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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SHOVE YOUR SPIRALIZER – I’M OLDER AND WISER

I’ve written previously about my own experience with diets over the years but when I read recently that leading members of The National Obesity Forum had resigned following a disagreement about their latest diet report I found it unnerving. I mean, if these guys, the ones with the findings of numerous scientific trials and years of medical research under their noses can’t agree on basic guidelines for healthy eating then who can we rely on?!

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As we know there are no shortage of diet options to consider, from the multinational, multi-billion pound big boys (Weight Watchers, Slim Fast et all) with their processed but convenient offerings to the current wave of self-confessed, (often unqualified) healthy eating ‘foodie’ experts. You know, the ones with the bone-broth recipes and the trust fund? Well I’m the first to hold my hands up and admit to entrusting my diet to all the above and more, certain that it would result in me rocking my bikini on the beach this time.

spiralize

Eventually I realised I was basically funding the industry that was preying on my own insecurities and reinforcing the idea that physically I wasn’t quite up to scratch. It was probably the combination of getting older and having kids that made me realise 1. life’s short, I should probably stop wasting time weighing chia seeds and 2. suddenly wobbly bits aren’t as big a deal when you’re busy keeping humans alive.

My children are 5 and 7 and both understand the basic effects of healthy or (too much) unhealthy food already. Personally I believe this is important but I am all too aware how it can quickly turn into an obsession later in life, especially with girls – not to mention the emotional issues to boot. The best I can do is stress the importance of a healthy balance and raise them to be confident, clued-up individuals (no pressure!)

I completely understand a quick ’emergency health kick’ a few weeks prior to the holidays or following a month of existing on mince pies and green triangles for example, but when half the weekly food shop requires a trip to Holland & Barrett, sorry I’m out.

good fat

So, older and wiser (?) I have finally realised that what has been made to appear difficult, almost impossible all these years, is actually very, very simple. It’s not sexy, it doesn’t involve ground Peruvian root vegetable powder and it won’t get you a book deal. It IS common sense, moderation, a bit of self-discipline, a bit of exercise and a lot of positivity.

Below are a few sources of inspiration I enjoy using these days that don’t promote any type of extreme diets or require any form of food w*nkery. They cover a range of aspects that I consider to be important to my overall health, I hope you enjoy them too and find them useful:

**FOOD**

Food & Nonsense A registered dietitian, Helen tells it like it is and debunks the myths surrounding foods and fads. A really great site for anyone with an interest in health, nutrition and exercise.

Nic’s Nutrition Also a registered dietitian,  I have followed Nic online for a few years and although she does incorporate foods that could fit into the ‘trendy’ category, the recipes on the site are generally very doable and usually offer alternative ingredient options. Not a fan of protein powder? No problem, use hot chocolate powder instead! There are also recipes for special dietary requirements and many articles on nutrition.

**FITNESS**

Fitness Blender Free workouts for any fitness level – so many home workouts to choose from. You can tailor your programme to suit your own needs, oh did I mention,  IT’S COMPLETELY FREE?!

Food For Fitness I first discovered Scott through his podcasts when I was looking for something fitness related to listen to while I was out walking. His guests come from a wide range of health and fitness industry professions and cover topics such as motivation, eating disorders, mindfulness, food quackery and much more. Bonus points for the healthy, high protein recipes made from – wait for it – normal food!

**HEALTHY MIND**

The Moderation Movement brilliant, interesting, no BS articles with a common sense approach to health, fitness and body image. I could spend my entire day on this site!

Honest Mum Vicki’s site is jam packed full of articles on food, fashion, blogging tips, lifestyle, family (her adorable boys!) and much more. Most importantly for me, Vicki is all about encouraging women to believe in themselves and helping you to achieve success (however you define it). Her positivity is contagious, building women up and leading by example! This article actually inspired me to ‘go public’ as a blogger which was a huge step in self-belief for me, as someone with no writing experience.

Headspace “Gym membership for the mind”. A great little meditation app for when things are getting a bit much and you just need to Ctrl-Alt-Delete your mind. I used the free trial and then took out an annual subscription which gives you lots of options to choose from based on what you need. Cheaper than therapy and more socially acceptable than gin before lunchtime.

Deliciously Stella Yes I did spell it correctly, no I don’t mean the other one. If laughter is the best medicine then there is nobody better to tickle your ribs when it comes to mocking the current wave of Insta-foodies. Follow her on twitter or Pinterest for ‘alternative’ options to green juice or avocado on toast. Oh and she does podcasts too!

So there you have it. Now I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for similar no-nonsense inspiration or body positive champions. If you enjoyed this please feel free to comment below and share the love. X

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