I’ve been somewhat short of what one might call “victories” recently. In fact, most of my endeavours for the last I-don’t-know-how-long-now have ended in what could politely be called failure. As such, I’ve been in a bit of a funk recently, getting very tired of… well, everything, really.
So when an actual, genuine, bona fide victory-slash-achievement rears its head, by golly I’m going to celebrate it.
Tonight I completed the nine week Couch 2 5K running programme, introduced to me by one Mr Calin Grajko, who is a really cool guy and, I have it on good authority, doesn’t afraid of anything. I’ve mentioned this a few times previously, but for those of you who can’t be bothered to look back a few entries, have joined me recently or who are having trouble finding exactly what you want using the search box (which is fine by me), let me explain.
Over the course of nine weeks, you go from being someone who “can’t run” to someone who, well, can. The first week begins with you running for a minute at a time, then walking for 90 seconds, then repeating this process several times. Each week ups the ante somewhat until you reach the final week when, in theory, you should be able to run for 30 minutes at a time without stopping.
When I started the programme, I seriously doubted that I’d ever be able to do more than a couple of minutes at a time. I deliberately hadn’t looked at what horrors the end of the programme had to offer because I figured the system shock would just put me off and demotivate me. So it was a genuine surprise each week to find out what I’d be doing. It was a big surprise in the last few weeks when the jumps started getting bigger.
But I’m pleased to announce that I can now run for 30 minutes without stopping. It’s not easy, sure, and I’m not quite at that elusive 5K distance just yet (not far off, though—my best distance in 30 minutes is 2.99 miles, just under the 3.1 miles that roughly equates to a 5K) but I figure I can get there with a bit more training. Tonight, I felt a noticeable increase in my speed, for example, though that disappeared with the hilly bits towards the end of tonight’s run.
The important thing with any exercise regime is motivation, and making sure you keep this motivation flowing in both the short and long term. By “short term”, I mean “while you’re doing your exercise”, and by “long term” I mean “the duration of the programme and beyond”.
Through this programme, I think I’ve got both of those things pretty comfortably sorted. The long-term motivation is handled nicely by the programme itself—making constant, regular, measurable progress is motivation in and of itself. Plus telling friends that you’ve completed week whatever-it-is is something you can genuinely take pride in, particularly if your friends are appreciative of what you’ve been trying to do.
The short-term motivation—keeping going while in the middle of a session—can be harder. If you run out of energy, you run out of energy. Part of this is about pacing yourself, but it’s also about not getting too bored of what you’re doing as well.
As such, I have made sure to have some banging playlists on my iPhone while out on my running sessions, matched reasonably well-ish with the timings of each session. Me being me, these songs have mostly fallen into the video game soundtrack category. Conveniently, though, the generally regular tempo and “inspiring” nature of a lot of game music makes it entirely appropriate for use in exercising. So without further pontificating on the philosophy of exercise (there are plenty of people out there who can comment on it with much more authority than I) I will share with you my playlist for tonight’s run. iPhone users, tap the song titles to play the tunes. Everyone else, you should have a fancy-pants Flash player to play each song with.
Warm-Up: The Elite (from Split/Second)
The Split/Second soundtrack was a fixture on my playlists. For the first few weeks, my playlist consisted solely of the Split/Second soundtrack. Because it’s awesome. And free. But this song in particular was an excellent warm-up track because it builds up a bit at a time. There’s also a spooky bit in the middle with jangly guitars that is great when you’re going out at night-time. During this piece, I was doing my 5-minute walk as a warmup for the main event.
Get Ready: Operation Briefing (from Trauma Center: Second Opinion)
The sole reason this song is in there is so that the woman on the GetRunning app which gives verbal coaching for the C25K programme has something unnecessarily dramatic to talk over while she’s briefing you about how long you’ll be running for. Timing the start of playback perfectly will mean that you start running with the next piece, which is…
Go!: Friend (from Bayonetta)
If you’ve never played Bayonetta, know that it’s a study in glorious excess. SPOILER: There is a bit where you ride a motorbike up a rocket into space in order to go and rescue the titular Bayonetta, who has gotten herself trapped in the crystalline eye of God, who happens to be a large female statue that is more than a bit pissed off. This music is from that bit. And it’s awesome. It’s also perfect music to get you pumped up and moving. The tempo is a good pace for running to.
Jenova Returns (from Final Fantasy VII, OCRemix album)
And so begins a set of Final Fantasy VII pieces, or more specifically some awesome remixes by the immensely talented community at OCRemix. When this piece gets all dramatic in the middle, I was just hitting my stride tonight. Which was good.
Beginning of the End (from Final Fantasy VII, OCRemix album)
This is one of my favourite pieces from FFVII. The original version always used to get my pulse racing as the final battle with Sephiroth began. Used at this point in the playlist, I was just starting to feel the proverbial “burn” a bit, and the overdramatic nature of it helped push me through.
Black Wing Metamorphosis (from Final Fantasy VII, OCRemix album)
This is a great, creative remix of the song that everyone knows from FFVII—the final boss theme, One Winged Angel. Bad-ass choirs and screaming guitars? That sounds like motivation to me.
Final Battle: Opportunity (from Skies of Arcadia)
You may be spotting something of a pattern with these pieces. Since it was my last run, I figured I’d make it something of an “occasion” with some ridiculously overdramatic music. The Skies of Arcadia final boss theme is neat because it starts ominous, threatening and dramatic and turns triumphant and victorious by the end. In-game, these changes happened according to how well the battle was going, so you could tell aurally when you were winning. Knowing this sent me subconscious signals that I was on the home straight.
Panic Attack (by Dream Theater)
I loved this song ever since I first encountered it in Rock Band 2, where it gave my fingers something of a workout. And cramp. It’s also, like, deep and stuff, cause I can, like, totally relate to the lyrics and whatnot, yeah?
In an exercise sense, it’s fast, gets the adrenaline flowing and has the line “rapid heartbeat pounding in my chest” in the middle of it. So it’s, like, appropriate.
Of course, it also has the line “I am terrified, so afraid to die” in it. Which, depending on your fitness level, may also be appropriate.
Navras (from The Matrix Revolutions)
Ever since I first heard this piece, I thought it would be an awesome accompaniment to some sort of final battle. In fact, a variation on this piece called Neodämmerung is used in the final battle with Mr Smith in The Matrix Revolutions. This piece, to my mind, though, is superior and is only used in the end credits.
So why not have this piece as the grand finale to the nine-week push? Why not indeed. Conveniently, my 30 minutes were up just as it got to the slow bit in the middle, so I got to cool down to some trippy floaty ethnic-sounding warbling. Which was nice.
So, in summary, then? Keep your motivation up (possibly through the use of some banging tunes) and you can achieve whatever goal you want. I’ve achieved one, which is something of a relief after so many things that have gone wrong over the last couple of years.
Now, just another 50-something posts to go to achieve another goal…