I gave the Couch to 5K a try a year or so back. I say “try” but it wasn’t much of an attempt. I was ill prepared and gave up all too easily. But during COVID19 lockdown, I have been thinking a lot about my cycling which whilst I am enjoying, I am just not riding regularly enough to get some significant health improvements, and there are various reasons for that, which I won’t go into in this post. One of the main points, if not the main point of this blog was to help encourage myself, and potentially others to take up some exercise. So I have been reflecting a lot recently, and thinking about how to go about revamping my mindset.
As part of this thinking, I have decided to give the Couch to 5K another try. I have also decided to practice what I preach; that is, to be more considered when it comes to the various theories of change, I have decided to be better prepared this time around. Behaviour change, is usually a slow process, and there can often be lapses or relapses (and I am living proof of that). What I am hoping this time, is to be physically more prepared, and psychologically more prepared to get off the couch, and achieve that goal of a 5K run.
In terms of being more physically prepared, I am a little fitter this time around, whilst I haven’t been cycling as regularly as I had hoped I would, I do feel that I have got a bit better with stamina. I have dusted of my old running gear (I did used to run decades ago, and bizarrely, my running shoes that I purchased in before 2008 still look new). I’ve rummaged around and found some running socks, shorts and top. They aren’t amazingly high quality, but they will do for now. I have got an Apple Watch, and I have downloaded the 5K Runner app and hooked them up. I have been a paid member of Strava for a while, but only really ever used it for cycling, and monitoring my dog walking activities. So, whilst not fit yet (clearly, otherwise I wouldn’t be needing the 5K app), I feel I have the physical equipment to get me started.
Psychologically I am feeling more prepared, thinking about the transtheoretical model of change that I have discussed elsewhere on this blog, I am feeling more ready for Action than I ever have done when it comes to running. This is in part due to noticing that my health data isn’t moving in the direction I want it to. My blood pressure readings are still high, and my weight seems to be stuck! I like to think that part of the weight remaining fairly static is linked to increased muscle density through cycling, as my waistline has shrunk slightly, but I think I might be kidding myself.
So today was the day. The weather forecast was a bit bleak (there are severe weather warnings of thunderstorms today), but when I set off, I managed to get a bit of sunshine and cloud. It was very humid though, but certainly cooler than the last couple of days. I downloaded a paid version of the Couch 2 5K (there are several apps with similar names, last time I used the free app that the NHS supports, but I found the audio not that great). With my running gear on, I started my warm up by walking briskly for 5 minutes up the hill to the local cemetery where I planned to do my workouts until I reach the 5K mark.
I really like this app, good audio commentary, and you can play music from your iTunes/Apple Music (or whatever music app you use). This was something I didn’t realise, is that the app automatically starts playing randomly chosen music from your collection. I had some random ballad that I didn’t even know I had, which isn’t the most inspiring music. So I managed to find a Moby playlist which was perfect, just the right tempo to get me going.
So, Day 1 of Week 1, 25 minutes. 5 minute warm up (I just did a brisk walk to the cemetery, which is all uphill). This is then followed by 1 minutes of running, 1.5 minutes of walking, repeated 6 times, followed by a cool down phase (walking normal pace back down the hill). I was genuinely pleased with myself, I did the whole routine (although I did accidentally pause the cool down bit, so that ended up lasting a few extra minutes, and it was only after a while I had realised that I had paused that section). However, I completed all the different bits of the workout. Last time I tried Couch 2 5K, I didn’t even do all of the repeated running sections the first time around.
Day 1, of Week 1 completed. Looking forward to the next run in a couple of days. I just need to remember that this app doesn’t integrate with Strava which I am gutted about. I was intending to log the whole training programme through Strava, but at least I can make sure future runs are logged in Strava, by opening Strava when I use the C2-5K app. I also need to remember to take a bottle of water with me, as was thirsty, even doing this short run/walk today.
If anyone who is a runner has any tips for an absolute beginner like me, please let me know.