At 5am, No one Hears you Wheeze: By the age of... - Couch to 5K

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At 5am, No one Hears you Wheeze

PaulS83 profile image

By the age of 35, after years of debauchery and idleness I’ve finally got to a stage where if I appeared in a line-up of slugs with spindly limbs loosley tacked on them, I probably wouldn’t be immediately ousted. I feel like I’ve been sewn together from the contents of a hospital dustbin and a recent blood test has turned up high cholesterol, high “bad cholesterol” and an enzyme in my liver working 3 times harder than it should.

I feel like I do at Christmas every year, where in late November/early December everyone starts quizzing me about plans and I tell them that it’s ages away, bother me at the time. Then out of nowhere it’s Christmas Eve and I’m trying to convince myself that my wife takes 10 baths a week and would really appreciate whatever tat the petrol station has on promotion next to the till.

What I’ve done to myself has been years in the making, but all of a sudden it’s officially made and needs to be unmade. More than a New Year’s resolution, if I want another 35 years and to be anything like the husband and father I dream of being, this has got to be a lifestyle one-eighty.

No more skipping breakfast, working through lunch and compensating with a plate that is intended to feed a village. No more Coca-Cola. No more smoking. Definitely no more smoking. No more red wine, no more beer (for a while), no more crap. Just clean livin’ and exercise.

Breakfast everyday, nuts and fruit mid morning, healthy lunch, more nuts and fruit in the afternoon, moderate dinner. And running. Later will come strength training but first is base fitness. I will, for the first time in my peculiar existence, have a six pack. I need a wild goal, so there it is.

On your average weekday, I’m usually out the house for work at 6am and not back until 18:30 - 19:00 (depending on traffic) and then have a precious hour with my 2-year-old daughter before she goes to bed. Throw dinner, wife-time and all the other bits and bobs into the mix and there’s not a lot of room to manoeuvre.

So, to make this work, it’s up at 4am, breakfast by 4:30, out running at 5am, then quick shower and ready to go at 6am.

It’s a sadistic routine, but it’s strangely empowering. I’ve pretty much got the world to myself at that time; no one can see me beetrooting, no one can see the sweat-stream clouding behind in my 2mph wake. At 5am, no one can hear you wheeze.

I can’t believe that I would actually recommend it. I feel a bit like a friend who’s prattling on about some fantastic chocolate-covered wasps they’ve discovered, or their homemade carrot wine, I can hardly take myself seriously that I’m telling people to try it.

If you feel in any way self conscious about running or being seen (or heard) running, get out there before the judgmental b@st@rds are even out of bed and then strut about (hobble is a form of strut) with shameless arrogance at 7am when you’re raring to go and everyone else is desperately trying to puzzle out which feet their shoes go on. Do it!

By the way, it’s probably worth noting that I’m only in Week 2. I hope I can keep this going, but I’ve got a track record of starting things zestfully and then waning or getting distracted by something shiny...or by sleep. Someone should call me out in a couple of weeks to see if I’m still this chirpy. I’ll use my dislike of being called-out and my like of being left alone as motivation to keep on it.

P.s. no sign of six-pack as of yet. That maybe a job for timeteam and their dirty great excavator.

20 Replies

Welcome Paul! You’re 1 week ahead of me on the program, but I’m 15 years ahead of you in years!

Your enthusiasm is fantastic, but (sorry for the but) perhaps making such an enormous wholesale change to your lifestyle is why you struggle to keep going?

I’m hugely impressed though, and wish I had your willpower to ditch all the unhealthy stuff, I think I’ll still have a few indulgences and look forward to seeing your progress. Well done

PaulS83 profile image
PaulS83 in reply to susan8326

Unfortunately it’s a needs-must! Chipping a way at bad behaviours was three stops back, this is a case of pulling the emergency brake, smashing the windows with the head-scratchingly undersized red hammer and bailing out!

Great post. Yeah, for some the change-one-thing-at-a-time works, for others it’s a 180 degree overhaul. A ball rolling or an avalanche! Ok, enough with the metaphors. YouTube keeps recommending a video of how getting up at 5am every day changes your life (presumably for the better). 4am, in your case - sounds like there might be something in it! Really impressive start - glad it’s working for you and wish you the best 🙂

PaulS83 profile image
PaulS83 in reply to ktsok

It’s changed my life in a sense that I have to go to bed earlier! It doesn’t matter how many times I get up early, it never comes naturally. I rouse with all the grace of a shaved walrus. But! It’ll give me more time in a day to show off my six pack. When it comes.

ktsok profile image
ktsok in reply to PaulS83

Goals indeed. I know walruses like to bask... in admiration, in this case. Let’s hope not everyone is too bleary-eyed to notice!

Sadie-runs profile image

Well, that is singularly one of the best post titles I have read in a long while, so thanks for that laugh. And all power to you – I waited until 46 before I took my body/lifestyle in hand! But it has been no looking back, and I am as fit as a flea now – and something I never thought would happen, but I love running and could not imagine my life without it now. I had given up smoking 6 years before that, but the lure of wine and couch carried on for a while longer. I am only now addressing the lure of the wine far so good.

Wow, you work some long hours. I take it that is one change you cannot make? 4am is awfully early. I am a morning runner, but don't get out before 6am. I hope you enjoy the programme. Lots of support, cheerleading and advice on this forum, so stay close (and the accountability thing works a treat too!)


PaulS83 profile image
PaulS83 in reply to Sadie-runs

Traffic dictates my itenarary. If I leave at 6am it’s a 1 hour journey, if I leave at 7am it’s a 3 hour journey and all the intervals in between. 1 hour in bed isn’t worth 2 sat in traffic. In fact, I’d possibly swap a selection of fingers and toes (the ones I don’t use very often) for not sitting in traffic. No takers as of yet though!

Haha 😂 great post, made me laugh. But you’ve made a start so good for you. One step at a time and one day at a time. Life will sometimes get in the way (doesn’t it always 🙄) but don’t worry and get back to the main plan. You can do whatever you choose to do and you’ve made a great start.

And you’re only 35! You are so lucky to discover running so young. Most of us here wish we’d found it at that age so relish in it and enjoy it 🤗

I’m 35 but I swear to God that a pensioner swapped knees with me while I was asleep on a train. He’s off somewhere river dancing and I’m stuck here with a 2mph top speed and joints that sound like castanets!

staceypek profile image

Fab post Paul - can I go out on a limb and assume your day job involves writing in some form?! If not, it should :) (okay, one lifestyle change at a time...)

Your plans sound very well thought-out and determined. I would also recommend trying the odd evening run here and there though - they definitely don't work for everyone but I had assumed they wouldn't work for me either until I tried it. Now most of my midweek running is during the evenings, and I save my longer ones for the weekend where I can try different routes and have a bit more time. I do occasionally go in the morning before work though, if it's the only option to squeeze it in, and I must admit I do enjoy the feeling of satisfaction of being done before 7am, and of course seeing less people on my wheezy shuffles helps as you quite rightly point out!

I also have a track record of starting things enthusiastically then ditching as soon as the novelty wears off, but that didn't even slightly happen with this plan. Once I got to week 4 I could noticeably see my progress already and I was hooked. I graduated just before Christmas and am considering going for a 10k in the spring. I was the ultimate couch potato before this! Trust the plan and take it easy and you will never look back. Best of luck - keep posting!

PaulS83 profile image
PaulS83 in reply to staceypek

No, I’m an engineer, but I can bash out a hell of a passive-aggressive email when the mood takes me. And birthday cards! Weekends are reserved for less sadistic routines and I’ll be out Saturday (early) evening I think. I still need the masking veil of night to hide behind for the time being. A prancing pony I am not. That’s on my goals list though, “be more ponylike”.

Fantastic Paul, and welcome aboard! 👋

You’ve grabbed your lifestyle by the you-know-what, you’ve whooped it upside the head and you’ve told it to get a grip. You sound motivated, and, you know what? You WILL be able to complete the programme. It’s amazing, ask any of us who’ve been through it. 😀🏃‍♀️🏃😀 I’m mid 50s and hated running more than anything 7 months ago. I’ve since signed up for 3 x 10k races this year. Told you. 😀🏃‍♀️

The programme isn’t always easy, but it’s 100% doable. Each week is designed to prepare you for the next. Take it slow as you need. Snails are your friends, and they need to beat you over the finish line of each run, at least to begin with. Taking it slow and steady won’t only give you the best chance of completing a run/week, it’ll most likely prevent injury. Here’s a snail to get you started - 🐌 Remember, he likes to win.

Have fun, and report back here often. We’re all looking out for you, and will happily give you a poke with a cattle prod if you’re lacking in motivation.

Go Paul! 🏃👍👏💪😀👊

Sometimes I think I actually run slower than I walk. Injury is my biggest worry, but I’ve got the heart and brain of a little boy. I’m like an over excited toddler behind the wheel of a 1960’s Skoda. Before they became taxis.

Shelley2310 profile image

Last August, I gave up smoking, started healthy eating and got gp referral to the gym! September I started c25k but end of week 1 I got a knee injury! I then started again in November, today I’m going to do w8r2. I’m still classed as obese even though I’ve lost 2st 7lb, still loosing. I found the best way was to do total life change. I’m living proof it CAN be done. Enjoy and trust the programme. Go really slow (I can’t even catch the snails), but I can now run 28 mins non stop, nothing is impossible. Happy running 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️

PaulS83 profile image
PaulS83 in reply to Shelley2310

Congratulations and you’re right, nothing is impossible if you’ve got the courage and enthusiasm to take it square on. Except time travel. And (clearly) Brexit.

Shelley2310 profile image
Shelley2310Graduate in reply to PaulS83

😂😂 oh yes definitely brexit

resolution profile image

I really enjoyed reading this, thank you for sharing your thoughts! Do you write blogs or stories? With your style you could well become very popular!

Now to the point - hats off to you for your enthusiasm and (so far) determination. I can relate to the "being distracted" from certain things, only recently I identified that the "distraction" was not really a distraction at all, and the reason I stop and don't finish things is because they're difficult and I don't *have* to do them. Take C25K. I started this twice before, gave up twice because it was too hard (and not, as I told myself, because I was too tired or didn't have time). Now that I've actually finished it I realised that this is probably the first thing I finish that is completely for myself and voluntary, AND difficult, in a decade. A DECADE. Honestly?! How many kilos could I have shed, how many years could I have had of active holidays with kayaking and climbing, how much more comfortable would I have been sitting next to someone on the tiny bus seats?

I read a sentence in a book, "How Not To Die", the other day, which went something like "we eat and live as if it doesn't affect our future". Especially at our age, I think this is true - we don't feel the effects of age yet (except perhaps a tougher hangover), and for myself personally I have to say that I don't really have any concept of "being old age" myself. It's such an alien concept - I see old people shuffling along in the street and I genuinely wonder what it feels like to be them. But this is where we can make a difference - at age 65 we can turn into grannies and grandpas shuffling along with a walking stick, or we can pass them by with a cheery wave while doing our 3-weekly 5k.

Or if you're not motivated by something that's three decades away, think about in a year's time. Do you want anything to hamper your playing with your little girl in the garden? Do you want to feel like a slug with spindly limbs for another year? Do you want to be out of breath whenever you climb a staircase?

To make a (very long, sorry) story short, it helps me to put my mind in the future. Where do I actually want to be, what do I want to feel like, what do I want to achieve? Improving your health has an impact on a lot more areas of your life than just your health in itself. It's not just about the six pack. And now, looking back, I can honestly say that even if C25K hadn't given me anything else than the sense of achievement when I finished it, I would still be happy that I did it. By actually finishing it and investing in myself, I gained back some self respect.

Anyway, super long rant - hope you can get something out of it that helps you.

PaulS83 profile image
PaulS83 in reply to resolution

Very inspirational. It’s good to hear from people who have the same fears of self-sluggery yet have overcame. Thanks for taking the time to share.

IannodaTruffe profile image

Welcome to the forum and well done on getting started.

This guide to the plan is essential reading

Enjoy your journey.

That’s a hell of a read, but very informative, thanks!

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