A last-minute change to working plans for today meant I suddenly went from being on an early shift where my running would have to be at 05:00 (a good 90 minutes before sunrise) to having a few hours of daylight before having to start work. I wasn't about to miss out on the opportunity, so I got out of bed this morning, pulled on the running gear and got out there for the final run of the C25K plan.
As a kind of backstory to everything to date, my big push to start C25K was that I had a health review at work as part of their medical insurance. It put my weight at around 92kg (just a little shy of 14½ stone / 203 lbs). At 5'7" / 170cm and rather sedentary, it was clear I needed to change something. That was in August last year, and as a birthday gift to each other, my wife and I bought FitBit trackers to help put focus on the secret to all weight loss programmes - "eat less junk, move more often"
I've been following the programme in various disguises since that point, with a failed attempt at trying to use an app together with Spotify on my ancient android phone (now long since upgraded), joining a gym in October, getting lazy between December and February, taking a break to recover from shin splints developed during the runs for Week 5 at the gym (I ran through the pain on W5R3 - in hindsight a bad move), and then swapping the gym for the outdoors in March, when I picked up on the NHS podcasts. October to April must be the longest 9 weeks I've ever done
Anyway, when I think back to the start of the programme, there were tough spots:
- Week 1 makes you realise just how out-of-shape you are, and you wonder if you could ever run for 30 minutes.
- Week 5 throws that big scary chunk of time at you for Run 3, where you learn that you just need to keep the legs moving and silence that inner critic telling you that you can't do this, because you most definitely can!
- Week 6 run 1 then throws you that sneaky lesson to not get over-confident. A 5-8-5 split of runs with 3 minutes walking between can't be that difficult when you've just done 20 minutes, right?
- I had a few wobbles over the course of Week 8 when I was running on unfamiliar routes away from home. Again, the issues I faced were mostly mental challenges (anxiety over new routes, getting lost, not knowing when the hills were going to end, etc.), and overcome by walking a route a couple of times to get familiar, and selecting a flatter, easier route to regain confidence when I was feeling low.
- Week 9 run 1, I discovered the value of a good headtorch. My headtorch clearly isn't in this category, so when you run a familiar route at 05:00 in the morning, and it's pitch black and raining, picking out the paths when off-road can be challenging
From someone who wouldn't run for a bus and weighed 92kg, today I'm running 30 minutes non-stop, and gradually increasing my speed naturally, and have dropped 11kg or 24lbs in old money. I'm not putting the weight loss entirely on C25K as I've made some pretty big changes in my eating habits over the last few months also (cutting right back on the amount of cheese and butter I was eating, and heading more towards vegan than vegetarian). I've also discovered that my preference for running is most definitely off-road. Mud is a badge of honour!
So, what's next for me? Well, I'm definitely hooked on running, so I'm planning to run my local ParkRun in May. I want to get a few more runs logged so that I'm happy that 5km is comfortable. That means I'll probably run the local ParkRun course a few times before May just so I know what to expect. I'm also planning on increasing my distance gradually each week, just adding another 5 minutes onto the run each week until I'm up to running for an hour at a time. From there, I'm looking for unfamiliar trails to run within easy reach of home to get over the "you'll get lost / this hill will never end" gremlins.
For now, I'll go see about getting my graduation badge (my virtual medal for staying the course!), read the Bridge to 10k forums a bit and absorb the advice there, and continue to drop in to see how everyone is getting on.