davidn: (Default)

Well, oh dear oh dear oh dear. Actually, the graph has maintained quite an impressive mountainous shape - it's the lack of horizontal growth that's been the problem recently, as I've only put in five new entries this month (having started this whole routine off doing three a week, making about twelve).

After finding that I could run at 5.2mph fairly comfortably, I decided to try to get myself up to 6mph so that I could run a mile in ten minutes. I stepped up to 5.4, which was all right, and then to 5.7, and wondered aloud if people could just... keep training themselves to keep going up, and what the limit was on that. Well, it turns out I do have a limit, and I think it's 5.2.

I thought I was building myself up quite well, though I only managed twelve straight minutes the first time I got to 5.7 and then fifteen the next time. The third time, I was able to complete nine minutes before my right knee insisted that it would be unwise to continue - I stopped, alternated walking and jogging a little more gently for a while, then stopped comfortably and got to the door of the gym before it suddenly decided to take a break from its vital support role and I fell over sideways.

The following week, I had a couple of sessions that I didn't even record because I couldn't continue after a few minutes - my lungs are fine and I would only be comfortably out of breath at the end of a session, but my legs would give out long before then. So I've reverted back to the slower running speed at which I was going before, and the last couple of successful sessions have been fairly constant at 300 calories in either completely constant running or with a break in the middle of only about one and a half minutes. The knee still tends to complain a lot afterwards, but I have a knee brace now, and I'll have to see what running in that is like...

I weigh 170 pounds exactly.
davidn: (Default)
Progress at the gym this month hasn't looked terribly good since the last time I updated it. The unprecedented target of running for two straight miles really did mess up my ankle a bit, and then after going on holiday and being somewhat ill for a while, we let our previously well-kept routine of three visits a week slide - I've only added four more entries to the graph since the start of the month.

But even when doing it less, it's surprising how your increased stamina doesn't vanish. After just one exhausting session, doing the same thing again is significantly easier, as if your body completely rebuilds your legs overnight in order to cope with what it assumes is a rapid transition from office worker to hunter-gatherer. Starting the graph's axis at the nadir of 160 makes this less obvious than it could be, but I'm now achieving almost double the (apparent) calories that I used to when I started off, and a significantly greater distance - it's beginning to become difficult to believe that going for one and a half miles felt like moving at all.

I'm sort of hovering halfway through tier 6 now, where running in five-minute bursts is the minimum and running for mile-long stretches is more common. Yesterday I was ambitious and ran a full 20 minutes again - that's what the timer said, but while actually there and watching it tick up it felt like 19 minutes and then about three more years. This time, though, I'm not suffering any post-exercise injury at all.

The workouts from here get significantly duller, being just stretches of running slightly greater distances until the five-kilometre mark, but I think that my next step will be to slowly increase my running speed and see if I can get to a point where one mile really is ten minutes - 0.8mph doesn't sound like all that much of a difference...
davidn: (skull)
Aaaaagh. It turns out that the answer to the last line of my previous entry was "both". But look at this!

This really was the greatest jump in the course of the programme. The results jumped from the mid-200s on really good days to 315 calories, over a less shocking but still significant increase in distance - 2.42 miles this time, two miles of non-stop running with a buffer of about a fifth of a mile of warmup and cooldown walking.

But I did it - dividing my time mentally up over the course of about four songs, I managed to run the distance by continually lying to myself about when I would stop. After one mile I began to doubt my ability to keep going for the same distance again and decided that I would stop after fifteen minutes this time, then realizing that I could probably keep going to beat my current record of 17 minutes total running time in one session, then seeing that it wasn't all that long until the 20-minute mark, then deciding to stop when the total distance pushed over 2 miles and finally resolving to keep going until I'd done that last 0.2 miles to complete the requirement. But even though it was noticeably harder than any of the other sessions that came before it, it came as a great surprise that it was... possible, in the end.

I'm rather glad that the next couple of sessions are significantly easier, though - running for a maximum of eight minutes and then one mile in one stretch, as much as I'm sure I would have been flabbergasted to hear myself describe those as "easy" just two months ago. I haven't looked at what the final workout for the next week is, but if it's anything like the jump at the end of this one, it's probably "wrestle a minotaur".
davidn: (Default)
It's a rather big day at the gym today - after spending five tiers of the plan alternating walking and running for gradually longer stretches of time to build up my endurance, the target for today's session is:

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking.

This is a bit of a daunting task - there have been noticeable leaps before, but this one beats them all. Previously, the greatest amount of non-stop running time required by the plan was eight minutes, though when testing myself I managed one entire mile (just over 11 minutes) without stopping. This suddenly introduces a marathon session (if we discount the fact that a marathon is thirteen times this for a moment) that at my pace should last about 23 minutes - nearly three times what I know I can do comfortably.

Still, I have this to fuel me - it is apparent that the cafe on the corner next to us interprets "Crab sandwich" as "Open a tin of crabmeat and make your best effort to jam its entire contents between two groaning slices of bread".

Tonight is going to feel either really amazing or really sore.
davidn: (rabbit)

I'm really glad that I started keeping this graph now, because in addition to the reward of being able to just add to the curve every time I come back from the gym, it gives me a permanent reminder of where I was before I started all of this. Experiencing such gradual improvement over time, it's easy to forget how much I've improved... it's hard to imagine that having to alternate running and walking for minute-long stretches used to be too difficult for me to keep up for twenty minutes.

I feel the difference on every tier of the plan, though. Week 3 started off as pretty much identical in difficulty to week 2 (or it felt like it - now I look at it, it was obviously a steady increase), but introduced running for longer periods of time. When I took a further step up to week 4 and did the first workout where I was running for five straight minutes twice during a session, I actually felt that that was my peak and that it was more painful than enjoyable now - but after extending the week slightly and gradually trying to extend the periods where I was running, I absolutely snoozed through the fifth workout this afternoon without even the power of metal to keep me going.

I'm seeing distances of over two miles pop up on the display for the first time now in my half-hour sessions, and am capable of running for eight minutes non-stop at a stretch. Perhaps on Sunday I'll allow myself to move up a level again and start the cycle once more.

I still weigh one hundred and seventy-one pounds.
davidn: (rabbit)
Graphs make my life go round.

This is my progress at the gym, with three results from week 1 of the Couch-to-5K plan, three from week 2 and one from today, the start of week 3. The blue line indicates calories as guessed by the treadmill, and the yellow one measures distance covered (in the unwieldy unit of hundredths of a mile, as it happened to be the nearest measure that would make it fit on to the same axis as the other one).

Each session consists of five minutes of walking to warm up, twenty minutes of the main workout and then five minutes gradually coming down at the end. During the first week, I stuck to alternating running and walking for one minute each during the main session, and during the second week it was for 90 seconds, with an extra attempt to run for as long as I could during the cooldown period (therefore rather defeating the point of it). At my current peak, the last session in week 2, I managed to run for a straight five minutes at the end before deciding that I would rather stop - not even feeling that I couldn't physically continue, just feeling that that was sufficient.

I managed to get through week 2 with no problems at all and it was really strange to think that I had had any difficulty running for minute-long periods at a time - my walking and running speeds started off at 2.5mph and 5.0mph respectively, but I've crept those up very gradually to 2.7 and 5.2. Week 3 may look like it involves a step down, but it involves more prolonged periods of running, and I felt more of a jump up to it than I have when I went from week 1 to 2 - I felt a bit more pain in one leg towards the end of the twenty minutes, but we'll see if that goes away within a couple more visits.

As for my primary goal going into this, it's worth mentioning that throughout this process I have lost no weight whatsoever. But I am feeling slightly livelier in general, and my endurance is undeniably increasing - I think running for five minutes would have been unimaginable just a couple of weeks ago, as small as the figure sounds when written down. I trust that eventually I'll start seeing physical differences in the later stages once I have spent enough time building up the ability to survive them.
davidn: (rabbit)
I've started photographing the results view on the treadmill at the gym, so that I'll have the additional drive of being able to enter all the little numbers and generate reports and ask what that's done to the graph. These are the results from the third and fourth sessions:

Date Level Calories Miles Km Time Notes
24/06 1 194 1.64 2.64 30 w60-j60 15 min, w90-j60 5 min
26/06 1 191 1.60 2.57 30 w60-j60 20 min

I think I've found my comfortable speeds of 2.5mph walking and 5mph jogging for now, though they may increase a little as I get used to it (come to think of it, I should record those). The sessions on the current level of the plan last for 20 minutes each with a five-minute warmup and cooldown period at the ends, and my ability to endure them has seemed to fluctuate a little. I found the second session the hardest and I had to allow myself to slow down to the recommended level of 90 seconds walking, 60 jogging at the end of the third session, but today - despite feeling at the very start like it was going to be difficult to keep going - I made it all the way through at my accidentally accelerated 60/60 rate.

I'm not entirely sure how achieving this resulted in me finishing sixty-four metres further back than I did on the slower session. I'm going to stay at level 1 for another couple of attempts just to make sure I can do it consistently, and then move up - perhaps trying 90/90 instead of 120/90 if I continue to feel ambitious.
davidn: (rabbit)
Let's be optimistic about this and open a "gym" tag - why not. I've now been there twice over the past week, which counts as the most regularly I have ever attended a gym (but then, so does being in one twice over the past year). It's a sort of intimidating environment, being surrounded by people who are obviously fitter than you and know what they're doing. The main floor of the gym is laid out in areas with names like Core Strength Alcove and Cardio Arena, and these are populated with treadmills and twisted machinations for healthily straining very particular muscles like a Fisher-Price Spanish Inquisition. There's also a weights room on the lower floor I've never entered, but you see occasional men with the physical characteristics of Liono going into it with some snatches of Eye of the Tiger audible through the entranceway.

I started with the first routine in the couch-to-5k beginners' running schedule rather than being overambitious like last time - I followed a couple of stretches given on the site while trying to look like I knew what I was doing and didn't feel stupid, then found a free treadmill. I still felt out of place at first taking a stationary stroll with Whitney doing her much more stressful routine on the elliptical machine behind me, and with the two people on the neighbouring treadmills going at it so hard that in the event of a sudden powercut they would lurch forwards and tear a wormhole through reality.

After the warmup walk, though, I worked out how to set the treadmill to toggle between two speeds, and alternated walking and jogging with my 80s motivational music from 2011 to encourage me along. I actually did a slightly more stressful routine than the page recommends at the start - it says to cycle between 90 seconds of walking and 60 of jogging, but I did 60 seconds of each (by mistake at first and then just because it was easier to count).

And I reached the end of the 25-minute timer without distress! Apart from when I finally got off the treadmill and the entire floor seemed like it was moving backwards, like your eyes adjusting to stationary things again after watching scrolling credits - I had to lean or move constantly forwards to stop myself falling over. I will also have to work out a better position for the iPod, because a slot is provided on the machine for it in front of you, but if you catch the headphone wire with your arms then it flies out of it and goes pinging away over your head unprofessionally. And I don't really know what walking and jogging speeds are and I think I actually underestimated myself this time - I think I had walking at 2mph and jogging at 4.5, and could easily stand to increase both of those by .5mph next time.

It only feels a bit strange that I'm going to a specific building where I walk in place for twenty minutes when that energy could be used for forward momentum, but it feels good to have made a resolution to go there together - and I'm very glad of the indoors arrangement now that the weather has turned to volcanic once more. Perhaps if I keep this up, when the weather cools down, I could start running to work a couple of times a week. But it would look a bit silly with my briefcase.
davidn: (rabbit)
It hasn't escaped my notice that over the last while, my school friends on Facebook have all become worryingly active. While I continue to live the sedentary lifestyle of a dual career/hobbyist coder, they're getting into tracksuits and cycling a hundred miles around the Scottish highlands.

And at work, I don't feel any less lazy by comparison to anyone around me. One of the other coders regularly does 50-kilometre runs, presumably thought up by people who thought that marathons were for wimps. And two of the other people I work with participated in a triathlon today - a five-kilometre run, long distance bike ride and a swim across a lake infested with ravenous goldfish. One of them said he didn't even know how to swim, but was confident that he could just pick it up as he went along.

I've never really felt motivated to take part in much exercise - I've been very fortunate to just have a constitution that seemed to allow me to just stay in acceptable shape no matter how little I moved about or how many biscuits I ate (getting a terrible illness every couple of years has tended to help as well). But during my last physical checkup at the doctor, she told me that my BMI had crept into the "overweight" range for the first time, and seeing the list of medical problems on your card as "Hypothyroidism; a bit fat"... it tends to make you think that you should do something about it.

Not that I really did, until Whitney restarted her own exercise routine. Given the chance to support each other, we went to the local gym together for the first time this morning - and I have to say that I think forty minutes of exercise came closer to killing me than a diet of chips ever has. I was listening to my own music while on the elliptical treadmill, so that I can tell you that I lasted almost exactly sixteen minutes and twenty seconds before collapsing into a nondescript blubbery heap.

I think that I started off too confidently, though - I naively expected that I would be able to move my legs about for a practically infinite amount of time as long as I kept my pace to an acceptable level. Instead, I'm going to try the couch-to-5K plan, which I remember being highly recommended a while ago - with the promise of being able to proceed only when comfortable, I think that the idea of incremental 'rewards' and a level-based structure will do wonders for my motivation.

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