Okay so as mentioned in the previous post I’m going to try and recall my progress through weeks 1 to 6 of the Couch to 5k programme. I will do this through completing a series of ‘Back Blogs‘ (I’m not really sure this terminology actually exists; if it doesn’t then I’d like to claim it as being created and popularised by me (a definition will follow); if it does already exist then I stake no claim to its creation and/or popularisation).
Anyway this will be the first of the ‘Back Blogs‘. I will aim to keep them limited and perhaps condense the ground covered thus far into two or three separate blogs. This is partly so I don’t feel like I’m constantly trying to catch up and partly because (and I have to be honest) I probably won’t be able to remember all the details from each week or run!
So week one of the programme started the week before the Easter holidays, Saturday 29th March 2015. As had become custom from my previous attempt last year, I got up early, around 5.50am, donned my running gear and headed out. Those who have attempted this particular programme, or those who have started running after a long period of abstaining from exercise, will understand the initial apprehension and the difficulties of being motivated enough to start. “It’s too early… I’m too tiered… I’ll look ridiculous… It looks like it might rain… I won’t be able to to it” and other procrastinating thoughts of a similar nature were probably whirring around my head. However I forced myself out of the door and went for it.
These two runnersworld.co.uk blog posts proved to be a worthwhile read in getting over some of the initial doubts and worries:
Having got through two thirds of the programme in the previous year I was amazed at how out of shape I had become in the five months since stopping running. I thought that the initial stages (weeks 1-3) would be somewhat of a breeze and I had considered missing them out and moving directly to week 3 or 4. I’m glad I didn’t as I found them just as challenging as the first time around, and that was after circa 20 years of a ‘couch potato’ lifestyle! Part of this, however, was due to the route I had decided to run along.
Planning a good route to run is pretty essential and something I pondered and procrastinated over for some time. I live in the middle of the Devon country side and as beautiful and idillic as it is it is about as far from flat and level as the Arctic is from being warm and humid! Rolling countryside is definitely the best way to describe it and my village lines the descent into one of its green and lush hollows. All routes out of the village are either up or down and as there are no real opportunities to run in a complete flat circuit I decided the best policy was probably to run up out the village.
The first week contains three identical running session, each one made up of the following…
Week 1 – “For the runs in Week 1, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then you will alternate 60 seconds of running, with 90 seconds of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.”
The structure for this is all laid out in the podcasts you can download from the iTunes store. The lovely Laura, the lady behind the voice, tells you when to run, when to walk and how long you’ve you’ve been going as well as how long you have left. For me, personally, this structured system works really well and probably helps to create the sense of achievement I get at the end of each run.
My first week of running was, as mentioned above, a little more hard work than expected. The first minute was up hill and although it was only for a short period of time I rapidly ran out of breath going from feeling in control of my breathing to almost gasping for air. I was rather glad when Laura interrupted to say I could stop and walk for a minute and a half although it didn’t seem much of a rest-bite before she was instructing me to start running again!
The first two running stints saw me clear the brow of the hill and start a decent down the other side from which, after about 400 metres, it started to level out somewhat. Once on the level the running did become a little easier however I was still thankful for the short reprieve in between each run.
Once I had reached the midpoint of the podcast I doubled back on myself and tackled the course in reverse. Oddly enough I found the hill less imposing on the way back and managed to reach its summit, before dropping back down into the village, with less breathlessness and even, and dare I say it, a little more pace?! This did provide a bit of a confidence boost and sense of achievement and I finished off the rest of the pod cast with a gentle jog back down into the village.
When I got home the first thing I did was stretch out my various leg muscles. Not doing this last year cost me a lot of injury time and this is something I am definitely keen to avoid this time around.
It genuinely felt good to be back out and running again and I starting looking forward to the second and third runs of the week, both of which progressed pretty much as described above (although by run three there was a slight but noticeable change in my stamina).
Well I reckon that’s probably enough back blogging for now so I’ll leave it there for the moment. Watch this space though as Back blog#2 will be on its way!