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Everything posted by Rostov

  1. Agree with everything Shukar said, especially about expectations. By the sound of it you're more motivated by the experience of running and going to interesting places than by running PBs each time, but I think you have to be prepared to run more slowly in your second or subsequent race. I guess the question would be whether you can do that - do you think you could get round more slowly with less in the tank? Or did getting round the first time take everything you had? What's your training plan like at the moment, and what are your plans for the future? I think nearly everyone would struggle to race two half marathons within two weeks, but with the right training getting round shouldn't be a problem. Though you'd need to think very carefully about training between the two races. As for the third half marathon.... if it were me I'd see if I could find out how quickly places fill up, and see if I could put off entering until later.
  2. 1. I think so, yes. Don't have personal experience here, but plenty of people around here can advise you on lifting etc if you want to go down that route. 2. Yep. My understanding is that it's a good idea to carb load one and perhaps two days before a (half) marathon, but beyond that I don't think having a carb-heavy diet is a requirement for standard running training. One challenge with running (and indeed all forms of exercise) is that it's easy to overestimate how many calories it's burned off, and then eat back more than you mean to. I think one problem with running is that a lot of complex dietary advice that's intended for top athletes - or research that's done on top athletes - produces results that don't really apply to the non-elites. Doubtless complex carb-loading strategies will give Olympic hopefuls an edge, but there's so many other things you or I could and should do *first* if we want to run faster times. Just try to eat a good, balanced diet and the rest will take care of itself. 3. I think pretty much any exercise could have a plan or programme if you like long term routines. But I think the first question should be about what you'd enjoy doing, because if you don't enjoy something, you'll do it for only as long as your willpower lasts. It may well be that you've "done" running and need a new challenge, which might be weight lifting, swimming, cycling, whatever, but it's got to be something you enjoy or that you can see yourself enjoying. Did you enjoy running when you used to run? Why don't you think you're enjoying it any more - is it boredom, frustration that you're not where you used to be, does repeating the running journey not appeal? Are you putting too much pressure on yourself (and being disappointed because you're not as good as you used to be), or not enough (through not having anything to train for)? One option that might be worth considering is a triathlon or biathlon - something that combines running with cycling and/or swimming. One sport that's old, one or two that's new.
  3. There's a series of downloadable podcasts for each run produced by the UK National Health Service (NHS) that'll work on an MP3 player. I used these when I started - much of the music varies between inoffensively bland and terrible, but I rather like the understated, low budget nature of it and the calmness of the coach. A very straightforward "well done" rather than some whooping lunatic telling me I'm "awesome!". http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k-plan.aspx Alternatively, there's always the old fashioned way and timing it on a watch. Having said that, if you already enjoy walking I wonder if it might be a better idea to walk more and at a slightly faster pace, and perhaps think about running once some of the weight has come off. Running does place additional strains on the body compared to walking, and I wonder whether walking would just be a more sustainable, safe, and enjoyable path to take at the moment. I'm not sure what the advantages of running over walking would be at this stage - certainly it'll burn calories quicker and may burn more as the body repairs itself afterwards, but I wonder if those are enough to offset increased injury risk. I'm a huge fan of running, and running helped me lose the last 30lbs or so of the weight I had to lose, and running helps me keep it off now. So I'd always recommend running to someone who enjoys it, or thinks they would enjoy it. I'd never want to put anyone off it, because it's great. But for me, starting with a lot of brisk walking really worked. I took to walking everywhere and taking the scenic route to and from work.
  4. Lots of good advice already. You'll probably find going from couch to 5k is by far the hardest part of training for a half marathon from, er, a sitting start. It's much easier going from 5k to 10k, from 10k to 15k and then the half marathon than it is to get to running the first 5k non-stop. Once you get to 5k you should be in a position where you can run sustainably and comfortably for a decent period of time (around 30 mins, depending on speed), and then it's just a case of extending that period of time. For now, I'd get advice on the C25K bit, and worry about the 5k-10k bit later on. Come back and ask again when you've done it! My advice would be: Run slowly - speed doesn't matter, it's time on your feet. Don't be disheartened if it gets tough in later weeks - repeating a week is fairly common. If it's going great, resist the temptation to skip ahead. Run a little bit faster if you like, but otherwise stick to the programme or risk injury. C25K is about building endurance - you don't have to half kill yourself with every run. Dress for 10 degrees C warmer than the actual temperature when running. Find a 5k race (if you can) to mark your "graduation". Enjoy it. If you're going to be a runner, it really helps if you enjoy it! Some people train for a marathon or half marathon as a kind of 'bucket list' thing to do, or a one-off charity fundraiser, and well done to those people, especially if they don't like the training. But if you want running to be a regular part of your life, it'll have to be something you enjoy - otherwise your willpower will eventually fail and you'll stop. So think about the mental side of things too - would you enjoy listening to music while you train, or podcasts? Does it make sense to train with your friend, or are you fitness levels/running pace too different? Once you get past the first few weeks of C2k5, how might you change or vary your running route to keep things fresh?
  5. I think it's possible to over-think these things, to be honest. I don't think exact times and distances matter very much. I think my first question is whether or not you actually enjoy running. Or, to put it another way, can you imagine enjoying running? Does it appeal? When you see fitter runners in the park, do you think you'd enjoy doing what they're doing if you could? I ask because you said "it's not fun", and I wasn't sure whether that means "it's hard" or "I don't like it". If you don't enjoy running and can't imagine ever enjoying running, don't run. Do something else instead - walking, weight training, swimming, cycling, whatever. If you do enjoy running or can imagine it, I'm not sure I'd recommend starting with hill sprints. That's pushing the difficulty up to "nightmare", which may not be the best idea if you're still learning to play the game. It is intense and will burn calories, but I'm not sure that it'll be more effective than running more slowly on flatter ground for longer. I know there's a bit of a movement around tabata and short intensive bursts of exercise at full pelt being more effective for burning calories both during the exercise and in recovery afterwards, but I'd be more concerned about the increased risk of injury and about the possible effect on your morale and motivation. It's much less likely to become a sustainable habit if you come to dread it, or hate doing it, or associate it only with pain. Have you tried couch to 5k? I think that's a good way of starting running, and that's certainly how I started. I think some people may also argue that you'd be better off sticking to walking at 308lbs and lose some of the weight through diet and less intensive exercise than going straight to running. If you're recovering from health issues I'd strongly suggest speaking to your doctor about safe/effective exercise regimes if you've not done so already. I don't know what those issues were, but the last thing you want to do is make them worse or pick up some new injury or problem. My other tip would be to be aware of the trap of thinking that a bit of running can "earn" you more calories to consume. Obviously it can to some extent, but there's a danger of eating back the calories burnt (and more) through overestimating how much energy has been burned, and though (not unreasonable) feelings that you've done well and earned a reward. Should say I'm not an expert here - all this is just based on experience.
  6. I'd be amazed if you had to worry about nitrogen. The potential problem is "nitrogen narcosis" aka "the narcs". Nitrogen is fine to breathe at the surface and at shallow depths, but at deeper depths/under greater pressure (i.e. the weight of water on top of it) it starts becoming a problem, and has an effect that's a bit like alcohol. Sometimes it makes people happy/silly and swim around offering air to fish, and other times makes people jittery and paranoid. A lot depends on mood, visibility, underwater conditions etc. But the good news is that you don't need to worry about it, because it's only an issue past about 30m, and I'd be amazed if you ended up going much past 10m on the kind of course you mention. There are two problems with going up too fast, and they're related. When you're at depth, air is under pressure (the atmosphere above plus the weight of the water - 10m = 1 atmosphere, or 1 bar). When you ascend, the pressure becomes less and the air expands. So the air in your lungs also expands, and if you don't breathe out, you can risk bursting a lung. The other problem is air in the tissues expanding too quickly and causing decompression sickness (aka "the bends") which is quite nasty. There are two ways of stopping this - one is ascending slowly and breathing as you go, and the other is taking what are called "decompression stops" - you pause your ascent at, say 10m or 6m for a few minutes before continuing. But you're very unlikely to be going deep enough or long enough for a decompression stop - to be able to do that safely means being really good at controlling your rate of ascent and controlling your buoyancy so you can stay more or less at a constant depth without anything to hold on to, and with only your depth gauge to measure. This is relatively advanced stuff, and you won't be doing it. But you will need to remember to exhale slowly on ascent, and to ascend slowly. But you'll be taught all that. If an instructor doesn't see bubbles coming from your mouth while ascending, you'll get reminded. Apparently in the old days in naval diving training the reminder was a punch to the stomach, but I'm sure they don't do that these days. They'll run through any background medical conditions - asthma or a history of panic attacks might be a problem, and some medications don't interact well with pressure. But they'll go through this, and send you to see a doctor for a fitness note if there's anything they're not sure about. As for health benefits, I don't think it's a great form of exercise, because swimming with fins takes a lot of effort from it. But there is carrying the kit around, and it does burn more calories than watching underwater nature docs on TV. It can be extremely relaxing and a lot of fun once you get comfortable with it. I'd say everyone who has the health and the means should give it a go at least once.
  7. I used to go scuba diving fairly regularly - me, my dad and my sister were all divers. I started when I was about 14 and then had to temporarily give it up when I was about 20 because of some medication I was on at the time, and never got round to going back to it. My training was a few hours a week theory and then a similar amount of time in the pool, then training days, then open water diving - so over a much longer period of time. This is about 20 years ago now, but I doubt a huge amount has changed in terms of training - though probably equipment has advanced. First thing to say is that it's an amazing experience, and I'd thoroughly recommend it. There are potential dangers, but properly qualified and registered instructors know what they're doing, and won't let new divers progress from stage to stage if they're not comfortable that they're safe to do so. You'll be in good hands. If the rules are anything like they were when I started, they'll use a "buddy" system whereby you're sorted into pairs (ideally) or threes for each dive, and you'll be told to stay together and keep an eye on each other. You'll also have an assigned instructor - they won't let you swim off on your own at any point, or at least they shouldn't. They'll also teach you diving sign language so you can communicate. The main thing to get used to is breathing air from a tank through a regulator. You have to inhale a little deeper/almost suck a little to pull air into your lungs. The air will taste very dry and your mouth might start to dry out, but you get used to it. When you first start it's almost impossible to concentrate on anything but your breathing, and you'll probably find yourself breathing a lot more than usual. Getting used to being able to breathe underwater and that becoming second nature is a key part of the training. It's massively, massively weird when you start, and it takes time to learn to trust the fact that it's there and not to gasp at it as if the air is going to run out at any moment. Getting acclimatised is key, it's not straightforward, so give yourself time and don't be surprised if it's pretty horrible to start with. One thing they had me do was wear a blacked out mask and be led around the swimming pool underwater, so I couldn't see anything. This was to get used to reduced visibility, which is an issue in UK waters, and to learn to trust the kit. If in doubt, keep your breathing slow and steady, and everything else follows from that. If your breathing is slow and steady, you'll stay calm. The second thing is controlling your buoyancy. You'll be wearing diving kit, possibly a wetsuit or drysuit depending on the temperature, and you may also wear a weight belt. The aim is to be neutrally buoyant so you're not having to fight to avoid floating to the surface nor scraping along the sea bed. This needs occasional adjustment as you go deeper, as pressure affects buoyancy. You'll have an inflate button to inflate the jacket with air, and a vent to empty it. In order to be safe underwater, you need to be able to control your buoyancy, and this takes a bit of experimenting both in terms of practising and in terms of working out how much weight to carry. And because of salt water, it's different in the pool to in the sea. Three skills that you're very likely to have to learn before you go open water diving. They both sound a bit daunting, but you don't do them until you're comfortable breathing. The first is sharing air. This is in case one of you runs out of air, and so you have to share. This involves taking a breath (or two), taking the demand valve from your mouth, and passing it to your buddy. She then vents it to clear the water, takes one or two breaths then passes it back. Key thing here is not to do what I did and adopt a one breath each strategy when my buddy was doing two breaths. I think either is fine, but probably two is better for keeping calm. In training, you'll probably do this on the bottom of the pool. Dunno if they'll ask you to do it open water. The second is taking your mask off, putting it back on, and clearing it underwater. You need to learn to do this in case your mask starts leaking, perhaps because you've got a strand of hair in it, or because it doesn't fit properly, or because it's got worn, or because you get someone else's fin in your face. Like sharing air, this is mainly a task about not panicking. You then replace the mask, angle it, and exhale to blow the water out, and replace it. Once it's back on and mostly clear, it sometimes takes another go or two to completely clear it, but you can see at that point and it's much easier. The third is controlling your ascent. I doubt you'll be diving that deep, but you need to be able to ascend slowly - it's dangerous to do so too quickly. As you ascend, the pressure decreases so the air expands, so (if you're not trained/careful) you ascend faster and can breach the surface of the water like a rocket. So the key is starting a slow ascent and then venting air to slow your ascent without stopping it, and keeping an eye on your depth gauge as you go. Reading and responding to your depth gauge and pressure gauge for your air cylinder are also things you're trained to do. Training is quite serious because there are real potential dangers, but for people with the right training, equipment, and supervision, it's perfectly safe. And it's awesome. Did I mention that? It's all worth it to see the fish, the undersea terrain, to get the feeling of weightlessness, to see the silvery surface from below the water. Completely worth it.
  8. I know next to nothing about restricted diets/food phobias, other than knowing a few people with them - though I've picked up very quickly that it's not a comfortable topic of conversation for them, so I've not asked them any questions, even though I was curious. As with them, I don't want to pry into the whys and wherefores, but given than weight gain/overeating sometimes has an emotional or psychological cause/element, I can't help but wonder whether you're dealing with two issues, or two manifestations of something. And I suppose my question (for you to ask yourself, not for you to answer here) would be whether they're linked, and whether it makes sense to tackle them both at once, or whether that's too much to take on. It may be that there are advantages in taking on both at once - if wanting to eat more healthily as part of a weight loss goal provides an excellent motivation or opportunity to push back on food phobias, that would be great. But I wonder if it might be too much to take on psychologically - weight loss/lifestyle change over a long period of time is taxing on the willpower and in other ways. I remember having to pay attention to the scales, to the mirror, to how my clothes fitted rather than just ignoring them meant I was constantly confronted by how far I had to go, and that was difficult. So if you've not already asked yourself the question about whether tackling both at once is the best thing to do, I think it's worth thinking about, and if counselling is an option and might help, that would be worth considering. Another thing to say is congratulations on your successes so far - if I understand correctly, you're 20lbs down, you managed to keep to what looks to me like a pretty rigorous exercise programme for about five months, and you've cut out sugary drinks and cut back on snacking. These are fantastic achievements, and there are people posting here and reading this who'd love to be in the position of having made that much progress. I think you're right to recognise that it's a long journey along a long road, and that's true for everyone who's got more than a little weight to lose. The key thing I found (speaking as someone who went from 42" inch waist trousers to 34" inch) is to accept that, and to accept that there will be plateaus and apparent plateaus, slow drops in weight, steep drops in weight, the occasional slight increase. I also used MFP, and the good thing about that was working out that to be a bit lighter, you just need to eat like a person who's a bit lighter and then wait. Then you are that person, and if you want to be lighter still, you can do that too. No need to try and eat like someone who's super fit when eating like someone who's just a bit lighter will do the trick. But as time goes by, progress does become slower and harder. One exercise suggestion I do have would be about how much/far/often you walk, and whether walking more is an option. One of the changes I made was to decide to walk everywhere, and fitting more walking into the daily routine can really help.
  9. I'm not an expert either, so take all this with a pinch of salt.... I do as much of my speedwork as possible with my running club. This isn't always intervals, but regularly works on those principles - run quick and/or up hill then rest. Sometimes it's running fairly quickly and resting, sometimes sprints, sometimes hill sprints. The big advantage of doing this as part of a club is that the coach and my fellow runners push me harder than I can push myself, and when I miss training and try to do my own speed work or intervals I try to push myself, but the reality is that I don't feel I work as hard or get as much from it. But I've had to design my own interval training for times when I can't make it, and what I've done is try not to over-think it, try out various routes and routines. I think a lot depends on where you are with your running, what your preferences are, what your goals are, and what resources/routes you have - do you have access to a running track (I don't), relatively quiet/safe places to sprint without scaring pedestrians, daylight etc. I've put together a routine in my local park which has some lovely hill sprints, flat sprints, recovery walks, slow jogs etc, but that's no good in the winter when the park closes before I finish work. So in winter I run around the block which is quite quiet. Last night I ran one complete loop as a warm-up, then sprinted most of one long side (to avoid sprinting near corners), walked one short side, and then jogged the other long side and second short side before sprinting again. This totals about 5.5k, with four sprints. I want to try varying this to one warm up lap, then sprinting both long sides and walking both short sides. That'll be tougher, but I'll see how that goes. I agree with Outback about only using distance as a measure on a running track, but I'd suggest using geography as much as using time as a measure, apart for complete rest (rather than walking breaks). I think it's possible to overthink intervals - I'd say the best way to approach it is to experiment. Just think about where you can run and how you might use the geography/land marks etc. It's a bit of trial and error to work out how much is right - pushing yourself without killing yourself - but the key thing I think is just getting used to running quickly and that feeling of being out of breath, and then recovering afterwards, and doing it again.
  10. One possible approach (and one that worked for me) might be to do a bit of a food audit - just eat as normal for a week or so, and just log everything and learn what the calorie content of different foods are. No pressure to do anything different - it's just finding out how calorific different foods are, without judgement or pressure. Armed with that information, then have a look through and look for easy calorie savings, in exactly the same way you can look through a budget. This needn't mean giving up takeaway food or making any huge changes, but just looking for lots of small ones that won't be missed. What held me back for a long time was that I liked my life and I loved my food. I wasn't sure - even with limitless willpower - that I'd even want to be a healthy weight if it meant giving up all those delicious things and munching sadly on a salad leaf. But actually I found there were a lot of calories I was consuming which were poor value - not very filling, and stuff I didn't even like that much but would eat because it was there. Or choices that were about even in taste/enjoyment, but weren't equal in calories. For example, one of my favourite four or five Chinese dishes turned out to be massively calorific, so I just ate it less often. For my lunch I noticed that sandwiches ranged from about 300 to 600 calories. A lot of the 300 calorie sandwiches weren't very tasty and were mainly salad in bread, but I found little difference in my preferences between sandwiches between 450 and 600 calories. So I limited myself to 500 calorie sandwiches, and if that saved me 100 calories per day, for five days that's 500, which is a significant saving. To lose a bit of weight means eating like someone who's only a little bit lighter than you. Do that, and you become that person. If you want more, then you need to eat like someone a bit lighter again, but that's a decision for another time, and it's a decision that gets easier to make if you want to because your body and brain changes. And eventually there comes a day when to get lighter/healthier/fitter/stronger, you need to eat in a way that you don't want to, and the sacrifice becomes too great. And apart from perhaps elite athletes and models, that point comes for everyone. I love running now and I ran my first marathon last month, I want to run faster. But there will come a point at which I can't run faster without significantly more sacrifices that I'm not going to want to make. And that's fine. There's a lot of black and white thinking about weight loss. It's either do nothing, or do everything. That's entirely the wrong way to think about it, in my opinion. It's all about doing a little bit, losing a bit of weight, and then deciding what to do next. Because changing even one habit and losing a pound or two is good in itself. None of this helps with communication, of course - this is how I went from 42" waist trousers to 34" and this is what I told myself. Helping someone else - especially a loved one - is damned difficult. I've no idea if any of this helps in any way, but I think the approach of trying to look to maximise calorie intake reduction for minimum sacrifice is a great way to look at it. It's a system, and if we're nerds, we're good at optimisation strategies!
  11. There's usually a live or current thread around here somewhere about running in general - there was a "first half marathon" thread a while back which was lovely. Please feel free to ask any questions you have here, and I'm sure others will chip in with their questions too. I've not yet seen a question about running posted here that's not got a lot of high quality answers, and I think what this place does particularly well is that we've got people at a lot of different stages with their running. I think this is important because sometimes the person you want to ask about completing your first 5k is the person who's just completed her first 10k, rather than the person who's just won a marathon. In other news, congrats to Dilnad on your first half, and on your fitness journey in general - enjoyed reading that the other week.
  12. October 31st this year will mark three years since I took up running, and since then I've completed couch to 5k, pushed on to 10k, then a half marathon, and last month my first full marathon. I'm currently resting after my marathon and after getting a slight heel problem, as well as tapering for a half marathon at the weekend. But my usual training schedule in normal times is: Tuesday - speedwork with my running club, plus another 5k or so running slowly to/from training Thursday - 10k with hills and a few short sprints Weekend - long slow run. Distance depending on training stage, but generally 20k+ This was more or less my schedule since I got to the point I could do 5k comfortably - one speedwork, one standard run (which was 5k, now 10k), and one long slow run where I'd gradually increase distance. My advice (for what it's worth) for newer runners is.... 1) Don't do it unless you enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it, it'll last only as long as your willpower does. Find something else you do enjoy. 2) Get proper running shoes that fit you. I reckon your running shoes should be the single most comfortable pair of shoes you own. 3) You're probably doing some of the hardest running you'll ever do right now - physically and mentally. The first bit is the hardest. Going from 0k-5k is far, far, far tougher than going from 5k to 10k. And once you've done that, it's just training, practice, time, avoiding injury, and how far you want to run. 4) You don't have to half-kill yourself in every training session. Don't overdo it. "No pain, no gain" might be trueish, but "more pain, more gain" isn't true. Nicely tired is fine. Save the pain for race day! 4) Don't worry about what other, more experienced runners are thinking about you. Firstly, chances are that they're not thinking about you. Secondly, if they are thinking about you, chances are they think you're awesome. A few weeks before my marathon I was running in my local park and there were a lot of runners out there putting the finishing touches to their marathon or half marathon training. But the still-slightly-overweight-guy I saw running up that hill pouring with sweat was working harder than any of us, and it took more guts for him to be out running than the various gazelles and greyhounds smoothly bounding around the lake.
  13. And..... done it! First full marathon, 3:39:34. Loved it!
  14. I think the benefits are the same as in the couch to 5k programme - putting in those walking breaks allows runners a bit of recovery time to run further/longer overall. I haven't seen the programme, but presumably it builds in a similar way, with that kind of interval approach on some runs and run x far/time without stopping in others. I think when you get to the stage you're at now it's tempting to see those walking breaks as something you don't need any more, perhaps because when you started you needed them to get your breath back, which you don't need any more even though the rest might be welcome. But even if you don't need them to get your breath back and recover in the same way, it does allow you to run further gradually - it's not weakness or cheating. Some runners continue to use walk/run strategies like that to build time and distance well into half marathon and marathon training, and even use it in races. Think I'd always advocate the C25K system (and probably only that system) for new runners, but I think options open out a bit once you reach 5k, especially if you're doing it in 30 mins which is a more than decent pace for a new or newish runner. So you could continue the programme, or you could look to other options/programmes for running further and faster. For example, one alternative would be to have three different kinds of run each week: 1 x standard run. Run 5k at a decent pace. 1 x speed work. Run less than 5k, but run it fast. Intervals is a good way of doing this - run quick for a bit, then walk/jog, repeat. 1 x long slow run. Run *slowly*, but run further than 5k/30 mins, gradually increasing the distance each week towards 10k. The key thing here is running slowly, and if you're doing 5k in 30 mins there's definitely scope to slow down. In fact, your programme might be working on these or similar principles - not sure. My own training is still based on those three basic categories of run - one standard (sometimes with hills and a few short sprints), one speedwork, one long slow run. I think it's important to build distance/time on your feet slowly. If you increase either too much you risk injury, and I think you also risk falling out of love with it if it stops being fun. Certainly I wouldn't go straight from running 30 mins non-stop to running 40 mins non-stop. I'd probably add no more than 1k or 5 mins or so per week and build it slowly, even if you think you could go further/longer.
  15. Dilnad's right... it's a question of what you'd like to do next. There's nothing wrong with just keeping doing what you're doing if you're enjoying it. And congratulations! Something you might want to try is to vary your running a bit. Rather than doing 5k each time, you could look at doing speed work or hill work for one of your runs, a longer slower run for another, and then a standard 5k. The speed or hill work will help you run faster for longer, and the long slow run will increase your stamina and endurance, and both will help you run 5k faster. My experience was that it's much harder to go from couch to 5k than from 5k to 10k, and if you wanted to you could just increase your long slow run by a little bit each week and see how that feels - but it's important to slow down. If you were to decide to train for a 10k race, this wouldn't require you to run 10k each time you go for a run. You could do that, but I think for a first 10k race you'd be better off doing a 5k training run, a long slow run building towards 10k (some people don't actually run the full 10k until race day), and speed work and/or hill work.
  16. Congrats on your progress and achievements so far! I suspect it'll be very hard for anyone - other than perhaps a running coach who's seen you run - to tell you what your potential is at this early stage. But at 20 you've certainly got time on your side and a lot of scope to improve. I guess a big factor will be how much you're willing to commit to hit that target in terms of training, time, diet, lifestyle etc. But that's not a question you can answer yet. One perhaps obvious thing to say is that improvements do tail off after a certain point.... they don't just continue at the same rate. When you're new to a sport you can make big improvements quite quickly, and it came as a bit of a shock to my ego when I reached a point with my running that I was no longer smashing my PB every Parkrun, and sometimes not even getting close to matching it. Jfreaksho is right about genetics - ultimately it's about being the best version of you that you can be, taking into account other life plans/commitments/aspirations/goals. Looking at elite athletes, it does look like there are particular body types that are better suited to different distances, but I'm sure you've seen people of all shapes and sizes at Parkrun running great times. I think that height isn't really much of an issue - runners aren't fast because they take long strides, but because they take a lot of them quickly. And although most elite 5k runners look tall and rangy and greyhound-like, I reckon short and slight (or short and rangy) may well be "next best". Have you thought about joining a running club?
  17. Calorie counting really worked for me - helped me from size 42" trousers down to 34". I used calorie counting in two main ways.... one to keep score, and the other to educate myself about the calorie content of different foods and drinks. As regards keeping score, I wasn't sure if you meant a calorie deficit of 500 per day or 500 per week or over two weeks. If it's 500 a day, that seems high to me. I remember when using MyFitnessPal it would calculate a calorie target for me and it was always gratifying to undershoot it and see a nice green figure, because it felt like I was winning and doing even better than the minimum. But I think it's possible to take this too far and try to do too much, too quickly. For one thing, it's a lot more willpower and effort to resist temptation if you're permanently hungry, and I've heard it said that running too big a calorie deficit can actually delay weight loss because the body thinks that food is scarce and so consumes less - starvation mode. I'm not sure how true this is - heard different accounts. But I think my advice would be to trust the system and try to follow the target you've been set, more or less, and undershoot a little if it makes you happy. I know it made me happy! As regards education, I used calorie counting to look for (relatively) painless easy wins in terms of swapping out high calorie for lower calorie food. It's amazing the cumulative difference that this can make. Armed with this knowledge, now that I've reached my target weight (more or less), I can just use that knowledge and not bother too much about calorie counting. It's become sustainable. And I think if you want your weight loss to be sustainable and not just put the weight back on again after you finish, those lessons need to be permanently learned and embedded. If I want to wear 34" trousers, I need not only to lose the weight, but also to learn how to live/eat/exercise like someone with a 34" waist. If I lose the weight but don't learn the lesson, it's only a matter of time before my jeans get too tight. My other tip as part of education would be to find food that's good filling-ness value for the calories. I identified bananas, soups (especially tomato soup), omelettes/scrambled eggs as being particularly good, but probably not all at the same time.
  18. If you're interested in other people's experiences of their first half marathons, have a read of this thread. A few of us posted there about our training, various other updates, contributions from more experienced runners, a bit of chit chat, and then some accounts (including mine) of how our various halves went. http://rebellion.nerdfitness.com/index.php?/topic/50418-training-for-my-first-half-marathon/ Where are you at the moment in terms of running - experience, distance, training routines etc
  19. I'm no expert on running form, but I did attend a workshop recently about better form, and I think mine has improved as a result. Think my suggestion would be to try taking shorter strides. A lot of people try to run by taking long strides, but actually shorter, quicker strides are more efficient and faster. Shorter strides mean you have to land on the ball of the foot or fall over. And yep, it does hurt the calves to start with. But I wonder if your shin plain is shin splints, in which case changing your running form might not be the answer.... http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/shin-splints/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  20. I wouldn't call it "levelling down". Someone very wise once said that a half marathon isn't "half" of anything, and a 10k is still double the distance you've run before (if I've understood correctly). It'll still be a terrific achievement - believe me, my first half marathon didn't feel any less because it wasn't a full one, and running my first 10k race didn't feel any less awesome because it wasn't a half. I know what you mean about audio books and running - I listen to podcasts, and catching up on those during my weekly long slow run running alongside canals and rivers is glorious - at least until the latter stages and I start to hurt! It's wonderful to run, great to have the time to listen, and to have that time to myself. And sometimes I remember a time when all this would have felt impossible. My own training plan was relatively simple. I ran three times a week - one would be short and quick, one would be standard, and one would be long and slow. "Short and sharp" , sprinting and recovering, or perhaps taking a hilly route. "Standard" would probably be 5k at a steady pace. "Long and slow" would probably start at 5k, and then gradually increase by 1k or so each week. I took this all the way to 10k so I ran the distance in training before the race, but I don't think this is required. I still use that broad structure - short and sharp is now a club training night with drills, standard is 10k with hills and a couple of short sprints, and long and slow is now up to 25km(15.5 miles). I'm going to take this to 20 miles in preparation for the marathon. I probably need to add a fourth run in there somewhere - probably a short recovery run after the long slow run. BTW, I hope my earlier post didn't come off as dismissive of "bucket list" running and runners. That was absolutely not my intention - it takes a huge amount of courage and dedication to start on one of these training plans from fairly low or non-existent base, and frankly a lot more courage than I have. And of course, a lot of those kinds of runners raise a fortune for good causes precisely because it's out of character for them, or at least a brand new challenge.
  21. I think my advice - for what it's worth - would be to look to the 10k this time. That's not to say that I think the half marathon is impossible for you, but it's always going to be there as an option for the future if you want it. I suppose a lot might depend on how you see your relationship with running going in the future. For some people, running a (half) marathon is a bucket list item - to be ticked off a list and then move on to something else. For others, running is going to be a leisure pursuit that lasts a lifetime - perhaps not always races, perhaps not always long distances, but as a constant part of a healthy lifestyle. If it's a 'bucket list', I'll leave others to advise about how to train up in time. But if it's going to be a constant part of your life, I'd be tempted to focus on the 10k. That way you can build up more slowly, take fewer injury risks, and run that race stronger and faster than you could a half marathon - and probably enjoy it a hell of a lot more too. And be ready to get back to your training/running routine in the following days. The danger, I think, is either getting injured in training, or getting worried or anxious and stopping enjoying or, or having a miserable time running the HM, even if you finish. I think it's better to run 10k and feel the way you do now after running 5k than run a HM and struggle, and perhaps even fall out of love with running. The half marathon will still be there in the future if you want it. Another factor to consider, of course, is the weather - not sure where you are in the world, but where I am a July race is going to be a lot hotter than a May race, which presents its own challenges over longer distances.
  22. I think timed intervals will help... you'll know you're nearly probably sort of there, but without knowing exactly and so feeling the need to speed up to get to finish quicker. I think if you're running quickly because of 1, the main thing it to realise it, and (easier said than done) don't panic. If you're on couch to 5k, you're on a programme that works, and even though some people need to repeat a week, by the time that happens you should be getting more confident. Trust yourself, your fitness, and the programme - you will get there, you will complete the run phase you're on because you've completed everything that went before it, and you don't need to panic-rush. Tell yourself that if you run out of energy, any speed above a walk is fine.
  23. For couch to 5k I'd say there's virtually no such thing as running too slowly - the aim is to cover the distance, not to cover it quickly, and not to kill yourself in the process. Something I struggled with a bit at the start was the idea that if it didn't hurt, it didn't count - the whole "no pain, no gain" philosophy - and that if I didn't finished my run exhausted I was wasting my time/cheating myself/whatever. Actually the point of C25k should - I think - to finish each session nicely tired, but not exhausted and certainly not half dead. But I know what you mean about getting sucked into running faster and faster - I still do that today, and I generally run "negative splits" - running the second half faster than the first. I guess my question for you would be why you think it happens - is it from a place of: 1) worry/anxiety - a stressed form of running that has nerves jangling, alarm bells ringing, and sirens blaring in your head, your energy levels dropping alarmingly, and you run faster because you want to be finished sooner so you can rest; or 2) comfort - you're enjoying running, feeling good, in the moment, and gradually the pace drifts upwards and you realise belatedly that you've not left enough in the tank? I think a lot of new runners get (1), because it's unfamiliar. But for me there were two wonderful moments - one when you realise you can just run slowly but sustainably. Not for ever, but for a short time, and for long enough for current purposes. Your energy is dropping, but dropping slowly, and it's not scary. The second moment was when I realised I could rest while running - could run up a hill, continue to run down it, and get my breath back while doing so. I reckon at week 4-5 of C25K you're probably close to the first of those moments. But week 4-5 is also the stage at which some people ought to do a week twice if it doesn't feel comfortable. One option to try is to set yourself a time target, but one to exceed, not to beat. I also wonder whether running on a track might also have an effect - if you know exactly where you can stop running, there is a temptation to run too fast towards that point.
  24. I'd agree with that. In my training for half marathons I rarely run two days in a row. I might need to step this up a bit with full marathon training, but even then I don't intend to do two hard runs in consecutive days. I've had ankle problems so I'm particularly cautious. I know some people do run every day but alternate gentler 'recovery' runs. But I think if you're at 6-7k medium pace with 5 weeks until race day, you're in a great position and just need to keep gradually increasing distance. I'd say running every day rather than 3-4 times a week will just increase your injury risk. That's especially true if you're new or newish to running, even if you're otherwise pretty fit - you don't tell us much about your starting point. What I tend to do in terms of training over three runs per week is do one run involving speed (intervals perhaps), one steady over medium distance, and one longer slower run. I've then gradually built up the longer slower run over time.
  25. This. While it's no cure for self consciousness, being aware of the "spotlight effect" has made a real difference to me. Essentially, we're the centre of our own lives, so we tend to drastically overestimate how much attention other people pay to us - as if we're permanently in the spotlight. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/between-you-and-me/201311/have-you-fallen-prey-the-spotlight-effect
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