I did my graduation run yesterday, and this was more than a year in the making.
I took up running through C25K in May 2012 and was running regularly and really enjoying it. I even went on vacation and kept running!
Just as I was about to start week 7, I got sick. Seriously sick. And it took me six months to recover, during which I lost every scrap of fitness I might have had because I didn't do anything but sit on my couch. That was hard for me on so many levels because I've always been productivity oriented and all about "accomplishing things". I accomplished nothing for six whole months.
I got better, and finally felt good enough to get back to running. But when I tried to run, oh my ouch. Not only was I cardiovascularly unfit, I seem to have lost all muscle in my legs. I couldn't run for more than a minute without my calves cramping so badly that I couldn't keep moving. I failed W1R1 because of the calf cramping.
I banged away at that for a month, completely unable to get through the whole thing. I made up a pre-C25K plan where I tried to build up to the W1 programme. And I failed. Over and over.
I started a major stretching programme and got a bunch of sports massages on my legs. I also started working to build up strength in them with some exercises. And I slowly got able to do it and moved on. Then I got to Week 5.
And I kept failing at W5 R3 - the 20 minute run hurdle. It just felt like such a massive leap and it was more than I could do for so long. I had finally made it through W5 R1 and R2 and kept hitting a wall at R3, stopping at the 10 and 15 minute marks to stretch out my calves.
Then a miracle happened. I'd repeated W5 over and over, determined to do this before I moved on. Then I had a miracle - I repeated W5 R1 for the third time and it felt /easy/ for the first time. Easy like the first time around I did this, back when I had muscles and stamina. I was worried it was a fluke, then I did W5 R2 and it was easy too. And then I tackled W5 R3 for the third time. Scared out of my mind that it was all a fluke. And I did it. I actually slightly more than did it, as I was in a rhythm and managed to run over the counter and into the cool down time. My flexibility came back around that time too, and I could actually touch my toes again for the first time since I started going through this the second time.
I carried on diligently and made it through weeks 6, 7, 8, and 9. I had a couple runs in there that felt like death and one so bad in week 8 that I repeated it because I felt like I'd stopped too often to count it.
I can't describe how happy I am. I feel like I've spent the last six months throwing myself into a brick wall and getting thrown back from it, falling every time. This programme is designed to take two months and it's taken me six. But I kept at it, kept hurling myself at that wall until I finally broke through it.
I'm really proud of myself for having stuck to it and made it through all of this. It's been over a year since I started out with the goal of being able to call myself a C25K graduate and it's been a hell of a journey, but I got here in the end.
So, all I have to say is this: No matter where you are in the programme. No matter how difficult you're finding it. Just keep plugging away - you will eventually get there.