From can’t run for a bus to running 5k – you can do it.

It surprises people when I mention that I get out of breath climbing the stairs at work or when I say I couldn’t run for a bus. Folk assume because we cycle a lot or because we go to the gym that we must somehow be super-human and mega fit. Well, I’m really sorry to burst your bubble folks but we are human, just like you. Doing one form of exercise may mean you get good at that and your body gets used to it, but that doesn’t mean you can go compete in an Iron Man contest on a whim. However, there is good news, you can get good at new things. Yup, there is hope. 🙂 Which is good since we promised we’d write more about our journey to get healthy. Helps if we have some inspirational news.

One of the new things Kate and I tried out recently was the couch to 5K programme, a weekly routine designed to get you from couch potato to being able to run for 30 minutes over a 9 week period. And hey, I have to say, it works really well. It’s really sensibly put together and doesn’t ever ask too much of you, things just build up slowly and before you know it, you are a runner – Sarah Millican told me I’m a runner so it must be true!.

I must confess that I did run when I was a teenager, but a wealth of injuries over the years through various sports and my knees were wrecked. Running became painful, heck even walking on uneven ground sometimes sent electric shocks of pain through my knees so I had accepted that I wouldn’t be a runner again. The couch to 5k set up took me there gently, building the strength up in my knees gradually.  And I think that’s the key to this programme, its gradual.

Truthfully, what’s it like?

Truthfully, I was amazed at how well it worked. I mean it starts you off with running for just 1 minute and walking for 1 minute 30 secs. Yup 1 minute runs in the first week and I won’t lie, that 1 minute run felt like forever at times. But you know what, each week as the time running got longer, I never once thought, “this is too much, I’m not ready”.  I did think, “am I mental?”, “what the hell am I doing?” and occasionally, “OMG I need a new sports bra!” Well more than occasionally if I am honest, but every week my time built up and I found myself looking forward to my runs. Sometimes!

Week 1 – alternate 1 minute of running and 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes

Week 2 – alternate 1-and-a-half minutes of running with 2 minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes

Week 3 – 2 repetitions of 1-and-a-half minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, 3 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking

Week 4 – 3 minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 2-and-a-half minutes of walking, 3 minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running

Week 5 – There are 3 different runs this week:

  • Run 1: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running
  • Run 2: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 8 minutes of running, 5 minutes of walking and 8 minutes of running
  • Run 3: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 20 minutes of running, with no walking

Week 6 – There are 3 different runs this week:

  • Run 1: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 8 minutes of running, 8 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running
  • Run 2: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 10 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and 10 minutes of running
  • Run 3: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running with no walking

Week 7 – 25 minutes of running

Week 8 – 28 minutes of running

Week 9 – 30 minutes of running

Did you manage to run 5k by the end?

Yep, although the idea of the programme is to get you to run for 30 mins without stopping rather than a set distance. I can run the full 5k now (and could by week eight) but I’ve not yet managed it within the thirty minutes. Kate, however, nailed it, she is running her 5k in about 28 minutes now although I reckon that’s cause she has longer legs than me, and I’m sticking to that excuse!

Do you need any special kit?

Just some running shoes. They don’t even have to be fancy. The beauty of running I suppose is that you can run anywhere, you don’t need a special running track or fancy kit although we did start off running in the gym on a treadmill and Kate still does.  I’ve realised though, that I prefer running outdoors, but you can just wear any old comfortable clothes – see the previous comment about having a decent sports bra (at least for the ladies). If you are using the app then having a smartphone is a good idea so you can hear the cues and advice as you run.

I did wear elastic knee braces for the first few weeks but that was just me.

I used the app provided by the NHS and one of the features that really worked for me was getting to choose your “coach”, basically the voice who does the run cues (telling you when to run or walk). I chose Sarah Millican and she was brilliant. Kept calling me petal. Kate however used the podcasts which are less customisable and had someone called Laura guiding her through each run. She says she hates Laura LOL!

I also really liked the ticking off of runs on the app. I am such a box ticker. After each run you check it off and at the end of the week get a well done screen, that was great motivation for me.

images of the app screens

If you fancy trying it out, you can get the app here, it’s free: Couchto5k

So would you recommend it to a friend?

Yup absolutely and we have, our neighbours have even started their couch to 5k adventure. Although a bit of advice… don’t wear red, or orange, or pink…. cause your face is going to be puce for quite a lot of your runs and it’s not a good look. Or you know, you could run in the dark!

Celebrate our graduation run with a selfie!
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One Comment

  1. Lovely to read this – I did the same! Now go and get into your local parkrun – so much fun!

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