Couch to 5k: 1st Third

So, last year, I rather foolishly wrote a blog about starting up on the Couch to 5k plan again. This is a training programme where over the course of 9 weeks you build up stamina and fitness until you can run for 30 minutes, where you should be around the 5k mark.

I completed it back in 2011-12, and really loved it. For about eighteen months I ran three or four times a week, and did a 5k for Sport Relief. Strangely, considering I’ve never enjoyed sport (pool and kickabouts aside), running became part of my weekly routine and I got to the stage where I was running an hour a few times a week. I loved it, feeling healthier and better about myself it gave me a chance to clear my head and some alone time.

Unfortunately, my running ground to a halt when I returned to uni, as I struggled to get into the groove of fitting in my runs and worrying about what the other students would think of me returning a sweaty mess. It was unbelievably stupid and I lost all the benefits of the work I’d put in.

Last year, having started walking more thanks to (a) having a dog and (b) doing the Comic Relief Kilimanjaro step challenge, I decided I really missed those exercising sessions and that getting out and being active wasn’t just good for me physically but improved my mental health too. I don’t do well moping around the house, and being lazy just makes me feel crappier about myself.

So, I wrote a blog here about how I was getting back to running.

I then did two runs and stopped. In my defence, both runs went badly. I tried taking Ozzy with me on one, but he almost tripped me up, couldn’t work out why I kept changing pace and seemed baffled by the sight of me running, which in fairness was a new experience for me. The second time I left Oz at the house and set off only to get cramp shortly before the halfway point. I hadn’t stretched, which was dumb.

These two knocked my confidence and I decided to just focus on walking. This has helped me feel better and with the weight loss, but I still felt like I was chickening out. I’m heavier now than when I started the first programme and several years older. I was worried that I’d fail.

But then this year my little sister approached me with a proposition. She wants to get fitter too, and had heard about a 5k run we could do to raise money for Ty Hafan, the Welsh children’s hospice. It was taking place in September, so we would have five months to train for it.

I was on board, knowing that this would give me the motivation to train and help with my bucket list item to raise £1million for charities. WoM was in too, and so Big Hero 3 was born. Why Big Hero 3? Well, the run takes place in Disneyland Paris, so we wanted a Disney themed team name.

Three weeks ago, I pulled on my trainers, put in my headphones and listened to Sarah Millican guide me through the opening session.

sarah millican

The first week sees alternating 60 second runs and 90 second walks, meaning you run for 8 minutes total. I ran with WoM, and it went rather well. It was tiring, and more running than I’d done in a while, but the programme is structured cleverly so while it was a challenge, it was still achievable. Two days later, we were out again and it was a bit easier.

The following week steps up to 90 seconds of running and the same time walking. The step up in difficulty was noticeable, but again, manageable. I did however realise that the initial route WoM had chosen wouldn’t work. It was a loop, but not on the flat. I’d run on a flat for a while, then a downhill, then a shorter flat period before a steeper incline. It was alright, but the uphill section was knackering me.

The flatter route I found was easier, but did mean I was nearer busier roads and felt self conscious as people drove by. With Sarah and some Disney tunes in my ears, I tried to push these thoughts to one side and just focus on my running. It just about worked.

Week 3 was a bigger step up, going to running two of the following sets- run for 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds, run 3 minutes. Longer distances which did push my stamina a bit and I found harder, but yesterday morning, I finished the week.

c25k wk3 r3

I’m feeling quite good about myself at the moment. I’m proud that I’ve stuck with it and I do feel my fitness slowly improving. While I’m tired at the end of each session, it’s the good kind of tired. The tired you get when you know you’ve worked hard at something. That, coupled with my sense of achievement is helping me through.

The weight loss has slowed of late, and I can’t quite work out why. I’m hoping the running will help this and focus me on eating better. This is what happened the first time around anyway.

Fitting in the runs around work is a challenge, as I seem to have irritated my bosses who are responding with some of the crappest scheduling I’ve ever seen. But, I can work around this.

I’ve worked out a schedule for my next couple of runs, but am then away for a week, so week 4 may take longer than planned to complete. I’m thinking of doing the first 2 runs this week, having the break and then doing week 4 again in it’s entirety when I get back, hoping that one week off (where I will be fairly active) won’t set me back too far.

I’ll keep you up to date with the developments. I’m going to write about it here, but I held off because I didn’t want to document another failure if something went wrong.

If you would like to sponsor Big Hero 3, here’s where you can do that.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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