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.
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.
My biggest fear at is that the impact on my wonky little knees will be more than they can cope with and I’ll end up with an injury that will put me out of action for a while- or worse still mean I can’t take part in the run full stop. At all times I am conscious of any slight niggle that I may feel and religiously stretch properly before and after each run to help prevent any muscle injuries.
I’ve read up (a lot!) on running techniques and ways to lessen the impact on knees in particular. I try to put it all into practice during my runs although I often get lost in my own little world and drift into auto-pilot.
For the first 7 weeks I didn’t really think too much about rest days and continued to do my usual long walk to get some exercise in between runs. Now that I’m running continually for a decent length of time I have definitely started to notice the impact on my joints so from now on I really need rest days to be exactly that. I’m planning stick to Pilates in between my weekday runs now as stronger core and thigh muscles are important to help support the back, knees and calf muscles.
Well now, I have to say it’s been hard to resist getting overexcited and spending an absolute fortune on ALL THE LOVELY STUFF. There are endless amounts of opportunities to splash to cash when it comes to running. So far the only things I’ve invested in are a new pair of trainers and a lightweight running jacket to hold my keys and phone (I find the armband holders really annoying and like to be able to look at my phone if I need to). I had a gait analysis at two separate running stores and highly recommend Sweatshop for a thorough job, free of charge.
Starting out that’s all you really need, apart from some clothes obviously. I had a few pieces of H&M kit which are affordable and great quality. If I think I’m going to continue running regularly after the 10k race then I’ll definitely treat myself to a few nice pieces.
I don’t own a Fitbit or a Garmin because I don’t need one just yet. At the moment my only goal is to survive the run not smash my PB.
I’ve always been far too self conscious to set off on a run anywhere where I might bump into anyone I know – God forbid! I’m incredibly lucky to have a beautiful country park only a 10min drive from my house and I swear this has made the whole C25K so much more bearable. The thought of ever running on a treadmill now I’ve experienced running in the great outdoors really does not appeal to me! Today the sun shone, the sky was bright blue and I met a big fat bunny rabbit, a stoat and a duck along the way – no gym can compete with that right?
Actually I wasn’t going to mention this because you might all think running is causing me to lose my marbles but… everyday since I’ve started running this route a little robin pops up somewhere along the way, just once, and then off he goes again. Cute right? I swear that little fella is cheering me on, well that’s what I like to think anyway. Today when I finished running it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen my little red breasted pal and within seconds guess what? No, I’m not making it up- two of them appeared right there on the very last tree before I turned off the path.
If you’re looking for suitable routes near you this is a brilliantly helpful website.
At this stage I wouldn’t expect to notice any obvious physical changes like weight loss or muscle tone. I haven’t made any changes to my diet and a 30min run three times a week is hardly an extreme workout. Emotionally however I’ve found the past 8 weeks have had a huge impact. 5k may seem like a doddle to seasoned runners but for me it’s been a challenge and I’ve used my mind to get me through the hard parts just as much as I’ve used my body. I’ve always considered exercise my therapy but completing C25K has given me a sense of pride that I’m almost afraid to acknowledge. Does that sound weird?
Anyway, enough of me and my big head. I hope you’ve found this post in some way useful if you’re considering getting into running. If there’s anything I’ve missed or you would like to know just comment below.
Next up: Couch-10k- wish me luck!
If you would like to donate to The Children’s Society by sponsoring me for the Vitality London 10,000 you can do so via the button below.