Week 5 completed - and I survived! Never thought I'd get this far when I started on the programme 6 weeks ago and had to repeat week 2!
To tell the truth, I thought it would be relatively easy - after all, I walk my dogs for at least an hour and a half a day, and compete in dog agility. I mean, how unfit could I possibly be? Well, I found out in week 1 when I optimistically put on my running shoes, harnessed up my youngest dog and attached him to an old skijoring belt to keep my hands free. Half an hour later, and I had to admit that matching myself against a 1-year old lurcher/collie-cross was probably not such a good idea after all.
Time to rethink my strategy, and downgrade from Formula One racer to a reliable old Volvo in the form of my 13-year old German Shepherd. Now he may not be quite as fast as in his younger days, but that didn't stop him giving me somewhat puzzled looks as I huffed and puffed my way behind him in week 2, as if to say "well, keep up then, I don't know why you're making such a fuss". At this point, I decided that if I was going to keep to the programme, I'd better swallow my pride and repeat week 2. This proved absolutely the right decision, and by the end of week 2, my old boy and I had found our pace.
Since then, I've found that the programme has always kept me at the right level, pushing me just that little bit past the comfort zone every day but not leaving me exhausted or in serious pain. By the start of week 4, I felt confident enough to invest in a new pair of running shoes and make an upgrade by adding my middle-aged spaniel/collie-cross to my outfit.
The value of a canine running partner cannot be underestimated. They're happy to go for a run whatever the weather, don't comment on your outfit, have no problem with you turning beetroot red and huffing like a steam engine, don't laugh at your just-above-walking-pace jog and may even give you a bit of a tow up a hill.
If you fancy a canine running companion but don't have a dog of your own, see if you can find someone in your neighbourhood who would lend you a pooch. Ask any vet how many unfit, overweight dogs there are in the UK and listen to them vent on the subject. So finding someone who would gladely take you up on the offer of giving their dog a bit of extra exercise may be pretty easy. Don't assume you need a large dog for this - even a reasonably fit small dog will be able to keep up with a new runner, and a small terrier will leave you standing! On the other hand, a retired greyhound could be ideal - they may look like the canine equivalent of a Ferrari, but get most of their exercise through lead-walking, so shouldn't pull you off your feet with sheer excitement.
And once you've completed the programme and have found your ideal canine running partner, you may even be tempted to take up a new hobby, such as CaniX or dog agility. Who knows where the C25K programme may take you?