I’ve been worrying about this day for a while, a couple of weeks ago I went onto the NHS choices Couch to 5K page and looked at the descriptions for each week. I remember seeing week 5 and worrying that I wouldn’t be able to do 20 minutes again. I’d only managed to run for 20 minutes without stopping once before, that was back in November before I stopped for the winter. Back then I had Mike running with me and we were supporting each other. Now, although Mike is very supportive of me, when I run I’m on my own. I’ve been banging on about running to my work colleagues for a while, and I could not get the thought of the 20 minute run out of my head. On one hand I was really excited and just wanted to get home, get changed and get the run done – so I could feel that rush of emotion and sense of achievement that I had back in November before I stopped. On the other hand I was scared – this was the part I had stopped at last time, although I had managed it, there was no denying it was extremely difficult and had been a struggle.
Week 5 came and went, the 20 minute run happened and it was an achievement, but I didn’t really have time to dwell on it or focus on it too much; I was looking ahead to the end of week 6 and the 25 minute run.
The whole point of the couch to 5k is that it trains you to go from absolute beginner to running for 30 minutes. If you can get past the cheesy pop music it’s not too bad and I find the mini pep talks quite encouraging.
Today I completed week six – the 25 minute run. I could not concentrate today. I was late into work, and then late to a meeting. I decided at about lunch time that I would ask for a couple of hours flexi time and go home early; the 25 minute run was looming and I just needed to get it done. My visit finished earlier than expected and I got home for about 3pm. I played with Mojo for a little while then got changed and left the house.
It was scorching outside. I had decided to wear a sleeveless top, I really do not like to bare my arms but it really was too hot and was bad enough that I was wearing full length black lycra bottoms. One of the things I have realised since I started running is that I really don’t have time to care about how people see me and what they might think. I need to wear clothes which are practical for running, and am no longer bothered about other people’s opinions.
I set off on my 5 minute warm up walk, listening to Laura who talks me through the run. Laura was telling me that this run might be a bit tough but she knew I could do it. I normally hate all this cheesy crap, this Laura woman doesn’t know me at all, for all she knows I could have walked all the last ones! For some reason, I really like this Laura – I feel like she is real (according to the NHS choices site she is) and she knows what she is talking about, I feel like she has been through what I’m going through.
Throughout the run Laura would interrupt the cheesy pop and tell me how much I’ve done and how much I’ve got left. I managed to get through most of the run simply by not thinking about it at all. I thought about work, my family, my cat, Mike, what I might do at the weekend, housework, Eastenders – anything to take my mind off the run, and how much pain I was in. Just before the last 60 seconds Laura interrupted the song I was listening to, she was telling me how close to the end I was but not to give up and if I felt up to it to really push for the last 60 seconds and go a bit faster, so I did. I really did. I was so exhausted but knew I would feel so much better if I had really put some effort in, so I ran, not jogged, ran with long strides quite fast (for me) for the last 60 seconds. Laura came back for the last time to tell me it was over and I could do my warm down walk. I slowed down and tried to get my breath back, I was gasping for air, almost as if I was drowning. Then I realised I had done it, I was so happy – I could not get this enormous grin off my face.
I’m so pleased at the moment of what I have achieved so far. The next couple of weeks will see me run 26, then 27, 28, 29 and finally 30 minutes. I’m nervous. Once I have proved to myself that I can run constantly for half an hour I will sign up for a 5k, and I’ll just see where my feet take me after that.
Note: Thanks very much to my cousin Anna who suggested I read ‘Running Like a Girl’ by Alexandra Hemingsly, I’m currently listening to the audio book and it is so inspirational, I think it might be the reason I am pushing myself so much now and maybe the reason I felt I could write this post.