Guest Post by Mike S

project-leg-itI’m expecting a new son this year (we already have a 3 year old daughter) so I’ve decided to put my long distance training on hold as I simply don’t have the time needed to go for the long training runs. So I ate a lot of chocolate, drank a lot of beer and got pretty fat for a while. Then, after a few unsubtle hints from the wife I decided to set myself a new challenge (the aforementioned project leg-it!) I worked out that I can dedicate around 1 hour a day, 3 times a week to training. This means getting up at 5:15 but then I can get back in to the house in time for breakfast with the family. I need to spend half of that time to weight training (I’m 6ft4 and look like a human spider if I don’t) so that leaves me with three 30 minute runs a week. Not much huh? So I decided to set myself a challenge to keep me motivated along the way and make sure that I actually got some results from the training. Here’s how it worked:

I set myself a benchmark time – using my 30 mins on the treadmill for a 3 minute warm up walk and then a 27 minute run. Oh and I mean RUN – sweaty, bright red, hyperventilating, ohmygodimgonnadie type run! I mainly use the treadmill in our garden in what my wife calls the ‘summerhouse.’ The ‘summerhouse’ is actually a fancy shed with a few weights and a treadmill and absolutely no ventilation. Running in there is like running in a sauna sometimes, but it’s cheaper than gym membership! Anyway the benchmark was set – 3.41 miles in 30 mins (of which 3 mins were spent walking.) Now I’ve no idea if this is fast or slow – but for me it felt VERY quick as is stumbled back into the house drenched in sweat and better red with steam coming off me.

So I set myself a completely arbitrary goal – in 2 months I wanted to increase my distance from 3.41 to 4 miles in 30 minutes (still with the 3 minute walk.) I must add that there was no science behind this whatsoever just it seemed like a good round number to use as a. target. I then made sure that I wrote the times in my phone after every run (see below if you’re interested.) At the time going from 3.4 to 4 seemed like a little jump – turns out its actually quite hard – who knew?!

So it started really badly – the distance actually went backwards and I was really struggling with the motivation to get up in the morning – setting the alarm is easy but damn that snooze button! It was also a bit depressing to see how rubbish I was compared to a year ago and I started giving myself a really hard time and not enjoying it. A particularly bad experience was during a trip overseas where I used a foreign treadmill and accidentally started way to fast and tweaked my hamstring about 5 minutes in. It was in a really busy gym and I swear people were staring at me – this giant idiot who literally got on the treadmill and ran as fast as he could, arms flailing all over the place for 5 like mins and then stopped. So I limped over to the exercise bike and did half an hour on there – pretending that the run was like a really cool warm up or something.

Anyway I kept at it because I’m stubborn like that and I started getting a bit better – suddenly 3.3 and 3.4 miles was getting easier and getting out of bed wasn’t as horrific as it seemed. This made me feel better generally and I actually weirdly started to look forward to getting up and going running again. There were a few aborted runs along the way (often coinciding with hangovers) including one where I accidentally reset the treadmill with a flailing hand as I was running (according to my lovely work mates I have floppy arms when I run and look like some kind of demented chicken being chased by a fox.) Also, as summer came along the ‘summer house’ (shed) became like a torture chamber and my poor neighbours were often treated to the sight of a shirtless, sweaty, wobbly giant ghost man (I don’t tan) stumbling out of the garden shed at 6:30am in the morning.

But, as time went on it started getting easier and a couple of weeks ago I started to realise that my goal was actually in sight – I ran a 3.92! So close!!! Yesterday was even closer – I was on track for a 3.95 but had to abort at 27 mins as I simply had nothing left. (Note for me I’ve found it’s easier to increase speed every 5 mins rather than set out fast and steady.) I’ve also lost about half a stone and find that I have a lot more energy generally. I mean I still eat chocolate and drink beer so I’m not exactly an Adonis but it’s an improvement!

So at time of writing I haven’t completed the challenge but I will soon and then I’ll set myself a new challenge, and then another… It’s completely arbitrary and I’m just competing against myself and the times in my phone but I have a challenge that fits around my life and also that keeps me motivated. It’s a bit of a step backwards from the training I was doing this time last year, but I guess that’s the point – tailoring the training to suit my changing circumstances is completely fine.

Just keep running!

Mike

The times:

2 Apr – 3.41 in 30 min with 3 min walk
8 Apr – 3.49
12 Apr – aborted after 7 mins
15 Apr – 2.8
18 Apr – 3.19
19 Apr – 3.42
20 Apr – 30 min bike + injury
25 Apr – 1.8 (walk)
1 May – 3.1
2 May – 3.28
5 May – 3.37
6 May – 3.39
8 May – 3.34
10 May – 3.42
16 May – 3.37
19 May – 3.34
22 May – 3.52
23 May – 3.46
25 May – 3.33
27 May – accidental floppy arm abort
30 May – 3.51
3 June – sick walk
5 June – 3 (very hot)
10 June – 3.81
12 June – 3.92
14 June – (aborted heat)