What a difference a year makes!: Hi folks, Well... - Couch to 5K

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What a difference a year makes!


Hi folks,

Well - today is the day I have chosen to mark my "runniversary". Although the date isn't precise, due to the fact I never really thought I'd get past week 1, to all intents and purposes it's a year since I nervously huffed and puffed my way through Week 1 Run 1 of Couch to 5k, never actually believing I would make it past week 1.

This is where I was: I had, a year previously, split up with my wife, the circumstances were difficult, and it became apparent I was quite severely depressed. The doctor had put me on anti-depressants. This allowed me to recover enough to realise about the changes I needed to make to my life to move forward as a functioning human being.

Doing a very sedentary IT job with an hour's drive at each end meant that I was sitting down most of the day, with my only exercise being a walk to the kettle, Tesco, or the bacon butty van! I realised what I needed was some exercise, though it was definitely a head decision as all I really wanted to do was stay on the proverbial couch and wallow in my own self-pity. By some miracle I managed to find an old pair of fairly awful trainers and head off down the local canal towpath for Week 1 Run 1.

Now that run was murder. I felt like my lungs were going to explode and my legs were going to fall off. I was elated to hear that I'd run for a whole 8 minutes, not just for the achievement of doing something I thought was impossible, but because the first session was finally over and I could relax.

Fast forward to about week 3 or 4. I was starting to get a hint that maybe I might be able to do this. The runs were getting no more difficult, yet I was running for longer at a time. I noticed that my recovery time after a run was much quicker, and I realised that I must be getting fitter. I was encouraged and persevered. Week 5 came, with the milestone run 3 at the end, and much to my surprise, I managed to run for a whole 20 minutes without stopping. I still don't fully understand how that happened, but after that, it wasn't a huge mental leap to realise that if I can go from nothing to 20 minutes in 5 weeks, running for another 10 was perfectly possible.

To cut a long story short, I graduated at the beginning of November 2017. Back in May this year, after a very wet start to 2018, I found myself itching for some structure, so I started ju-ju-'s Bridge to 10K plan, along with my virtual running buddy Sadie-runs, and before I knew it, I was running 10ks. For me at least, the journey from 5k to 10k was way easier from 0k to 5k, so if you are considering Bridge to 10k, why not give it a try? If you can do Couch, you can do this!

So what have I learned?

My own idea of what I'm capable of is not a reflection of what I'm actually capable of

Running has really improved my mental health. Disclaimer: this was along with counselling and medication, but I really do believe the running was a great part of this.

What have I become?

I am now the sort of person who uses the couch as somewhere to sit whilst researching new and exciting running routes.

I have replaced searching Google for bits of random tech with searching for running gear.

I have developed a new love for running shoes, especially the OnCloud ones!

I am OFF the anti-depressants

I feel more relaxed yet more alert, and my concentration is better

Lastly... I believe I am now a RUNNER!

All of this felt out of reach a year ago, but look at the difference a year makes. I've even dared to do a couple of parkruns, and proved to myself that I am on a par with other runners of my age. And as I'm sitting here writing this, I'm thinking of the route I might take when I run 10k tomorrow... or maybe even further, if the mood takes me :D

All the best, keep going folks, you can do this!!


85 Replies

What a year... great job

Hidden in reply to UnfitNoMore

What a year...I'll say!! Thank you so much UnfitNoMore


Wow! Well done you (imagine clapping emojis)

Thank you for posting. Only at the start of the program so its great to hear other peoples experiences. {imagine thumbs up emoji} :)

Hidden in reply to Jogunlikely

Thank you! I see you take the same approach I do to these new fangled emojis... if you can't represent it simply on the keyboard (ie: COLON DASH CLOSING-BRACKET) don't bother!


What a fab post and an inspiring story - you are so right when you say running lifts your mood - this program has truly dragged my self esteem out the gutter and hoping to graduate on Sat- after that the possibilities are endless😁 x

Hidden in reply to Bandit14

Oh wow yes, I didn't have any self-esteem when I started this. I felt like a piece of worthless junk (insert word of your choice) but now I've actually done something I set out to do and not failed. That has done wonders for my self-esteem, as has the lovely support and helpful comments from everyone on here and the Bridge to 10k forum. You're all amazing :)

Ooh - impending graduation? Wow - I remember how great that felt. All the best for Saturday!!

Happy Runniversary Neil ! 😊 Well done with your acheivements on your running journey so far.... ( I have heard the HM rumours 😉) so pleased that you are feeling happier and on an even keel.

A truly inspirational post! 😊x

Hidden in reply to Bluebirdrunner

HM rumours lol! I may well leave the HM madness until next year actually, but I am in no way ruling it out. I certainly wouldn't have even considered that a year ago! As always, thank you so much for your lovely encouragement and support along the way. It's been quite a journey, hasn't it?


Excellent post Neil! So pleased for you too that your year of change has reaped such excellent rewards. 👏👏💪😁🏅

A great example of not all change being bad and also of good things coming from difficult times too 👍

Hidden in reply to GoGo_JoJo

Thanks JoJo, I've learned that it's possible to bring good out of a pretty awful couple of years. I still can't believe I'm a actually runner, JoJo. And hey, just caught up with your posts... you're not doing too badly yourself are you? I'm going to attempt to push past 10k this weekend I think.

GoGo_JoJoModerator in reply to Hidden

I was doing great... but then I launched myself off my mountain bike Sunday and am now hurting all over. 🤣 Nothing serious. Just bruises and scrapes. And I got back on and finished it! 💪🤘 I'm paying for it now so a definate week off to recover and back to it at the weekend or Monday. Getting too old to throw myself through the air without a landing pad! 🤣😂

Needless to say I've ordered knee and elbow guards... after the fact!! More to the point I'll just have to learn how to jump properly! 👍😉

I had a 10 to 13 mile run planned. But it will still be there next time 😁


What an inspiring post from you Neil, glad that running has improved your health, as far as 'runniversary' is concerned, I might celebrate that a year after my graduation run 3 of week 9 rather than run 1 of week 1. I do remember both those dates, 18th April run 1 and my graduation run was 18th June. I'll celebrate on 18th June 2019.

Hidden in reply to AlMorr

Thank you so much AlMorr, I really appreciate that. I think for me, the achievement is getting off the couch in the first place, hence why I am celebrating it now. For me, completing C25K was a step in the journey, and I don't really want to consider I've "arrived" yet, because I don't want to give myself an excuse to stop.


What a lovely, inspirational post Neil, all your posts are inspirational.

You have had one heck of a battle and going through a divorce is one of the biggest to affect your confidence and mental well being...... I've been there too!

You took stock of your life and situation and with the thoughts of creating a new future for yourself, you found it in running. You have achieved such a lot and should be totally and utterly proud if yourself.

I hope to run 5k without pausing, I did it up until 7 months ago, but with not feeling too good and one thing and another, I've slipped a bit. But your post has inspired me yet again and like you say, we can all do it and with encouraging posts like yours makes the thought even more inspiring x 👍

Hidden in reply to quirkybee

Thank you QB, what a lovely inspirational reply actually :P

I'm so sorry to hear that you've been through it too, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but also, well done you for doing the same thing and moving on.

Now listen you, please don't beat yourself up. There's really no point in beating yourself up about the runs you haven't done, just take pleasure and satisfaction in the ones you have done. I'm out tomorrow morning if you fancy a virtual run with me :D

quirkybeeGraduate in reply to Hidden

Bless you Neil, that's kind of you. You're right too, no point beating myself up. I work full time every day so I won't be able to run with you, or I would have loved too, but hold that thought and we will do one when we are both free, sounds like a plan 👍

I actually went out after work, but only did, alas, 10 minutes, not enough time to spare with stuff to sort out, tea to do and it all impacts on me that I can't settle to run freely, but I went out. Will upload later.

50 million cheers for you Neil, what a champion 😁😊👍 x

Hidden in reply to quirkybee

Thanks QB! And WELL DONE for doing 10 minutes. 10 minutes is way better than 0 minutes. You'll find a way to fit it in, I can see it's important to you, so you'll get there. Lots of free encouragement here when you need it!


Thank you for sharing your journey Hidden 😊 Wow! What you have achieved in a year is inspirational ~ I feared I'd lost the running bug as I hadn't run for 7 days (through choice) and had lost motivation and direction as I watched other Grads following their committed routes.... this forum is incredible; a message this morning from a fellow VRB just checking up on how I was gave me the shove I needed, I stuck my shorts and trainers on and set 5k on my app ~ so now I'm out there once again with a goal 😊 It's posts like yours that I find really encouraging 😊 Here's to your next year 🥂

Hidden in reply to Flaraflarkin

Thanks Flara, I'm glad if I'm encouraging, I do try! Some would say I'm very trying... :) Sounds like you're doing great though, and I'm really happy to hear that.


You always ignite a spark of enthusiasm and a spark of inspiration. You write well, honest and open, reminding us all onwards and upwards in life and running. Thankyou Neil!

Hidden in reply to Goforitmama

Wow thank you, I never really think of myself as a good writer, but I guess having been on the journey I've been on for the past couple of years, I've re-discovered the person I used to be, and it sounds like that's coming out in what I've been sharing. I find comments like yours really inspiring too!!


What absolutely amazing achievement, such an honest from the heart post that is complete inspirational, you rock Neil

Hidden in reply to Schofield

Thank you for your lovely comment Schofield. I'm so glad if I am actually inspiring people, that's my hope. I think the reason I'm probably coming across as rather evangelical about running is because I know the massive massive positive effect it's had on my fitness and my mental health, and I can't help wanting to share that. Seriously though, what you said is very lovely. Thank you! Totally not crying!! :P


You keep it real, Neil!!!

Well done on making it this far after all that and staying true to yourself!!!👍

Long may the positivity continue.......cheers!!

Hidden in reply to Hotheels

Ooh you're a poet and you didn't know it. Sorry, couldn't resist!

Thank you for your kind words, and I'm so pleased you graduated too. Been quite a journey hasn't it??


Wonderful post Neil! Happy runniversary x

Hidden in reply to pianoteacher

Thank you pianoteacher, I hope what I said has helped people. I do try to be encouraging and positive, there's enough negativity in today's world, for sure!

Really inspiring to read - thank you so much for sharing! X

Hidden in reply to Balletomane9

Thank you so much. I've been called many positive things in reply to my post, and I'm overwhelmed by the kind things people have said. Thank you!


This is what it's all about. How positive, and rather inspiring I think.

Well done🤩


Nice one mate!

Glad you’re on the (running) track to full recovery.

OnClouds do sound tempting as a few people have recommended them.

Hidden in reply to MatildasPb

Thank you! Yes, definitely on the running track to full recovery (love that!!)

Oh - and besotted with my clouds. AND - wonder of wonders, a colleague at work is actually a professional athlete trying to earn some extra money, and says she can get me 25% off anything OnRunning produce. I have now got my eye on the CloudVenture Waterproof shoes as my running route can get extremely muddy over the winter. Obviously pictures will be shared!!

MatildasPbGraduate in reply to Hidden

Yeah, I’ve been in my local running shop drooling over the cloud ventures too.

Thanks for sharing Neil - it’s not easy to do and brave to show us how vulnerable you felt - well done on the much better place you’re in now - and thanks for the 10k tips I’m hovering around the end of the Bridge and making excuses!!

Hidden in reply to MandiV

Oh thank you for your kind words MandiV, the sharing has actually been very theraputic, even though it takes me well out of my comfort zone.

As for Bridge? You've come this far, what have you got to lose, apart from a few hours here and there? It's definitely worth giving it a go, you can do what Sadie and I did and start when you like, or ju-ju- seems to run through it regularly on the Bridge to 10k forum, complete with accompanying YouTube videos. Well worth a go, I'm sure you'll do fine.


Thank you 316neil for sharing your story, I'm sure everyone can identify with some element.

C25k is truly a miraculous thing and I totally agree with your comment 'My own idea of what I'm capable of is not a reflection of what I'm actually capable of'.

I feel frustrated that it has taken me to the age of 49 to realise this. I've done lots of hiking and mountains but running I thought impossible, yet for me it's easier! Thank you again and I wish you well on your continued journey 😊👍

Hidden in reply to Gingernutter

My absolute pleasure. It took me until the age of 42 (I think), but unlike you I really wasn't doing any exercise. Exercise was the work of the devil lol! All I can say is... not any more :D


Happy happy runnerversary! What an amazing journey. Neil, you are a fantastic advert for the benefits of running! Long may you run!! 👍🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️

Hidden in reply to Kimterry

Thank you Kim, thank you so much. Believe me, no-one is as surprised as I am!!


What an inspirational story. Massive respect to you 👏👏

Hidden in reply to Shakywakey

Thank you, just trying to tell it like it is really. I won't say it's been plain sailing, a couple of little stints on the injury couch, and a period of the doldrums after graduation, but I'm still here and still loving it :D

Most inspirational thing I have ever read. Well done.

MummycavModerator in reply to Languid_Lil

Here here Languid_Lil x

Hidden in reply to Languid_Lil

Thank you Lil, that actually brings a tear to me eye!


I like that ‘if I can run 20 mins another 10 is perfectly possible!’ Inspiring stuff well done !

Hidden in reply to CatMo13

Haha - I heard someone else say something similar on the C25K forum once, and it kind-of resonated with me. Oh, and it's true too :D


Fantastic Neil, thank you for sharing your inspiring year with us & the hurdles you have overcome. You have demonstrated such courage and determination - even if it didn’t feel like that.

Wishing you an even better next year. 😀

Hidden in reply to Elfe5

Thank you Elfe5, you are very kind. Oh - and it has NOT gone unnoticed that you've been with me all the way with your own supportive and encouraging comments, so thank you also :)

Elfe5Graduate in reply to Hidden

You are welcome! 😀 You were one the first group of people who greeted & encouraged me when I nervously tiptoed onto the forum over 11 months ago, thank you. 😃

Hidden in reply to Elfe5

Thank you! I love this forum, seriously, lots of virtual advice and hugs, coupled with jJust the right amount of tough love :)


Aw Hidden ...this is a post that I am proud of...I remember the person you were & it has been a pleasure watching the person you’ve become through your running journey ...I am so happy that you’re happy...Running is absolutely fantastic, it can take us to places we’ve never been before, both physically & mentally, I know it’s been such a release for me, especially when I lost my friend at the end of last year...life throws some hard times at us but you have proved that anything is possible, getting through that tough time & also completing the C25k programme....so many of us think it’s out of reach, those first few runs are, I suppose, like the first few weeks after your split...almost impossible to get over...but you have Neil....I hope you’re proud of yourself for what you’ve achieved, I know I’m proud of you...one foot in front of the other, that’s how to cope with everything that’s thrown at us & you’re living/virtual proof that that’s true...well done Neil...Thank God for being able to run xxx

Hidden in reply to Mummycav

Amen Mummycav (and I actually do!!)

Thank you for all your encouragement along the way, even when I'm totally crap at replying to other people's posts a lot of the time. Doesn't mean I don't read them tho' :P

And yes, running is amazing. The fact that I'm able to talk positively about running is amazing.

Hmm... for some reason my eyes seem to be watering now... :P

MummycavModerator in reply to Hidden

Mine do that often!! 😉


Yay Neil! Fantastic post from an amazing runner. You should add to your list of achievements 'I have, through my kind, modest and honest posts on the forum inspired, encouraged and motivated others to continue their running journeys too!'.

Happy running and long may it continue - I hope your 10k (+?) tomorrow is amazing. 😊

Hidden in reply to DebJogsOn

Now just you listen. I've gone through most of my life without crying, and reading these replies is seriously challenging that!! You know, I think this might actually be the person I really am. I've been desperately trying to re-discover "me", and I think I'm getting closer now.

As always, thank you so much for all your support along the way. You're amazing, and incredibly inspirational yourself too, just in case you were wondering!!

DebJogsOnGraduate in reply to Hidden

You should be really proud of the 'you' you're re-discovering!

Wishing you lots more happy running Neil 😊


Well done Neil .. the first step as they say is the hardest and you motivated yourself to take it and just kept going. Keep believing in yourself and enjoy the running.

Hidden in reply to Richard7

Thanks Richard, I'm doing my best, and more and more of it is coming naturally, which is great. And just for the record, you are one of those runners I really look up to, OK? Think of that as the forum equivalent of a very manly hug / pat on the back :P


Nice one, Neil.

Hidden in reply to IannodaTruffe

Thank you, and you're another of those wonderful people who step in with some wise advice just when it's needed, and I have really appreciated that, even if I'm crap at acknowledging it sometimes!!


Thats an amazing and inspirational post neil you have come so far ..well done you have done brilliant ....this will inspire others ...maybe even me to do the ju ju plan ...all the very best to you 😊

Hidden in reply to Myrar

Thank you Myrar, that really means a lot. I can really recommend juju's 10k plan though, it's amazing, as is the forum of course. You could always give it a little try, what's the harm in that eh? :P

MyrarGraduate in reply to Hidden

I may just in a few weeks trying to get a few 5 k done first ...thank you

Hidden in reply to Myrar

That’s wise actually, consolidate, get to the point where a 5k run doesn’t fill you with dread, then I’m sure you’ll be just fine :)


Aaaaah what a lovely post, and more importantly so good to know what a change it has made in you. There will always be tough times, and yet now there is a tool you have which has given you so much strength! Wonderful x

Hidden in reply to icklegui

Thank you icklegui, you're another of those wonderful people who is always there being supportive. I think this forum has given me as much strength as the running itself to be honest, and I'm realy really grateful for that. So thank you for being part of this!

ickleguiGraduate in reply to Hidden

I feel similarly. I was literally just mentioning this forum as somewhere where people are supportive and polite and lovely and you are certainly a big part of that! *group hug*


What a turn around a year can make, especially when we commit to doing something for our physical and mental health and then have the tenacity to stick with it. Kudos to a great achievement, a phenomenal year, and many more runniversaries to come 👏👏👏👏👏👏

Hidden in reply to SaskAlliecat

Thanks SaskAlliecat, you're so right, a year makes all the difference, and I'm in a much better place now. I love that people like you have been encouraging me along the way, and basically we can all encourage each other, without harsh judgement either. Love it!

Determination at its best!

Hidden in reply to DeterminedBear

Thank you! It's probably more like bloodymindedness, or stubbornness, but I'll take "Determination" :P

Great article Neil, really inspiring. Well done you.

Hidden in reply to Taffywasawelshman

Thank you Taffy! I don't feel that inspirational, but I really do try and be positive and encouraging.


So proud of you, buddy. Happy Runniversary! x What a year, eh? You have shown so much grit and determination and I feel so honoured to have been able to be with you on this crazy running journey! It has been a blast. And to watch you grow and develop as a runner has been amazing.

The difference that running has made to your life has been palpable. You are living proof that running can go a long way to helping improve the quality of one’s life, so thank you for sharing your story on here; I am sure this will inspire so many new runners to keep going!

Most of all, thank you for being so supportive of my running. We have been alongside each other every step of the way, and it has been a real pleasure, Neil. You are a kind and supportive virtual running chum and I am so glad we have been through this together! <Big hug>

Happy running, buddy. xxx

Hidden in reply to Sadie-runs

Oh Sadie, what can I say? Thank you SO MUCH for being there and being so supportive. It's what we do though, isn't it, support each other, share each others triumphs, support each other though the more challenging times. You have been there as a constant throughout. I'm also really glad we've been through this together. Now stop it, or you'll make me cry again :P <Even bigger hug>


What a great write up mate. It really shows what running can do, not just for the body but also the mind.

It’s tough, we sweat, we crawl, we huff we puff but we just keep going and you never know we might be doing marathons put on the telly!!

Well done 👍

Hidden in reply to Hidden

Thanks Dave, yes, running seems to have a positive effect on all parts of us doesn't it?

At least I have an answer to the huffing and puffing though, which is to turn the music up so that I can't hear myself huffing and puffing away! Honestly, I find it most unnerving when I'm running "unplugged" now lol


Happy runaversary and very well done. I’m amazed every time I run how uplifting it is. Keep it up . You are an inspiration. By the way I graduated in July , I’m 65 next month, and had never run further than for a bus in my life before this.

Hidden in reply to Grannyruns

Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, it really is a positive thing isn't it, running? I'm a little younger than you (43) but to be honest I don't think I'd ever run for anything in my life, not really done any exercise at all. It does feel good, doesn't it?

GrannyrunsGraduate in reply to Hidden

Sure does. I go first thing in the morning, around 6.30, and it’s just me and the birds singing. Lovely 😊


I'm a day late, but happy runniversary nonetheless. Your story is inspirational and articulates what I suspect many of us feel about running, but don't know how to say. Thank you so much for taking the time to post.

Hidden in reply to Runip

Thank you so much! I’m not normally one for fancy words or anything, but It needed saying! Thank you!


Thank you for sharing your story in such a poignant way that truly is inspiring. As with you, running has had a profound effect on us all whatever stage we are at. Happy Runniversary!


Inspirational - I’m only 3 months into my running journey but can really identify with this ... looks like Bridge to 10k is my next step 😊

Well done Neil! And greetings from California where no running is happening! Should be asleep, but had a little peek at the forum and had to reply! All the best for your onward running journey,

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