5/5

Couch 2 5K

I don't think I ever expected to be writing a review of an exercise programme, much less something like Couch 2 5K.

Back in March I had a health check, and discovered I was clinically obese. (To be honest, the huge belly I had was also a hint, but one I was studiously ignoring.)

After some time looking at my options, I was surprised to find that running was my best bet, and that C25K (as it's known) was probably the best way to start.

 

I hate running, but C25K had a reputation for delivering results, it had low costs, and it didn't require a lot of time or equipment. So I could get started straight away...

Very soon I found myself in the quite unusual state of running. For all of a minute - then walking again. Because C25K really does start off gently, and the first week is basically:

  1. A five minute warm up walk
  2. Sixty seconds of running, then ninety seconds of walking, repeated for twenty minutes
  3. A five minute cool down walk

It's very achievable.

 

The whole programme does, of course, require you to run more than just a minute by the end. Each week has three runs, and with the warm up/cool down walks they're never longer than three quarters of an hour.

I'm not going to bore you with details of all nine weeks, but will mention that weeks five and six are the ones where you're really pushed further than before - if you're planning on starting C25K, you might want to do it when your calendar will be empty for those two weeks!

 

When it comes to equipment, you really just need running shoes. Now, you have to bear in mind that I am a man of minimal wardrobe, who owned two pairs of footwear - walking boots for leisure time, and shiny shoes for business wear.

All I bought to start with was running shoes, a weatherproof holder for my phone, and an app to help me through C25K. (I'll review the app later, today I'm concentrating on the programme itself.)

 

Here are some things you'll inevitably think if you try Couch 2 5K:

  • "I'm knackered. Running is hard."
  • "Oh. When they say run, they mean jog!"
  • "It's much easier now I've got a feel for the pacing"
  • "I've not run for this long since I was at school..."
  • "That wasn't so bad - it's all psychological really"
  • "Is that a stitch?"
  • "OW! That is a stitch!"
  • "I haven't had a stitch since I was at school..."
  • "Done it. Shouldn't there be some kind of fanfare and ceremony?"
  • "OK, so now I just run 5K three times every week. Why does that not sound difficult anymore?"

I'm genuinely impressed with Couch 2 5K. It's a great programme which is nicely designed.

I still don't like running. But I like its results. And I like how Couch 2 5K made it easy. So it gets a full 5/5 from me.

Building The Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 [Exhibition]

Some exhibitions cost a lot. In theory, Building The Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 cost me a tenner. In practice, it cost a lot more as I walked away with three heavy hardcover books...

For me, there are two major things I learnt at this exhibition:

  1. Constructivist architecture is absolutely my kind of thing
  2. Some fellow named Richard Pare has already taken every photograph I ever wanted to take, and taken them brilliantly

This exhibition is a mixture of photographs and other mediums, mostly pencil drawings with a couple of paintings. The drawings are there to show the Constructivist influences on the architecture, and I must be honest none of them particularly moved me. Being shown the foundations of art is like being shown the foundations of a building - not as interesting as the whole thing!

However, the back story to the non-photographic art was interesting - much of it had been saved by George Costakis, who was allowed to own the art as he was a foreigner and not subject to the state suppression of "unsuitable art". I certainly admire Mr. Costakis' actions, as without him a lot of early Soviet art would have disappeared forever.

Of course, the photographs were my real interest - interesting buildings, many approaching 90 years old or more, and which are therefore showing signs of dilapidation. Anyone who's been with me when taking photos knows that's my kind of thing.

To get a taste of the exhibition, check out the wikipedia page on Constructivist architecture, and look at those buildings!
The brief flurry of constructivism in the Soviet Union led to some truly astonishing buildings, but it ended when Stalin came into power - he preferred a more neo-classical style. Another reason to dislike Stalin, as if anyone needed one more...

The exhibition is well laid out, divided into different types of architecture - state and communications, industrial, education/recreation/health, and finally Lenin's Mausoleom. This works well, preventing the scale of the state offices and industrial buildings from jarring with some of the more compact yet brilliant designs for social clubs. The overall layout and pacing of the exhibition was superb, and the decision to culminate with Lenin's Mausoleum - in an area painted solid Red - was a suitable high point to end on.

I also took the audio guide, which was an excellent companion and well worth the extra £3.50, being filled with facts and snippets of interviews with curators of contributing collections and with Richard Pare himself.

A highly recommended exhibition, even if it did show me that my photographs are effectively derivative of a fellow I'd never even heard of until today!

Overall, I'd score this one as 5 out of 5 - highly recommended.

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