Tag Archives: music

just a moment to be thankful…

31 Oct

….for my iPod.

Now, I know that a lot of people discourage running/walking outdoors while wearing headphones or earbuds, and there are good reasons for that. If you work out outdoors, of course you want to use good sense–if you’re running alone at midnight in a bad part of town while blasting Neil Diamond, that is dangerous.

However, in a populated place, if you remain aware of your surroundings [you can use just one earbud if you like], I think music is safe enough. And it is a HUGE boost to the enjoyment I get from running. Running in silence is a little too much like work for my taste.

Enter the iPod.

I wear mine, which was a gift from my lovely in-laws, in an armband to keep it safe. I set up a playlist ahead of time with songs that will fit into the intervals I will be running that day, and then I can just hit “play” and do my run. I highly recommend a music player. Indeed, that plus running shoes are the only two pieces of equipment I think you need to become a runner.

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the program that got me off my butt

16 Oct

So, I was going to the gym regularly, but I was doing very easy cardio–walking on the treadmill, gentle cycling. It was hard for me to push myself harder when I didn’t have any guidelines or goals. I couldn’t attend the gym’s classes, because of my schedule.

The program that eventually made a difference and that’s helping me get more fit is a great running program called “Couch to 5k.” It takes nine weeks, although I am taking a LOT longer than that; I had an injury [a sprained ankle] and now I am taking it consciously slowly to avoid any other problems. However, from having trouble with the ninety-second running intervals of week 1, I am up to the 8-minute runs with no problem at all. This is amazing to me! I am not what I would consider a runner, and never have been; my idea of exercise NEVER involved running. I would have done almost anything else in preference to that. But since I started with this, I have grown to really like it. It’s still hard to push myself out of bed to do it in the morning, but I almost always manage it, and once I’m out there, I like it!

There are many different podcasts you can download to help you with this–they have music, plus the intervals you’re supposed to run. Check it out by searching for “couch to 5k” at iTunes. [Many are free, including the one I’ve been using, the “Chubby Jones” one.] These are really useful at the beginning of the program when you have a lot of short intervals, since those are annoying to time. As I got to weeks 4 and 5, I started mixing my own music playlists instead: 5 minutes or 3 minutes are easy to find songs for, and then you just run/walk as your song changes. But you could always stick with the podcasts if they’re working for you.

I started out on the treadmill, but when I resumed after my sprained ankle, I switched to running outside. I like it much better. It is harder–so I feel like I’m getting more fit in the same amount of time–and it’s a nicer environment. I run in a few different places: a nearby cemetery, a nearby park, and at the track at my university. You can find places near you, even if [as at my house] running on your street is like wearing a RUN ME OVER sign. Tracks are lovely because they’re softer and therefore easier on your joints, which is especially important if you’re overweight, which, if you have PCOS-related problems, you probably are.

The program itself can be found here. Note that you do not have to buy the program via ActiveTrainer; just scroll down and the whole plan is right on this page!

One word of warning here: “couch” is not really “couch.” It’s more like “a little bit active to 5k.” If you really are a couch potato [that is, if you haven’t been doing the kind of mild exercise I described at the beginning of this post], a few weeks of walking first would be a good idea.

A second word of warning: get good shoes. It makes all the difference. Seriously. I am poor but I still bought the good running shoes and it was a great investment. Go to a running shop, get professionally fitted, then go home and buy them online. [I know…a crappy thing to do, but if you’re poor, you’re poor.] You don’t need this year’s model, either. Mine are the same shoe that the shop suggested, but in the 2006 model, not this year’s, and they’re fine. I won’t recommend them just because I know that all feet are different and they won’t necessarily be good for you just because they work well for me! I also bought the Superfeet inserts that the shop recommended and they have been great, too.

So, in summary: this is a fantastic program that can be very motivating. There’s a lot of online community surrounding it, too, so you can go find a message board and read about other people at the same stage. I highly recommend it. Standard disclaimer, though–check with your doctor before embarking on any rigorous exercise program, just to be sure it’s right for you.