A few weeks ago I posted about how I had refound my running mojo, well since then I think I have caught the running bug because I just love it! Even though I have run in the past I don’t think I was having nearly as much fun, mainly because I was viewing it only as a form of fitness instead of a hobby too. I’ve also noticed that I have a lot to learn, there is much more to running than I realised and forgive me for being a geek or a ‘goodie-two-shoes,’ but I want to get it right, hence why I started the Couch to 5K programme.
Now I’m not professing to be a running expert, 6 weeks into the C25K programme because I’m far from that and I don’t think I ever want to be. I’m honestly running for the sheer enjoyment that it brings and I doubt I will ever be as good as some of the awe-inspiring running bloggers that we have in the UK like Anna, Jess, Mary and Mary to name a few, who smash PB’s and have far more experience in this field than me. I, on the other hand, am a complete novice and despite my past runs I knew that I wanted to start at the beginning and work my way up and starting with a 5K seemed like the best step forward for me.
There are plenty of different C25K programmes out there, but I decided to try my chances with the NHS version, which is free to download. For anyone wondering what you can expect, I’ve listed week by week what each run entails:
A brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then you will alternate 60 seconds of running, with 90 seconds of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.
A brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then you will alternate 90 seconds of running, with 2 minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.
A brisk 5-minute warm-up walk followed by 2 repetitions of the following; 90 seconds of running, 90 seconds of walking, 3 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking.
A brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 3 minutes of running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running, 2 ½ minutes walking, 3 minutes running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running.
- Run 1: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running.
- Run 2: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 8 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 8 minutes running.
- Run 3: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 20 minutes running, with no walking.
- Run 1: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 8 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running.
- Run 2: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 10 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 10 minutes running
- Run 3: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 25 minutes with no walking.
A brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 25 minutes of running.
A brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 28 minutes of running.
A brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 30 minutes of running.
Each week consists of 3 runs that assume that you are a new runner and start you off steady as you can see by week 5 things start to get more complicated with a variety of runs in one week. From week 7 onwards, you enter the domain of solid running without the distraction of the walking breaks. The programme also advises that you should take a rest day between each run. I tend to mix up the runs with yoga, walking or my postnatal Pilates class as well as my rest days as part of my weekly fitness routine and it works really well for me.
One of the things that I like about this programme is the ongoing narration from Laura, who has also tried the C25K podcast. You can play your own music whilst out running, a must for me to keep me motivated and she will chime in with words of encouragement, tips from her own experiences or updates on where you are on your current run and what to expect next. It’s like having your own running buddy in your ear and it’s great that your own music is playing and fades out and back in again once Laura has spoken.
For anyone looking to get into running I couldn’t recommend the C25K podcast enough as it really does make it all seem less daunting and is a fantastic starting point for any newbie runner like me. Admittedly, I was a little skeptical at first that a podcast, as opposed to a running coach, was going to give me enough motivation to get me out the door, but discovering how much I’ve progressed week to week is the biggest encouragement that I ever needed.
The programme really is well thought out and challenges you enough each week without making you feel like you’ve run a marathon after each run, which can be a little off-putting. It’s all about taking baby steps, which will eventually have you running without walking breaks for a full 30 minutes because you have unwittingly improved your stamina and endurance over the 9-week period. Burning out midway during a run is something that I struggled with in the past but this programme has taught me to pace myself and go at a steady and comfortable speed rather than steamroller ahead and exhaust all my energy stores in one go.
Another thing that was absolutely shocking was my running form, which is still a work in progress, but I feel that week by week it’s getting better. I’m trying to time my inward and outward breaths with 4 steps whilst running as advised by the podcast and it’s actually more difficult than it sounds. Another tip that I’m trying to work into my runs is to run with my heel first and then my toes to lessen the impact and strain on my knees. Generally, I tend to put all of my body weight on my toes when I run so trying to change this is rather challenging.
Now as I enter week 6 of the C25K programme, it’s definitely becoming more demanding, but in a good way. I know that it’s putting me in good stead for my 5K Race for Life in a few weeks time and I have since entered Run or Dye, another 5K race. After completing my 5K races, I’m going to set myself up and train for a 10K, half marathon and then my ultimate dream, a marathon. I am pinning all of my hopes on passing the ballot for the 2016 London Marathon so need to find a decent alternative in case luck isn’t on my side, because I am doubtful that I won’t get through.
I’m only at the beginning of my running story, but in a year’s time I still hope to be enjoying it as much as I do now with a couple of races under my belt and a marathon on the horizon.