Sunday, 29 March 2015

Returning to running

I had a positive post-op appointment in Brighton this week and in amongst it all was the news that I have had a successful recovery and that I can start to resume a normal life again. This led from asking about when I can resume my running.

Running for me last year had a double effect. In the first instance it helped me lose my weight to the point where I had a normal BMI for the first time in my life. Another plus is that it gave me time to help work through my issues and keep on top of my emotional health. The last 3 months have seen this stop, my weight has increased and I have had no easy way of number crunching my thoughts and emotions. 

So the news that I can restart a vital part of my own self-therapy was received with some joy. I had already anticipated this development and bought myself a GPS watch so that I could track my progress instead of just relying on guesswork. I looked at various watches and found that the Garmin Forerunner 10 was what I needed. There were better models, but all I really needed was a tracking device. It was the same price in Taunton Argos as it was anywhere else so I ordered it and collected it on Monday. Susan was around so we gave it a quick test on a walk, although it hadn't enough charge so we only had a partial readout. 

The watch is delightfully simple to use. You press a single button and wait for it to find it position. This has taken from 2-30 seconds depending on the cloud cover. Once it's got it's location, you press start and go running. When you finish, you press a button and have the option to resume, save or discard the run. Within the watch it saves some records such as fastest mile, longest distance, fastest 5K etc. There are just enough records so as not to become overkill. Whilst running you can select 2 displays, and they are customisable. I have Time/Distance and Pace/Distance. There is also a Speed and Calories option with the calories determined by setting a weight within the watch.

When connecting to a PC, you can then sync the watch with Garmin's own website and have all sorts of ways of displaying stats. Your runs are displayed on a map alongside details such as elevation changes, speeds, pace and much more. You can also share your runs to Facebook and other social media. 

Adding in this technological edge to my running has made it quite fun and interesting. I appreciate that some use technological devices like this to motivate themselves into exercising more. For me, I do not need that motivation as last year I "got" the running bug once and for all after five years of dabbling with it. I needed to lose weight and I was also struggling with my emotions and running solved all of that together. However, it is nice to know just how far I have been running. That was the principal reason for getting the device. All the other features are interesting and can perhaps help me to improve my fitness and pace. I remember back in January at the theatre doors in Brighton having a discussion about my ambition to run a marathon with the anaesthetist and Vicky, my nurse that day. We were all runners and this was a nice topic to pass the time with needles and drugs being administered! We all had this ambition and I can use the features on the watch to help achieve that aim.

I was not one to hang around and the day after getting back from Brighton, I decided to have my first run since my GRS. I got the watch located, and set off. I was not sure how far I would go or how often I was going to stop to walk. I had not run for nearly three months, as well as not doing a great deal of anything in that time and I would need to probably stop and walk a fair bit. 

I was amazed that I managed a three mile run completely non-stop with an average pace of 9.50 minutes to the mile (6.1 MPH). My legs were to tell me how unfit they were over the next couple of days but I was shocked at how good my cardiovascular fitness was given how little I have done. 

I had another run the next day, but the day after I found my legs were not up to it. I got as far as the end of our driveway and came back home! I got back out yesterday and had another today, all the while improving my times and distance.I am feeling quite excited at the prospect of getting back to my previous fitness as well as losing the couple of stone I have gained since my surgery. It will also be good to get back to using running as my therapy and hopefully get my mood back to a better level.


  1. Congratulations, Lucy, on this impressive return to an active lifestyle. I love gismos and always take my phone, with its fitness app, on outings in the forest. This old girl confines herself to walking, though, so the stats are not as impressive. Saturday's readout was 8.56 miles, 2.6mph, 1114 calories burned.

    1. Thank you Angie.

      What are your thoughts on the calorie counters? I find myself a little sceptical at time, it seems such a fantastic amount, too fantastic...

      Lucy x

  2. Since a calorie is simply a measure of energy or work done (1 kcal=4184 joules) it ought to be a fairly straightforward calculation. Hence (according to my Noom fitness app,) propelling my 13 stone body over one mile takes 100 kcal, though that's such a 'round' figure that it must surely be an approximation.

    The app also kindly ups my calorie allowance by 50% of the energy thus burned. So last Saturday, after having done over 1114kcal of work, I was able to enjoy a hearty evening meal and still lose a bit of weight.

    1. I take any of these calorie estimations with a shovel of salt. I did 3.52 miles this morning and it returned a burn of 548 calories. The watch is set to my current weight and factoring in our weight differences, this would give you at your weight a burn of 146 calories a mile at running pace. Walking or running, it should be a similar amount of energy used (running is just burning it at quicker pace) yet we have a massive difference between our devices.

  3. The science behind this is actually quite complex, as I've been discovering since my last comment. Our bodies become less efficient in their use of energy as work load increases - not unlike cars that do less mpg as speed increases - so you consume more energy running a mile than I do walking one.

    The calculations use something called a "Metabolic Equivalent of Task" value. Every activity has its own MET value that reflects how much oxygen your body consumes doing the activity. Walking has a MET value of 3.5; running @12 mins per mile a value of 8.5. Watching football on the tele, by the way, only scores 1.5. Pity!

    Multiplying the MET by your weight in kg will give you calories burned per hour. So for me, 13 stone = 82.5kg. Multiplying this by a MET of 3.5 gives 289, which isn't so far from my fitness app's estimate of 300. Simple!!!

    1. Interesting, I did not know about efficiencies (or lack of) when running and I'm certainly not complaining!

      I am currently running at 6 MPH which has a MET of 9.8. I was weighed yesterday at hospital at 88.8 KG (ouch!). So this mornings run of 36 minutes should have burnt 9.8 x 88.8 x 0.6 (the fraction of an hour) = 511. My watch reported 555 so it's not completely accurate.