A Smoker's Road To 5K - Week 4

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Monday, December 2, 2013
Week 4 update for my plan to run more and smoke less using the Couch to 5k running program.

The program begins with a 5 minute brisk walk to warm up. Then it's 3 minutes running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running, 2.5 minutes walking, 3 minutes jogging, 90 seconds walking finally 5 minutes of running before the 5 minute cool down walk.

Week 4 is getting tougher. 51% of the time on the treadmill consists of jogging including the warm-up cool down walks. Not including those 10 minutes it's 74% running. I have no problem breaking a sweat now.

Day 1

I kept my walking speed the same but dropped my jogging speed 0.1  MPH to see how I handle this. My resting heart rate is on the high side of normal, as is my max heart rate but I'm still trying to keep my max HR from going too high (into zone 4) which is why I slowed my pace a bit. I should be able to bring it up a little by day 3 of this week.

I did 2.2 miles in 33 minutes averaging 4.0 MPH. I spent 16:22 in my target zone.

The bottom of my feet feel like I've been smacking them with canes. I'm  overdue for a pair of new running shoes.

Day 2

Last night I went to Walgreens and picked up a pair of Dr. Scholl's Gel Sport Insoles to replace the worn down insoles on my Merrell Moabs.  The insoles in the Moabs have completely given up their spring. The Dr. Scholl's inserts have more cushioning compared to the parts of the Moab inserts that have not worn down and the Gel under the heel and ball of the foot provides good support and impact resistance. Today my feet feel much better after completing my time on the treadmill.

I've been running with the treadmill flat while I get used to everything but today I increased the incline and really felt it. Even though I ran a little slower I burned 16% more calories than Day 1 according to my HRM.

I did 2.1 miles in 32 minutes averaging 3.9 miles per hour. 12 minutes 8 seconds in Zone 3. Today I spent a bit more time in Zone 4 but my HRM watch doesn't break it down by zone unfortunately.

While I was filling up my water bottle this morning I glanced at my watch and noticed my heart rate was about 15% lower than it usually is when I'm standing in the kitchen before a run. It was even slightly lower than when I measured my resting heart rate in bed a few weeks ago! What's more, even though I pushed myself a little harder today and my heart rate was faster during parts of the run I didn't really notice it.

Regarding smoking... As soon as I get out of bed I head to the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee to have with my first cigarette of the day. In week 2 of this program I started running in the mornings. While I'm still in a warm, cozy bed I start stretching my legs. Then I change into running clothes, strap on my HRM before I put on the pot of coffee. I fill up my water bottle and head to the treadmill. That way there's at least 7.5 hours between my run and the last time I smoked.

It's helping me break the routine of that first cigarette in the morning which has been a weak spot for me.

When I'm done with the run I cool off for a few minutes, fold up the treadmill and have that coffee and smoke. This morning though I didn't really have as strong of an urge to smoke. I still did anyway. :( Next time I'm going to try and wait at least until after I get out of the shower before I smoke.

On days I don't do the C25K program I'm going to try going for a short walk outside. If I can get out of the habit of having a smoke first thing in the morning I think it will make quitting easier. Decoupling the smoking while drinking coffee might be hard.

Day 3

Yesterday, a rest day of the C25K program, I headed for a walk first thing in the morning before my morning coffee and smoke.

According to Noom I walked 2.2 miles in 35 minutes but Noom always seems to get the mileage a little high. I'm going to try and change the GPS settings to "Exact" to hopefully get more accurate results. Later in the day I did another 2 mile walk. Actually this week I did a lot of walking. Over 2 hours worth in the last 7 days.

The point of the morning walk is primarily to get me out of the house and break that first cup of coffee and smoke as soon as I get out of bed routine I have (had?) I've been skipping it when I do the C25K runs and wanted to extend it to other days. Quitting smoking is as much about breaking the mental dependence (triggers) as it is about breaking the physical nicotine addiction. At least in my case.

This morning I didn't have my first cup of coffee and smoke until after my shower instead of before it. I haven't been able to quit cold turkey like I did the first time so I'm working on slowly breaking some of the major triggers one by one this time.

As for the C25K program, all the walking yesterday might have worn me out. My pace was slower. I did 2.0 miles in 32 minutes averaging 3.7 mph. My heart rate spent 14 minutes 30 seconds in zone 3. I ran a little slower so that I wouldn't spend as much time in zone 4 as I did on day 2.

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