I used to really hate running. Before May this year, the longest I’d ever run for was somewhere around the 20 mins mark. Probably didn’t run very far with that either.
But in May 2018, I made a decision that has totally changed my fitness routine, has made me feel fitter than ever, and has truly positively impacted my mental health.
I really recommend the Couch to 5k programme. It’s changed me so much.
My Running History
When I was at school, our cross country run was around 2.75miles/4k long. The fastest I ever ran it was just under 25 mins. I say “ran”. I knew my routine; the first mile was all downhill, easy to gather up enough speed to run along the river. Attempt to jog back up the hill but promptly give up about a third of the way up. To avoid embarrassment, you had to run along the road, up the lane up and at least half of the final hill. I always gave up and walked the rest, before finally running around Top Tree and sprinting back down.
I hated it, and I tried everything to get out of it.
Deciding on Couch to 5k
I don’t really recall why or when I decided to start running this year. I hadn’t been enjoying warming up on the treadmill. I was a bit bored of being in the gym, and wanted to get into exercising outside over the summer.
A lot of people teased me for starting Couch to 5k. I got a lot of “I don’t think that app is designed for people like you”; in a way, they were right, the app is designed for total beginners with no decent level of fitness. I went to (and still do go to) the gym regularly, but I simply couldn’t run.
The first three weeks or so were easy, I felt. You run for a short amount of time, then walk for a slightly longer time, and repeat. I didn’t help myself when I went on holiday, and instead of doing three runs a week (which is the programme on the app), I ran three runs in two weeks. Hey ho, life happens!
I don’t think I felt challenged until the fourth week. I had gotten used to short, quick runs, and week four was the start of the runs getting longer.
It got really tough from week six. I started hitting times that I had never run before. I nearly cried the day I ran for 28 mins (week eight, I think).
One thing I found really useful throughout my Couch to 5k journey was to use a website to work out how far I’d ran. I don’t like apps that monitor my GPS to work this out, so I used this “how far did I run” website. This run was from week seven.
Running further than I’ve ever run before
So, the Couch to 5k programme is three runs a week, for nine weeks, until you can run for 30 mins. Before my second run of my ninth week, I went to see my mum. I set off on a run on a Saturday morning, and I quickly realised that the route I had gone on was longer than I’d initially thought.
I ended up running, none stop, for 45 mins and reached nearly 7k. From only ever running for 30 mins once before.
I felt on top of the blooming world. Not only did I feel proud that I’d completed the programme, but I felt like I’d smashed my expectations of myself.
That’s a really cool feeling.
Since Completing Couch to 5k
I completed the nine week programme at the end of July 2018. I now run two to three times a week. When I do, I repeat the last run on the app. It looks a bit odd now, as my week nine run two was something like the 21st July, and if you looked at my week nine run three, it’ll be when I actually last ran (so if I looked now, it would say tonight, 11 September).
I use the time frame now to, rather than achieve running for that amount of time, but to see how far I can go. I have a circuit that I run in Hull, and its about 5km, but I’ll push myself. How far down the last street can I go? I make a note of the house number I reach each time. Each record I’ve noted so far has been about a 20m improvement each time.
I won’t ever say that I love running, but it really is such an escape now. I used to run for 10-15 mins and need a particular playlist (my revision/running playlist from school days), but now I can stick on shuffle and away I go.
I don’t have before and afters to show you. I have been going to the gym regularly for over two years now, and my gym routine has changed a few times. I combine my weekly runs with two weights classes. I’m heavier than I was this time last year, but I’m considerably stronger, and I do feel fitter. I was at my thinnest when I was spinning three times a week, but I do love being stronger and being more toned. This is where I’m at, and I’m happy with this now.
I’m not sure I’d hold my breath for some 10k’s of half-marathons anytime soon!