I did it, I did it!!

The last week of the couch to 5K programme!  Amazing but true.

This week is three runs of thirty minutes each.  For run number one we went to a Pilates class before going down to the coast.  The class seemed hard enough itself never mind following it with a run.  Whose idea was that?  Ah, sadly it was mine so no one to blame but myself!  The first ten minutes or so felt really hard.  My legs were heavy and slow and the whole thing felt like a struggle.  But the sun was shining and the tide was out and children were running or building castles on the sand.  I had the Strava app running again on my phone to see if I could run any faster.  To be honest the idea of running any faster at all seemed ludicrous.  The prom is made of concrete sections, all the same size.  Ian had mentioned to me the idea of using this to count my strides and to see if I could lengthen  my stride.  I found that in the second ten minutes I could manage to do this, going from seven strides to six for the same distance.  This felt better in some ways in that I seemed to be moving forward better but as I began to tire it seemed to need even more energy.  So the last ten minutes of my half hour were run slowly and with tired legs.  But I did it and Strava tells me that my fastest pace this time was a 13.2 minute mile!  I am ridiculously pleased to have improved like this every time in the last three runs.  And as always, even though it was hard while I was doing it, I felt great afterwards.

So I have not arrived at the mythical state where it begins to be easier!  But it is a little bit faster and I did run for thirty minutes - thirty minutes!!!

Run two of this last week of the programme had to be done while I was visiting younger son and his family down in Devon.  They live in the South Hams which is very lovely but very up and down.  Do you know it?  I identified a place to run where I could treat the hilly bit as my walking warm up and run on a flatter area down by a river but this plan was thwarted by a puddle so huge on the tiny lane going down that I couldn't work out any way of getting through it without ending up with my running shoes and socks absolutely soaked.  So I turned the other way and ran a run of gentle up and downs on the narrow lanes, wimping out when I reached a steep hill down.  There was no way I could imagine myself running back up.  And this was the first run which has felt a bit more ok.  Yes, I was out of breath in the first ten minutes or so and my legs felt slow but I fell into my stride, there were primroses in the banks and the birds were singing.  It was hard work but sometime in the middle ten minutes I felt good.  Maybe I was turning a corner and running would become easier?

Run 3 of week 9 was the very last of the couch to 5k programme.  I could hardly believe I had got there.  I wanted to run on Lady Bagot's Drive because I have done it three or four times before and I felt that the mixture of flat and gentle ascent was doable.  Having driven a six hundred mile round trip to Chris's and back over the weekend my shoulders were tense and stiff so I decided to do a yoga class this morning.  I was not impressed to find that the class seemed hard.  There are moves I struggle to do in yoga but generally I know what I can do and I don't usually find myself thinking the classes are hard.  But today we did quite a lot of dog down (which I am not good at because my hamstrings are incredibly tight) and plank (which I am not good at because I am not strong enough).  There were the usual good bits and as always I finished the class feeling ironed out and calm.  An early lunch, an hour or two to let the lunch go down and then a run was the plan.  Ian was running today too which always seems good even though we do not attempt to run together because his pace is way faster than mine.

The first ten minutes were not good again.  I huffed and puffed and my legs felt tired and heavy.  I asked myself why on earth had I started this?  I knew I couldn't give up now but it was tempting.  Then gradually I began to find  my stride and the next five minutes were a bit better and then suddenly it felt fine.  Yes I was working hard, and breathing hard but my legs were better and it felt as if I could stop counting the minutes down to finishing and look around me.  The river was running full and fast, deep green moss folded the treetrunks down to the water.  I could see that in a few weeks the banks would be covered in wild garlic.  I turned at the halfway bell and ran back, trying to lengthen my stride and move my arms to keep me going.  Towards the end of the run there is an incline which I laboured up, reminding myself that when I got to the top it would be downhill all the way.  I was pretty sure that I might be going a little faster (in a slow sort of way!) and was not impressed to find when the voice of Jo Whiley told me I had done my thirty minutes to find that Strava had not been running so I could not check my pace and distance.  For a couple of minutes I stomped and stropped.  All that running and I could not tell if I had gone any faster!  Never mind, there will be another run to do that.  Time to try to enjoy what I had done!

And so there we are, I have completed the programme and I can run for thirty minutes without stopping!  I never thought I would be able to when I started.  It is truly amazing!  I am sixty four.  I am a stone overweight.  I have never been a runner.  At school my greatest achievements in sport were the variety of ways I found to skive off and sit in the sun by the tennis courts.  But I am almost persuaded that I might be able to enjoy running.  I am nowhere near running 5k in thirty minutes.  At my present pace I think it would take me closer to forty five minutes than thirty but that gives me something more to aim for.

So how does it feel after nine weeks of learning to run and what do I think about the whole thing?  I have not reached the magic stage where running is easy, that is for sure!  But I am having the odd glimpse into a world where it might happen if I keep going.  I do feel stronger and more energetic when I am not running, if that makes any sense.  I haven't lost a lot of weight, about 4 lbs, but I have lost an inch and a half from my waist and an inch from my hips .  I recover faster, even though I still find running hard.  And I know that it makes me feel good afterwards!  It would seem daft to have put this time and effort into getting this far and not to continue so I am in the first instance going to run three times a week trying to get a bit faster and a bit further.  I had intended at first just to repeat week nine of the programme for three weeks or so but, taking advice from older daughter who is a runner and from other blogs and fitness programmes, I think it might be better to mix it up a bit.  So maybe I will do one shorter and faster run, one of the thirty minute ones varying where I go and perhaps one where I add a couple of minutes to the running time.  I would love to do a 5k Parkrun but I don't think I am quite there yet.  Maybe I can manage one in about a month.  Wouldn't that be something?

So if you have ever wondered whether you might try getting fitter I would say give Couch to 5k a go.  It is so cleverly put together that it eases you into running with baby steps and the satisfaction in finding you can do something that you thought was out of reach is immense.  Have a go.  If I can do it, you can do it!


Comments

  1. Fantastic news. Keeping up with the program is a major achievement. A short and a long run sounds the way to go and gradually adding a couple of minutes extra to your run each week. You’ll reach 5 K in no time. Then the Park Run! B x

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    1. Thanks Barbara! I have returned to your blog several times during this process and it's been good to read how it was for someone else. It's also inspiring to see what you are doing now!

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  2. Congratulations - that is a real achievement! Sounds like you might start to enjoy the whole process of running! Well done.

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    1. Thank you sue. It will be great if I can achieve the holy grail of running and finding it easy! Watch this space!

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  3. Congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment.

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    1. Thank you so much. I am so so pleased to have done it!

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you Frances! Knowing that you are a runner (do I dare to say too?) makes that special.

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  5. Huge congratulations! Amazing! xxx 😊🏃🏼‍♀️

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    1. Thanks so much. Who knew what you could do if you stuck with it? xx

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  6. Well done! I won't be trying it myself though!

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    1. Thank you! Each to her own, but I would never have thought it!

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  7. Full of admiration for your persistence and achievement!

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    1. Thanks Diana. I think it helped to have made a public declaration of intent!

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  8. Well done indeed! We are the same age. I used to run a little each day but don't think my knees would stand the impact now on the unforgiving pavements that I would have to run on. Your scenery sounds worth going out for.

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    1. Thanks Lucille. I know we are lucky not to have to run on pavements. Mostly it is tracks although I did find grass and sand to run on down by the sea. Now I just have to find a way to keep it up!

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  9. Huge congratulations! I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your account of your C25K experience. It is a brilliant programme. I taught it last year and now lead a running group that grew out of it. Several of the members have just completed their first ten mile run as training for a half marathon they are doing in May. We often remember back to day one of C25K which was last April when they all stared at me in horror as I told them they'd be running for 60 seconds! The idea then of running for 30 minutes by the end of the nine weeks seemed impossible to them, and now they're running for two hours. If you stick at it, run regularly (3 times a week with rest days between is ideal) you'll be even more amazed at what you can achieve. It takes time but being consistent with the training is the key to building stamina and muscle condition. My experience with teaching the course is that achieving 5k by week 9 is unrealistic for the majority of people- most of my runners found it took them between 35-45 minutes to do that distance, so I'm not surprised you had a similar experience. I do think you'd be fine to run 5k now though and parkrun is a fantastic way to do this. Good luck and I look forward with interest to hearing what you achieve. A 10k race perhaps....? xx

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    1. Thank you ct. That's really encouraging! I'm going to have a go at my first park run on Saturday. Gulp!

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  10. Just to clarify- running 5k in 30 minutes was unrealistic for my group, but everyone managed to do a 5k parkrun at the end of week 9 it just took them longer than 30 mins!

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