Reflections from a Beginner

Just me thinking out loud on Running

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14/09/2012 at 15:40

First a little background...

I am a 50 year old male, who when I started running almost 6 months ago weighed 15 St 5 Ounces (See you can tell I'm 50 still thinking in old money. My focus in the early days was simply to get out there and do something in the hope that it would help me get a little fitter and to lose some wieght at the same time. Here are my reflections on the first 6 months.

First Three months

I started at the beginning of the first three months by following the "Couch to 5K" programme I found in the Apple Store for my iPhone. I spent the rest of the first six months just trying to comfortably run the 5K. I ran roughly 3 times a week missing the odd day when I really didn't feel like it. I concentrated on enjoying the route (through woods and along canals). All in all I made progress and felt the running was beneficial.

The Second Three Months

During the last three months I have started to up my game a little, largely informed by visting this site and learning. I have started to record my route, times and pace using the Nike+ Running App. I have modified my running style by shortening my stride length, sitting back a little and focusing on the horizon rather than the ground in front of me. I use the last bit of my stride to push myself froward off the ball of my feet and land on the flat of my foot rather than the 'heel/toe' approach I started with. I now run three times in the week before work and focus on running the 5K distance faster and faster and then add an additional (endurance style) longer run (currently up to 8k) at the weekends. On these longer runs I don't worry about the times, I just get into a comfortable running style and 'feel' the pace and rythmn and simply enjoy the surroundings. I find these longer runs now so much easier and can really enjoy the running. I have a goal to see if I can run for 10miles. I feel fitter, I am doing more and I have less aches and pains. Although, so far I have not lost any weight (my body shape does appear to be changing however) - I suspect that has to do with me still eating too much, rather than eating a poor diet.

I have learned a lot about me, running and how technology can help provide feedback.

I think I'm hooked!


Edited: 14/09/2012 at 15:52
14/09/2012 at 15:59

Hi Chris, its good to hear that you've got hooked and found the enjoyment that running gives.

Now your body has adapted to running you may want to adjust your 3 x 5k efforts, from being as "fast as possible" to:

1x 5 reps of 400m fast with 200m recovery (with 1k at the start and end to warmup/cool down)

1x easy pace

1x fast as you can

I reckon this will help you increase your pace

14/09/2012 at 16:17


Thanks for the advice, I suspect first I need to get myself a runners watch - as working out 400m and 200m stints needs me to be able to read the infomation as I run - currently I simply stick my device in my pocket and occoasionaly have it hooked up to headphones to give me my times at 1 or .5 mile intervals. I don't like having hte headphones on because I prefer to enjoy the outdoors uncumbered but I can see for this 'speed work' stuff a watch might be useful.

But I do want to increase my pace as well as going longer distances. I find the speed stuff much harder at the moment, so perhaps I need to do more work there.

Thanks again for the inof.



14/09/2012 at 16:56

You can often use markers for your reps, lamp posts if you street run, trees if you are along trails.  Even using a basic watch to run quick for 2 minutes and recover for one minute.  Then when you're really hooked you'll be tempted by every gadget ever thought up.

17/09/2012 at 08:21
I agree with bothe the previous posts. Not sure about running 5k as fast as you can every week though.

If you have no way of measuring distance as you go and don't want to spend your money on a gps watch you can buy a cheap stop watch for a fiver and time intervals instead. Same effect.
17/09/2012 at 09:21

OK, intervals would be good for me. I use the Nike+ Running app which allows notications at .25mile, .5mile, 1 mile intervals or .5k, 1k intervals. So what would be a good regime using any of these intervals?


I am thinking, say:

Run 1: .5m (slow jog, warm up) then alternate .25m intervals with slow jog vs fast jog. Run 2: 5k all slow,
Run 3: 5k all fast

Does that sound reasonable?

17/09/2012 at 12:46
I train all on time on feet rather than target distance so your approach is slightly different from mine. I'm sure there are plenty on here that work on target distances so you might get better pointers from them.

In your first pace you said your goal was to run 10 miles. From your next post it looks like you want to train 3 times a week so that is what I'm working with.

I would do one long slow run per week, look to increase it by a little each week.

One interval session, say .25 quicker than normal followed by .25 slower x10, as you said with a warm up and a warm down or 5-10 mins.

Then your other run 5 k as you feel, feel good go quick feeling less good go slower.

One week a month don't increase your long run, just match the previous week and just jog instead of intervals that week too, this will give your body a easy week each month to recover but you won't loose fitness.

Google Parkrun, there is probably one in your area, it's a free 5k timed run every week. It's a good event, totally free and you could do one on the Saturday once a month after your easy week.

With this idea it's not too regimented but will give your training structure, your distances will increase (you will get to 10 miles and beyond if you want to).

I don't think it's too much of an injury risk, the easy week each month is important too. And stretch after each session.

I hope this helps, please post details of any improvement or gains you achieve.
17/09/2012 at 13:25

This is all great feedback guys/gals - thank you. Perhaps I should fill in some of the blanks to asssit those offering guidance.

My goal is to run 10miles comfortably (my main reason for this is so that I can run 5miles to a partners house, spend the evening there and then run 5miles back later that evening - this will allow me to keep my running up through the winter as the route is lit and is convenient). I recon that if I can run 10 miles comfortably then 10 miles with a gap in between should be within my reach.

I currently run 3 times a week (Mon, Wed & Fri) and then try to fit in a longer run at the weekend either Sat/Sun depending on how I feel and the way my weekend pans out. I recognise that this nearly always means that I am running two days on the trot either Fri/Sat or Sun/Mon (not ideal, I know) but it seems to fit in with my life style that way and maximises the time I get out running.

I am looking to do the interval work simply to vary my running, to add a little variety and to keep me focused and motivated as well as hopefully improving my speed and stamina. I like to track my performance.

To give a little feedback on performance so far: (All data according to Nike+)

01-31 July 13 Runs, Av Dist of 3.0miles, Av Pace: 11'08"
01-31 Aug 15 Runs, Av Dist of 3.1miels, Av Pace: 10'33"
01-30 Sep  9 Runs, Av Dsit of 4.2miles, Av Pace: 10'52" (to date figures)

Not sure what that tells me exactly, but there they are. I have much greater detail on each run of course but didn't want to go mad. 

Thanks everyone for the info, really appreciated.


Edited: 17/09/2012 at 13:32
17/09/2012 at 15:21
Stick with your long run at the weekend, intervals Wednesday and keep the other two easy.

Try not to miss too many long runs, and don't do hard sessions on consecutive days.

Long runs build stamina, intervals build speed.

Have you got a bike? You could ride round to your other halfs, leave it and run back then run round and pick your ike up next time? Just an idea.
17/09/2012 at 15:32
Because training is training looking at Av's over a month doesn't tell you much.

When I upped my mileage to over 100 a month my av speed dropped but my 5k times improved. So even though my av speed for the month was down I was actually faster.

To track progress look at the length of your long runs which should be going up and for speed I benchmark on my Parkrun times as most of my other races are off road so times vary a lot.

Maybe swap a long run once a month for a time over a set route to track your speed gains if your not interested in races. But I suspect you are looking at each run you do on the computer so you will know your getting faster.

Or go back through some old runs and cover the same route you did 3 months ago and see how much quicker you are now.
17/09/2012 at 15:36
Also if your not keen on headphones or gadgets then have a think about fartlek training on the Wednesday.

No equipment required, just a bit of disciplin and will also make you faster over time.
17/09/2012 at 16:21

J1M: Thanks for the info, I love the idea of using my bike to with a run to my other half's perfect - why hadn't that occured to me before - I swear it hadn't. I would bike more often on my off-running-days, except the bike always seems to be at the wrong end - the run/bike combo would solve that too. I cannot believe I had not thought of that before.

I have also been looking at the Fartlek idea and will take another look at the wiki link.

I am traccking my times/pace etc. for each run. I only posted the above to give some details and to ascertain what might be considered 'providing details of progress made' in your earlier post.



17/09/2012 at 17:07
Pleased to be of assistance. Look forward to hearing about 3rd 3 months.
01/10/2012 at 16:02

Well I have been taking the advice from here and midweek I have been running intervals. 5mins warm up, 1.5mins fast, 1 min slow x 4, 5mins slowdown. Yesterday (Sunday 29th September) I ran a 10k in 1:06:37, Av Pace: 6'39"/Km.

Not bad for two weeks worth of inteval work.

Thanks all


12/10/2012 at 15:28

For those interested

My runs so far this month (October 2012)

  Not completely sure what that tells me, but I'm having fun!  



Edited: 12/10/2012 at 15:29
12/10/2012 at 15:49

It looks like when you're not focussed on the pace, you go faster

12/10/2012 at 16:17

SwissJames I couldn't agree more - it feels like that too!

Just for completeness (I must have some anal retentive traits!) Here is my log since July - when I started logging.

Here is my complete log. One point of note is that I downloaded a new version of the Nike+ Running Software about 10th September time and I have noticed that my times since then seem to have been a little slower than I feel I am running, not sure if the software has affected that or not, but worth noting.





Edited: 12/10/2012 at 16:59
15/10/2012 at 10:16

I love the nerdy statistics element to uploading runs, poring over where the pace dips etc. I think it's what motivates me to get out sometimes.

Do you compare your runs against other people's using the nike+ friends function?

15/10/2012 at 18:37

I don't use nike+ friends function as I thin that is only available via the Nike Connect software which I don't use but I do regularly check my own stats agains the averages for my age group (50+) - only becuase mine always look positive in comparison!


17/10/2012 at 12:55

Thanks for sharing. I am also similar in keeping all the stats. its interesting to see that your longer runs are at a faster pace than for the 5k's. If I try to run my 5k pace over 10 then I have real problems at the end of the run. Great progress!

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