Here's the skinny: I've been near 300 lbs. for years and need to lose weight. I'm married to a wonderful lady, and we have a family. One of our boys often asks if I'll run with him. I've always had to tell him, "No." In August of '09, my wife learned about a couch-to-5k running program, and I agreed to try it with her. This blog chronicles our progress on that training program. I hope I'll soon be able to surprise my son by telling him, "Yes, I'll go running with you!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 29 (week 5, day 1)

Well, we just got back from today's session. I'm glad to say that we both finished without any major issues. Mrs. F's legs are still troubling her just below the knee, and I still had to deal with the motion on my left leg. Still, with all done, it was a good morning.

This week's workouts are each different. Here's the plan for this week:

Week 5

Session 1 (Monday)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 3 minutes
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Walk 3 minutes
  • Jog 5 minutes

Session 2 (Wednesday)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:

  • Jog 8 minutes
  • Walk 5 minutes
  • Jog 8 minutes

Session 3 (Friday)

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking

On each of the three days, we are adding a five minute cool-down walk, to match the Couch to 5k podcast (and recommended best practices).

It was a brisk morning. It was about 45ยบ F with winds in the 15-20 mph range (per the online weather station at a school in town). It felt fine when I first stepped outside, but when the first gust hit me, I went back in and grabbed my vest. Mrs. F went back in and threw on another layer. After the first week or so, I ditched my vest during the runs, because it was too hot. Today, with the wind, the vest was a welcome bit of warmth. When I finally did get hot, I ditched my fleece hat in exchange for a headband, and I unzipped the vest.

The warm-up walk was just fine--I don't think much about it anymore. The transition came about where I expected it on the trail. The first run wasn't too hard, but, I had to keep my mind on running the full five minutes. My body's clock must have sensed the three minute mark, or I must have recognized the end point on the trail from last week's runs. There was that moment where I wanted to stop, but I kept going. I was not pushing too hard, because I knew there was plenty of running ahead of me. This first part of the workout was running directly into the wind that was coming off of the lake. That made it feel even cooler than it was.

The recovery walk was certainly long enough--no problems regaining my breath. My left knee felt pretty good, though I could feel occasional twinges as I walked. Being heavy all of my adult life, I think I developed a habit of walking with my feet angled wide. While running, however, I notice that they tend to point straight ahead. I'm thinking that the discomfort I'm feeling is due to my body adjusting between those two leg positions. I definately felt it more if I tried to keep my feet pointed forward as I walked, but it was easier this week. I'm guessing that those inner-leg muscles are getting stronger and that they will eventually win the day.

At the start of the second run, I as ready for it, mentally, but my body did not want to continue. About a minute in, I found my body rejecting the thought of running any further. Then my mind came to play, and tried to tell me that we could alway repeat the whole week, or even just the day. I tried switching my thinking to something else and I found myself counting steps. I decided that the counting would make me think about how much time was left, so I did as best I could to simply stop thinking. I tried to focus only on the podcast music. If any of you know me or knew me, you'd know how hard it is for me to stop thinking. The first minute or so of the second run took us to the turnaround point on our trail. We made our turn and kept running. It seemed really, really long. By the end, Mrs. F was almost 50m ahead of me. She was so far ahead that I lost sight of her in the shadows of a wooded patch of the trail.

I was relieved when the next walk was announced. I was ready to be done for the day, but I knew we had one more set to go. I shouted out the end, and saw Mrs. F returning to my field of vision after a few seconds, seeing the white of her sleeves and her socks before anything else.

The funny thing here was the disconnect between my body and my thinking. When the next run was announced, my mind had already given up for the morning, but I found that my body kicked it in gear and began running. Both my stride and my pace were better, and I suddenly realized that everything felt pretty good. The discipline of following the Couch to 5k running plan had come to my rescue--my body acted to complete the routine because that's what we do on Mondays. It was a strange feeling for a man who often rates self-discipline as one of his weakest traits.

I can't say that the final segment was a walk in the park, but I found that I had the energy and new-found determination to finish it. When the final minute was announced, I pushed myself, hoping to close on Mrs. F who was about 10m ahead of me. She sped up as well, however, and I was only able to close the distance by a few yards before the end was announced.

That final push took some effort, so I drew some big breaths when we ended. Realizing that our recovery walks continue to be less brisk than they likely should be, we worked on keeping up our pace. Now, on the last stretch at the southeast end of the lake, we felt the full force of the wind again. Instead of making us feel chilled, however, it was a welcome friend, cooling us down was we walked back toward the dam and the parking area near the boat launch. We stopped and stretched when we reached the car, and I stood for a moment, letting the cold breeze wash past me in refreshing waves.

After a few moments, we got in the car and headed home. We made it! We finished the first workout of Week 5 without falling over dead! I can laugh at that last statement now, because I've learned that I have more endurance and ability than I ever knew. I now can run for five minutes at a shot, and do it three times over within 21 minutes. I'm sure Wednesday will be hard, with its eight minute sets, but I'm looking forward to surprising myself once again.

It's still early enough that I should be able to ride to work this morning (I skipped the bike rides during the last half of last week, in part to rest my left leg and in part because I had errands to run at different points during the day). I also managed to fit into a pair of pants that have been sitting and waiting in my closet for a couple of years. I'm a full two inches down in the waist, and I'm hoping to lose at least six more inches over the next year. It's a good start at any rate.

I ate my traditional egg sandwich today after the run. I had eaten a piece of peanut butter bread beforehand when I took some medication. I'm trying to keep my intake at or under what it was before the program started. I've lost over 13 lbs. since the start of the program, and I'm just hoping I can keep the progress going along that front (and middle and sides!).

Overall, it was a good morning session, and I'm looking forward to Wednesday. Friday intrigues me at this point, as I wonder if I really will be able to pull off that 20 minute run.


  1. You guys are awesome! I can't see me being able to do that. Week 3 has me scared! Can't wait to hear about Friday!!! :)

  2. I learned a few of things during the first few weeks:

    1) The human body is often capable of far more (in terms of exertion, strength, and stamina) than we can imagine.

    2) Often, the greatest battle to overcome is the one in the mind.

    3) Difficulties are much easier to bear in the company of a friend.

    I remember approaching many of those days not sure I wold be able to finish even half the intervals. I remember being surprised that, though utterly drained and exhausted at the end of some workouts, that my body (all 290-300 lbs. of it) had made it through. I remember wanting to quit, but continuing on because I had someone (Mrs. F) by my side, struggling through it with me.

    All these things surprised me, and, as a result, my fear and dread started to change into a sense of wonder and expectation. Sure, the second workout of Week 5 sound tough, and the final workout of the week stands in front of me like Goliath, but I'm not fearful of them the way I was in the beginning. I have this hint of optimism, that I might somehow make it through. I have a sense of expectation, a desire to finish the week. And I have a sense of wonder, that I ever got this far.

    Don't give up! You'll do fine in week three. The real test of your mettle isn't whether you can get through the program without falling (i.e., missing a session, failing to complete a set), but whether, after falling, you are willing to rise up again to take up the battle.


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