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

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.

Rest days

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.

Running Gear

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.

Routes

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.

 

Benefits

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.

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40 Comments

  1. If you’ve been working out regularly, you’ve already discovered it: No matter how good or bad you feel at any given moment, exercise will make you feel better. And it goes beyond just the “runner’s high”—that rush of feel-good hormones known as endocannabinoids.
    Mary Janes recently posted…Best Inflatable Kayak Reviews 2017My Profile

  2. Well done and totally agree c25k is such a good app I will def resume it when I’m allowed to run again i definetly find running therapeutic just half hour of me the air no children no one needing me just me makes me a happier person well done you signing up for the 10k amazeballs xx

  3. Well done you! I did a similar thing a few years ago with a similar app. Wondered how I would ever achieve 10k after my first run sweating blood. I got there! Can I recommend one thing? I’m a sports massage therapist and most, nearly all, knee problems can be helped by loosening the muscles above the knee, so either a good deep tissue massage or using a foam roller can REALLY help. Good luck!

  4. Sounds like you’ve been doing great, and good luck carrying on. Me and my daughter are doing a 5k colour run in July and so it’s my mission to get her to be able to run before then! Also agree H&M is good for cheapie gym bits! Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays x
    Fran Back With A Bump recently posted…Marvellous Mondays!My Profile

  5. Couch 2 5k is great isn’t it. I love the fact it requires no thought you just do what they tell you! Makes it easy! Good luck with your 10k. #MarvMondays

  6. Well done for completeing it! I really, really need to start doing this! I’ve done a few 5k parkruns this year, but I do walk most of it (pushing a buggy too… it’s hard work!) Now the evenings are a bit brighter I might start up a C25K when my husband gets home of an evening 🙂 #dreamteam

  7. I did almost exactly this last year. I started C25k in April, and ran my first ever race, a 10k in October! I managed it, so you definitely can too. I really struggled with week1 of c25k and didn’t think I’d ever make it. But I did. I also did pilates in between runs, I found it helped build strength really well.

    Then I totally stopped running and started c25k again yesterday to try and give myself some structure. Not anywhere near as hard as the first time, but still more uncomfortable than i would have hoped!

    1. Oh how funny yes that does sound very similar to me! Thanks Donna it seemed like such an impossible task on day 1 but I am shocked at how quickly I’ve progressed using the app. Having the race as motivation has 100% kept me going this time. Good luck with the running, I’m sure you’ll build up stamina pretty quickly again. x

  8. You have certainly made it sound less scary. I don’t exercise at all and know I should. That day 1 really doesn’t sound too bad but I know I would be flattened in reality. I love that you have a robin cheering you on.
    #BigPinkLink

    1. It’s funny isn’t it, run for 1 minute sounds easy but when you haven’t run for, er, years it takes a while to build up the stamina again! Ahh I know my little robin, so cute!

  9. I’m currently on week three of C25K. I think the programme I’m doing is over 9 weeks not 8, so I’m nearly 1/3 through. I need to find a 5K local to me to join in a couple of months time to help keep me motivated.

    I’m finding it challenging but feels so good each time I complete a run. I tried something similar a few years ago and never made it all the way through. I’m pretty determind to complete it this time though.

    I used to walk a lot pre-motherhood but pushing a buggy and carrying a child aggravated a back/ shoulder problem. So I need a form of exercise I can do regularly that doesn’t involve pushing a kid around!

    Good luck for your 10 K.

    #dreamteam

    1. Signing up for the race has made a HUGE difference so yes you’re right to do that. It gives you that push you need on a dark rainy day when all you want to do is stay in your pjs and I always feel better for getting out for a run. Good luck with the training! 🙂

    1. Did you?! That’s so nice to hear thank you, I’m really looking forward to it. I love London anyway so just the opportunity do be able to run such a fab course has me excited already 🙂 Ha ha yes the medal and vest – doesn’t quite seem real that I could ever get a medal for something remotely sport related so that’s exciting too! 🙂

    1. Thanks Sinead. Yes you’re so close! It does feel good doesn’t it, not the actual running, that sucks, just being able to see progress and achieve something! Signing up for the race is the ONLY thing that has spurred me on to get my bum out there on cold days when I really don’t want to – it definitely works!

  10. Woohoo go you 🙂 i use those apps too and they are fab. Couch to 10k is as fun as the 5k one! I didnt my first 10k for Charity last september and it was fab!! Good luck with it all 🙂 xx #bloggerclubuk

    1. Thanks Hannah! They really do work don’t they? Signing up for a race has really helped too, I never would have stuck at it otherwise. Congrats on your 10k, I’m looking forward to mine even though I’m not quite race fit yet 🙂

  11. I’m loving all the running posts on #coolmumclub lately – if only we could go for a run together! I’m also signed up for my first 10K but have been running off and on for a few years. This year I have really upped my game in terms of distance though, and trying new routes. I’m actually really loving it – and as you say, being out in the open beats the gym any day, especially at this time of year.
    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub

    1. Wouldn’t that be amazing if we could?! Glad to hear you’re enjoying it and have a race to look forward to. It really is strangely addictive despite the hard work 🙂 x

  12. Ahh!! Well done! Fab news that you’ve reached 5k in just 8 weeks. I can still only do 4K after a year of off and on running! I completely agree that you can’t beat the outdoors and I love the bit about your own personal cheerleading robin! Good luck with the 10k. What a brilliant achievement. #BigPinkLink x
    Cheryl@TeaorWine recently posted…It’s Just A PhaseMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much Cheryl – I know for certain that if I hadn’t signed up for a race I wouldn’t have stuck with it. It’s the best incentive for dragging myself out in the rain when I really just want to stay in my pjs! I never regret it though 🙂 x

  13. What I can tell you, as a former runner, is that the rush of endorphins you will experience will eradicate all pain and make you stronger and faster! Enjoy every minute of it. Then treat yourself well. You have earned it! <3 #bigpinklink

  14. Good for you lovely!! Sounds like you’re going to do brilliantly, not sure I would even have the guts to sign up for a 10K run let alone actually start training for one!! Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

    1. Thanks Hannah! I’ve never signed up for a race before so no idea what made me sign up for a 10k?! 🙂 It’s certainly an incentive to get my bum out there training though, especially when I reeeeealy don’t want to! x

  15. Wow Charlie this is so fab to read – congratulations! You are one of my blog inspirations and this couldn’t have come at a more apt time. I have a post coming out in the morning (with a little mention for you and your “she loves herself” series too I might add). I did my very first C25K session on Saturday morning and I didn’t keel over in a heap which is a huge bonus! I’ll be out again in the morning with my second set. I’ll be looking out for robins as I go! Thanks for linking with #DreamTeam x

    1. Ooh that’s spooky isn’t it? – great cakey minds think alike 🙂 Congratulations on not keeling over in a heap, every run is just basically that when you think about it right?? Ahh yes I’ll have to tell Robin to send a mate to cheer you on 😉 Looking forward to an update soon xx (“blog inspirations” – making me blush here!) xx

  16. Ah, well done you!! It’s encouraging to know that someone who feels the same as I do about running and exercise is actually making great progress and going for it!

  17. Good on you Charlie. I like you have dodgy knees accentuated by my age and gave up running over a decade ago but nothing beats the way it makes you feel and it’s free. Interested to hear about C25K – will check that out for sure. In the meantime good luck!
    #coolmumclub

    1. Thanks Jo – yes as hard as it may be there is definitely a really good feeling about running out in the open. Thanks for reading and commenting x

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