My Couch to 5K Journey

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Me a runner? Nope, I am not a runner in any sense of the word, or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. I practice yoga regularly and do HIIT too but when I’ve tried running in the past I didn’t enjoy it. Probably because I used to sprint away rather than take it nice and slowly so I’d feel very sick and think running wasn’t for me.

After reading Jog On: How Running Saved My Life by Bella Mackie I was intrigued in trying running as another tool I could use to help with my mental health which I mentioned in this previous post. I downloaded the NHS Couch to 5K app and decided that when I was visiting my sister I’d start. I chose to start at my sisters for 2 reasons, firstly she lives in Florida so waking up and actually going out in the warmth would motivate me and secondly I live in a valley so I’m surrounded by hills, which, although beautiful, makes it quite tricky to find somewhere to start jogging without facing lots of hills!

I thought I’d keep a little online diary of my progress through the Couch to 5K app as I thought it would be useful for those who are thinking about doing to see how it work plus it holds me accountable by sharing my journey!

Week 1

Run 1

And, I have started! I wasn’t sure what to expect but although I was feeling a bit out of breath by the end of the first session, I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t overly tiring and it’s great to have the app’s coach (I picked Jo Whiley) to let you know when to run and walk and offer words of encouragement.

Run 2

As I was running I had a pain in my thigh but I kept going, I just took it really steady. I’ve noticed that being out first thing in the morning running/walking is a great way to quiet my mind. I’m a worrier, which in turn sets of my anxiety and when I’m running I’m concentrating on my breath and thinking of where I’m headed to so it gives me a break for the constant noise in my head.

Run 3

After only 2 runs I was so excited for session 3! Who even am I? I never thought I’d be that person who looks forward to going for a run. This session is so much easier than session 1 and I thoroughly enjoyed it and no pain in my thigh this time. Bring on week 2!

Week 2

Run 1

Wow! Ok, I woke up totally excited for today’s run and although the running times were only increased by 30 seconds it felt like 30 minutes! I didn’t enjoy it at all which is a shame as I was so eager to get out there and go. I’m hoping things improve as the week goes on.

Run 2

In this weeks runs you run 6 times for 90 seconds with a walk of 2 minutes between each run. I was slightly apprehensive for today’s run given how I felt after session 1 but it wasn’t too bad. I managed the first few runs fine but by the last two I wasn’t feeling too great. Overall though not too bad.

Run 3

Ok, I’m back to loving running! All the runs felt really good today even though it was humid as hell and I was sweating even before I got to the end of the driveway! I’ve had a quick look at next week’s runs and I’m not totally sure how I’m going to feel as there’s a biggish jump in running lengths – from 90 seconds on this weeks run to 3 minutes. Whilst 3 minutes may not seem a long time, it is for me when I’m not a runner, I’m just hoping I’ll still love it by the end of next week!

These views make the running easier

Week 3

Run 1

Well, I was not looking forward to this run as there are 2 blocks where you run for 3 minutes and whilst that doesn’t seem long, I know that it is a big leap from 90 seconds when you’re running. I gave myself a little pep talk and threw on my clothes and headed out the door. The first 3-minute run was a lot better than I thought, was it easy? No! The last run was hard, my legs felt heavy but I did it! I was so happy I went out and did it, I’m looking forward to the rest of this week to see if it gets easier.

Run 2

Today was not a good run. Even before I left the house I was not looking forward to it and I don’t know why. I found the first run hard so pretty much spent the rest of the session annoyed and frustrated…not the best attitude but it happens and I want to be transparent and show that it’s not a linear journey. Fingers crossed for run 3.

Run 3

What a difference a days rest can make. It is recommended on the app to have a days rest between each run and it certainly seemed to help this week. Today’s session seemed to go really quickly and I really enjoyed it. Looking ahead to next week the run times increase from 3 minutes to 5 minutes…gulp!

Week 4

Run 1

Five minutes seems a really long time when you’re running especially when you’ve never ran for any length of time before like me! However, I did it and I finished the run feeling quite proud of myself as I really thought I wouldn’t manage. I did have to have a little mindset shift and tell myself that I should try and not to quit just because it becomes hard. It wasn’t easy and I did feel slightly nauseous at the end of it but I did it!!!

Run 2

This run I thoroughly enjoyed.  The weather was just perfect, not too hot or cold and I just felt really good on every run.  By the 4th& final run my legs did feel heavy but all in all a good run.

Run 3

Currently, I’m sat in Atlanta airport writing the update for yesterdays run. It was so humid that it took a lot for me to keep going (lots of motivating self-talk and trying to quiet my inner critic who was quite adamant I wouldn’t finish…ha, I proved them wrong!) The last 5 minute run of this session seemed to go on for 10 minutes, in fact I thought my phone battery had died but nope it was just a tough run and time seemed to go really slowly.  I did manage it although felt like more of a power walk than a jog or run.  I’m due to start Week 5 on Friday but as I’m travelling I’m going to repeat Week 4 Run 3 on Sunday and start week 5 on Tuesday, I’m hoping this will ease me back into it and be gentle on my body after being on a long flight.

Week 5

Run 1

As I said in my last entry, I was going to start this week of sessions on Tuesday, however I checked the times of the runs again and felt confident enough to crack on with this week. The runs in this session were ok, the hard part was actually getting out of the door into the cold! This isn’t Florida anymore 🙂

Run 2

Even though this run was done in the wind and rain, I really enjoyed it. All runs in this session felt good and each run was supposed to be 8 minutes but for the last run I ended up doing 13 minutes. I didn’t hear the app tell me to change from running to brisk walking but it shows me I am capable of running for longer. Just as well really as the next session is 20 minutes of running non-stop….wish me luck!

Run 3

Goodness this run was the opposite of what I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be a constant battle for the full 20 minutes but it wasn’t and I really enjoyed it. I did struggle a bit around the 18 minute mark but I continued and I’m so happy and proud of myself that I did the full 20 minutes. I think I can now say I am a runner who actually likes running 🙂

Week 6

Run 1

After completing 20 minutes continuous running at the end of week 5 I thought the runs this week would be a breeze…how wrong was I? This run was quite good although I did struggle towards the end of the session.

Run 2

Hated this run and hate is a strong word but I was about in tears at the end of this session. This run comprised of two 10 minute runs with a walk in between. Again, I thought it wouldn’t be tough as I had done a whole 20 minutes running with no breaks!! This was probably tougher than the 20 minute run and I never want to repeat it this run, ever! I went on to the Couch to 5k forum and apparently this run is well-known for catching people out and being tough.

Run 3

After run 2 I was not exactly jumping out of bed to go on this run and had to have a word with myself to get it done. It’s amazing how many excuses I came up with to try and not go. This run was a full 25 minutes and I loved it! I took it really slow but I did it all without stopping. I cannot believe how far I’ve made it in such a short space of time. This run definitely made up for the horror that was run 2 this week 😉


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