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So I really wasn’t feeling like going for a run yesterday. I had already procrastinated about it for a day so I pulled on the runners and headed out. Felt awful and totally without energy but at least holier than thou about actually getting out there.

And though I felt awful and unenthused it was a pretty nice morning for it. I noticed a young guy on the actual road itself practicing exercises with a soccer ball. So I waited until I drew up almost level with him to display my incredible ineptitude by catching my toe on a raised bit of concrete and falling spectacularly to the ground. Splat.

My first impulse when sprawled on the ground was to see if I could right myself casually so that it would appear to anyone happening to see this spectacle that *I meant it* and that I had fully intended to fall over in that way. Amazingly enough the guy with soccer ball didn’t seem to notice (or was embarrassed enough to pretend not to have noticed), so I think I got away with it.

Needless to say, with a bleeding leg and sore hands from breaking my fall, I decided that karma had decreed that the run should finish. So I limped pitifully back home to drown my sorrows in the shower. The leg is fine, with just some brusing, cuts and gravel rash, but hurts enough for me to feel sorry for myself and vaguely sheepish for managing to be so unco.

Loser. I don’t know why I am allowed out of the house without full crash gear and all the trimmings.

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So this morning I was amazed to experience the feeling of space on the train. School holidays means all the school bags and kids are absent, but it appears that a good number of their family members have also agreed to take a break so the absence of the filled to the brim carriages was a pleasant change.

So the reintroduction to the running has been going well – completed my intended schedule for this week and actually have done much better than I thought I would in terms of how I have felt about it all. Must be distracted by having the bejeezus scared out of me by the books on tape version of “I am legend”. I didn’t realise that it was the same story as the movie “The Omega Man” so when Will Smith was on the trailers all whiny and “I have a dog” and stuff, I kind of took them at their word when they said “only person alive” and thought that it was kind of an urban version of Castaway and dealing with the fact that everyone else in the whole world was gone. But I realise that they were all being clever and stuff and there were no other human beings on earth, but everyone else had gone and been zombified (in the book they are all vampires).

So given that I have been listening to this while running at night, in the dark, in the cold, on deserted suburban streets, maybe this wasn’t such a good choice after all. A couple of times Toby the dog shaped boy has come along to protect me – but he seems more focussed on peeing on every tree in a five block radius than protecting me from vampires (this from a dog who got the snip as a puppy and therefore should have no marking instinct).

Hmm, that got a little off track, didn’t it?

So the plus side is no really sore legs, good consistency and scary vampires. Everything you look for in an exercise regime.

It is really very easy for months and months to slip past with all the very best intentions giving way to a vague undirected sort of half effort. The vague half effort has been good as these things go, but ought be replaced by something a little more well-intentioned and consistent. Random thoughts:

1. I am a clutz. How is it possible that I don’t fall down more? I half feel like I should wear crash gear to go running these days.

2. Audio books rock as a soundtrack for running. Started listening to I am Legend last night during my run and can’t wait to go again so I can listen to the next instalment. Side note – how is it possible for me to have completely missed the whole pretext of that plot? I mean, I didn’t see the movie or anything, but I saw a heap of ads for it, and still within the first 2 minutes of listening to the book I was all like “Hmm, that was unexpected”.

3. I still can’t understand why my ribs hurt after I go running. Do I really swing my arms so violently as to provide a workout for my ribs?

4. I am pleasantly surprised at how much fitness I have maintained. Though the other day Hub cautioned me not to run in public because I “run like a [my maiden name]”, as if that explained everything.

5. Note to self – remember that you drove the car to the station today – remind yourself of this so that you (a) get off at the right station and (b) don’t walk home.

6. So reading around it appears that lots has been happening for various people since I last read forums and blogs. Consider this my all purpose congratulations, commiserations, expression of interest in your lives (to the extent that you still read this).

7. Additional note to self – stop spending the day fretting about the destruction that toby the dog shaped boy is sure to have wreaked at home with Hub away all day. He has already destroyed all of the books that your sister lent you so it is not as if you will have to buy (even) more replacements.

8. Too late. I sure hope that the house is still standing when I get home (after remembering to get off at the right station and pick up the car).

It always comes as a surprise to me how doggone tired I get when I am indulging in regular vigorous exercise. It’s all a good “I’ll-sleep-well-tonight!” kind of tiredness rather than a just “kill-me-kill-me-now” kind of tiredness, but I always forget to make allowances for the occasional nanna nap.

Not that the exercise has been all that vigorous when viewed in a balanced way, but it’s all relative. My super secret highly scientific technique for getting back on track is to head out my front door, jog as far as I can before the lungs or legs (or both) complain too loudly, then walk until I get my breath back. Lather, rinse, repeat.

At least while I am doing fairly low intensity I have been trying to take toby-the-dog-shaped-boy with me, and for a puppy who seems to have limitless energy it is very nice to exhaust it sometimes. As for the exercise, I am feeling pretty good about it – can manage about 5 mins in a row with a fair margin for error depending on what else is going on. I am aiming for 25-40 min 3-4 times per week and managed that this last week so that is a big tick.

It is amazing how things progress; first I do some exercise and then I actually get out for a run. After far too long not running decided to ease back into it yesterday with a short loop. Conscious of not having run recently and preferring to do less rather than more to start with so chose a short loop and threw in walk breaks whenever I felt like it. Ended up being out run walking for about 30mins, which I was happy with for a start. Now I just need to follow it up with another run in a couple of days.

I wouldn’t allow myself to be grumpy about forcing myself to run as I was thinking of the ausrunners doing the Gold Coast Marathon at the same time. How bloody inspiring is that when I struggle to get out for a half hour or so covering a very short distance?

This last month has officially been the worst for exercising since I started the Project ™. I probably should have been less dramatic about mentioning that I have had a lot of big changes happening as it prompted at least one friend currently interstate to call me immediately to find out what the heck was going on. Whoops. Funnily enough, as much as I was looking forward to running in winter when I was heaving myself around in a pool of perspiration in January, the weather has been a major demotivating factor this month. I don’t mind it when I get going, but when I come home to a centrally heated house, the last thing I want to do is go out in the cold for exercise purposes.

So with the beginning of the new financial year, I am turning over a new leaf. Or I am turning the current one over on to the right side again. Whatever. Today I have a little bit of muscle soreness but better than I expected. First aim is to build back up to 4-5 sessions per week (compared with the 4-5 sessions I have done for the whole of the last month). Then get the mileage back on track, then start the training program (again).

Realising that your evening run is going pretty well and spending the rest of it composing a blog post about your new training PB for your 5K course (it contained the phrase “my 5K loop is my bitch”). Then arriving home, loading the info up to Sportstracks only to realise that in fact, you missed a training PB by a good 40sec (sure missed celebrating that training PB).

Dammit.

So now that I know that I am not going to keel over from too much exercise, I have been able to enjoy my increasing running without that thought in the back of my mind that I could get in trouble with my doctor.

Actually, my doctor’s office contacted me the other day to reschedule an appointment because the leave that she was going to take was cancelled. I was all “That’s fantastic!! I’ve never been able to get in to see her this quickly” etc then felt really bad because I was celebrating that her leave was cancelled. Oh well, it was kind of amazing to have a choice of appointments.

Anyway, the training program (pdf) that I am doing at the moment includes “aerobic intervals”, defined as:

You push the pace. But just a little. Find a tempo that feels somewhere between comfortable and “Hey, I’m workin’ a little here.” Don’t run this too hard.

This definition just tickles me silly. It’s so delightfully vague, but I know exactly what it means. Anyway, I started the program from the start again after the GTR recovery, so last night I had my “quality” session of 3K warm up, 5-7 x 1:00min AI, 3K cool down. Part of me dreads these sessions and part of me really looks forward to them. The part that looks forward to them does so because at the end of it, I feel like an absolute hero. Last night I managed 7 repeats of the AI and ended up with 8K in total for the evening.

The funny thing is that it is like being back on the Couch 2 5K program. I am suddenly keeping an eye on nudge counting down the time I have left until I can drop back to a jog. The difference is that instead of alternating running and walking, I am now alternating faster running and slower running. And every time as I increase my effort and number of intervals, I find that my training PBs keep dropping off the side of the screen. That kind of tickles me silly as well.

The switch to the new training program has been great – April and May (even though May has not finished yet) are my best two running months distance-wise since I started the PROJECT ™. And in switching, I appear to have passed another milestone without even noticing it. Apart from the taper, the shortest run on that program is 5-7K easy. Which means that I have graduated running loops again.

You see, when I first started the C25K, I had a 2K loop that I used for most of my running. For ease of notation in my log, I called it my “local block”. As I finished the C25K, I created a new notation for my “long local block” – just once around my main local block, a total distance of about 3.2K. It was a long local block because it never occurred to me that I would ever be running a course which was much longer than that one.

Over time I graduated to a 4K block, and then to a 5K block. I haven’t become much faster – my average pace is often in the same range as when I started – but my average distance is increasing. The only time I have used my “long local block” in the past 4 months was for a gentle hit out when I was trying to test out an injury. In the last two – three months, my 4K block (the one that takes me straight past the local mosque and makes me feel self-conscious for flashing my legs) has been largely neglected. And now, since the start of this program, my normal local loop has changed again. The 5K block which takes me past the souvlaki van has largely been abandoned in favour of the 7K block which takes me past Leo Russells Shoe Store (Mmmm, shoes).

It might have taken a bloody long time, but since starting the C25K in April last year, I am now running more than 5K on most of my outings. And that – if you must know – tickles me the silliest of all.

Well yesterday for the first time in a while I didn’t do my scheduled run simply because I couldn’t be bothered. No injury issues, no competing demands for my time, just plain old preferred to sit on the couch for a couple of hours. In some ways this was a healthy choice as hadn’t had any downtime for a week or so. But with the kind of life I lead this also means that I hadn’t managed to do more than a couple of low intensity runs for the week. So I think it is fair to say that sufficient time has been allowed for recovery from the great train race and that it is now bloody well time to get off my butt.

So this week will be back on the HM training program – probably starting from week one again after the break of a couple of weeks. Time to start to get the kms back up there, but after the shin soreness debacle after my headlong rush into hill repeats, only one session of increased intensity per week (which for this week will hopefully be masters program at coburg). Onwards and upwards sports fans.

Nothing serious, but the body is complaining at the increase in consistency and distance thanks to the program at the moment. The real difference is that being on a program I can’t take a soft option. My records indicate that over time my monthly kms have hovered at about the same pathetic level for months and I haven’t been able to make any significant change in my max weekly kms. The biggest reason for this is that I just haven’t strung good weeks together. And too often, I have just ticked the box in going for a run and satisfied myself with an easy 4K jaunt rather than pushing myself a bit more.

The real challenge here is keeping on track now that I am back at work, with the demands which often result in me cutting out or cutting short runs. I was getting all hyped up about how to fit the Great Train Race into my program – that would result in me building intensity in the week before the race and the week after. Then I remembered that I am not actually training for any particular HM so next week I will keep to the lower edge of the distance range, cut out the intervals and drop the run scheduled for the day before GTR. Then the week after I will do whatever recovery I can manage, then pick up where I left off.

I do want to share a bit of a secret though. I am terrified about the Great Train Race. It is really going to hurt. A lot. And even though I am in very good form at the moment (for me) I wonder whether it is a bit too early to be attempting this. But I will go and if I have to walk bits then I will walk bits. I won’t be beating any trains and it probably won’t be pretty, but hopefully I will enjoy myself anyway.

UPDATE – the legs are still complaining a bit this afternoon so have decided to shelve the run I planned to do tonight – trying to be sensible during all of this increasing so as to avoid injury.

Starting the new program has been great for me. This is my biggest week so far, and this month (with one week to go) is already my biggest month so far. With the program I have I am on target to SMASH my progress.

Today on the program was 10-11km and I wanted to do the longer run so that I could get in a couple of longer runs before the great train race. I did it on a flat course though. It was tough (as I expected it to be) but not as tough as I expected. It was my longest run since the R4TK so was happy to turn in a respectable long run pace for me (the first respectable pace I have managed since the R4TK).

Like every good AFL player, I finished my run with a walk in the bay. It was absolutely gorgeous out there tonight – just after dusk, with the tiniest bit of light on the water, dead still and FRIGGIN FREEZING. I stayed in until my feet felt like they were going to fall off (which actually wasn’t that long). Then home and in trouble from Hub for not sufficiently informing him of where I was and when I was coming back (my bad). I feel like I am about a hundred.

My short term goal is to be able to do this sort of run without feeling like I need to spend a week in recovery. Might take a while. According to the running log this is my third longest run ever, so I suppose I should suck it up a bit.