Couch to 5k …. again!

So just over 2 years ago after my year of walking 1300 miles I decided that walking just took too long and I needed to find an exercise which burned the calories quicker.  I followed a couch to 5k program back in 2013 and was surprised and pleased to be able to build up to running in a couple of 5k races, and also did 2 triathlons that year too, which has it’s own unique challenge.  Have you ever tried getting off a bike and going straight into a run ?  You get a very weird wobbly leg syndrome!

Super Sprint Triathlon Medals

Super Sprint Triathlon Medals

Unfortunately in 2014 life took an unexpected turn with my father getting ill and passing away all in the space of 2 months.  We have a strong and supportive family, but Dad was a huge part of my life, and losing him so quickly, and seeing him suffer for those 2 months, has affected me far harder than I expected.  For most of last year just getting up each day and keeping going was an effort, many other things in my life were put on hold.

When we were doing lots of events in 2013 we really fancied doing a Colour Run, where you get covered in coloured powder as you run, so last year on the spur of the moment we signed up for the Northamtpon Black Light Run in March this year.  It felt like it was ages away!

Fast forward to February 2015, and an email hit our in boxes with the details of the run, and lo and behold it wasn’t in late March as I thought, but the first weekend in March, giving us 4 weeks to get trained up.  I was rather panicked into action, and rather than doing the nice organised couch to 5k program again, I just got my running shoes on and headed out into Salcey Forest.

I have to admit that despite not having run for so long, after one 2 mile run – walk – run session, I have been able to run 5k on each of my bi-weekly training runs since.  I am very pleased with how my training is going.  One thing I have noticed is that if I remember to take my Forever ARGI+ then I feel much less breahless on my run.  ARGI+ is a powder you mix with water and drink before you exercise,  and provides five grams of L-Arginine per serving, as well as synergistic vitamins. Running never feels easy for me, I say jokingly I am not a runner but a bouncy walker, but I feel a noticeable difference when I drink ARGI+ just before going on my run.

Argi_

So now it is 10 days to go before our Black Light Run, and I can’t say I am enjoying the running, but I am getting our there and doing it, and I enjoy the feeling I get after the run.  Maybe one day if I can stay motivated I might actually enjoy the running part too.

Looking Back and Going Forward – 2013 in review.

So it is exactly a year since I posted my personal review How life changes – looking back and going forward so now is a perfect time to look at how I did with those challenges set on 1st January 2013.

I decided last year to start running, and did my last run of 2013 yesterday ( a quick 2 miles to break in gently after the Christmas break) I think we can safely say that challenge gets a big tick!

I  did two 5k races when there was snow on the ground late January and early February, joining my husband and daughter, and at this stage I was still doing ‘interval’ running, alternating walking with running, but these events were cross country and a real challenge.

As I already enjoyed cycling and can swim ( although I hate swimming now as before my hip was replaced swimming was all I could do and I got completely sick of it), with being able to run I had no excuse not to join my friend Jo, husband and daughter at a Triathlon in April.  The distances are short, and it is a great way to try out the discipline and get used to the transitions between swimming, cycling and running.  The 2.5 k run at the event was the first time I had run without needing to stop and walk – another great milestone.  Jo did really well too as she was carrying a small passenger!

Super Sprint Triathlon Medals

Super Sprint Triathlon Medals

In September I entered my 2nd Triathlon, again a short super sprint event for me, and I was very pleased to  improve on my times from April.  Since this event I’ve been running more regularly and managed to regularly run 3 miles round Salcey Forest, sometimes getting very very cold and wet, but I now almost look forward to it and feel very twitchy if I can’t get out and do some kind of exercise.

in 2013 I have also consolidated on my weight loss and got more comfortable at my new lower weight.  I’ve tried to dress better for my size, getting better fitting clothing and lobbing some of those old favourites which just hang on me now.  The running, cycling and Zumba have meant my shape has changed even though the scales have not, so I can feel more confident in my clothes.

With my Forever Living business I gained a promotion in January, and I have an established retail business and I am now growing my team and helping them to do the same.  I continue to drink Aloe Gel daily and take supplements to control my cholesterol, improve my Vitamin D levels and increase my Iron stores.  I am sure I would not have the energy to do all my exercise without the support of these products,  I get tremendous satisfaction from seeing how others have benefited from the Aloe Vera products.  The business is primarily about helping others.

I’ve also been able to encourage and support as my sister has managed to improve her health and lifestyle in 2013, leaving her job and going self employed, and she too now is almost unrecognisable from this time last year.  Kate has lost 3 stone, and improved her health with her change of lifestyle. We had a family party for my brother’s 50th birthday on the 29th December and we had a fantastic time – what a great way to end the year!

Kate and I with our family.

Kate and I with our family.

So what will 2014 bring?  More triathlons and more running definitely as I have the bug there.  I would like a road bike as at the moment I use my mountain bike which is very heavy, the hardest part of the triathlon I find is lifting my bike onto the racking!  I’m not sure I want to increase my distances as although I am doing really well I do have to remember my titanium and ceramic hip is almost 8 years old now, and I don’t want to wear it out, but I can work on improving my times.  I did my first Park Run recently and enjoyed it so would like to do a few more of those.

I’m also a member of Northampton Gilbert and Sullivan Group, and we have our next show week commencing 20th January, which is HMS Pinafore at The Royal Theatre in Northampton.  (Tickets now on Sale!) We did an anniversary show this year singing extracts from our favourite shows, and I had the opportunity to sing the part of The Plaintiff in A Nice Dilemma from Trial by Jury.  My first solo in a packed theatre was very nerve racking, but again I had so many compliments I may try for a main role in next year’s production of The Mikado.

This will be my 5th production this year – and looking back at the photos from when I was in Pirates of Penzance in 2010 just shows me how far I have come in the last 4 years.

Pirates in 2010 and Iolanthe in 2013

Pirates in 2010 and Iolanthe in 2013

Learning to Run Step One – Get the right tools for the job

As I said in my previous post How life changes – looking back and going forward, I have decided that in 2013, having mastered walking, I am now going to learn to run. I thought I would share the tools I have used to get me started – as having the right tools for the job definitely makes things easier.

My Smartphone

I have a Galaxy S2 smartphone – and I use it for EVERYTHING, so it was the first place I turned to when I was looking for help with my challenge.  I already used the sports tracking app Endomondo to track all of my walks and other exercise last year.  Endomondo has great challenges you can join, and that was how I logged my 100 miles every month – no messy spreadsheets to manage – just turn on your GPS – set Endomondo running – and the app does the rest.

Runkeeper

So I searched for an app which provides an easy-to-follow programme to get you running, and I settled on Runkeeper.  I was able to set my target as being able to run a 5k in early March – and then the app gave me a programme of walks and runs to follow leading up to this goal.  It suggests one workout every other day , which as I used to try and walk every day, seemed quite manageable.

However, Runkeeper did suggest I did short runs from quite early on, before I was really ready to – so I used it alongside my Endomondo, where I set up an interval training programme which would beep every minute or so, and I used this to do my burst of exercise with alternating walking and running segments.  This has really helped me to keep focused and spurred me on to run a little more than I would have done without these apps to tell me what to do.

Heart Monitor

For my birthday I was given a Zephyr heart monitor.  If you are exercising to lose weight, using a heart monitor makes the calorie burn estimates in Endomondo much more accurate – and you can see your fitness levels improving too by seeing how quickly your heart rate comes down after exercise.  This monitor attaches to a strap you wear round your chest, and links via Bluetooth to the Endomondo app on my phone.  I was very interested to see how my heart rate fluctuates during a Zumba class – we do a very high impact routine to a Rhianna song and that gives me my peak reading!

Supplements

I take several supplements which help keep my energy levels up.  For a start, I take Bee Pollen tablets each morning which helps with energy and stamina,  I take Arctic Sea  for the fish oils and Omega 3 and 6 which has really helped control my inherited high Cholesterol levels and also I take a vitamin C supplement called Absorbant C which helps maintain healthy connective tissues, skin joints and respiratory functions.

Products for Fitness

Products for Fitness

The new supplement I have been trying is a drink you make up from powder called ARGI + which maintains healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular health.  ARGI+ contains L-Argenine and vitamins and I take the drink just before I go out running – and I have noticed that I can catch my breath more easily  when I remember to take it just before my run. I have seen some excellent testimonials from Iron Man competitors about the Forever Living supplements I am taking and how they have helped others – I am not quite up to their activity levels, but every little helps!  You can learn more about these products on my website – clicking on the Order Forever Nutri-Lean button at the bottom right to get access to the web shop.

Progress So Far

So how am I doing with my challenge?  Well, on Sunday 27th January I took part in my first Just Racing 5k Cross country race.  I managed a time of 38:28 and although I walked up some of the hills, I am very proud of my achievement.   Weather and work have now meant I have missed out on a couple of weeks of running – but you may see me at a Park Run in Northamptonshire soon trying to improve my time!

Myself and Jo with our medals.

Myself and Jo with our medals.