COUCH TO 5K – WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE

As you might already know I’m running the Vitality London 10,000 at the end of May. Yep, that’s actually happening (well that’s the plan anyway!)

Not only will this be my first 10k race, it will be my first ever race. I’m part terrified, part excited, part terrified. Any previous attempts to run for more than 2 minutes have ended with me convincing myself I’m just not built for it, quickly returning to my comfort zone of long walks. After a knee operation and a long, boring wait for tendonitis to ease up I was happy just to be able to manage walking without pain. So there I remained, content with my daily mooch to the next village and back. A long enough walk to rack up a decent amount of steps and my daily therapy fix to boot- perfect.

This year however, when an opportunity came up for me to run as part of The Children’s Society team I knew it was just the motivation I needed to give running another try. It’s a wonderful charity that works with disadvantaged children dealing with a wide range of issues from child poverty to government policy, always working to transform the lives of vulnerable children. Being able to raise awareness for these guys through my blog while training for a 10k seemed like a no-brainer.

I thought I’d give you a little update on how it’s going so far. As the title of the post suggests, I’ve reached the halfway point of my training today *pats self on back* so I thought it might be useful for anyone considering the Couch – 5k to have a little insight of my experience.

Training

I decided to train using the C25K app as it’s the most well known, tried and tested approach I’m aware of. It’s tailored to first time runners and seems to have a good success rate. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it or used it before it’s an 8 week running plan aimed to gradually build up your running to 5k through a combination of walking and running, until you are strong enough to run without stopping. Each training session lasts between 30-40 minutes including a warm-up and cool-down.

Each week has three workouts ideally with a rest day in between which works perfectly for me. I drop the kids to school and do the workout straight after on Mon/Wed/Fri meaning I don’t have to worry about fitting a session in over the weekend.

I would say that before starting C25K my level of fitness was average. I’m no gym bunny but I do try to make a bit of an effort to move my body and keep active. The very first day of training was this: 5min warm up then alternate 60sec jogging and 90sec walking for 20min. Pff, I mean how hard can that be? Turns out it can be quite hard. Hmmm….so at that point I may have had a mild panic about how the hell I was ever going to run 10k if I was struggling on Day 1!

8 weeks on, I have somehow managed to learn to run continuously for 5k! I just have to read that back because it seems unbelievable to me. I’ve never before managed anywhere near that and I know for a fact that the only reason I haven’t quit weeks ago is because I can’t. I’ve committed to running 10k and not doing so, well it just isn’t an option.

When the voice on the app tells me to run, I run and I keep running until she says I can stop. It’s that simple. I reckon Forest Gump had the right idea you know, just keep on runnin’.

Some days are harder than others. In fact most days are a little bit hard but I’d liken it to childbirth in that once it’s over you feel an overwhelming sense of joy and completely forget the horror you’ve just endured.

Injury

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Lean in 15 (years!)

Happy 2017 lovely readers – I hope you’ve had a fantastic Christmas and New Year filled with family, fun, food and festivities!!

NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 20!

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Because I saw you sneak that third slice of pudding with custard AND double cream and now you must be punished OK? At least that’s how I used to see New Years Day. One seriously big dose of guilt and self-loathing after weeks of eating and drinking with abandon, sometimes (but not always) served with a side of optimistic enthusiasm for the new me. The ‘definitely being good from today’ mentality that year after year guaranteed the same outcome – TOTAL FAILURE! Yup, whatever half-cocked new foodie hogwash was topping the Amazon book charts, it was in my basket quicker than you could say alkaline acai bowl. Sometimes, if I was feeling really enthusiastic I’d even treat myself to the celebrity endorsed fitness DVD de rigeur to ensure optimum success. Six-pack sorted.

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She Loves Herself – Mum Muddling Through

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In 10 months of blogging I’ve been lucky enough to discover a whole bunch of awesome blogs and bloggers who have made me feel completely welcome in this strange new world of online shenanigans. I quickly discovered the world of linkies, an opportunity to share and discover blog posts and so once I’d figured out how they actually worked I decided to dip my toe in with #coolmumclub, which is co-hosted by Sarah at Mum Muddling Through. Ironically, while wandering around St Pancras this Saturday (en-route to Blogfest) Sarah was also the first of my online blogger buddies that I met in actual real life.  It’s just as well she recognised me really, what with her being an international woman of mystery and all I’d struggle to recognise her from her profile pic. This week she’s very kindly offered to take part in the series and talks about the different stages of womanhood and how these have directly influenced the relationship with her body and her view on body confidence in increasingly positive ways.

Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?

Now this is hard, isn’t it? If you asked me to name my three worst parts it’d be easy, but what I love about this series is how it’s challenging us to embrace positivity about our bodies so here goes nothin’.

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She Loves Herself – Five Little Doves

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Those of you who know of Laura through her blog Five Little Doves, know she’s not afraid to talk openly on the issues of stillbirth, miscarriage or chronic illness. Through her writing she raises awareness on these subjects in such an honest and deeply touching way. While body image isn’t a subject that features much it’s something that has had a huge impact on Laura in the past. It’s so great to have her take part in the series to share her own experience with body issues and how having children gave her the determination to confront them.

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Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?

Love is a difficult one, I struggle massively with body confidence and knew that this would be a challenge. I would say my eyes, mainly because they allow me to see my beautiful children and although I have more than a few laughter lines these days, they remind me of the fun we have had together. Am I allowed to say my womb? I am grateful every single day that it allowed me to carry five children, more than most are ever blessed with, and my heart as although it has been broken, it still loves unconditionally.

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She Loves Herself – Babies, Biscuits & Booze

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A massive thank you to everyone who read or commented on the first SLH post – I was so happy to see such a positive reaction and hope you all found it enjoyable and inspiring! This week we’re joined by Ellen from Babies, Biscuits & Booze who very kindly agreed to take part to show her support and sprinkle a few body positive vibes onto the interwebs…

Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?

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She Loves Herself -Meret Boxler

 

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Welcome to the first of my new series ‘She Loves Herself’! I’m so excited to start this series of regular guest posts sticking two fingers up to the world of body shaming and sharing some love when it comes to our fabulous bodies – squidgy bits and all!!

Kicking off the series is the wonderful Meret Boxler who describes herself as Former national radio DJ, freelance journalist, writer, speaker, podcaster, recovering lifetime yoyo-dieter/exercise addict/compulsive eater, self-love establisher, body image improver, body positivity promoter, Health At Every Size (HAES) advocate, size-diversity acceptance promoter, weight-stigma and fat-phobia fighter, women uniter, big hearted human,cat lover, book worm and friend.” 

I mean could she be any more perfect for a debut guest post? She also writes in TWO languages, German being her first (yep, and I struggle to blog once a week in English!) Meret lives in Zurich, Switzerland and is a relatively new ‘discovery’ for me. Having listened to her podcasts and read her blog I found her backstory and determination inspiring- in fact I have to thank her for the support which gave me the courage to stop being such a big baby and just get on with starting this series – thanks Meret!! So let’s hear what she had to say…

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**Coming Soon!** ‘She Loves Herself’

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One project I have been really keen to work on is a series relating to body positivity, something you’ll know I feel strongly about if you read my previous posts Why Body-Shamers Can Kiss My (Squidgy) Butt! and All the Carbs Please…. Both received many open and honest responses from readers who have been affected by external pressure to look a certain way, often leading to a negative body image. For some this was ‘just’ feeling unhappy in their own skin but for others it led to a warped relationship with food and even eating disorders.

Loving our family and friends comes so naturally but it seems there’s a lot of work to do when it comes to loving ourselves. As women we are often under pressure to meet unrealistically high standards in many aspects of life, but none more so than our physical appearance (and often we are our own worst critics). We poke and prod our squidgy bits, lusting after a toned tummy or leaner legs, after all we’ve had SO much practice at picking fault it comes naturally.

Whether it’s pressure from the media, society or even closer to home, there’s no sign of this quest for perfection going anywhere soon. As a mother I find this pretty depressing. The thought of my daughter growing up with so many negative messages about women’s bodies and the worry of what impact that will have makes me sad for her.

Although the recent trend for healthy rather than skinny is encouraging, even this has been taken to extremes in some cases and ultimately resulted in a ‘healthy’ eating and exercise regime which is basically another form of restrictive dieting under a different guise.

A movement towards body positivity is definitely growing but it is still FAR outweighed by the negative messages we see targeting women (and it is mainly women) in the public eye. So what can we do? Well the obvious solution would be to say “Knickers!” to the whole nonsense and get on with living life, but it’s HARD. It takes courage and self confidence that has been knocked out of some of us from an early age, year on year. BUT we are not blameless. If we are to change anything we need to take responsibility and we need to do things differently. In the same way that eventually body bashing becomes second nature we need to become better at BEING NICE TO OURSELVES! I know, crazy concept.

There is a wonderful Eleanor Roosevelt quote which I have used before but it says it perfectly:

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Next week I’ll post the first of my ‘She Loves Herself’ series, my own small step towards encouraging positivity and reinforcing the idea that we need to just stop the silliness, okay? I am so excited about my first guest and can’t wait to introduce you and share her answers – eek!

This series is all about ordinary people refusing to be made to feel inferior anymore and having the courage to say “Actually my body is pretty bloody brilliant and what I choose to do with it is my business!”. If this is a subject that you feel strongly about or have been affected by then I need your support people! If you’ve had enough of being told you need to change and would rather be part of something positive then why not take part in the series? Just leave a comment below or email me messandmerlot@outlook.com – I’d love to hear from you!

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