Thursday, April 25, 2013

Couch to 5K: Week 1 Progress Update

I recently started the Couch to 5K (C25K) running program. I am using RunDouble's app for Android, using the timed version of C25K. So far, so good!

If you've followed my blog from the beginning, you will probably already know that I can run 5km. So, why on earth am I doing the C25K? Well, a bit less than a year ago, I sustained a knee and foot injury on my left leg - my joint injuries are always so stubborn and they take forever to heal. I've only just fully recovered, and am hoping to recondition my legs to running again. 

I have major issues with self-restraint. Cut me loose and I'll probably just run until my legs break. Some people call it motivation, and to be fair that quality has gotten me places in life... I guess it's both a blessing and a curse :P 

The C25K is a program to help non-runners to get into running, so what better way to ease myself back into running than to have a program that does it all for me? 

I have never used an app like this before. I've previously used Nike + to track my runs, but I like the RunDouble app more. It does everything for you... the C25K tells you when to warm up, run, brisk walk, cool down, when you are half way, when to do the harlem shake... you get the gist. Ah, technology... where would I be without you! 

The only trouble I have been having with it is to create a playlist... the Nike + app just goes through my entire music library. With the RunDouble app I seem to only be able to access folders or playlists, which means I will need to go through the painstaking process of creating a playlist. But, I want to run, dammit not spend all day adding files to a list. 

Week 1 went without a hitch, and best of all, no joint pain. Also helpful could be the fact that I recently got myself some new kicks... the Asics Kayano 18... and I am in love with them. 

Here is a summary of how it went: 

Week 1's program is 8 repetitions of 1 min running / 1.5 min brisk walk with a 5 min warm up and cool down. 

Day 1: Couldn't get the GPS to work, but I only started to get into running with ease by the 3rd interval. 
Day 2: Total distance 2.72km, fastest pace 4:55min/km 
Day 3: Total distance 2.75km, fastest pace 4:47min/km 
Week 1 running pattern

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I love autumn runs

There is nothing more centreing than a nice, quiet run, and no better time to do it than in autumn.

Why? Three good reasons:

There are less people. 
My running/walking track is very popular because it's along the beach. All the locals walk/jog there (thankfully there's a separate cycling path, or else there would be that too). And Port Melbourne Melbourne people aren't the most courteous of walkers... they hog up the lanes and often don't give way so you have to run around them. #firstworldproblems. Autumn time fixes all of that because no one wants to walk right next to the chilly icy sea breezes of autumn! Huzzah!

See... completely barren
The temperature is perfect 
Ok, it might be a little chilly to begin with, but you won't feel it after 10 minutes. It definitely beats running on a 38 degree day. Plus, Melbourne autumns are mild anyway, look at that clear blue sky!

The crisp autumn air
I can't run in humidity. Breathing in humid air while running makes me breathless. There are also less allergens in the air. I'm not one for hay fever, but running in summer makes my lungs burn.

I'm not even a fan of the cold. The BF says my tolerance range for temperatures is between 23-25 degrees, and he's probably not wrong. I wouldn't do outdoor yoga in autumn and freeze my little toesies off in savasana. But, running in autumn? Sold!

What's your favourite season to run/exercise in?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Where's the love?

Confession time.

I've been getting my bitch on . Frequently, in the last few weeks- a bit hypocritical of me, to say the least, particularly when I openly wage war on bitches.

What would I categorize as bitching? Because I'm too lazy to find my own words to define this, I'll let Freedictionary do it for me.
bitch  (bch)
2. Offensive
a. A woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing.

3. Slang A complaint.
v. bitchedbitch·ingbitch·es Slang
                                       Source: Freedictionary

So, that's what I've been partaking in over the last few weeks. The truth is, it always begins innocuously, with no malicious intent. I just love gossip, even if it's regarding people that I don't know or barely know. Sometimes, these "gossips" are harmless, and sometimes, they can be mean and spiteful, but before my brain even realizes what they are, the words have already escaped my lips.

Then bam, I've just bitched about how naive a friend is, or how lazy someone else is...

Not my finest moments.

Interestingly enough, the frequency of my bitching seemed to have increased at a time when my yoga practice had been neglected. Now that I've resumed a semblance of a practice, I seem to have come to a halting epiphany that over the last few weeks, I have been nothing but a massive... well... bitch. There really isn't another word for it, so pardon the repetition.

I think it's because my practice helps me to unwind and destress... when it is absent, I find alternative avenues, like bitching to others because it just helps me blow off some steam, despite the total disregard for the other person's feeling or the awkwardness that the listener might be experiencing. Not everyone likes to partake in a bitching session, and I am not particularly discerning.

My practice also makes me self-reflect. And my recent self-reflection has told me that I haven't been very nice. I think I may also bitch because having someone nod to all my rants just gives my self-esteem a little bit of a lift and helps me feel like I belong. Who cares that it's a little bitchy community that I belong to, as long as I fit in, right?

Here's hoping that realization is the first step to recovery. I realize that to stop minimize bitching will require more than just to announce it to the world, but I'm pretty hopeful that I've made a good start. I know that I have some inner demons to work with (selfishness maybe?) so it's not going to be cruisy!


What are your experiences with bitches/bitching?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Challenge: Strong Core has begun

The Yoga Journal 2 Week Strong Core Challenge has begun!

The first day's focus on warming up the core
The videos have been a lot shorter than I thought they would be, so far ranging between 5 to 10 minutes, but we are only up to day two. It feels more like a short little masterclass that bring your focus towards your core as you do standard vinyasa flows or core strengthening exercises to be incorporated into your longer routine. 

I thought I'd put a taster of the challenge, for the first day, in case you wanted to test the waters before committing. 

The little 5 minute challenge today was enough to motivate me to do a little bit more, so I ended up spending 30 minutes on the mat today, which is 30 minutes more than my cumulative total for last week! I'm quite pleased. 

So, what are you waiting for... take the Strong Core challenge!

Update 16 April: The videos range from 5 - 35 minutes in length. Week 2 is a repeat of Week 1. So far, the challenges have been great, they really work your core! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wicked Walks: Flinders Peak Walk (You Yangs)

One thing I love about Australia is how many easily accessible (and best of all, free!) opportunities there are to get fit outdoors. There are so many National and Regional Parks around the country that there really isn't any excuse not to go out for a walk and enjoy everything that nature has to offer.

I do this quite frequently with my walking buddy (none other than my lovely sister), so I thought I'd start a series of monthly posts called Wicked Walks to review the harder, more challenging or just scenic encounters that we stumble upon.

Today, we ventured to the South West of Victoria, to the beautiful You Yangs Regional Park. Neither of us had been there before, but the Flinders Peak walk definitely sounded right up our alley. 450 steps? Steep gradient? Here we come! We do love a good walking challenge, and love attempting high difficulty walks, in spite of my fear of heights.

The entrance
The signage says that it's a 3.5km walk -1 hour return, very steep, formed track, many steps. It took us slightly less than 1 hour to complete the walk and to stop for photo/scenic breaks. We only brought a bottle of water because it was such a short walk, and it served us well.

A mix of wide steps 

And narrow steps
The steps definitely make this walk much easier. Sure, walking up 450 steps isn't fun, but trying to find a foothold in a steep mountain-side is way worse. The path is quite sandy, although there are rocky surfaces on the steps and around the path to help your grip. Regular walking shoes should be fine and rainy days won't be a problem.

Beautiful scenic points all along the track

Geoglyph rock formation in the shape of an eagle - tribute to the Aboriginal owners of the land

What I loved most about this walk were the beautiful scenic points all along the path, as you ascended to the peak. There were volcanic rock platforms everywhere that you could peer off, or the built platform structures. Definitely a much more interesting step-walk when compared to the 1000 steps.

The platform at Flinder's Peak

Gorgeous view of Geelong and surrounding towns 

Beautiful rustic sceneries everywhere

I would just rate this walk as a moderate difficulty walk, despite the "very steep" warning. The steps definitely make this walk much more accessible, and it's fairly open with no obstacles. The scenery though is worth taking a drive down. It's definitely some of the best views I've seen in a while.

While you're in the area, you could also stop by Serendip Lake Sanctuary, an open wetlands sanctuary for birds. The birds that shelter there vary according to season and depending on their flight paths, but today, there were no shortages of magpie geese.

Serendip Lake Sanctuary

There are a few short walks around the sanctuary, all easy grades, but the wildlife there fascinate the young and the young at heart. 

Road trip to Geelong, anyone? 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The other side of your childhood favourites

I had a pretty typical childhood for a child of the 90s. I watched my share of Disney and more, and had the staple collection of Barbie dolls (sure, I didn't use them the conventional way... unless throwing them around the room at the ceiling fan was the conventional way...). Lately, there have been a few images making the usual social media rounds like this.



Excuse me, I watched a ton of Disney, and I think I turned out just fine. Ok, not entirely fine :P but no better or worse than any other regular Josephine who hadn't watched Disney. I'm going to be honest, I never once thought to define any man that I'm with now with any Disney prince. 

Disney gave me so much more than just entertainment. Disney spurred on my musical interest, my love of art, and made my childhood dreams real (Who didn't want to meet a talking meerkat? Be honest :P). Disney taught me to not worry way before Bobby McFerrin ever did, to whistle while I work, and that bookworms are cool. 

I have noticed that children nowadays don't really watch Disney much anymore, and that makes me slightly sad. My favourite songs from my childhood days were Disney songs, and I could recite lines from favourite Disney movies from start to end, almost the same way as I do with Les Miserables now. A skill I picked up from watching Disney, no less :P So if you are ever looking for a career as a thespian...

Most of those "lessons" above are way beyond a child's imagination anyway... Political worth? What child even understands what that means? I see those images as adults reading way too much into a children's movie, and giving it adult values, that might potentially affect an adult watching Disney, just as I am reading too much into a silly little graphic meant for comedy. That said, if you were fully grown, and felt that you could be dead and still get some princely action as long as you were pretty, you may have some other kinds of issues that you may need to deal with more urgently. 

The person who did the Disney Princes' image obviously didn't watch the movies anyway, because the whole point of Aladdin was to show that lying didn't work. Pft, he obviously needed to watch more Disney :P 

Another image that caught my eye today... 


I don't really like Barbie very much, I don't agree for what Barbie stands for and I didn't like Barbie at all as a child. I could never work out what to do with her... This artist's impression of Barbie without makeup though definitely made me pause and reflect. He chose to portray her with braces and wrinkles... I do think that this is beyond just Barbie without makeup, this is Barbie before cosmetic surgery, unless Barbie's got access to some miraculous wonder wrinkle-filler that all of us need to get our hands on! 

What do you think about these images? Did you grow up with Disney and Barbies? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Challenge: Yoga Journal Strong Core

The last few weeks have been tumultous trying to kick my over-dependence on the interwebs. I've had some good days, when I've squeezed in some yoga, and some bad days where I've been glued to my monitor, too lazy even to make decent meals.

To kickstart my path to recovery though, I've signed up to the Yoga Journal's Strong Core program. I've had a great time with YJ's fitness programs in the past, particularly the 21-Day Fitness challenge, so I'm hoping I'll be self-motivated enough to complete this.

Are you ready to sculpt your core?
(Source: Yoga Journal Strong Core)

The program begins Monday 8 April, which is next Monday! If it's anything like their other programs, there'll be fitness tips, recipes and a daily video which is generally 20-30 minutes long.

Will you be taking on the challenge?