Couch to 5k – Halfway Point
Almost 18 months ago I couldn’t even walk. I was sat in a hospital bed with our tiny newborn baby by my side and an unknown reaction to sepsis, having gone from being fairly active during pregnancy to bed bound within just a few days of my c-section.
Whilst some immobility after a caesarean is normal, a swelling on the back from infection causing agonising muscle spasms and the inability to move without shaking and trembling in extreme pain is most definitely not.
With ten doctors at the foot of my bed labelling my case as a mystery, there was a point at which I was seriously worried that I would ever walk again.
This makes the fact that I ran for 26 straight minutes today the most amazing feeling in the world!
When my mobility finally returned I had to take one step at a time, regaining my movement and slowly progressing from wheelchair to zimmer to crutches. The more I moved the better my mobility became, and by the time Neve was around 2 months old, I was able to say goodbye to my final walking stick and walk my eldest daughter to nursery – something I’d been longing to do for weeks.
With my body now fully back to normal, this year I promised myself that it was time to get fit and lose some of that baby weight that has been hanging around far too long.
Having been a keen runner before Erin was born, I was keen to get my trainers on and get out there again, but the thought of running even a few metres felt like a form of torture. Having watched my sister develop a new found love of running with couchto5k, I decided to give it a go! Couch to 5k is a programme of activity based on walk/run intervals that gradually phase out the walking until you’re running for a full 3.1 miles.
I signed to to my local women’s only running This Girl Runs, on an 8 week course. The group meet every Monday night at 6pm for a guided running session at my local park. Whilst I didn’t know anyone, I decided this would also be a great way to meet new people so headed off on week 1, alone, with just my iwatch and trainers in tow!
Over the last 5 weeks I have gone from running 90 seconds and feeling knackered, to being able to run for a solid twenty six minutes without stopping. I am so super proud. I’ve also made some great friends and the team support has been fantastic at keeping up the motivation when it otherwise might flag. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
If you wanted to give it a go but don’t have a This Girl Runs group local to you…
Here are my top 10 tips for couch to 5k
- Make sure your trainers are still fit for purpose! Running without decent trainers can put a lot of strain on your shins, ankle, calf muscles and knees if they don’t have the right support. If you want to be running for the long term, invest in a pair of running trainers. They don’t need to be expensive, but offer proper cushioning and support.
- Download the NHS couch to 5k app. This 8 week plan sets you challenges each week to slowly increase the amount of running you do and reduce the amount of walking in between. You can even chose the celebrity motivator to keep you going.
- Do the homework runs – to keep your progress on track it is recommended that you do two ‘homework’ runs s week in addition to your group run, or 3 runs if using the app alone.
- Find a running buddy – I run much more comfortably when I have others running alongside me. There about 100 women at This Girl Runs and the group thud of all our trainers hitting the floor and motivational support from the run trainers really helps keep you going. My solo runs are much harder, so maybe pair up with a friend to keep up the energy.
- Map your progress – I find seeing my distance, time and / or calories burned increase a real motivator and somewhat addictive. Whether it’s your iPhone app, Fitbit or iwatch tracking your runs, record your workouts to learn more about your running style.
- Layer up – running in winter can be hard particularly when the weather changes so frequently. When it’s really cold I pop on my fingerless gloves and a thermal headband which keeps my ears warm without getting me too hot.
- Celebrate your achievements. It’s ok to feel totally chuffed with people when you complete a big run! Shout it from the rooftops!!
- Create a running soundtrack- if your someone who responds well to music, create your own running soundtrack full of energetic high impact songs with a solid beat to keep your pace on track.
- Push yourself – it’s not meant to be easy – and when it starts to feel tough that is when you’re pushing your body the most and when it has the real benefit! Keep going, you can do it!!!
- Cool down after every run, do some stretches to cool down your leg muscles – maybe treat your feet to a relaxing foot rub afterwards too (or find a willing volunteer!!).
I am just over half way through the course now with three more weeks to go. At the end of the sessions I should be able to run solidly for around 30-35 minutes, and am entering my first official park run 5k on the 2nd March.
Wish me luck!!!
Have you ever done or are thinking about doing couch to 5k? I’d love to hear your thoughts?
PS – Not a sponsored post just something I wanted to share! 🙂