Couch to 5K
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Bridge-to-10K: Week 4 Run 1

Ten runs down, eight more to go! Hard to believe I'm already closer to the end of Bridge-to-10K than to the start!

This was my third run during my current trip to Japan. I can't help but think back to my last visit, back in September. I had started Couch-to-5K Week 5 right after arriving... so the third run for that trip was the dreaded Week 5 Run 3 -- twenty minutes of straight running! I was so terrified!! In contrast, today's workout consisted of _three_ runs -- each nearly as long as the frightening w5r3, with only a minute of walking to separate them. Come to think of it, my w5r3 experience was four months ago yesterday! Comparing where I was then to where I am now really drives home how much progress has been made in the past four months!

Today's run was a decidedly mixed experience. I usually like to get the bad news out of the way first, but it seems best to go in chronological order. So first the good, then the bad (as that's how it happened).

Based on the excellent advice of MrsBirdsnest, I downloaded the RunKeeper app to my phone before embarking on today's run. I set it with intervals corresponding to Week 4 of B210k: the canonical 5 minute warm-up, an 18 minute run, a 1 minute walk, an 18 minute run, a 1 minute walk, an 18 minute run, and a 5 minute cool-down. I started the timer when Samantha said "Go!", so the app ran in the background with the podcast playing over it.

Turns out, this set-up worked pretty well for me! I synchronised the two well, as the computerised voice announced the intervals at very nearly the same time that Samantha did. I also _really_ appreciated the five minute check-ins -- that has been sorely missing since leaving Laura behind! Okay, the RunKeeper app doesn't offer the same words of support and encouragement. On the other hand, it does compensate by giving me a cumulative update on the distance I've covered and the pace I'm running at.

The production quality of Samantha's podcasts has improved from Week 1. However, the selection of music is starting to get to me. It was never my favourite, with only a couple of songs to my liking... but now she is starting to repeat tracks from earlier weeks. I lost count, but there were at least _five_ repeat tracks in the Week 4 podcast. Given that (a) all Samantha does is tell you when to run and when to walk (i.e., no encouragement or technique tips like Laura), and (b) the RunKeeper app can provide the same information while playing music in the foreground... well, I may not finish Bridge-to-10K with Samantha's podcasts after all. We shall see.

In any case, I like this app! Tis definitely a success, giving me the features that were tempting me to a Forerunner 10, without the £100 price-tag that I really couldn't justify.

That's all for the tech -- now on to the run itself:

I expanded my route significantly, as I was getting bored with running the same loop for each of the three 17 minute runs, as I did in Week 3. I more than doubled the size of the course, and I think I can expand it further still next time. I don't really know the roads around here, so there is inherently some guesswork involved, but it all seems to be working out okay thus far.

The Week 4 runs are only marginally longer than Week 3 in Bridge-to-10K -- instead of 17min x 3, you get 18min x 3. So, with the longer time, I expected to also set a new record distance for myself. This happened -- but just barely! My previous record was 9.06 km in 51 minutes of running during Week 3 Run 1. (I don't have distances for Runs 2 & 3 of that week.) Today, I covered 9.19 km in 54 minutes of running. That's slightly disappointing, as an extrapolation of my Week 3 Run 1 time would have given me 9.59 km. On the other hand, it is perfectly consistent with my best Week 2 time -- in Week 2 Run 2, I ran 7.66 km in 45 minutes; extending this pace to 54 minutes gives precisely the 9.19 km covered today.

Here is the breakdown by interval:

Interval 1: 3.15 km in 18 mins (ave speed 10.5 km/hour, or 5:43 per km)

Interval 2: 3.08 km in 18 mins (ave speed 10.3 km/hour, or 5:51 per km)

Interval 3: 2.96 km in 18 mins (ave speed 9.9 km/hour, or 6:05 per km)

Averaging them all together, that's 10.2 km/hour. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the "breakneck" 10.7 km/hour that I managed last week but it's still above my goal, which is to maintain 10 km/hour so that I am actually running 10K when I finish the Bridge-to-10K plan. And, of course, speed is secondary to endurance at this point, anyway. The real accomplishment is having just run for 54 minutes!

Okay, so that's a lot of good stuff... but I mentioned at the start that there was bad news, too.

During the Bridge-to-10K runs, I have really been missing the "one minute warnings" that Laura used to give in Weeks 7 - 9. You know the ones I mean: She lets you know when you have sixty seconds left and encourages you to sprint, "finishing on a high note". Samantha does nothing of the sort, and I've been missing that.

As chance would have it, today's final run ended 61 minutes into the workout (5 min warm-up + 18 minutes running + 1 minute walking + 18 minutes running + 1 minute walking + 18 minutes running = 61 minutes). As noted earlier, the RunKeeper app gives updates on your time and pace every five minutes. I was ready for this, knowing that when the 60 minute update came through, I would have only 60 seconds left of running. I treated the update the same as I would one of Laura's "one minute warnings", and prepared to break into a final sprint!

Except that it didn't go so well. The immediate reaction to my attempt to "finish of a high note" was a searing pain in my right leg. As soon as I launched into my sprint, I felt a small explosion in my calf. Last month, I wrote a blog entry about pushing myself to run too fast... and causing a muscle tear in the process. I took it easy for a couple of weeks after, running slowly and allowing it time to heal before starting on my Bridge-to-10K challenge. Apparently, it had not healed as completely as I may have hoped.

Unwilling to lose this run in the final minute, I hobbled along in some bizarre cross between a run and a limp for the remaining sixty seconds. This probably contributed to my final interval being under 3 km. Similarly, I limped my way through the five minute cool-down, at a tortoise pace of 3.67 km/hour (compared to my over walking intervals from today, which averaged 6.4 km/hour). I may not have finished the run well... but, dang it, I did finish!

Not quite sure what to do from here, as it will depend on how my leg recovers. Ideally, I can continue with the Bridge-to-10K programme as planned, doing Week 4 Run 2 on Thursday. If my leg is still hurting, however, I may add a second rest day before doing the next run. If it turns out to be really bad, I may take a week off from running (eeep!), and maybe re-do Week 3 before moving on. I hope that won't be necessary, though.

I guess the best that I can say right now, my friends, is stay tuned!

Meanwhile, happy running!!

18 Replies

Oh no! Gutted that you hurt yourself! Please be sensible though about it and do not run until you are properly healed. You know in the long run that is the best approach. The roads will still be waiting for you once you are better (and it might give us other B210K'ers time to catch up with you, hehe)

Also, I found it really interesting to hear about how Runkeeper worked for you. I think I'll give it a bash. I switched to Endomondo, but it doesn't really do it for me. I wanted time voice prompts, but it does it by KM which is not so helpful.


Thanks! It certainly wasn't the "finish on a high" that I had been expecting!

(I must have looked quite the sight to passer-bys, especially since road running isn't really done here in Japan! As a running gaijin, I am already an oddity... but for those last sixty seconds of odd speed-hobbling? Not sure they knew what to think!)

You are, of course, quite right about not pushing on too quickly from this point. I'm going to play it by ear and see how I feel in a day or two (or three). I would hate to have to pull back now, with the end coming into view. But you are spot-on about not causing long term injury.

(Also, the rest of you B210k'ers were doing just fine until the snow hit! *grin*)

I'm glad that my little review of RunKeeper was helpful for you. I've not tried Endomondo, so I can't really compare, but I liked it much better than the MapMyRun app. At the end of the run, I can get my pace per kilometer (like on MapMyRun) _or_ I can get it by interval, which is what I wanted. Whilst I'm doing these run/walk intervals, it's much more useful to see how quickly I went in each segment, rather than in each kilometer. I believe that Runkeeper can also do the voice prompts by distance but, like you, I prefer to set it to run by time right now. Maybe later, when I'm established as a 10K runner and trying to improve my time, I'll switch to distance. But not now.

Really, I'm quite happy with this app. It does everything that Samantha does -- and more! Plus I can use my own music. (It's not quite as good as Laura... but, hey, what is?) I'll be curious to see what you think of it.

Meanwhile, how is the snow situation? Are you able to get out there again, or is it still too slippery?


ha - thanks for teaching me a new word! I had to Google gaijin and indeed I suspect you may be one! How is your leg today? Any better?

When I ever get back out there, I'll try Runkeeper. Honestly, I have been totally derailed by the snow. Oxford is OK, but Kidlington is like an ice rink, totally un-gritted except for the major roads. It's snowing again this morning, luckily not heavily though. All the pavements are big sheets of ice.

My last run was last Thursday. The snow had started but barely settled, so I went out. Aside from a couple of long walks in the snow at the weekend, I have been without exercise for nearly a week now as I cannot cycle to work either. I never realised how much I was getting from it. I am feeling really rubbish not having exercised for so long. I just want it to sod off now! :)


Also I'm very jealous of all the blogs here about snowwy running :( I wish I could run when it's light as I would head off to the fields where there is less chance of serious injury!

I know if I bought yaktrax, that the snow would then immediately go!


Maybe you and I can commiserate together about the lack of exercise. As I think you know, I've gotten used to alternating between running one day and swimming the next. My goal has been to exercise every day but, except for three or four weeks in August/September when I was starting, it has worked out to more like 5 - 6 days per week (three runs and two to three swims).

Now I'm in Japan, with no access to a pool. (The local pool was destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake) I can cope with that -- I was here in September and also got by with runs and no swims. But then I had to go and hurt my leg yesterday. *sigh* I've been doing some reading, and it sounds pretty clear that I've got a "calf sprain". What's worse, you're supposed to avoid running for several _weeks_ whilst it heals. Ouch!

You know, if we turned back the clocks one year, the idea of going weeks without exercising wouldn't have made me think twice. That was my normal state of being! Now, however, I am totally gutted! I was so close to finishing the Bridge-to-10K! I'm about to call my GP and make an appointment for next Friday, the full first day that I'm back home, to get a proper assessment. I'm worried about having to start all over again with Couch-to-5K.

The only silver lining is that swimming and cycling should both be okay in the weeks whilst the calf sprain heals. So I can keep up with my swimming and _start_ on cycling. As I think you know, my goal is to do an Olympic triathlon (1500 m swim, 40 km cycle, 10 km run). So far, I've been doing the swims and I've been working up to the 10 km run... but I've not been cycling. So if I have to stop running for awhile, I can start my cycle training.

Still, I really am gutted. Not sure quite when it happened, but I've started to identify as a runner. By which I mean that the running has become important to me, who I am, how I feel, and what my daily routine is like. I really don't want to have that taken from me now. *sigh*

Plus, the running (along with the swimming and dieting) helped me lose 3 stone in the past nine months or so. I'm still overweight, and want to lose another 2 stone. I can do it without running, I suppose... but the 800 or so calories burned every other day during a 50+ minute run certainly helped!

Today was supposed to be a rest day anyway, so I haven't missed any running yet. Even so, it was hard on lunch break, when I saw several colleagues go out for a run. Tomorrow, it will be _really_ tempting to go for a run. Probably a bad idea, but the thought has crossed my mind to try a slow one.

Urm, wow. This is a whinier reply than I was intending to write. But, honestly, I'm not feeling too great right now. :-( Who would have thought it -- me, bummed out because I may not be able to run for a few weeks? That's a change!

Anyway, thanks for bearing with me. I don't think most of my friends would understand; it's something only another runner can really grok, I think. I promise I'll be back to my usual chirpy old self soon enough... but, in the interim, thanks again for listening!



1) "Maybe you and I can commiserate together" is unnecessarily repetitive. To "commiserate" implicitly requires the "together" part. Apparently, when I wrote that, I was being influenced by the Department of Redundancy Department.

2) GP appointment has now been procured for the morning of Friday February 1st.

3) Although I took it easy for two weeks after the December 18th injury, I did keep running in that time, albeit more slowly. That was almost certainly a mild calf sprain (mild enough that I could finish the run properly). My guess is that I didn't allow it to heal properly, hence the sudden -- and more severe -- recurrence yesterday when I tried to sprint the last sixty seconds at top speed.

4) Wow, that reply to you really was moribund. I echo the previous apology... and raise it!


No worries at all, no need to apologise. I totally understand how frustated and disapponted you must feel.

Let's try to see some positives:

- Weeks not months - You could be out for weeks, but perhaps not. But by thinking you may be out for weeks rather than days, it will really make sure that you give your leg the rest it deserves and it will less likely that you'll be risking it by going back out there too early and perhaps this will mean you avoid this happening again in the future.

- You managed to get a Drs appt well within a month ;)

- You will be able to focus on the cycling part, so the 3 activiites will be at a more similar level when you start back running.

- You will still be able to shift more pounds by doing those two activities. If you alternate cycling and swimming every day, you'll be fine.

OK I can't really think of many more positives. As you say it is pretty gutting and I'm sure everyone on here can sympathise with that.

Let us know what the Dr says and try not to risk it before then, however tempting it may be!


Thanks, RT! Both for the reply _and_ for listening to me whinge!

Apparently, calf strains are quite a common running injury. And though this is more severe than last month's incident, it still seems pretty mild from what I can read in online descriptions. No bruising, full range of motion.

It is a lovely day here, and I'm sorely tempted to go out for a run. I'll be good, though, and not push my luck. Don't want to make the strain progressively worse. I've been consoling myself by looking up cycling training programmes online.

Amazing, isn't it? Who would have thought the day would come where it would take a massive amount of willpower to keep me from running! It used to require massive will to get me running... and, not that long ago, I simply didn't run. Guess this C25k thing worked, huh? ;-)


Ah that's rough but I guess it's all part of learning about our bodies. You have been doing so well and I hope that the healing will be timely but even after the pain has subsided you may need to be gentle for a little while?

Great, informative blog but I did chuckle at the thought of speed for the future Olympics, minus the pain obviously!

All the best :)


Thanks! Yes, I must have been quite comical -- or at least surreal -- to watch. I dragged myself through the last sixty seconds more by force of will than anything else. After running for 53 minutes, I wasn't going to have a "failed run" because I couldn't manage just one more! :-)

Not quite sure what comes next. I may be able to continue Bridge-to-10K with only minor disruptions (like an extra rest day this week, and slower running speeds). Or I may need to wait longer and backtrack some. I guess this is where the "listening to one's body" comes into play, huh? We'll see how it comes along.

Meanwhile, congrats to you as well for your own 10K progress!


Oh no! You should have stopped Matt! You did what I did and I'm still out with the knee, though it is better now than it was. Looks as though you shall be joining me :-(

Do whatever the doc says. Keep usa posted.

Colette x


*sigh* It looks you like may be right. In retrospect, I probably _should_ have waited longer before running again after the first incident last month. Thing is, I was able to finish that run by slowing down. So I kept to slow runs for two weeks and figured I would be fine. Guess not.

This time around, it is definitely worse. Not sure if it is "Grade 1" or "Grade 2", though. I've read the online descriptions, and it seems to fall in-between the two. "Grade 1.5?" :-)

It's a _beautiful_ day outside here, and I am longing to get out and do Week 4 Run 2. My leg is still sore, but I think I could run if I pushed myself. It's taking a fair bit of willpower not to push myself.

The GP appointment is set for the morning after I get back to the UK. Let's see what she says, and I'll take it from there.

Ah, and I was getting _so_ close to the 10K mark, too! :-(


*us *...hew!


I know, I know. But every time you feel like having a run, just think of the harm you will do. I did that with the first short run-from GP surgery to car park-a few weeks ago. I remember writing how good it felt, then the pain returned. Just not worth it Matthew, believe you me. I think the problem is that we get used to the adrenaline pump, and like any junkie baby miss the fix! You can become an exercise addict as easily as a fag or drug addict. You get the withdrawal oh so bad it really messes with your head.


No you could not run if you pushed yourself because you would hardly get started and then you would compound the damage already done. Worth it just to attempt the 10K mark??

Plan for Matthew: Get home, see GP, take and ACT on advice given. Simples.

Have a good flight-when is it you're back?

Colette x


Again, you're absolutely right. It's just sooooooo hard to not get out there. Especially when the weather is gorgeous, as it was yesterday -- clear and crisp, with a bright blue sky!

My leg is still sore, but getting better. I can jump now without any pain. (Not that I spend much time jumping, mind you, but it was a test)

I'm flying back to the UK next Thursday; have an appointment with my GP set up for Friday. I'm _really_ hoping that the week off will be sufficient for her to give me the green light. If so, I can roll back a week or two and still finish the Bridge-to-10K in late February or in March.

My big fear is that I will need so much time off that I will have to do Couch-to-5K all over again. :-(

Of course, reality is probably somewhere in between the two. I suspect that my GP will not advise me to start running again immediately... but I also suspect I won't have to go all the way back to the couch. My best guess is that I'll need to take two to four weeks off, after which I can start again with runs of 15 - 20 minutes, and build my way back from there.

All still guesswork, though. We'll find out next week. Wish me luck!!


Oh I do-Good Luck Matthew! My fear is that I will not restart running at all-lost my "edginess" now...:-(


You'll get it back! But, yes, I know that there's still that fear. Believe me, I have it too (see above).

A year ago, I was approaching middle age in an obese and inactive state. Now, I have been dieting for seven months, and have lost 3 stone in that time. My BMI has dropped from nearly 35 down to 28. Still overweight, but steadily dropping towards my goal of a nice & healthy 23. Along with the dieting, I have been exercising regularly for five months. In fact, I started my 9 weeks of Couch-to-5K five months ago _today_. Along with the running, I added swimming on the "rest days". As with most of us, I used to find running for 60 seconds to be a challenge -- now I'm working up to the challenge of running for 60 minutes. I got to 30 minutes, then 5K, then 5K in 30 minutes... and beyond. On the swimming side, I moved my regular workout from one mile (1600 meters) to 2000 m -- with regular "enhanced" sessions of 2500 meters. I even did two miles (3200 meters) right before New Years. Besides going longer, my swimming has also gotten faster.

I like who I am now a _lot_ more than who I was a year ago. No, that's not quite true. I liked "who" I was just fine a year ago -- I don't really go in for the self-loathing thing -- but I like "how" I am now much more. Clothes that I couldn't wear because they didn't fit anymore (too small) became useable once again... and now I've had to buy new clothing because those outfits are too _large_ for me. Rather than being flabby all over, my arms are toned from the swimming and my legs from the running. This is all cardio work, so I'm not exactly getting the physique of a body builder... but that's not what I'm going for. I want to be a normal weight, and able to do all three parts of an Olympic distance triathlon.

In reality, athletes get injured all the time. Realistically, I should be fine. But there is that big fear that this is going to derail me, and I'm going to go back to where I was a year ago. That's my fear.

Let's both work on not letting those fear become reality, k? :-)


Yup-I agree.We bought a Wii yesterday, with the sports games disc.Maybe I can't go out & run, but can try this? It's not the latest Wii, the one before that. Our son has it & brought it down at Christmas 2011-great fun! Sunburned to exercise, but doesn't always feel like going out (he has cancer of the liver).

Have a safe journey back to the uk. You should be very proud of your exercise & weight loss achievement s to date Matthew-well done! :-)


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