Couch to 5k – What Next?

It’s been a while since I’ve finished the C25K plan, so I thought I’d give you an update on what I’ve done since.

I started the Couch to 5k Plus plan the NHS does straight away to try to make sure I didn’t lose focus. I’m not (yet) someone who just runs for the sheer pleasure of it, so I knew I had to find a way to keep running without the plan.

The only run of these I’ve tried so far is Stepping Stones, a (supposedly, more on this later) 30 minute run which gives you certain beats to run to to try to increase your speed (150, 155 and 160 bpm). I’ve done it four times now, and you know what? I hate it.

Firstly, I have no rhythm. I can never figure out whether I’m running too fast, too slow or at the right pace and even when Laura is counting the beats over the music, I still struggle to keep in time. I think part of the reason I liked the original plan was that I could go at my own pace, increasing or decreasing speed as needed. I know that I need a challenge to help me progress, but not one that makes me feel like I can’t even count properly.

Secondly, the lie. Laura says at the start and end that it’s a 30 minute run, but I’d noticed I wasn’t anywhere close to as far as I’d run with the last 30 minute C25K podcast. A couple of runs later, I figured it out. One of the tracks isn’t the five minutes she says it is. Laura actually spells it out at the 20 minute mark, saying you’ve got two minutes at this pace before the final five minute faster burst. The run can only be 27 minutes. Although I’ve completed the run every time, there isn’t as much of a sense of achievement.

Thirdly, I’m in a rut. The C25K+ podcasts have great intentions, but there’s not much to keep you coming back to them, hence why I’ve only run four times in two weeks.

So what can I do from here?

I’ve decided to go for the 5k. Richard Whitehead, the Paralympic champion, is running 40 marathons in 40 days with a 5k thrown in in his hometown of Nottingham. Although we haven’t formally signed up yet, my boyfriend and I are planning to take part. This should give me something to aim for. He’s not run since we quit our gym in November, but he cycles a lot so should have good base fitness. He’s also said he’ll come on a few morning runs with me to see what he can do.

I’ve also bought an arm-strap for my phone so I can try a few apps like RunKeeper to see if that keeps me entertained. I’ve been running with just an iPod Shuffle until now so it’ll be nice to try something different and run with my own music. Any recommendations of music and/or apps would be appreciated.

I’m also planning on attending a Parkrun. I had a look at the last results for our nearest race and the vast majority of people are running way faster than I could, which kind of puts me off a bit although I know it shouldn’t. The only people running roughly the same time I think I could run the distance (33-35 minutes ish) are either much older or much younger than me. Hopefully I’d be able to use the other runners to push me to go faster.

Do you have any other suggestions to keep me motivated?

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Couch to 5k – Mission Accomplished

Well, I may suck at keeping up a regular blog, but what I can do is finish Couch to 5k!

Here’s a quick breakdown of Weeks 7, 8 and 9.

Week 7 went fairly well, it was a week of 25 minute runs and that was what the last run of Week 6 had been so I knew I could cope with it. I changed my route after the second run. The tail end of my route was always along a main road and I was getting fed up with having to turn the volume right up on my iPod to hear anything and there were always so many pedestrians around for me to dodge. Instead, I decided to run until the halfway alert from Laura, and just turn back at a convenient point by running round the cul-de-sacs. This worked a lot better as the roads are much quieter, and it also makes me feel a bit better on the way back knowing how far there is to go.

The last run of Week 7 was right when the heatwave started and I thought I was going to throw up or pass out. Although I finished the run, I decided to head into town and get myself some 3/4 length leggings and a sleeveless top to replace my full length trousers and sports t-shirts. The guy at Sports Direct managed to leave the big plastic security tag in the leggings though, so me and my boyfriend spent half the men’s Wimbledon final trying to get it apart. We managed in the end with just a couple of rubber bands and some wire cutters. Thanks for the advice, Internet! The new clothes made a huge amount of difference to my running. My legs feel lighter and I feel like I can keep going faster for longer.

This continued into Week 8, all 28 minute runs. Every time I ran, I went just a little bit further. The heat continued but I was getting used to it. I went out a little earlier to try to beat the heat and ended up finding another milestone to target during my runs, a lady who’s always walking that way at the same time every day! I had another near death experience towards the end of the last run though when I started choking, but luckily I managed to keep it going and get to the end.

Which leaves Week 9, three 30 minute runs. I found the music for this week a lot better than in some of the previous weeks. For me, the songs that came on around halfway and with 5 minutes to go were much more motivating and pushed me to keep going. I was surprised to find I didn’t feel too tired at the end of the first one, more amazed that I’d gone from barely being able to run for a minute to going for 30 minutes without a break. I really felt like I’d achieved something and it wasn’t as hard to get out of bed to go for the second run. Today was my final run and I decided to try to push myself to see how far I could go. I wasn’t expecting to do the full 5k, but I’ve measured it on Google Earth and it was about 4.4k in the end, which isn’t something to be sniffed at as far as I’m concerned.

I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do this without the podcast, I didn’t have the belief in my body’s capability and probably wouldn’t have had the motivation to finish. But what am I going to do now?

Well, there’s a Parkrun not too far from me that I’ve been thinking of doing for a little while now. It’ll be nice to actually clock a PB for 5k, my current one was about 45 minutes when I did the Race for Life on my 18th birthday (I’m now 26) with no training and walking part of the way.

I’m probably going to take on the C25K+ podcasts from the NHS as they provided this series. Hopefully I’ll be running 5k within 30 minutes soon. I’ve also only been using my iPod Shuffle, so I might get an arm strap for my phone and download Runkeeper or something like it. Any suggestions, folks?

So am I a running convert? I would have to say yes! Couldn’t see myself saying that 9 weeks ago! Thanks to all of the people who’ve posted helpful comments on here, looking forward to staying in touch!

 

 

Couch to 5k – A Bit of a Slip

Oops, completely missed blogging Week 6! After having very little work come in for a few weeks, I was suddenly swamped and didn’t have time to write.

As with Week 5, it was three different runs:

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

I really did struggle with motivation throughout the week. I think it may have been simply being too tired from working my  metaphorical butt off all day to work my physical butt off. It might also have been a bit psychological, that I had achieved the massive goal of 20 minutes and would have been relatively happy to have stopped there.

The first run was more difficult than I was expecting. After managing the 20 minute run and feeling so good after, I was feeling really confident, thinking “5 minutes? Pfft, easy!”. Looking back on it, I probably went out too hard and mis-paced it. But I finished, and that’s the important thing.

I meant to do the second run after one day’s rest, but couldn’t persuade myself to get out of bed and go and ended up skipping a day. This meant my next run was back in Portsmouth when I went to stay with my family for the weekend for my Nan’s and best friend’s birthdays. Although the area definitely isn’t unfamiliar, I’ve only ever run down there once early in the programme. I didn’t have any of my normal milestones to look out for (warm-up ends at that lamppost, 5 minutes gets me to the pub…) and the weather was pretty sucky. Where it’s on the coast, the breeze is a bit stronger than up here in Nottingham and I was running along the shoreline so had the lovely smell of drying seaweed to accompany me round. It wasn’t until the second part of the run that the rain started to come down though. I haven’t run in much more than spitting rain before and it put me off my stride a bit, but again – I FINISHED. Even if I did have to completely redo my hair before taking my Nan for high tea at a posh hotel!

My third run should have been a couple of days later in Portsmouth, but again, I decided against running that morning. I needed to visit my Nan in the morning before the three hour drive home and then finish off some work so I decided to just get on with my day. So that pushed it to the start of what should have been Week 7. I was only a day out though, and I’ve been running every other day this week to get back on track. The run itself didn’t go too badly. The 20 minute confidence boost was still there and where I’d had a couple of days’ rest, I was ready to go. The worst part was that some flowers have bloomed at the very end of my route which smell so bad they almost choked me! My legs were pretty jellified at the end, but I was really pleased that I’d made it. At the end of the podcast, Laura tells you that you are officially a runner now, so I’ve taken that into this week. As always, it’s as much about the psychology as the physical fitness.

Couch to 5k – Maybe I’m a Morning Person After All

It’s so easy to get behind on these posts! Maybe it’s because running is already becoming part of my routine so I forget to write about my progress. I’ve also just started a big freelance project and after a quiet few weeks I’m actually getting plenty of work to do.

So where was I? Apparently one run away from Week 4. I did my last run of Week 3 fairly early (for me) on a Sunday morning. And what a difference it made!

I normally ran in the late afternoon after giving my lunch a few hours to go down, but mornings are definitely a better fit for me.

  • I don’t get that nagging feeling that I need to run all day
  • I don’t have to have two showers a day – saving money!
  • I don’t get as hot and sweaty and gross as it’s cooler outside
  • I can get on with my day

The only downside is that I run past two schools, so I have to time it right on a weekday to make sure there’s enough room on the road!

Last time I was pretty chuffed that I could run 3 minutes, but now I’m running 5 relatively comfortably! I thought that Week 3-4 would be a massive jump and spent some time looking round the forum to see if I was the only one and was glad to see I wasn’t alone. I’ve actually been doing this every week as the progression seems to be really quick, but I’m learning to trust the podcasts and my own legs.

I was very surprised that during the recovery walk after the first 3 minute run, I found myself wishing the time away so that I could get on and see if I could do the 5 minutes. The feeling at the end of that first run was great, I can’t remember the last time I ran for anything near that amount of time!

I overran my house for the first time this week! Normally I do a loop that gets me back to my house just as the cool down is starting, but I still had about 2 and a half minutes of running to go when I hit that point in this run. It’s a clear sign that I’m running further and pushing myself harder, especially as I overran by a slightly longer distance each time.

My breathing is definitely getting better, I went through all of Week 4 without taking my inhaler on the way round. I’m finding that the only time I feel myself getting out of breath is when I focus on that. I think I’m starting to find the zone runners seem to get into where their body knows what it’s doing and they can just run and run and run.

I started Week 5 this morning and there are three different runs this week. Today’s was  three 5 minute runs with 3 minutes walks between them. I like all the little milestones you get doing the plan (first 3 minute run, first 5 minute run…) and this week there are two! My next run will include two 8 minute runs and after that it’s the dreaded 20 minute one. I’m feeling a bit nervous about both of them (especially the 20 minutes!), but as I said before, I’ll trust the plan and give it my best shot!

Couch to 5k – Long Overdue

Last time I wrote, I’d just started Week 2 of the C25K plan. I’m now one run away from Week 4!

The week 2 runs got a lot easier as the weather cleared up. I found myself covering a bit more distance each time which is a great moral booster. Another bonus was completing my first run without having to take my inhaler part way round. I quite liked the music on week 2 as well, especially the first run which was a not-so subtle remix of this classic:

The thing I seem to be having the most trouble with while running is definitely keeping my breathing in check. I’m not sure whether this is linked to my asthma or whether I just haven’t trained myself hard enough. I was never any good at it when I was swimming either, holding my breath while my head was underwater instead of breathing out. I’m trying to follow the suggestion given by Laura who narrates the podcasts (breathe in for 8 steps, breathe out for 8), but I find it really difficult to maintain it. I’ll keep trying though.

I found the jump to week 3 quite big. I’d looked up what it involved, and you go from running 90 secs, walking 2 minutes in week 2 to 90 secs walking, 90 secs running, 3 minutes walking, 3 minutes running, repeated twice. I had a look through the forums to see if anyone else had thought they wouldn’t be able to cope with this. I found the best advice on there – if you put it off til you feel ready, you’ll never do it. So off I went! Unfortunately, I was in the middle of a massive caffeine crash from a Starbucks I’d had earlier in the day and it made everything even harder. By the end I thought I was going to throw up at the side of the road, but thankfully that passed! I was really pleased that I managed to finish the run, however knackered I was.

It got a little easier yesterday, didn’t feel so ill and wiped at the end of it. I definitely wouldn’t have made it to 3 minutes on my own without the podcast. I think it’s a general fact, not just with running, that you’re far more capable than you think. It just takes someone or something to give you that little push to go further, work harder, achieve more.

Couch to 5k – Starting Week 2

The day after I wrote my last C25K post, I had my annual asthma review. On the good side, my preventer inhaler has gone down a step so I’ll be taking less steroids. On the bad side, I had a pretty bad reaction to the pneumonia vaccine I was given.

I was alright for the early part of the day, but by the evening my normally high pain threshold had disintegrated and I was curled up in tears on the sofa. By the following morning when I was due to run again, my arm was so sore I couldn’t lift it and I ended up spending half the day in bed because I felt so rough. Most of my upper arm was swollen and red, and there was no way I could run.

I had the jab on Thursday morning and it was Sunday before I could move my arm and get running again. I went down to visit my friends and family about 3 hours away in Portsmouth for the weekend and had dragged my gym bag with me to make sure I’d go. It was nice to run in a different place for a change of scenery, but the wind was pretty strong which didn’t help! Having an inhaler with me that wasn’t eight months out of date did though! Not sure how I didn’t notice that one.

Yesterday I started week two, which takes you from running 60 seconds and walking for 90 to running for 90 and walking for two minutes.

Despite the beautiful weather we had at the weekend, it chucked it down yesterday. If I wasn’t doing C25K, there’s no way I would have gone out. The benefit of the programme to me is that it really does give you the motivation to carry on. If you miss a day, it makes it harder to progress and you could end up having to start over as I’ve seen a few people do. Although I was soaked, the path where I run was covered in slugs and my normally straightened hair had gone back to its natural frizzy ways, I’m glad I did it. My legs were feeling heavy by the end which was probably a combination of wearing soaked clothes and not having run intervals like that since I went to the gym!

Hope the weather picks up this week!

Couch to 5k – I’ve Gained A Fan

Today’s run felt a little easier than the first one. I didn’t have to take my inhaler more than once on my way round which can only be a good thing. I’ve conveniently got my yearly asthma checkup tomorrow so I’ll ask the nurse whether she thinks I need to change the way I take it during exercise.

Despite stinging my hand on some very tall nettles within the first minute, it all went pretty smoothly. It was a bit warmer than Monday  so I didn’t have my jacket on. I think that helped keep my temperature down meaning I wasn’t feeling as tired and gross at then end. That’s why I always liked swimming; no matter how hard you go, you can’t really feel yourself sweat.

I went out at about 3.45 this afternoon which wasn’t a great idea as the paths and streets were crammed with kids from the two local schools. At one point it was a bit like The Gauntlet from Gladiators.

I did have one highlight, though, which makes me smile every time I think of it. I was just getting into the very first of the 8 one-minute runs when I spotted an elderly man walking towards me. As I got up to him he actually stopped and applauded me! I said a slightly breathless thanks and flashed him a smile. That little moment kept me going for the rest of the run!

It’s amazing that such a small thing can keep you buoyed up for the whole day. If ever I feel like I’m struggling during one of my runs, I’ll think of him as my little cheerleader willing me home.