Reflections from a Beginner

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 moneyimage. 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!



  • 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

  • stutyr,

    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.



  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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?

  • 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.
  • 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. image

    Thanks everyone for the info, really appreciated.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.



  • Pleased to be of assistance. Look forward to hearing about 3rd 3 months.
  • 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


  • For those interested

    My runs so far this month (October 2012)


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



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

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

    Just for completeness (I must have some anal retentive traits!image) 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.















  • 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?

  • 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!image


  • 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!

  • I think I may try to do a few ParkRuns to test my 10k times, as I wonder if the GPS is a little more acurate in tracking progress over a longer distance. I often notice that my starting pace is erratic and I suspect this is more due to the fact that the start of my routes is often through a wooded area and I think the pace is affected by the problem with GPS signals. So I don't explicitly trust the average pace scores but they are a useful guide.

    The main thing is that I am 

  • you know the parkruns are 5k races right? is that what you meant? or did you just mean to get out and run at a 10k pace? not trying to be a pedant, just wondered if you knew the parkruns were 5k, otherwise you might turn up and run right past the finish line. I guess you could always carry on runnign and do another lap to make it 10k

  • Actually I did think the Park runs were 10k but I have just checked and you are correct that they are 5k. Do you know if you are you allowed to run the route twice andhave your time recorded?

    Todays 10k'er details Todays 10K'er



  • I would imagine the park run volunteers probably pack up and leave after around 50 minutes, but it could be worth asking them. Check the results for your local park run and see what time the last finishers come in (

  • Well, it has been a while, but I am still running...

    I continued up until mid December when I stopped due to the cold weather and the ice underfoot. I then went skiing and badly tore my calf muscle one morning. This was in February. I have slowly nursed the calf back to full health and I am now back to everaging three times a week again.

    I have really missed the running during the last 5/6 weeks or so but am beginning to feel my way again. Innevitably my times are suffering and I have added a little too much weight but already i am feeling better for the running.

    I got a Garmin 610 watch for Christmas and now use Garmin Connect to analyse all the stats (although today it seems to be down for some reason).

    Here's to some better weather and some great running.



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