HEALTH + FITNESS: The Couch to 5k | Modern Mummy

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

HEALTH + FITNESS: The Couch to 5k


This morning I did something I never in a million years thought I would do. I completed The Couch to 5k. Nine weeks ago I could barely run for thirty seconds at a time - during my last three sessions I was running for an entire thirty minutes!

So many people have been asking questions about how I found it over on Instagram, so I thought I'd put together a little post over here.

I have to say, this is the longest I've stuck to any kind of exercise regime in years. Sure I take part in the odd exercise class at the gym (mostly for the coffee and cake afterwards) but the last time I ran regularly was 2005 - and my thirteen year old running gear is still going strong!

I figured the easiest way to answer your questions is to list them. So here goes!

What made you sign up?
I entered the ballot to run the London Marathon earlier this year and at the beginning of September I started to panic that I might actually get a place. It would be just my luck to get in first time when I was the least fittest I'd ever been in my entire life! I downloaded and started the Couch to 5k app knowing that I'd be well on my way to running for half an hour by the time the results came out. If I didn't get a place, I'd give it up. Simple as that!

What is the app like?
Really simple to use! And it's free! It has been created by the BBC, has really simple graphics and a choice of 'trainers' to talk you through your runs. I went for Jo Whiley as she is one of my favourite radio DJs, but there are another four to choose from if she doesn't float your boat!

Is the programme really do-able? 
Absolutely. Even for total beginners, like myself. It begins by alternating sixty second runs with ninety seconds of walking, building up to thirty minutes over 27 runs! On my very first run I found myself out of puff around thirty seconds in, but the whole point is to push yourself, so push myself I did.

You're expected to 'run' (/walk) for half an hour, three times a week which is easy so long as you have the motivation to stick to it. From previous attempts at working out, I know how easy it is to come up with an excuse! I work and also solo parent, so there's no chance of me ever getting out first thing in the morning, or once the kids are in bed. This time round I got into the habit of running home after dropping the kids to school, or running back from work. When we visited my parents at the weekend, I'd leave the girls with them for half an hour and nip out.

How did you personally find it?
Two weeks into the programme I really wasn't enjoying it, but with the possibility of the Marathon looming over me I persevered. I said to myself that if I didn't get a spot I'd stop the programme straight away and with that in my mind I kept going! Week three was a massive turning point and all of a sudden I started to think "ok NOW I get why people run!" I felt so good, and knowing I only had to be out for half an hour made it totally bearable, especially when I got it over and done with early on in the day.

Week four was when I actually started to enjoy myself (and I never thought I'd hear myself say that!). At that point in the programme the weeks schedule consisted of two run/walks and one long twenty minute run. I actually looked forward to those longer runs!

Half way through week five I found out that I hadn't got a place in the Marathon, but I changed my mind about giving it all up and decided that I'd carry on regardless. I signed up for a 10k run in Richmond Park for the first week in December to spur me on.

The last few weeks of the programme were all long runs - 25 minutes to start with, increasing to 28 minutes in week 8 and 30 minutes in week 9. I loved them all!

What kit do you need?
Er... I'm probably the wrong person to ask! I've been wearing thirteen year old leggings and trainers, and a super cheap sports bra and vest top from TK Maxx. I did buy myself a small bumbag from Amazon to hold my phone and keys but the zip broke after two runs. I plan to buy another, better quality one, and some long sleeved tops now that it's getting colder. If anyone else has any suggestions for winter running gear, I'd love to hear them!


What now?
Listening to my last podcast today I actually felt a bit emotional. I know it sounds daft but I'm so proud of myself for sticking to the programme completely and not missing a single run. I've now got a month to go until my 10k run, so I'm going to stick to running three times a week and start working on my distance, rather than my time. I've been covering 4.5k in my thirty minute runs, so for the next week I'll be doing 5k, and then increasing that to 6k the following week, trying to better my time with each run in the same week. I'll be up to 8k by the time of the run and hopefully adrenalin will push me through to 10k on the day!

Did you lose any weight during the course of the programme?
I didn't do this with any ambitions of weight loss, although I did want to tone up. It was merely to kick start my marathon training. I did weigh myself at the start though, and I also measured my waist. After 9 weeks, the results are in! I'm 10.5lbs down (although I've also been eating a lot more plant based whole foods than usual) and have lost three inches from my waist!

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