‘I’ve signed you up as a victim…ahem, participant, to do the Couch to 5k’, said Cathy. ‘What?!! But I can’t run, I hate it’. The last time I ran was for a bus, and I missed it. That was in 1989’ says I. ‘Aw, c’mon, it’ll be a bit of craic, and for charity, it’s Leap for Luke’ says Cathy. Later my brother Seamus said he would be doing it too, ‘Sure, it’s only walk for a minute, run for a minute’ says he.
And so, I met up with about 40 others to run around a field in week 1. We had 5 minutes of warming up, and I was exhausted. Then it started to rain. Twenty minutes later, I was somewhere near the back of the group, out of breath. Seamus was nowhere to be seen, he didn’t even turn up. ‘He’ll pay for that later’, I thought. At the same time, in my head, I’d made a promise to run for Luke and Brian Og, two local boys with Muscular Dystrophy. They don’t have a choice about their mobility, I do. So, the goal was set, I would run 5k for them on 28 July, just 8 weeks away.
Fast forward to week 5, and I was up to 8 minutes of running. My knees were killing me, but I could keep going and meet the target. Just. It was slow, and I was praying for the end of each run. I also had a runny nose each time I went out. My nose ran faster than me. The runny nose meant I ran with my mouth open, so had to drink more. Then I’d need to pee. Did Mo Farah have these problems? As I couldn’t make every training session, I downloaded the app from the NHS website. On the app is ‘Laura’ who keeps tabs on the time, and says things like: ‘Keep going, you’re doing great!’ That woman can be so hateful...
By week 7, I realised I was going to have to skip a couple of the training runs if I was to get around 5k at the end of July. So, instead of gradually increasing the running time, I was going to have to seriously increase it…from 10 minutes in one session, to 25 minutes in the next. Let me tell you that I finished that first 25-minute run. I was panting like a dying dog, my knees were buckling, my calves were screaming in pain, and my nose was still running faster than me. I also needed to pee. Sweat ran down the end of my nose, and a swarm of flies were following me. There were so many flies around my head I looked like Michael Jackson on speed. And that Laura on the app was really getting on my nerves. But I did it… I was still running at a funeral pace, but at least I could do 25 minutes.
Now it’s coming up to week8, and the 5k run is on 28 July. My knees are killing me. Cathy says it’s all grand, and she is beginning to like running. As for Seamus, he never did start. (I’ll get him later, he WILL pay). Another friend has recommended Uddermint for the knee inflammation. (For those of you don’t know, as its name suggests, its used to treat cow udders and according to the instructions, ‘It’s good for heifers’ It is also, according to my friend, very effective on human inflamed joints). It stinks of peppermint. If it doesn’t work on my knees, at least it’ll clear my nose, and keep the flies away too.
Despite it all, I WILL run. I’ll run from the back. I’ll run at funeral pace. I’ll stink of peppermint, and I’ll be blowing my nose. But every time I doubt myself, I think of Luke and Brian Og. Two young boys whose mobility reduces every day. I was at Luke’s house a couple of weeks ago and watched as he struggled to run. I thought of his future as this terrible disease progresses, where soon, he may not be able to walk. And not long after that, he will need help to eat. My knees, my wheeze, and the flies that run with me are as nothing compared to what he will face. Luke and Brian Ogs parents will soon need the money we raise to adapt their house for their boys future. The pain in my knees will go. Theirs won’t.
Couch to 5k can do so much good for others too.