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Nothing more than a footnote

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Conquering the gym demons [Jun. 18th, 2013|09:37 pm]
Nothing more than a footnote

I hated sports at school. School taught me that there are sporty people and not sporty people and that I was firmly in the latter camp! Sports at school was about being good at team sports or being athletic - as the gawky uncoordinated asthmatic I was neither.

It wasn't until my late 20s I discovered that not only did I need to be active for my physical and emotional well being, but I also discovered sports I love. Climbing and yoga are my passions and I even learned to love the gym - the feeling of slowly improving session by session and the warm ache of muscles after a good work out.

However in all that time I have been gymming there was one machine I avoided - the running machine. The very thought of it took me back to the compulsory twice yearly cross country at school. On cross country days, it always seemed to be raining and muddy underfoot. I'd trail back to school half an hour after the front runners wheezing, legs aching; cold, wet and miserable. So in all my time of gymming I have embraced the other cardio machines with a vigour, EXCEPT the running machine.

This year I set one of my personal goals to overcome my hatred of the running machine. I have done a couple of 5 minutes warm up on it, but today I decided to make an effort to conquer it properly. So after doing 20 minutes on a crosstrainer, my usual series of weight machines and free weights I plucked up my courage and jumped aboard.

Running for 5 minutes and then slowing it down to a fast walk for a minute and then run for another 5 minutes. I did 1.5 km in 15 minutes.

Its safe to say that Paula Radcliffe is not going to feel threatened anytime soon, but not bad for a kid whose highest place in cross country at school was third from last!

I have taken that step and no doubt I can now improve it - run for longer, run quicker, improve my pace. And its nice to feel I have begun to conquer that demon!

[User Picture]From: philipstorry
2013-06-18 09:05 pm (UTC)
I still hate running machines.

But if you don't like running (and it sounds like it!), then they're probably a good place to start - a nice constant pace, usually with an enforced warmup/warmdown.

15 minutes is good. Aim for half an hour. :-)
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[User Picture]From: snow_leopard
2013-06-19 07:50 am (UTC)
I like the idea of running outside, but I struggle to set a pace. I automatically go into "running for a bus" speed, which is not a speed I can keep up for more than 100 yards!
And, y'know, go easy on me half-marathon guy! I DID do 20 minutes on the cross trainer before even hopping onto the running machine.
My, at the moment quite hazy, aim is to get to a stage where I can run 6km on the running machine and I feel I can try one of the park runs my sportier siblings (and their significant others) participate in.

Edited at 2013-06-19 07:54 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: philipstorry
2013-06-19 07:57 pm (UTC)
Whenever people talk to me about running - which happens a lot, because a few years ago they'd never have thought of me as someone who runs! - I'm told that people "run too fast too early".

I had the same problem when I started running. Week 1 of Couch 2 5K is 60 second runs separated by 90 second walks (for about 20 minutes). And every time I heard "run", I shot off like a chubby kid after a distant ice-cream van...

And at the end of week 1, I wasn't sure I could do week 2. All week 2 does is switch it round - 90 second runs with 60 seconds of walking between them. And the end of week 1 was tough.

There's no shame in repeating weeks in Couch 2 5K if you need to, but I had an idea - what if I merely jogged slowly? So I tried the first day of week 2, thinking that if it didn't work I'd repeat week 1.

It worked. :-)

Going slow is good. I'd suggest that you shouldn't aim for distance though - aim for times. Aim to run for 20 minutes. Then 23, 25, 38, and finally 30.
When you hit 30, then look at trying to up your speed - a good goal is 5k in 30 minutes. But you need to be able to run for 30 minutes first!

I'm a year and six weeks into my running, roughly speaking, and I can now do 6k in half an hour. So 6k might be a dispiritingly distant goal - which is why I suggest times.

The other thing is that times are, perversely, EASIER. You can slow down and still make them. Out there on the streets, I like putting hills on my routes - which slows me down. Not a problem though - just a challenge that made me work on pacing.

That's how to take it. You can always slow down, even to a walk if you have to, but you don't want to and try not to.

Oh, and doing 20 minutes on a cross trainer is an advantage. You were warmed up! ;-)

(And I still run too fast too early sometimes. Look at this run from Sunday: http://runkeeper.com/user/philipstorry/activity/195036559 - the pace graph is good when it's low, bad when it's high. It starts off low, and gradually climbs higher as I slow down until a little after the first kilometre...)
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[User Picture]From: snow_leopard
2013-07-15 03:49 pm (UTC)
If its not a stupid question can I ask how you do set pace outside?
Do you have an app, a timer? Or do you just wing it?
At some point I would like to transfer my practice to outside, but am worried about getting into the same "running for the bus" conundrum I had when I tried it before!
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[User Picture]From: philipstorry
2013-07-15 07:06 pm (UTC)
The app I use to record my runs (Runkeeper) gives feedback as I run.
Either based on distance or time...

I've currently set it up to give me feedback every minute. It tells me the time spent running, distance covered, average pace, average speed, current pace and current speed.
Which takes about 35 seconds to say, so I'm getting fairly thorough feedback.

Over time, you just kind of learn how your body handles things like hills, corners and other things that slow you down. And you get better at dealing with them.

It's practice, really. But that feedback still helps!

(Not sure what apps can be used on Windows Phone unfortunately, but all the ones I tried on Android could do that kind of feedback.)
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[User Picture]From: snow_leopard
2013-07-23 09:05 am (UTC)
Saturday demonstrated that I am clearly going to have an issue with pace once off a running machine.
Went to a gym where the machines were calibrated to display MILES per hour, rather than KM per hour. Suddenly I had no idea how to run, no idea what to set it to!
I ended up giving up and going and doing 10 minutes on the cross trainer instead.
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[User Picture]From: philipstorry
2013-07-23 06:41 pm (UTC)
That's not quite the same pacing problem, to my mind!

Practice. And perhaps figure out what your preferred speed is in imperial as well as metric. ;-)

But most importantly, don't let this distract you. You can do half an hour of running, it'll be fine - and the pacing will sort itself out. It just takes practice.
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[User Picture]From: venta
2013-06-18 09:51 pm (UTC)
The way sports is taught in schools is just awful. It would never (I hope!) occur to someone to shout at people who were poor at maths to "try harder", while organising all the good mathematicians into teams to compete against each other. But that's how games lessons were...

With hindsight - now I have (equally improbably) started running voluntarily - what bugs me most is that the emphasis was always on trying. Slow runner? Then try harder. No one ever offered any advise on improving, or techniques for becoming a better/stronger runner.
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[User Picture]From: snow_leopard
2013-06-19 07:57 am (UTC)
Hear hear!

If one of the sports teachers had done something as simple as actually give us a timer and said "run for 5 minutes and then walk for one", even those of us who were not naturally gifted would have made an improvement. And I might not have then had a 10+ year hatred of exercise!
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