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