Feeling the strain on week two, but still determined

A Get Running participant is noticing the rewards after two weeks

Sylvia Thompson running in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Sylvia Thompson running in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


It took me until midway through the first week to whip up the courage to start the running programme. It’s about five years since I’ve been a regular runner. I was a complete beginner but built up to running the Women’s Mini Marathon and then gave up completely. Walking (and occasional swimming and yoga) became my exercise of choice.

By Thursday, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had watched the three videos, found my running gear and planned my route. It wasn’t raining and the dog hadn’t been exercised all day.

I walked for the first five minutes as advised. Then, I started to run and rather than use a stop-watch every minute for the run/walk sequence, I simply decided to run until I was out of breath and then walk until I got my breath back and follow this pattern for 20 minutes.

It worked. I couldn’t believe it and our collie, Charlie, was thrilled with my more energetic pace. I did the recommended stretches before the five-minute walk home. It was an exhilarating start.

Two days later, the rain had been pouring down all morning. When it stopped, I ventured out. My stiff legs turned to jelly within minutes of starting. The rain started again.

The dog got so dirty in the muddy grass and huge puddles on the route that he wasn’t allowed in the house on his return. I walked more than I ran for the 20 minutes.

I grudgingly did the stretches but I made it home after half an hour – more exhausted than exhilarated this time.

I had to go
Two days later: it was very cold, frosty almost and night was approaching fast but if I was to fit in my three runs before the first week was over, out I had to go. The fast five- minute walk was followed by slow running until I was out of breath.

Then, a walk until I gathered momentum again, this time reaching my current end point and running back for quite a bit before returning to walking. Neither exhilarated nor exhausted this time – just aware that this was a work in progress. My back ached after I did my stretches.

Week two began and the suggested idea of keeping a training log was appealing. Although I have some family support to encourage me to run, really it was a personal effort and I reckoned the log might help (as would this diary).

For the first time, I ran in the morning before my breakfast. Starting off is always difficult for me and more so in the morning but I got going. I realised that I prefer to run on slightly soft terrain and can’t pound the pavements.

A public park would be ideal but instead I have opted for paths along the coastline near my home in Greystones, Co Wicklow. The reward is lovely views over the sea. The drawback is avoiding dog dirt and large puddles. I managed my 20 minutes but struggled to complete the stretching exercises at the end. In fact, the stretching is one of my weak points: I really need some coaching to do these stretches properly.

However, I did start back to yoga last week so I’m hoping the stretches I do there will help.

Willing to run
By the second run of week two, I felt the rewards were beginning to show. I had more air in my lungs and was brighter in the mornings. I was beginning to appreciate that my body was willing to run – with a little persuasion from my mind.

That said, I didn’t run again for three days: I felt heavy on my feet and it took me 10 minutes to get in to any sort of rhythm.

Yet, it was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning and all the “real” runners were out, striding past me with their affirmative nods. If I was going to keep this up, I would need to run every second day – otherwise, it would become too tough. Maybe I needed a human running partner instead of a dog.

I was neither psychologically nor physically willing when I headed out on the last run on week two.

This was definitely beginning to feel like a chore – even if I did feel better afterwards. I was losing focus and my run/walk sequence was getting a bit sloppy even though I kept going for the 20 minutes suggested.

I watched the three videos before submitting this diary and plan to run every second day this week.

It was great to hear that Mary, The Irish Times running coach, is into chi running and discourages running through pain.

My personal goals this week are to loosen up a bit, keep it slow and enjoy the experience. And, oh yes, continue my training log.

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