“Underwear Collected”: Couch to 5K Week 1 Day 1

I started the Couch to 5K running program today. I’m using the C25K app in tandem with the excellent Zombies, Run! (which really only means I have both apps open at the same time during a run), and so far the combination of music and continuous item collection has helped keep me motivated.

Gamification as a fitness approach appeals to my nerd brain and to my neurotic, anxious, track-everything self, so Zombies, Run! seems to be a good way to harness my mental and psychological quirks and use them to further — instead of hamper — my health goals. There will always be another item to collect or another building to repair if I want to survive the zombie apocalypse, and those are helpful goals to hold onto on those days when I don’t feel like sticking to routine.

I’ve asked several friends, both offline and from various online communities, for advice on establishing a running habit. One of the first tips most of them gave involved mindset: Find the right motivation, something that will help you gain discipline instead of fizzling out. In my case, “losing weight” or identifying a specific number on the scale to aim for aren’t good approaches, because that will only keep me fixated on the weight rather than the overall fitness/health aspect of things. So my sustainable goal/motivation is to improve my cardiovascular fitness. This means my benchmarks will involve things like pace, endurance, and overall strength as opposed to how much I weigh per week.

Aside from this, I’ve also started an Instagram account, where I post photos of things/people I encounter during my runs. Hopefully this will be another non-weight-related way to get enthused about going out for a run. I want running to be something more than just an activity I “have to do,” and making it a project of discovery and exploration seems to be a good way to go about that. Zombies and supplies aren’t the only things I’ll be running into, after all.

*

Today’s run was an okay start for the whole program. I haven’t had the chance to replace my busted earphones yet, so I made do by using my phone speakers and just setting the volume to acceptable levels. Thankfully there was no one around while I was running, so no stares for the girl whose phone issues intermittent notifications that she’s just picked up a mobile phone or a pair of underwear.

Shin splints and ankle pain had been issues on my previous recent attempts at jogging, mostly because my shoes felt too loose and my feet kept twisting to compensate. It turns out that thicker socks solve this problem completely, so now I just need to buy more pairs of quality socks to stay injury-free throughout the program.

My glasses had also snapped from last week’s aikido class, and I’ve yet to get replacement frames or contacts, so I was also running almost-blind today. Not much of an issue, though, because there was little foot and vehicle traffic along the roads I ran today. It’s a bit troublesome to run when you have barely any idea what you’re headed towards, but luckily my vision isn’t so far gone that I can’t spot lampposts from a few meters away. I used those as landmarks throughout my run, and I got home okay.

It’s easy to be discouraged by a first run done under such sub-optimal conditions. Now that I’ve actually finished the run, though, I’m feeling oddly motivated instead: if I can do the W1D1 workout while nearly blind, and while straining to hear both my music and Zombies, Run! commentary through crappy phone speakers, then certainly I can get out of the house and keep running in better or worse conditions.

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