Category: Couch to 5K


Day 6: A renewed focus

I set my alarm for 5:45am.  I was going to get up early and be at the park by 6:30… yeah I snoozed the alarm several times until 6:30.  Waking reluctantly, I let Beanie out to take care of business, and fixed a large glass of water to help me wake up.  Regretting not buying bananas while at the store over the weekend, I settled for my water and let Beanie back in.

He was wild.  Turning in circles he urged me to move faster. Despite our week’s break he seemed to know that today was a walking day.  I slowly pulled on my athletic gear, layering up for the early chill that I knew would soon burn off with the rising of the sun.  I slowly tied my shoes, pulled my upside down hair into a clip and athletic headband, not worrying so much about it’s appearance, but more about not scaring my fellow exercisers on the path.

Beanie’s agitation grew with each step I took as I dragged myself out the door to face the brisk air.  We loaded up and headed out, forgetting my gloves.  Upon arrival at our favorite park, I knew I was going to want those gloves and more.  I zipped up my sweatshirt, pulled my hood up, and buried my hands in my pockets.  I would miss some added exercise by not swinging my arms, but I hoped that the rising sun would raise temps as my walk progressed.

We had our usual stilted start, Beanie bounding from bush, to tree, to trashcans.  Finally he settled into the rhythm of the walk and trotted on.  I tried to focus on nothing but the sound of my steps.  Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. I had tied my right shoe a little loose but didn’t feel like stopping to fix it.  I was clearing my mind, focusing on the repetition and trying to push out the concerns of the upcoming workday and other worries.

I read an article yesterday on WebMD that had led me to this new “Zen” mission.  It was Blissing Out: 10 Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress On-the-Spot and I was determine that my walk would be my meditation for the day.  Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. Beanie pulled on the leash, wanting to linger at the drop off for the doggie bags.  I pushed on.  My mind wandered, I brought it back.  Relax your toes, relax your shins, Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.

We were already around the back side of the park, I knew my pace was a little slow, so as I came to one of the gentle slopes up I pushed a little harder to speed up.  I have never been one for speed walking.  My aunt often complains when I walk with her about my slow pace.  I enjoy the walk too much, she pushes to sweat, burn, and get done.

Focus Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  My calendar loomed in front of me (a calendar that is giving me problems with my blackberry right now) and I began to plan out my time working at the local coffee shop, and when I would have time to write this blog.  Then I jumped to what time should I take lunch.  I was not meditating.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  I cleared my mind, and before I knew it we had made the first loop.  Beanie strained wanting to head up to the car, but I urged him on.  I knew the second lap was hard for him, it was hard for me.  I was going to start slowing down, my breathing would get more labored, I would most likely begin coughing towards the halfway point.

We got down the path and Beanie made several attempts to turn me back to the car.  4 times he turned 180 degrees and walked as far as the leash would allow.  I reigned him in and locked the leash at a closer length until he gave in and dutifully trotted in front of me.  We had reached the back side of the park again. I wasn’t meditating.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. Beanie’s bag dispenser slapped haphazardly against the leash.  The roar of a bulldozer for a nearby road expansion came rolling into the park.  I saw a bench up ahead.  It looked like a cozy couch in my mind.  I pushed on, picking up the pace despite my labored breathing.  I began to wonder how many people ever actually just sat on that bench and enjoyed nature.  I decided it got much more use as a stopping place to stretch, tie shoes, or check a pulse.  No one sits on benches in parks anymore, except for old, slightly overweight white men, in political thrillers.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  We were easily halfway, I pushed on and pushed all thoughts but my pace out of my mind.  The coughing began.  I knew I should have taken my allergy pill before I left, but hindsight is always 20/20.  I pushed on, letting the coughs come, but trying to not let them slow my pace.  We neared the edge of the woods, and a waft of cigarette smoke caught me.  I coughed some more and wondered who would want to smoke at a park.  I had only seen people exercising like me, who combines that with the cancer sticks.  I never did when I smoked.

I turned back to my shoes. Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  Push on, almost there.  Beanie decided to stop for one last gift to nature.  We were almost there, the home stretch.

At last we finished, I deposited Beanie in the car and his present in one of the special receptacles placed around the path.  I threw some trash away out of the car as I was near a trash can.

We had done it.  We were both out of breath and wanting water and I hurried home to satisfy our thirst.  It had been a good walk.  I felt renewed in my goal to be starting Couch to 5K in another 2 1/2 weeks.  I decided I should come out over the weekend and take a leisurely walk, maybe even check out the cross country trails in the park that beckoned me as I passed their trailhead markers.

Meditation, check minus.  Sense of accomplishment, check plus.

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So no posts this week on walking because I haven’t been doing it. The pain in my side is actually a Gall Bladder issue that got worse before it got better. $2 in the till for missing the walk. Hoping to try again next Tuesday. Word on the street is that warmer weather is heading to town. I’ll believe it when I see and feel it. Meanwhile I’m hooking up to the Wii Fit and doing some gentle yoga.

Post Note: The Wii Fit never manifested itself.  Will add it to a long list of things to do this weekend!

Day 2: Pushing through the pain

Today was not a good day for me. Having been slightly chilled the last time I walked I put on what I thought would be sufficient layers, not checking the weather report. I was frozen about halfway around the first loop.
As the cold increased so did the pain in my shins. I had not felt any soreness from the first day of walking until this point. But every step was getting more and more painful. As I rounded the back side of the park, and hit some downward slopes the pain increased.
I also began to feel pain in my side. Having recently had a ruptured cyst I was worried that I was overdoing it so soon.
By the time I reached the car after only one loop I was shuffling my feet and holding my side. So I made the decision to not complete a second loop despite my lenten discipline. So a $1 will be going into the box later today.

Let’s hope next week proves more productive.

Day One: Getting off the couch

Ok, so I am not used to getting up and trying to be somewhere by 7. So this morning was a challenge! I was on schedule, dressed, face washed, teeth brushed, and hair pulled back.  Then I decided it would be a good idea to take my dog with me.  Since I don’t walk that often, he suffers many days from my laziness.  What better idea then to take him with me! Only that meant, getting his leash, packing a container for water and more.  So then I decided I would go ahead and pack my computer, this way I could easily drop the dog off and head straight to the coffee shop to work and of course blog! Then I had to get a bottle of water for myself.

Finally I’m in the car and about to pull out, when I realize I’m not wearing my glasses, and I legally and physically cannot drive without them. Yeah, so needless to say, day 1 was not looking so good.

Beanie moving so fast he's a blur!

We arrived at the local park and Beanie jumped out of the car, eager to get moving!  I keep him tight on the leash and make sure I stretch a little, knowing that no matter what I do, I’m going to feel it the next day! Maybe even sooner.

Keys and phone stuck in pockets I set off on the nice asphalt path.  Only to get stopped 3 times within the first .2 miles by Beanie.  Apparently walking makes him need to take several potty breaks! Bags disposed of, we set off again.

During one of our breaks I took a quick snap of the woods alongside the path.  This park is a nature preserve and it appears they’ve had a controlled burn to promote growth of smaller plants and revive the forest.  I began to think of the theme of rebirth and thought I would focus on ways that this exercise regimen was helping me to start again.

Notice the black soot and ash from the recent controlled burn.

As the cold began to hit on my cheeks, and the slight breeze through the now bare trees blew across my ankles, my thoughts turned more towards wearing a bit warmer clothes for my next adventure.  I also began to notice how I had not seen many cars in the parking lot but there were several individuals walking in the park.  It seems many people from nearby neighborhoods enjoy using the park to walk in the mornings.

Beanie continued to keep pace and take only a few breaks to mark the various trash cans and bushes, but he gradually stopped pulling at the leash as we headed around the back corner of the park, and the halfway point of our loop.  It was at this point that I encountered an older gentleman walking in jeans in a long sleeve shirt.  He seemed friendly enough, but I still pulled Beanie in closer to me and hunched my shoulders as I picked up pace.

I chided myself for being so paranoid.  Here I was thinking the worst of a stranger.  I began to analyze how often I judge others, and told myself that maybe that was the lesson to learn today.  To be less judgmental based on appearance alone.

I focused on that thought as I began my second lap.  Beanie was now starting to show how tired he was becoming.  I knew that he would sleep most of the day once we got home. But as I came around and hit mile marker .7 I heard a noise behind me of shuffling feet. Glancing back I saw someone getting on the path.  Jogging in an odd sort of shuffling way.  I first thought it must be an older person, trying to get the exercise their doctor had recommended.

As I continued walking though, my natural paranoia came back.  Here I was a lone female on a path back in the woods.  I had not passed anyone in quite some time and was nearing the back side of the park again, which seems almost set apart from the world, even with the quiet suburban street just a stone’s throw away.

The gentleman continued to stay just far enough behind me that I had to turn around to see him.  And it seemed that every time I would stop for Beanie to mark a trashcan or bush, this man would take that moment to run in a few small circles on the spot and stretch his arms.  I quickened my pace, much to Beanie’s dismay and kept a watchful ear and eye over my shoulder.  Glad now, that I had opted to go sans iPod and listen to nature instead.   I rounded the back corner and listened to the sound of traffic from the nearby main road getting louder.

The jogger continued to stay just around a corner and repeated the odd running in circles with arms stretched overhead.  I scolded myself again for the judging but did not slow my pace.  Maybe he has a OCD disorder that requires him to do that.  Maybe he thinks it helps his run.  Maybe he’s seeing how aware of my surroundings I am.  The birds were chirping as I entered the home stretch, and the jogger lagged behind even more.  I passed a few more people and my heart rate began to slow.  As I neared the parking lot, I pushed just a little harder to make it to the security of my car and my car alarm.

I felt silly as I got Beanie’s water out and went over to the nearby picnic tables to stretch.  I began looking back towards the path to see if the man was coming along.  Hoping that as he walked by I could get a better look.  I guess I hoped that if he looked normal enough I would feel worse and then could start feeling better about being so judgmental.  He never walked by.  Not once in the 15 minutes I stretched.  I strained to look at the other side of the lot, hoping I would see his car pull out.  But none did.

As I got in my car to leave I realized that in my hurry to get the walk over with and to get away from this “boogeyman” I had created in my mind, I had missed the outer loop of the park and cut myself at least a quarter mile short on my 3 miles, if not more.

So if nothing else I learned a lesson there.  Focus on the task at hand, stay alert to your surroundings, but not so much that you miss your objective and goals.

Well so often we let our blogs be all about business. But sometimes our personal struggles and challenges are just as important!
I always have a hard time each year when Lent rolls around. I spend time worrying about what to give up. What item in my life should I go without? Many people this year talked about giving up Facebook and other social media sites. Being someone who supports herself with Social Media management that was not an option. So I returned to the web, and began to look more closely at the purpose of Lent. And found that sometimes it can be just as good to take on a new challenge as it is to give up a favorite treat.
So I have chosen to take up a regular workout schedule. More specifically I will be taking up running 3 times a week! Yikes! How am I going to do this? I hate running! My asthma kicks up, my legs ache, and I get all sweaty and stuff… Ok I can do this.
Years ago I found a great program called Couch to 5K that trained you to run a 5K in just 2 months. I have tried the program 3 times and never completed it. So before I took this challenge on I decided to read into it more. I found that you don’t have to go crazy and stay on schedule. In fact many blogs, websites, and groups suggest starting off just walking the same distance for a few weeks to get your body used to the distance. Then you can start the training, and repeat weeks of training depending on your increase in stamina.
Perfect! Now comes the discipline. Just as I have had to learn while starting my own company, self-discipline is the most crucial talent to develop.
So here’s the plan. Starting tomorrow and for the next 4 weeks I’ll be walking at a local park for 3 miles 2 times a week. (if I can get a 3rd time in great!) Then I’ll begin the training schedule of the Couch to 5k program which is 3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. As needed I’ll repeat weeks until I can run the full 5k 3 times a week. Of course this goal will go beyond the Lent season, but sometimes that’s a good thing. You learn what you can do without and what your body and soul can take on.
Once I get to the point where I’m running a 5k with no problem, I’ll begin looking for a public 5k to run.
So I invite you to follow me in my progress, and possible failures! I think having the support of my followers on various social media sites and the accountability of blogging after every session will be a good motivator. I also have picked up my lenten box from church and will be depositing one penny for every minute I don’t work out! If I miss a day altogether I’ll be putting in a dollar. As much as I love donating to charity, I’m hoping for a light box or even an empty one when Easter rolls around!