I have finished week 9 of the NHS couch to 5K programme. I have run for 30 minutes, three times this week. I haven’t actually run 5K yet though. The furthest I have managed is 4.4 K so I am quite slow. Laura, the coach on the programme, keeps telling me that it is distance, not speed, that is important, so I will keep extending my runs until I reach 5K.
The second run of each week has tended to be a bit of a struggle, but I have kept going each time. Today’s final run felt good and I was tempted to carry on for a bit longer. However, I decided that I should follow the plan, and my pacing rationale, and stop at 30 minutes. If I had carried on I may have crossed the threshold of doing just enough and gone into the boom bust cycle of pushing myself too far and ending up with a flare-up of pain and fatigue. There were plenty of other things to do with the rest of my day so I wanted to finish feeling energised, not exhausted. I am learning!
Nine weeks ago I struggled to run for a minute, today I can run for 30, and enjoy it! I’m happy with my progress and I am looking forward to being able to say that I can run 5K. Soon I hope!
… it depends on your perspective!
My husband joined me for the second run of Week 7 of my Couch to 5K programme. And has for each subsequent run! The programme and I have inspired him to start running again. He doesn’t need to use the podcasts as he has done a fair amount of running, (including the Great North Run – twice), just not in the past year or two.
It was great to have company, though a bit odd to be followed. He didn’t want to interfere with my pace, and he didn’t know the route so he decided to run behind me. He was very patient, plodding along behind. And as we neared the top of the uphill section of the route I’m sure he was walking – not a measure of his fitness, more an indication of my pace. I measured the uphill section; it is half a mile long!
I have now finished Week 7, and completed the first run of Week 8. We had to change the route this week. We had a lot of rain over the weekend so the path across the wheat field had become very muddy and boggy. Not pleasant or safe to run on. I have been using the route as a dog walk for years and know that as winter approaches the route will gradually get muddier and muddier, so we’ll use it less and less. Our alternative route, which I am going to call the Winter Route, is on a quiet lane. There is a hill, much shorter than the incline in the Summer Route, but steeper; and we run up it twice. It’s got to be good for my fitness, right?
I am now running for 28 minutes. With each session I have run a little bit further than the previous session, and felt more comfortable. At the beginning of last week, I ran 3.4K (2.08 miles) in 25 minutes at a pace of 7.33 min/K (12.5 min/mile). My first run of week 8 was 4.3K (2.7 miles) in 28 minutes at a pace of 6.51 min/K (11.05min/mile). I feel that I am progressing, and that 5K in 30 minutes may just be achievable – at some point.
I can now call myself a runner…
… so says Laura, the coach on my Couch to 5k podcast. I completed Week 6 of the programme with a 25-minute run. I am now half way through Week 7, which consists of three more 25 minute runs.
I have changed my running route. The route I have been using until this week is along an old railway embankment. It is flat and reasonably straight, through pretty woodland. A lovely place to run, however it is only 3.5 k (just over 2 miles) – so not far enough for the final stages of the programme. I took some time last weekend to scope out a new route. My dog and I spent a very pleasant afternoon wandering over the fields and lanes to map out a 5k circuit. I was very excited to get started!
The new route is across much more open terrain, so a little more exposed to the elements. I’ve only had to contend with blazing sunshine so far, which has made the experience hot and sticky! There is also a significant incline about half way around, which seemed a good deal steeper when running than it had appeared whilst walking. In addition, I have to negotiate several gates and styles – but hey, they give me a breather, right?!
I have managed the circuit twice now. Both times I have run 3 k (2miles) in the 25 minutes. So my baseline is 12 minutes a mile. Slow I fear, but I have to start somewhere and the only way is up from here – literally as I’m running uphill…
Today I will attempt my second run of Week 7. My husband is going to run with me so I won’t be tempted to stop. My mantra is “keep moving” – no matter how slowly.
I’d love to hear from other runners and learn from your experience. The questions I’ve got at the moment are – What is a comfortable pace for you? How far do you run, and how often? How long did it take you to feel comfortable running your favourite distance? However, any thoughts, advice and encouragement you have will be gratefully received.