Yesterday was the six month anniversary from the day I started C25K, it seems to have passed pretty quickly! When I started I genuinely felt that I would never be able to run for 30 minutes but that I was really going to give it a go. I had stopped smoking the month before and although I wasn't terribly unfit I was overweight with a BMI of 34.4. I started reading the posts in here and was particularly interested in people doing the program who were overweight and how they were getting on and reading some of those posts inspired me to really continue and complete the program, I graduated in January whilst I was on holiday in Florida (remember travel!) and had found each weeks progression to graduation reasonably achievable and tremendously fulfilling. I must admit that after the course was completed I felt a little bit lost as to what to do next and I'll share some advice on that later.
At Graduation, the biggest and most unexpected benefit for me personally was the sense of pride and achievement in what I had done for myself, I had done this over Christmas and kept going to completion without a single wobble or missed run other than a couple of rescheduling issues while I was travelling. I felt really great about myself in a very positive way that I realised had been missing for some time.
My biggest error after graduation was that I didn't really take enough time to consolidate, I think I may have missed it but I didn't really see enough emphasis on how important this is and just dived in to the magic 10 plan before I was ready, this really set me up for failure and I gave up the magic 10 after I had run for 50 minutes a couple of times, this was entirely my fault and me trying to go faster than my body was ready for. This lead me to, I think, wasting a bit of time. I feel that If I had really focused on this for another month I would be further along my fitness journey today.
Anyway I'm back to doing 30 minute runs and it's great, every single week I see improvements in pace and distance covered but more than that I feel much stronger. When I graduated I could run for 30 minutes but got progressively slower towards the end of the run, now my pace is much more consistent and although I do get slower its much improved on where it used to be, I would put that down to losing weight and improving my stamina.
This morning I did my benchmark run and got further than I ever have before and got another couple of PB's along the way, doing this every week really helps me to see how my body is improving and it really works for me.
After 6 months I can run relatively hard for 30 minutes without feeling shattered, I'm still seeing real improvement and will carry on doing this for a while and then I may try the Magic ten again. I really would like to be able to run for an hour without stopping and eventually be able to do a 10K with the same ease that I can run for 30 minutes now.
My body has changed quite a lot, I'm a lot stronger than I was and have a lot more muscle in my legs and around my hips and waist, I've dropped from a 40 inch waist to a 36 inch waist, my measurements have gone down significantly (I would really recommend you take measurements as you will see a big change here more so than weight lost initially) and I have lost 22 pounds or just over 10 Kilos, I still have a bit to go but it's still coming off week after week and I have no doubt now that I will get to my first target weight and beyond. I'm 54 and can honestly say I feel fitter and healthier now than I have for a long time. I also sleep better than I ever have, something that I have had problems with my entire adult life.
If I could give one piece of advice to people who are graduating it's pay a lot of attention to the consolidation period. Do a benchmark 30 minute run on the same route and use something like Strava to map your progress, Strava will compare runs that are the same and will give you a progress report over time which shows you clear evidence of your improvement. It's hard once you let go of the program, the structure of being told what to do is more important than we realise until it's gone and a lot of us may feel a bit lost. I would suggest repeating week 9 for a couple of weeks and then maybe trying Nike Run Club which has some great guided runs for all levels of runner, there are quite a few 30 minute runs in there which keep you going and keep you motivated. I still use these from time to time but usually just listen to a podcast which I find distracts me and passes the time without me looking at my watch every couple of minutes
Everyone is a bit different, some of us advance a lot quicker than others but this is what has worked for me, above all else, keep going, it really works and has the ability to change you so much for the better than you may expect.
Happy running everybody