Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Running Log: Week #1, commencing Saturday 13th August
Second run today and it felt better than the first on Saturday. I set out at 7.50pm and it was cooler and the light was softer than it was on my walk home. I remembered to stretch before I set out - just a few cursory stretches but it helped psyche me up and the walk home had been a good warm-up so I left the house feeling quite determined to keep going and not stop or slow down as often as I did on Saturday.

I walked to John Islip Street. I don't know why. I just couldn't bring myself to run out of my front door so I walked to the end of my street. Then I carried on, right up to the corner of John Islip Street and then started running. Silly really, but it felt necessary at the time to start off with a walk. I draw comfort from the fact this was my second run and I quite literally started slowly.

When I started running, it felt different straight away. I might have panicked the last time I started running ("whoah! too fast! this ain't natural, slow down to a stroll, goddammit!") because my breathing was ragged and uneven within seconds, and really painful, and I couldn't go any faster or focus on what I was doing. If I had been any less aware of the traffic, I would quite literally have been all over the place. Today felt much better and I was controlling my breathing to a point where I could look at the scenery as I jogged past. It was still hard work but not as hard as it had been before. I was either feeling no pain due to the stretches I had managed earlier or I was mentally prepared enough to work through any discomfort in my shrunken lungs and sluggish muscles.

My left eye seemed to lose vision as I turned the corner onto Lambeth Bridge. I was beginning to lose interest in the scenery anyway. I got to the other side of Lambeth Bridge after no more than ten minutes slow, steady running and once I got down the stairs, I had to walk. I had to. I was determined not to stop and kept up a steady pace walking but I felt like I had really let myself down. My lungs just couldn't bear it.

Since I took up swimming regularly about three months ago, my muscle tone is not the best but coped better than I had hoped with all this running - but my lungs! My poor, blackened, shrivelled, Marlboro Light polluted lungs! I quit smoking on New Year's Day this year so have been clean for over eight months but that has clearly not undone eight years' worth of cigarettes. My lungs really, really, really hated having to work this hard. And so I walked a third of the way between Lambeth Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge, trying to get some vision back into my left eye and resisting the urge to hawk up the fluid that seemed to be collecting in the back of my throat.

I did run again - the middle third section between the bridges, and at quite a steady pace. If I had stopped completely once over Lambeth Bridge I probably wouldn't have run at all after that but the walking meant I picked up running at a reasonable pace quite easily and I made it (very slowly, veeeeerrrry slowly) to the water feature outside MI6 where I started walking again. This is where the quandary of "spit or not to spit" came about. I'm not sure how wise it is to bring up a massive ball of spit just below all the surveillance cameras of MI6 - I didn't risk it. It passed.

I walked from the start of MI6, through the underpass of Vauxhall Bridge and up the stairs onto the bridge itself. Then I started running again and went right over to the other side, past Pimlico tube and turned onto Tachbrook Street. I pushed and pushed at myself, in particular my lungs but had to walk again for half the length of Tachbrook Street - my legs, feet, arms, back and chest were all fine and in fact, it felt good to be working all those muscles, it felt great. My lungs and my heartrate just weren't keeping up and it was beginning to hurt to breathe so... I walked that penulitmate stretch.

Then I saw the turning for my street up ahead and put on a burst of speed. I ran a strong and steady final stretch, past my street corner to the next and then doubled back on myself to get to my door. That last push was the best - it was further in terms of distance than I had intended to go and psychologically felt fantastic to take myself off my original path and go a little further, even if I had walked parts of my route.

So: I walked three parts of my route and was on the road for 40 minutes. This is the same route and same time I managed on Saturday but with the extra few metres along Tachbrook Street so even with the walking I've improved my time and stamina by a microdot.

Early days but I'll stick with this route and see if I can get the walking breaks down to zero after another two weeks. Then I'll have to set a new challenge - run the route twice? Extend it to the next bridge? Run with weights?

Hmmmm. We'll see. Next run: Saturday, week #2 commencing Saturday 20th August


porn * said...

you crack me up. that is the most detailed description of a 40-minute run I have ever read. I especially like the bit where you lose vision in your left eye.

My reccomendation for running is TAKE IT SLOWLY and don't try and push yourself too far too fast or it just gets depressing - start with just like 15 minutes jogging and build up. Take care with your knees too, make sure you stretch properly - i'll show you some kung fu stretches if you like which are v good for knees. Tell you what i foudn also helps is listening to music, even if you have to run hodling a CD player in one hand s- it distracs you from the phlehgm/ vision loss / rasping breath. good luck...

Planethalder said...

I'm so glad you've taken up running as I've been meaning to do so but can never bring myself to take the plunge -- so I will be following your progress H and hoping it'll inspire me when I return to London.