cool or stupid like that.

Today, we tore it up!  Errr…  *I* tore it up!  Not only did I complete the day with ease, but I added a 90 second run to end of program and could have kept going! For reals, yo!  TJ just barely managed to keep up with my lightning fast pace!  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

I can’t even tell you how hard the first 3 weeks were.  I have dealt with what feels like NEVER ENDING problems in only 27 days.

  • Edema in my legs and feet
  • An old hip injury resurfacing
  • Shin splints
  • Sore knees
  • Neck problems
  • Panicky breathing (while running)

I know that there are a lot of us beginning new exercise programs right now.  It IS spring after all.  So I’ll write about each and every one of these issues and how I’ve dealt with them in another post.  Hopefully, it will help someone out there.

This whole program was beginning to make me feel weak and *GASP*, old.  I’ve already spent WAY too much time being discouraged.  However, I’ve spent an EQUAL amount of time dealing with EACH ONE of these issues properly and it has paid off.  The progress I made today totally trumped my piss poor attitude this morning.  Today, I felt like a machine!  A machine that has two heaping portions of homemade pad thai (recipe to come IF you beg for it), a slice of homemade pizza and a ginger ale and whiskey to top it all off.


She Runs

I’m eagerly awaiting my husband’s arrival. After he gets home from work, we’re going for a run. Yeah, you heard me right. Miss I don’t like to exercise on purpose is going for a run. Actually, more like a jog. Or maybe a jog/walk. Really, it just sounds so much cooler when I can smugly say, “yeah… I’m headed out for run.” And stretch my elbows back with overzealous pride.

Here I go.

Today begins 3 weeks of Couch to 5k. The program I’ve been hearing SO MANY people love and have success with. What kind of success, you ask? Running success. Meaning they don’t rage quit or bust a hip or swear off running for the rest of their existence. These people actually end up liking running! Imagine that. By the end of the program they can actually run a 5k. Total superheros!

So, I’m feeling out of shape. Yes, I know ROUND is a shape. I’ve heard that joke before, hardy har har! Not really the shape I’m going for, though neither is square or um, triangle. Actually, since we are not in preschool let’s not talk about shapes at all. Really, what I’m going for is more energy. Currently, I cannot outrun my husband. This means I get hit with the water balloon EVERY time. Dodge ball? Forget it. While I can throw a head shot with pinpoint accuracy, getting out of the way is just not happening. I get hit in the boob EVERY time. Though, that may have nothing to do with my speed. :/

He is sweet to run at my pace.

So… anyway enough chitter chatter. Here is what we have done for 3 days a week so far.

Week 1:
Brisk 5 minute walk
Alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes.
PIE! Well, not exactly, but I made it and it felt GOOOOOOOD.

Week 2:
Brisk 5 minute walk
Alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 2 minutes of walking for 20 minutes

My experiences are varying. Week 2, day 2 I *dramatic pause* DIED!!! However, I kicked SO MUCH ASS on day 3! Today we begin week 3, where one of the running stretches will last for 3 whole minutes, a freaking eternity. Holy Mary Mother of God. Help me, Jesus.

Week 3, Day 1 complete. I'm ALIVE!