Monday, July 04, 2011

cool running

I've started running again using the Couch to 5k training plan. A few years ago I tried this plan, and it worked pretty well to a point. For various reasons, I didn't manage to get to 5K or stick with it that time, but I'm hoping this time I'll do better. There are some lovely places to run around here, and the climate is such that I should be able to run year-round... if I have the right attitude.

A picture from the spring - those are petals, not snowflakes.

As of tomorrow, I'll be on Week 3 of 9. So far so good, but since I failed somewhere around Week 6 last time I tried, I'm preparing myself for the difficulties ahead. Although I'm not in the greatest shape, my biggest problem when running is mental. The first few weeks of this training plan alternate running for a short time with walking for a short time - figuring out when to start running and when to start walking gives my brain something to do. I think it even distracts me from the fact that I'm exercising. I can handle checking my watch ever two minutes or so, to know when to switch.

Where I get into trouble is running for 8 or 10 minutes at a stretch. There is no need to check my watch every 2 minutes, and doing so becomes a bit depressing: oh, still another 7 minutes to go. I begin to feel like I'm too tired to continue, although I suspect if I wasn't thinking about how long I still had to go, I wouldn't feel so tired. So. I need some way of distracting myself in the coming weeks.

The obvious answer is an mp3 player of some variety. I'm resisting that solution because I don't have one (GASP), and in the past (discman era)didn't really enjoy having music piped straight into my ears. I find it disorients me for some reason. Also, I never had much luck with earbuds staying in when I was bouncing around.

Any suggestions?


  1. Good luck! I'm sure you can do it.

    Maybe you can just run by distance rather than time so you don't need to keep checking? Or get a watch that counts down and beeps at your goal?

    If you do decide to listen to music make sure you have the volume low enough to hear traffic and other people around you especially when you're in isolated areas.

  2. Good luck first of all :)

    I know that ear buds have come quite a long way since the discman era - some of them wrap around the back of your ear to keep them on now. Might be worth a look? Also, lots of mobile phones can store mp3 files now, so you might not even need to splash out!

  3. Exactly what mooncalf said. Then there's no pressure that you have to keep running for a certain amount of time, and if you plan out a loop you have to do it no matter how fast you're going. And there's no shame in walking for a stretch if you get too stressed out...

  4. Good luck! It sounds like a great plan, and I hope you stick with it all the way :) I agree with mooncalf and AC. The distance instead of time plan works very well as a motivator.

  5. If you don't like earbuds in your ears, I would suggest over ear headphones. I use them for exercising and they stay on so much better. Also, if I'm bored when exercising, I listen to audiobooks rather than music, you don't run as fast with audiobooks, but it is easier to carry on

  6. I tried the Couch to 5K app on my iPod touch which was so great - a male or female (your choice) voice comes on while you play your music, and he/she tells you when to start running or walking, and will mark off the halfway point. No need to check your watch. Unfortunately my iPod fell in the snow and hasn't worked since. I use cheap Sony headphones without the foam cushioning, I just jam it in my ear. Maybe you could try them with foam cushions for extra friction to prevent them from falling out? Definitely use low volume, think of the music as background distraction. And if you know each song is about 3-4 minutes long, you can think "Oh, just about two songs left" instead of "7 minutes left." Good luck!

  7. I must admit, an app that beaps at you would seem to do the trick. Good luck!

    I also would hate it if I couldn't listen to music while I walked. I empathize with your disorientation. Maybe an audiobook (as someone else suggested) might be a solution?

  8. One thing I've found with earbuds is that it takes a while to find the right ones for your ears. Don't go for the cheap ones they fall out of your ears immediately, and half the time the construction is so crappy that one or t'other of the ears loses sound in a week or two.

    There are of course old fashioned earphones for putting over your ears.

    Also some people find that listening to audio books and podcasts work better than music for them, it can keep your mind more active and keep you motivated much more than just listening to songs.