Couch to 5K

New Year, new program

Happy New Year, everybody! Hope you had a good end of 2015 and beginning of this year.

I've decided to go back to 'basics'; I'm experimenting with the couch to 5k program in a way that fits with my marathon training. I put 'basics' in inverted commas because week 1 is as hard as week 9. As Tom Foreman in a Runners Connect podcast said "I have every respect for the person struggling through their first 5k as I do elite runners, because we all go through the same struggles."

C25k is amazing, because it builds your stamina up, makes you strong, gives you your health back. The thousands of graduates prove that it works. I'm hoping it works for building speed up, too. It should do - Runners World recommend a similar structure when first doing tempo runs. C25K built my ability to run; can it build my abilitiy to run faster?

This morning I did week 1, twice, back to back, running easy during all the walking bits and running fast during the running bits. And when Laura said "ready?" I was still saying "no!" just like when I went through the program properly... I'm doing weeks 1-4 in the normal, do it three times, way. But I'm running easy when Laura tells me to walk, and running faster when she tells me to run.


To explain why I'm wanting to do this, in a nutshell I want to get faster. Based on my Half Marathon time I'll be doing a 5 hour marathon. When I consider that during my Half I actually got personal bests for both the 5k and a 10k distances I realise that I cannot hope to sustain that pace during a marathon, unless I either work from the ground up to build my ability to maintain speed over a longer time, or slow my pace and do a marathon in 5 hrs 30. Option 1 is more challenging and will make me fitter, so more appealing; I know I could do a 'get you round' marathon, but I want to aim higher than that. So I've been playing around with tempo runs, lactate threshold, anaerobic threshold, sprints, strides, running after or before strength workouts... the list goes on. It gets confusing. And then I listened to the Runner's Connect podcast, where Bobby Phillip was interviewed.

He started running when he was helping train his daughter for a school race. He ran every day. Down to the end of the garden. Maybe a bit more the next day. A bit more the day after that He qualified for Boston aged 48! The podcast is at

I also learned about Emil Zatopek, and found his quote where he says "why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast."

Here's a question I mull over, related to the "am I a runner?" doubt we all have: did I learn to plod or run during C25k? At the end of the day, it doesn't matter. The feelings after finishing the half marathon were the same as finishing the C25K graduation run. The exact same. And the same as completing weeks 5-8. I was much fitter after C25K than I probably had been in school, where I could never run longer than ten minutes. I struggled through the program, just as I struggle through some of my runs where I am at now. What people say about effort and running by feel is true. I'm learning to drop the "i wish" at the end of "wow! look at that runner's stride length, and their pace! and the leg muscles... Flip he's fast! amazing! I wish..."


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