Couch to 5K

Jumping the rails..... the art of improvisation

Wow, that trip abroad really did take its toll!

To recap, I started C25K back in January. Week 1 went OK, but I wasn't comfortable with week 2, so I repeated it a second week. After that, it was plain sailing, and I really enjoyed the programme. But the repetition of week 2 meant that I didn't reach my goal of completing week 9 before I headed off abroad for an extremely strenuous "holiday". Knowing that I would be doing no running for the 10 days I was away, I asked other bloggers for their opinion on what I should do when I got back again. The general consensus was that I should just start week 9 after I returned. But, as I expected, the trip and the hours of driving left me rather worse for wear, and when I tried R1W9, there was no chance of me getting even half-way through it.

It was clearly time for a rethink. My back, neck and shoulders were awful and, after hours of driving, my hamstrings were really painful. After the first run, I felt absolutely dreadful and was ready to just give up. Although sunshine is lovely, the fact that the weather had changed dramatically while I was away and I now suddenly found myself running in something approaching summer temperatures didn't help either - I simply didn't get a chance to acclimatise!

So it was time to give myself a stern talking-to, after which I decided that rather than give up altogether, the best option would be to lower my sights and try to find a level I was comfortable with. Back to week 5 I went, and completed it in reasonable fashion. Confidence boosted, I did progressed to week 6 - still OK. Then it was time for take 2 of week 7. I'd found this week particularly tough the first time round and, not surprisingly, struggled again. Still, I stuck in there and found the second and third runs of week 7 a bit better but still not fantastic.

Well, having already abandoned the programme completely, I decided that I had nothing to loose - I may as well stick to week 7 until things improved. Did a fourth week 7 run last Monday - mmmm, a bit better this time. Was doing the same run again today, when suddenly this thought popped into my head - what if kept going a it longer, maybe a minute or two into the cool-down walk section? OK, a minute passed, and I was still trotting along. Let's do another minute - still OK. Before I knew it, the cool-down section was finished, and I'd run for 30 minutes! Can't believe how chuffed I felt with myself - my first ever 30-minute run, a few weeks late, but still......

Not sure that I'll be able to repeat it next time, but at least I've proven to myself that I can do it. After several visits to the osteopath to sort out my back and hamstrings after the hours spent behind the wheel, it was well worth going with my instincts and returning to a level which I could cope with both mentally and physically. The experience has shown me the value of not sticking strictly to a schedule, but to listen to my body instead. From now on, I will do just that. I suspect that keeping all the C25K podcasts on my MP3 player, so that I can mix and match, may prove the key to not abandoning my new-found running skills just because I don't feel like getting out through the door in the first place. Improvisation - you can't beat it!

6 Replies

Brillant! Funny how sometimes running is easy and sometimes it's like running though treacle... You knew when to push it and it worked. Well done!


I've said this so many times I'm sounding like an old stuck record but "listen to your own body" its only you that can decide what is good and what is not. You have done just exactly that and listened and done the sensible thing, well done. I think too that there comes a point when your clever body says "OK she/he wants to run so I might as well accept it" Your brain also goes into acceptance mode and bingo its all comes together, what a feeling! Good luck for your graduation which is just around the corner. :)


well done... The feeling of completion is great :)


I think you are right. Whatever works for you ... You should be feeling v proud. You stuck in and got going. Well done you! :)


Well doone you :) Bet you are still smiling :) :)


Yes, I am! :-) My advice to anyone who feels like they've failed when they haven't completed part or all of the programme according to schedule is to stop thinking in terms of a set time limit and keep their eye on the ultimate goal. I'm way off running 5k in 30 minutes - can probably do 4 at a push - but that will come eventually.

As far as I'm concerned the goal of the programme is to get you to run - full stop. How far, how fast and how soon should be regarded as an individual thing. It is far better to go back and do an easier session on days when you really don't feel up to it, than to simply not do anything at all. For me, running is all about building a habit, and with no other incentive other than the rather vague goal of "getting fitter", I can only achieve this if I'm enoying the experience, not if I'm constantly struggling. I've got enough aches and pains on a daily basis not to be a huge fan of the "no pain, no gain" philosophy.


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