Last year, I completed the Couch to 5K program, then started working full-time, and kind of, well… gave up. I promise myself that when the weather started to get better, I’d start going again, and so when the Easter holidays began, I started the program from the beginning again! Rather than do updates every 3 weeks like I did last time, I thought I’d just do an update early on in the program (my last C25K post), and one when I’d reached the end of the 9 weeks (which I am almost at now!)
In my last post, when I talked about my return to running, I gave a bit of a recap of weeks 1 and 2, to talk about how I found the start of the program. I found the first 2 weeks far easier than I did the first time I attempted them, thanks to a combination of a higher base level of fitness and a better understanding of pacing. But how long would that last?
The week 3 runs are 90 seconds run, 90 seconds walk, 3 minutes run, 3 minutes walk, and repeat. Aside from issues with my phone crashing and the podcast stopping, I managed this week pretty well, though I did have one rather traumatic run (leggings too big, no pocket for my phone, podcast glitching) that I’d rather forget. Overall, a successful week though.
Week 4 is 3 minutes running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running, 2.5 minutes walking, and repeat. The 5 minute runs were pretty brutal, and my old enemy Tight Calves raised its head to try to slow me down. And, to be fair, it certainly slowed me down, but it did not stop me. At times, my running pace was almost no faster than my walking pace, but I figure as long as I keep doing the running motion instead of the walking motion, it still counts as running, so therefore I succeeded in completing the week. It’s also amazing to me how quickly my body’s been adapting to it, as I noticed a massive difference between my calves during the first run of week 4 compared to the last, even though there was less than a week and only a couple of sessions to progress.
Week 5 (and 6) is where the routine gets a little messy. The first run of week 5 consists of 3 five minute runs, with a 3 minute recovery between each run. Again, I had a fair bit of pain in my calves, and I wasn’t very fast, but I managed to do the full amount of running. The second run is 2 eight minute runs, with a 5 minute break in the middle, and the final one is 20 minutes with no recovery breaks. I really expected to find the former incredibly difficult, and the latter unachievable. However, while I found the two 8 minute runs hard-going, I found the final run of the week surprisingly easy. When I was running last year, I remember there being a really difficult period in the middle of a longer run, where I would start to struggle, and be so far away from the end that there wasn’t much optimism. This point would usually start around 10 minutes in, and last until 5 minutes before the end, at which point the end would be in sight, and I’d perk up. I definitely didn’t find this run easy, but I never really had that period of struggle that I expected. It was fairly steady, and I felt confident in my ability to keep going the whole way through! A massive improvement on where I was at this point in the program last year, when it took me 3 attempts to complete the 20 minute run.
Week 6’s routine was messy, and not just because of the different runs each session! My COVID jab and weather got in the way, and lower energy levels started to creep in as well. Still, when I did manage to get our for runs, I was doing okay, and coping with the sessions. When I set out for that 25 minute run at the end of the week, I was feeling pretty mixed. On the one hand, I was positive because I’d found the 20 minute run in Week 5 surprisingly easy, but I’d also fallen off the wagon a little bit during Week 6, and I find that my optimum time to go running is probably about 2 hours after lunch, and when I set out for that 25 minute run I don’t think I’d eaten for 3 hours. It was definitely more challenging than the 20 minute run was, but I made it!
Week 7 is just 3 25 minute runs, so pretty straightforward. I still hadn’t got back into my routine by the start of Week 7 though, and the weather meant I had a longer gap between finishing Week 6 and starting Week 7 than I’d have liked. During the first run of Week 7, I felt pretty defeated during the first ten minutes or so, and was convinced on one level that I wouldn’t be able to finish. Fortunately, I managed to convince that part of me that I could do it, and the second half of the run was much less of a struggle than the first. The second was again, fine.
Unfortunately, due to my COVID jab and poor weather, I’m about a week and a half behind where I was hoping to be at this point in time! Today, I’m planning to complete Week 7 if the weather allows, and then it’ll be starting Week 8 on Friday (or Saturday if the weather is more agreeable then!). However, I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved in the last 8 and a half weeks of running, and I really hope I’m able to keep it up! I’d love to be able to run 5K before I move to London in July, so I think I’m making that my goal. Have you ever tried running? What sort of exercise do you enjoy?