Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run.

So Saturday marked my first unofficial Park Run of 2017, and I say unofficial because I forgot to print out my little scanner code so I won’t get a time on the website but I don’t mind because both Scott and I recorded it individually; I recorded it on my FitBit Blaze and he recorded his on the Nike Running App.

IMG-20170812-WA0001-01(The starting line for the Park Run and of course, full photo credit goes to Scott because he’s taller and he’s better at getting overhead shots of the crowd.)

We arrived just on time, just after the little talk the volunteers give to the runners so we made our way around to the starting line and the laps themselves weren’t too different to how I had been running. The only difference was that we were starting at the western point of the pond and running down the hill to the pond towards the end which meant we had to run up the steep hill twice. The run was very similar to my one apart from those few points though, which I felt at ease with.

At the very beginning I had some of the self-critical thoughts and doubts creep into my head thinking that there was no way I could do it and they seem to creep back at the exact same place for the second (and final) lap. I’m glad I pushed through the thoughts but it’s not the nicest mindset to be in, it might just take a while for that to pass, right?

20170812_102727(It was quite a cloudy day and it wasn’t very warm but that worked in my favour during the run, because it seemed like the perfect temperature.)

One thing that I’ve found is my FitBit seems to be slightly off and I had noticed this a few times but the run on Saturday seemed to confirm this. The run altogether is 5K exactly yet my watch is knocking 0.1miles off my time which is quite frustrating so if you see me posting my watch times and it only says 3.02 miles, it’s really 3.12 which is just over 5K.

So what was my time? Well I’m so happy that I hit another Personal Best because Scott said to me just before the end, “You’ll be so surprised at the end.” and I said that I was preparing myself to be disappointed. When you’re running in a big group of people, because there are so many people in front of you, you feel like you’re running too slow and I always look back to that very first slow run that I spoke about so I always feel like I’m running at that speed.

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My time was 35:42 according to Scott’s app, and it’s almost ten seconds more on my watch because I was so happy to finish that I forgot to hit the pause button, so that’s why there’s a few extra seconds on. According to Scott, from the first run we done together, I was doing a 14 minute mile and on this particular run, my average was 11:26 a mile, so quite the drop in times! As you can see from the watch statistics, it says 3.02 miles when really it was 3.10 miles so I’ll have to see if I can fix that somehow. It syncs with my GPS on my phone so I’m not sure what’s going on with it.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post and if you want to catch up on the previous posts of the series, they are all be linked below:
Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run. 

Training for a 5K Run: The Lone Run.

So with less than two weeks to go until race day, I need to up my running game and this is my third run since signing up to the race less than a month ago. This was my first lone run because Scott had to work so I thought it would be good experience to see where not only my head would be but how far my own motivation would take me, even though on the day of the race, I know he’ll be there.

20170717_210915(How pretty are the swans?!)

If you remember back to my second race, I wasn’t in the greatest place mentally but I’m very happy to report that my head was in a much better place for this run. I described it as “losing motivation” to Scott but he said it’s more self-doubt that anything. I got round about half way of the course (I say “around”, I only checked my distance twice because I didn’t want to get too obsessed with checking it) and I felt like I couldn’t do the full distance. I added a few more hills into this run than previous two so I felt the extra challenge of those and I think those were fuelling the self doubt.

Running on my own definitely wasn’t as lonely as I thought it might be. I’m quite used to my own company anyway but I thought since I was in a public place, I might feel it more but surprisingly I didn’t. I had my music playing throughout so I didn’t feel like I needed conversation because of that. Something that I’m still struggling with is my breathing; it might sound silly but controlling your breathing while running is quite challenging. Thankfully because I have my headphones on, I don’t hear the very heavy breathing noises but if I didn’t, I don’t think I would be able to hear myself think.

IMG_20170811_064507_229(The evening’s statistics on my FitBit!)

As you can see with my FitBit above, my numbers were thirty seven minutes and forty eight seconds. As with the second run I ran a little further than the 3.1 miles so if you scale my numbers back to exactly the miles to match 5K, I would have completed it in the thirty six minute mark which matches my last run. I was really happy with my results; I didn’t expect the same timings because I didn’t feel like I had went at the same pace.

20170717_210217(The waterfalls in the park are so peaceful especially in the evening.)

Overall, I’m really happy with how the run went. I’m very happy that my time stayed the same and I’m glad that I was able to push past the self doubt because that’s probably something that will always play on my mind (and it’s not something that happens when I’m just running either). It’s less than a week and a half to go now until the race, exciting!

If you want to read about my introduction to this series, you’ll find it here and if you want to hear about my raw, emotional experience when running, you’ll find that post here. Thank you for reading the series so far, I can’t wait to share the rest of the journey with you!

 

Training for a 5K Run: Running and Negative Mental Health?

Have you ever had a negative run or ran when your mental health was very low? There’s a saying that goes “The only workout you regret is the one that you skipped” and when you hear people telling you that exercise is one of the the best anti-depressants, one would assume that the majority of your problems go away if you just “run it off”. 

Mental health is something that I talk about on the blog sometimes but in general, I try to keep my “online presence” very positive, or as positive as I can be. I made the decision over the last year to not be so open about my negative mental health because it’ s very personal to me and because it can be very hard to deal with, I struggle to share that with the people around me, never mind the Internet. 

Today I’m going to open the lid of that box and share my experience of what it was like running when I was at a very low point. 

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Scott had planned out a run for us but I didn’t know where it was or how long it was going to be. It was a Friday night so while I should have been happy that I had finished work for the week, I could relax and enjoy my second run of my 5K training; that reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

He was my only motivation getting ready because I knew he was looking forward to it, and I had been all day up until that night but all I wanted to do was lie in bed and cry until I fell asleep. He brought me down to where we were going to run and it’s actually a really nice towpath that we’ve walked before so I was familiar with the scenery. 

I’m a tracker. I like to track my progress in almost everything I do and running is no exception so when my fitness tracker wouldn’t work, that made me feel slightly worse that in the end, I gave up with it. It came round eventually but I really didn’t care at that point, I just wanted to run. 

20170610_094301(This part of the path is further on down but I took a few photographs from our last visit.)

People say running is good for your mental health, it clears your head and helps you gain perspective on what’s going on negatively. Mentally, running made everything worse. I can’t describe when you’re in such a negative place how many little moments, big moments, negative thoughts, self-critical thoughts and imagined scenarios pop up in your mind.  I lost count; it’s a very scary place to be in because you feel out of control and that night I was. I tried to control my breathing but then my breathing started to get so short and quick that it was almost turning into a panic attack. I cried quite a few times on that run, and I really tried to hide it but I don’t think that worked on Scott. 

I knew I was running faster than the first time and because I was embarrassed of my time last time, running faster gave me that motivation to not get that time again. I felt like I was running away from everything; I was running away from my responsibilities’, my past, my scenarios that I made up in my head that had become so real, my thoughts, my emotions and I thought the faster I run, the faster my head won’t be spinning with these thoughts.  It’s like being in a trapped room that you can’t get out of.  

He stayed quiet for most of the run which is what I needed. I know there are the type of people who want the comfort, the cuddles and the supportive words and I admit, I can be one of those people sometimes. More often than not, I just need to be on my own, in silence while I try and let the very negative emotions pass, and if I need to cry, then I cry.  

I started to crack almost half way through thinking I couldn’t do it anymore, I almost just sat on the ground and cried but I felt like I would have disappointed myself if I didn’t finish the run. I continued with Scott until less than a mile away and I was so close to saying “can we just stop now?” when his phone lit up and said “only 0.85 miles to go until your destination”,  and I just knew I couldn’t quit then. 

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We finished the run and Scott asked me did I know what pace I was doing or did I even know what time we had hit. I didn’t know because I wasn’t paying too much attention to my watch or even the time. We had knocked off six minutes from our overall time, so almost two minutes from each mile which was incredible considering how disappointed I was with our Monday night run. It was actually around the 36 minute mark from his phone but I didn’t hit my watch off at the 5K mark, so I did in fact do the run in faster than this. He kept saying how proud he was of me and how well I done, and it was genuinely so lovely, I’m glad I made him proud despite how I felt.

So did I feel better once I finished my run? Physically, yes. When you finish something like a run or a really stressful workout, you do get this wave effect that passes through your body and physically, it feels like it’s breathing a sigh of relief. How did I feel mentally? Nothing; zero, zilch. I still felt sad, I was disappointed in myself for not being able to control the way I reacted to my feelings. I was tired but it wasn’t from the running. 

I understand that this training series is meant to be about my running progress and how excited I am about my first trained 5K but I would feel like an absolute fraud if I either didn’t tell you about the run at all like it didn’t happen or I decided just to leave out how I really felt. My mental health is something I’ve struggled with for over a year now and this was one of the many days where it bared everything, so while it might not be the nicest thing for me to type out and relive, it’s an experience I got through, and at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important thing?

If you want to catch up on the first post, that was based around my first run and it was a general introduction into what I’m training for, so you’ll find that right here.  Thank you so much for reading, I know it wasn’t my usual content, but I appreciate you listening to what I had to say.

Three Intentions for Me (#1)

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Good morning, good afternoon or good evening whenever you read this! You might remember in my 58th Edition of my Sunday Saves (which is linked here!) I talked about Sophie’s blog post being about her July to-do list, and I loved the idea! So I decided to base a monthly goals list around that. I’ve named this little mini series “Three Intentions for Me” because for me right now, there is quite a lot of pressure around the word “goals” so I want to minimise that pressure while also pushing myself ever so slightly with particular targets I want to achieve.

❤ Read one fiction and one non-fiction book, and finish them both.

I’m quite a slow reader and this is something that will probably irritate me to no end. I usually read when I’m on my own because it means I can read out loud. I found that when I was reading when I was younger, yes I was fast, but I was skipping words if I couldn’t pronounce them in my head so while I was “reading fast” in my younger years, was I actually reading if I wasn’t taking everything in? Into my adult years, I’ve changed my whole philosophy on reading and it’s been a tough transition especially because I do read out loud the majority of the time, that takes longer and if I can’t pronounce something, I will make sure to say it until I can. It almost sounds like I’m teaching myself to read again, I can read I promise, but I’m putting more energy into it this time around. To add to this, I think this is why I don’t tend to sway into fiction books, I’m more of a self-help book woman myself but I want to challenge myself this coming month. It might seem like a big ask to read two books in one month but I’m willing to push myself to get out of my comfort zone, it will just mean setting more time aside for reading and less time for something else.

 Take part in two Twitter chats.

A year ago, I was so on the ball when it came to Twitter chats. I didn’t take part in too many mind you, but I probably took part in two weekly ones and I always enjoyed it! I use Tweet Deck for my Twitter and even then I felt like I could never keep up because there was so much going on within one chat, so this August, I’m making a commitment to take part in just two to see how I get on.

 Complete the 5K I have signed up for.

August sees the challenge of a 5K run that my boyfriend and I have signed up for towards the middle of August so that means stepping up my training to a certain level and making sure I complete it. Timing to me at the minute isn’t very important, I just want to keep a nice happy pace with minimal walking and I’ll be happy.

I’ll check back in next month’s “Three Intentions for Me” post to update you on how I did, and to tell you what I want to make a priority in September. Have a lovely day! ☀️

Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.

You’ve read the title and you’re probably thinking, “Why are you trying to train to run just over three miles?” We all have to start somewhere don’t we? As you’ll read in my new monthly intentions post going live on Friday, I have signed up to a 5K with my boyfriend in August so I have just over a month to build up my stamina when it comes to running.

20170717_211842-01(I’ll take this view over jumping on a treadmill any day. So gorgeous!)

If you read my tweets or watch my Instagram stories, you’ll know that I love the gym. Of course, there’s some days I don’t have the greatest workouts and other days, I’m already looking forward to the next one. For me personally, I believe the gym and running are on two different levels; I’ve ran two different 5K’s before in fact. One was a ParkRun and the other was a charity race for Mo-Running (I wrote a blog post on the build up to it but I forgot to write about my experience during it. If you want to read the blog post, it’s right here!) but I went into those very blind. I probably ran faster than I should have, and ended up having to walk part of the way, so that slowed me down and then I dreaded starting to run again.

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(I live in these shoes. I walk to work in them, I run in them and I do any cardio in the gym in them. They’re a great all rounder, except for weight training.)

You might be asking “what’s different this time” and I have someone by my side training me. My boyfriend has ran many marathons and even ultra marathons; he absolutely loves running and coming from a weight loss background too, he’s had to build his fitness up so that includes starting from a pace where I’m at right now up until the level he’s currently at, so I’m in very good hands. (He has a blog too which centres around fitness, food and weight loss so you’ll find it right here!) We’ve been on a few runs together over the last few months and as silly as it sounds, he’s taught me how to run. Running isn’t just running, there are so many other elements to it, which I’ll talk about in a later post. This is just an introduction to how I’ll be training and I wanted to talk a little about how my first run went.

As I mentioned above, I’ve taken part in 5K’s before but Scott said to start this fresh because the time I hit on Monday night can be my new personal best. The last few months for me have been particularly challenging when it comes to the word “goals” so this new personal best isn’t a goal to beat, it’s something to aim towards but not beat myself up if I don’t achieve it the first time around.

Scott taught me to build my running up by using the analogy of “If you can’t hold a conversation, slow down” so over the past few months, I’ve been taking this on board and it’s really helped. I think my problem before was I was just going too fast, I didn’t know what my pace was and I just wanted to finish but exhausting myself wasn’t going to help that. So we stuck as a pace that was comfortable for me, there were a few hills to go up and down, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t get out of breath especially going uphill but they weren’t very steep.

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(Excuse the quality of this particular photograph: It was late at night when I was trying to take the picture and Instagram tends to lower the quality of your image now too.)

So here’s my stats. from my first run: I use the Blaze in the FitBit series, I’ve had it for almost a year and I love it. Not only do I track my runs but it’s in constant use in the gym and I’m accountable for my steps every day thanks to it too. For just over 5K or 3.1 miles, it took just under 45 minutes altogether. When I first seen my result, I was really disappointed; Scott had set a “estimate” aim of 36 minutes and in my head I thought “That seems achievable” so imagine my disappointment when I see almost 45 minutes pop up. I didn’t even try to hide the fact that I was annoyed and I really couldn’t hide it. I was so certain that I would hit the aim, and having had a rough memory of my last 5K, this was a slower speed, so the self critical thoughts creeped in, despite having a “body high” after running the distance.

20170717_210540(One of the gorgeous perks of running in the evening.)

Having had the time to reflect back on the experience I’m not as disappointed: I ran continuously without breaking for a walk, it was my first 5K in just over a year and my body needs to get used to running so going at a slower pace is what it needs right now. Taking all of that into consideration, I didn’t do too badly. I’m still a little let down with myself but that’s more of a mental thing for me that I’m working on.

Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post. I’ve been wanting to write about fitness for the longest time on the blog and I’m so happy that I’m finally doing it. I think it’s always great to read about other people’s experiences, so if you have a running blog or if you’re a runner and you’re wrote a blog post on it, please send me it! I’d love to give it a read ❤ 

SS: Sunday Saves (#55)

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Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back to my Sunday Saves. As I’m sure you know by now, if you haven’t read last week’s post, you’ll find it right here or if you want to read my previous Sunday Saves over the past year, you’ll find them right here! This week’s theme is focusing on fitness: more specifically, preparing for a workout, tips on being a beginner runner and finding the motivation to work out in the morning.

1) Lifestyled by Jennie (Motivational Reasons For Exercising In The Morning)

I am such an advocate for exercising in the morning so I am, of course, going to celebrate Jennie’s post about it. She gives us four genuine reasons why working out in the morning is better than the evening, straight after work for example. I can’t wait to write about my own experiences on this!

2) Fit Cake (Preparing for a Workout)

So now that you’ve read Jennie’s post about getting the motivation to get up in the morning, why not read Emma’s post on how to prepare for a workout. This includes making sure you drink your water (especially when working out, I can’t stress how IMPORTANT this is!) and the art of stretching.

3) Harmony Blaze (Me, Myself and Running)

Emma’s post (Yes, this is a different Emma!) has come at a great time for me as I begin my own running journey just before the Summer. Originally, I had begun last year; it was around this time last year I signed up for my first Park Run but unfortunately life happened and I never kept up with the running. Thankfully, that’s changed this year and I’m finally ready to give it a go again. Emma talks about why she took up running, what she loves about it and even a few tips to newbie runners like me.

That’s all from this week’s Sunday  Saves; if you have any other fitness posts you think I should read, please tweet me over at @RetroSnowflake on Twitter or leave a comment below. I crave more fitness posts! Thanks for reading, and have a lovely weekend, whatever you get up to!

SS: Sunday Saves (#25)

I hit 25! It’s such a huge landmark for my blog this week, twenty five editions of Sunday Saves! If you want to look back on my other Sunday Saves, you can find them right here. This week I’ll be talking about exercise in Winter, vegan chocolate and musicals!

1. Purely Amy (Winter is coming. How to prepare for running seasion in the cold.)

Amy has hit the nail on the head with her post. Running or exercise in general is just as important in Winter as it is the rest of the year but a lot of people are put off with it being colder which is completely understandable. What would you rather choose? Cuddling in your warm cosy bed or being outside in the freezing cold running a 5K? I want to be one of those people that eventually chooses the latter (but right now, I’m a good cuddling in bed with my fluffy duvet type of person) because I know once Christmas comes, I’ll feel better for making more of an effort with my fitness and not let the cold stop me. Amy gives advice on what clothing to wear, how to set a schedule and she’s taking part in Mo Running too (just like me!) so she talks about the charity and how she plans to train for it.

2. The Little Blog of Vegan (Ombar Chocolate – Perfect Stocking Fillers!)

Sneak peek! I have included the Ombars in a post that is coming up later on in the week so look out for that! I love Ombars; I only discovered them a few months ago after being on the hunt for vegan chocolate for someone I know and then discovering I could have it too. I haven’t tried all their flavours but Coco Mylk is my favourite by far. Holly Jade goes more in depth in all the flavours you can get, so if you’re interested in a chocolate that is gluten free, dairy free and vegan, make sure you check out her post!

3. Bloo’N’Stuff (Out ‘n’ About | Ghost the Musical)

Sara blogged about her experience at the musical ‘Ghost’ that took place a few weeks ago at the Grand Opera house. It was a limited date show and I had the pleasure of seeing the same show! I’m not too sure when Sara went but I went on the Tuesday; it was my first musical theatre I had ever seen live and I was blown away. The reason I chose to include Sara’s post is because she blogged about her whole experience as well as the show; I don’t think I would be able to do a live performance justice in a blog post and Sara did such a good job of it.

I can’t believe I got to 25 and I can’t wait to get to 50 now! I love finding new blog posts every week because blog reading is one of my favourite chill out activities, so to blog about them just makes that even better.