Sunday, 6 October 2013

Surprises

There is so much about my running that is surprising; but still the biggest surprise for me is how much I love it.  

I've been running since May, so only five months, but it's now difficult to imagine my life without it.  I can now confidently and consistently run 5k in under 30 minutes and the longest runs I do now are about 7k.  Back in May the 60 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking, which the Couch to 5k podcast begins with, were more than enough for me.  I guess a part of me is still surprised that I can run at all.

The nicest and most exciting surprise lately has been winning the September parkrunner of the month prize from my local parkrun in Hackney.  This means that I win a free pair of running shoes from Sweatshop - one of the sponsors of parkrun - which is incredible.  I have gotten so much from parkrun over the past five months that I feel like I should be the one giving a prize to them, not the other way round.  

Parkruns are free, timed, 5k runs that take place in parks all around the UK, and abroad, at 9am every Saturday.  They are entirely run by volunteers and welcome people of absolutely any age and running ability - the Hackney one which I go to each week has the fastest runners finishing in around 16 minutes, and the slowest between 35 and 40 minutes.  Everyone is welcomed over the finish line with applause and smiles from the volunteers and other runners.  Plenty of new runners run-walk the course, as Olivia and I did at first.  I try to run as fast as I can at parkrun now, because I love running fast, and I like the challenge of trying to get a new PB, but not everyone is a speed freak.

The exhilaration I get from running as fast as I can is another surprise to me.  I don't have any desire to run long distances like half marathons or marathons - I just want to be able to run a 5k as fast as I possibly can - eventually in 25 minutes I hope (at the moment my PB is 28:09, so 25 minutes is still quite some way off).  Mo Farah runs 5k in 12:53....

I am trying to do interval training once a week, where I alternate a few minutes of very fast running with a couple of minutes slow jogging.  It should make me faster, generally, and is also so much fun.  Thanks to the Couch to 5k Plus podcasts (designed for people who have finished the original Couch to 5k podcasts and who want to carry on improving) I have become much better at running to a beat.  I found that incredibly difficult at first, but it gets easier each time I do it.  I can now waste hours at a time compiling and fine-tuning interval training playlists that alternate songs of about 155bpm and 175bpm.  There are programmes you can download that will analyse the bpm on your entire iTunes library, but I just use a free metronome app on my phone and check the bpm of my favourite songs when they come up on shuffle.

I think what it all comes back to though, is not the music, or the speed, or even the friendships I've made at parkrun.  It's that I live so close to Epping Forest, which is a fantastic place to run.  Even though I enjoy it so much, running usually feels hard for me - yet what never fails to lift my spirits are the glorious expanses of skies and trees in this part of East London.

Sunrise over Epping Forest
Untitled

Sunrise over Epping Forest

Epping Forest - Hollow Ponds - morning run

Epping Forest - Hollow Ponds - morning run

Sunrise in Leyton

Epping Forest autumn sunrise

Reflections in Connaught Water

Early morning runners in Epping Forest

8 comments:

  1. I do admire you Nancy, you almost make me want to have a go. Almost.
    I've been asking George and Charlie what the Worcester parkrun times are and they say the fastest are around 18 mins and slowest 45 mins. The club record is 14 mins something which is bloody fast especially when you consider how bumpy and muddy the course is (it's through a wood). George's pb is 22.34 but he's only 18, Charlie's is 28 something and he's 51.

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  2. Great post I did couch to 5k once and then hit the couch and didnt get back up lol - I love the idea of running but it just doesnt seem to happen but reading your post and how you began sounds like me - so maybe I can do it??? Will have to give it another go xxx

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  3. Everyything you have written here sums up how I used to feel about running until I had to give it up due to bad knees. I miss it so much. I still do a lot of walking which is wonderful for getting out and enjoying the outdoors but it doesn't give that same feeling of exhiliration.

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  4. You have inspired me totally (as you know!) to do C25K and although I've had some hiccups along the way, I'm now back in track. I've surprised myself so much, just like you, both in terms if me actually being able to run and how much I love it : ) xx

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  5. Nancy you are truly inspiring.

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  6. Running is amazing in how good it makes you feel. Some days I just can't be bothered to go for a run but when I get out there it is just fabulous. I wish I was as fast as you - but I'm not,and that's ok - even if I never get much faster I'm still going to love running. I'm planning a post this week about the runs I've done this year and the lovely shiny medals I've received for taking part :o) (not for winning anything of course!!)

    I feel like running has transformed my life in so many ways - but sometimes, I confess, I just want to sit and knit...........

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  7. I am so impressed. I have tried couch to 5k on a number of occasions but never got past week 4. That you have finished it and continue to enjoy and develop your running is to my mind awe-inspiring. L x

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  8. I've just read this post and just want to say well done, and encourage you to keep going. I started running in August of last year at the age of 58 after being told that my aches and pains were self inflicted (not quite in so many words you understand!). I did C25K too and found it great, then I did a beginners running course at a local running club. These days I run 2 - 3 times a week, doing the occasional park run. I even did one in Southampton with my son who is an Ironman. That was fabulous, running alongside my grown up son. I take around 35/36 mins to do 5k and whilst I would quite like to run a bit faster it doesn't worry me that I am not improving beyond that speed at the moment. Perhaps after Christmas/next year/in the summer/sometime ...It just makes me feel good. So well done, I say, and keep going.

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Even though I often do not have the time to reply to everybody, I really appreciate all your comments so much - thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts on what I've written.