Last October I started Couch to 5k with my friend. She wanted to do it to get fit after having broken her arm which stopped her from doing yoga and exercise. We were both encouraged by another friend who had started her running journey and she said it was making a big difference to how she felt. So I said I would do it with my friend so that we could motivate each other. I was told by my doctor in the summer that I needed to do more weight bearing exercise after a diagnosis of osteopenia and that was at the back of my mind anyway.
Now in the past I’ve always hated cardio exercise and have avoided it as I don’t like to feel out of breath, but week 1 started very slowly with the first run being walk for 90 seconds and then run for 60 seconds. The run was ok but it’s amazing how out of breath I was after that first half an hour session of intervals of walking and then running.
By the end of October I graduated to week 2. This was walk 5 minutes, run 90 seconds and repeat this five times. So far so good. In mid November it started to get harder with week 3 which was walk for 3 minutes and run for 3 minutes, but by the end of the month I moved onto week 4 – run and walk in a sequence of 3/5. I was amazed that I actually ran for a total of 15 minutes and wasn’t out of breath at all.
In early December I moved onto week 5 where I ran for 8 minutes, walked for 5 and then ran for another 8 minutes. During the other runs of that week I increased this to walking for 5 minutes and then running for 20 minutes – this felt like an amazing achievement. Every time I felt like stopping I considered my breath. I wasn’t out of breath so I just kept going by thinking ‘this is weight bearing exercise and is good for me’. On the app I chose to run to Jo Wiley’s voice and she was in my ear encouraging me and saying ‘you can do this, you are doing this, keep going’.
Jo also gives you tips on the app like telling you that it’s just a gentle jog, you’re meant to be able to hold a conversation when you are running. Another good tip was that you’re not meant to be springing up and down. You imagine someone is walking the other side of a large hedge – they shouldn’t be able to see your head bobbing up and down like a yoyo. Jo also said it helps to say the mantra ‘I love running, I love running……..’ – that I found harder as the other side of my brain at times was saying ‘I hate running, I hate running…….’! Overall though these tips really helped to set a comfortable pace for me.
The 23rd December was an epic day as I ran for a total of 25 minutes. I would not have thought that was possible back in October when I started. The 25 minutes then went to 28 minutes and on the 16th January I finished the Couch to 5k app – I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 30 and then walked for 5, however I still only covered 4.5k. It all depends on how fast you run as to the distance that you actually cover. So I set myself the challenge to actually run the distance of 5k and the best way to do that was to attempt the Seaton Parkrun.
Today I did it – I actually ran 5k in 37:27 and finished in 242nd place. I was the 101st female out of a field of 270 runners and came 11th in my age category. I’ve gone from being out of breath running for 60 seconds to actually running 5k. The app is a great tool so if you’re thinking about it – my advice is give it a go. I never thought I could do it and with Jo’s and my friends and family’s help and encouragement I did!