Couch To 5K – Week 1

That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.

Forrest Gump

Once upon a time, a good few years back, I completed the Couch To 5K programme. For those of you who don’t know, it’s an app that takes you from absolute newbie runner to running 5k in just 9 weeks. At the beginning I wasn’t sure that 5k would be possible, especially in such a short space of time, but d’you know what it really works. By the time I’d finished that I went on to do the 10k app too.

That feels like a dim and distant memory now. I’d right back at square one and starting again. I’m doing it with my daughter, Jess, which is good because I don’t think I can trust myself to keep it up alone. I’m also taking you with me. I’m going to write a weekly diary type post to keep me accountable to someone else, and hopefully paint a picture of what you can expect if you want to give it a go. The highs and lows – I’m including it all – and let me tell you, I ain’t no runner! No really, I’m not. I’m not athletic and this will not be easy for me. Wish me luck.

So, the app is free. Basically you press play and it tells you when to run, when to walk, and gives you a bit of a pep talk and praise as you go. Who doesn’t like being told they’re doing a good job hey?

You can choose from a couple of celeb voices. I’ve got Sarah Millican talking me through it. I love her little northern voice coaching me. It’s funny how something like that is more motivating than having a random voice in your ear.

For week 1 basically you run for 1 minute and then walk for 90 seconds, and you do that 8 times. ‘Is that it???’ I hear you cry. Yep, that’s it, but when you’re unfit and not run for years it may as well have been the full 5k. 

cuoch to 5k logo

While we’re on the subject let’s just talk about something for a minute. I believe it’s ok to say you’re unfit. I know that I’ve not exercised too much in the last year or so, and with my job being sedentary I am aware that I need to move more. I’m 100% doing this for my physical health and absolutely not for weight loss. There will be no reporting of my weight in these blogs, just how I feel physically and any improvements or set backs I experience. Ok, now that’s done let’s get back to the running…..

 

Day 1

The first run was a Sunday morning. Jess and I headed off to the local leisure centre to use the running track but it’s lockdown and the track is shut off so down to the Bishops Meadows we went instead. For those not local to Herefordshire I’ll set the scene. It’s a big field in the centre of Hereford, a park some might say, with a children’s play area, tennis courts, and just lots of big open space to chill out in. It’s along the river too and it had been raining so the grass was a no go so we decided we’d run the river path.

There is an initial 5 minute warm up walk and as the end of that was coming near and the running was getting closer I felt a bit nervous. I’d done this before, I knew what to expect, but I also know that I’m not a natural runner. I worked so hard to do it the first time around so the thought of starting again was scary.

Anyway, run number 1, 1 minute, that’s all. Did it, smashed it, then spent the whole of the 90 second walk trying to get my breath back. Jeez, how was I going to do another 7 runs!!!??? Run 1, ok. Run 2, ok. Run 3, this is hard. Run 4, good lord is it over yet? HALF WAY???? IS THAT IT??? Run 5, slower. Run 6, someone seems to have put lead weights on my ankles. Run 7, nope! I didn’t complete run 7. I managed about 30 seconds and had to walk the rest. My feet were dragging and i just didn’t have the breath in me to keep running.

Have you ever been out of breath when you’ve got earphones in? All you can hear is your super loud heavy breathing. Other people must be able to hear that right? Then for run 8 I gave it the energy I had left in me. I wanted to finish on a high.

Day 1 was a mixture of feelings ranging through why am I doing this, I don’t think I can do this, ooh this feels good, what have I done, I absolutely cannot do this, to finally HELL YEAH I DID IT!!!!! Home, shower and then all the food. I was ravenous. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than eating after exercising. It’s so satisfying.

 

Day 2

A couple of days later. This time, being a work day, we went out in the evening. It was dark and bloody cold so we decided to just run on some local streets. Now, I should mention that we went out on a stomach full of food and we live in a very hilly area. What a bad move that was. Rookie error eating a meal before going running.

We thought that leaving it half hour would have been fine but no. Half way round my calves were killing from the hills, I think I hadn’t drank enough water through the day so dehydration will have added to that, and I wanted to throw up. I knew better really. I only have myself to blame. Take it from me folks, don’t exercise on a full stomach. A light snack for energy at least half hour before your run is a much better idea.

 

Day 3

Saturday morning, and I’d learnt some lessons from the previous 2 runs.

The track was open now so we headed over there, and I had a light breakfast (Weetabix for the carbs – you need carbs for energy), so that’s the space sorted and the appropriate meal sorted. That would set me up for a better run right? Right! That was the best run of the week.

My calves were sore towards the end, but I think that’s just because they’re not used to it yet, and I had good energy levels. I went home not feeling like I was going to die, and really pleased with my effort. So pleased to have ended the week on a high. I’m actually impressed that in the short space of a week I’ve gone from feeling totally breathless to actually feeling like I could do a bit more…….. if I really had to!

 

Thoughts on the week

This short space of time, and previous experience, reassures me to just have faith and trust the process. It’s not been easy, I didn’t manage everything, but I know that this is a well put together programme that works. Onwards to week 2………

Please note:  This post is intended to be a record of my own personal journey, and is in no way intended to be advice on what the reader should do. As always, please see a registered professional before making changes to your diet⁠ and/or exercise.

References and Links:

BBC Inspired, Couch To 5K: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/get-inspired/43501261