Couch To 5K: My International Adventure Is Complete!

As of about five hours ago, I have joined the ranks of the graduates! Huzzah! (How do I get my spiffy little "GRADUATE" banner?)

For me, Couch To 5K was an international journey. It began in late August -- the 24th, to be precise -- at my home in Oxford, where I ran for my first four weeks. Right from the start, I took to running outside; in Oxford, there are always other runners around. For each of those first four weeks, I set a different course, just to keep things interesting. In Week One, I started by heading South; in Week Two, I started to the East; in Week Three, I my "brisk walk" pointed North; and in Week Four, I moved to the West. This helped shake things up, and it also made each week more distinct from the others.

In mid-September, I flew to Japan for work. I was there for two weeks, so that is where my Week 5 and Week 6 runs took place. Not being as familiar with the roads, I stuck to mostly the same route for those six runs, with a little extra exploring here and there. These were my first "long" runs (by which I mean "over five minutes"), and I saw quite a difference when I returned to Oxford for Week 7 Run 1!

I didn't stay long in Oxford, though. I was only home for two days before flying to the States for personal reasons. Week 7 may have begun in Oxford, but I finished the week out in the Chicago suburbs, running in a stunningly beautiful environment -- the Morton Arboretum. At this time of year, it is particularly gorgeous, as the Autumn leaves take on an array of exotic colours. I had to laugh at the start of the Week 7 podcasts when Laura suggested that we try choosing a different running route to break up the monotony. I suppose moving it to a new continent counts, yes?

A nine hundred mile road trip East meant that I started Week 8 in upstate New York. On the return journey, I did Week 8 Run 2 in Pennsylvania after stopping to rest for the night. Week 8 Run 3 was back in Chicagoland, in the same Arboretum, as was all three runs for Week 9.

Thus, we have the breakdown: Thirteen runs in Oxford, Six in Japan, Six in Chicagoland, one in New York, and one in Pennsylvania. Five locations, spread out amongst three continents -- not bad, huh?

Of course, at the end of the day, only one number matters... and that number is 30, as in "thirty minutes of continuous running!" True, I am already thinking of the future, looking forward to re-igniting my relationship with Laura in the 5K+ podcasts, improving my speed, and building a bridge to 10km. Ultimately, I want to complete an Olympic triathlon by the time that I turn 40 (I'm 37 now)... and Couch To 5K has provided the perfect start to the running portion of that challenge!

Hard to believe it wasn't so long ago when running for sixty seconds was difficult, and I spent Week One thinking: "Please let this minute end before I die!" Now it's half an hour at a time... with hopes to double that number soon!

Thanks to everyone who gave support... and thanks, in particular, to whoever designed the plan and the folks who decided to make these podcasts!

15 Replies

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  • What a journey! Congratulations on graduating :)

  • Wow well done you, what fantastic locations you have managed to run in.

  • What a brilliant adventure indeed IronMatt; it sounds fantastic! I bet there is nobody else on this site that could beat that...... And real dedication too to keep on with the programme despite your travels. Well worn and well travelled shoes indeed!

    For your shiny green badge contact John, JR21, in admin (in the directory at the top of the page) and he will get that sorted for you. Wear it with great pride and I hope your triathlon goal is as great an adventure as this.....!

  • ironMatt what a fantastic story! What an adventure! You kept running even whilst suffering from jet-lag-you are one brave boy! I really admire your tenacity. What beautiful places you have run in. I haven't "met" you before, but I wish you all the best for your future running career-oh and many CONGRATULATIONS on Graduating! get that shiny badge and wear with pride-you out of any of us have deserved it.

    I'm right behind you-run 3 week 8 tomorrow :-)

  • Congratulations, and what a great opportunity to run in all these different places! Get that badge - you've earned it :)

  • Got it now -- thanks! It's been a lot of fun... and I can't wait to try out the next adventure! :-)

  • CONGRATULATIONS! Such an adventure for you!!!! Quite the journey and wishing you the very best with your next goal! :-)

  • Thank you!! I'll be sticking with the basic workout for another week, then working on the 5K+ podcasts while looking for a 5K race to participate in.

    Probably after the new year starts, I'll try kicking it up a notch and finding a 10K plan to work towards. Should be fun!! :-D

  • Well done Ironmatt - way to go - does Laura do podcast's for triathlons - only joking

  • Thanks! And, if I recall correctly, you're right behind me on the schedule, due to graduate yourself very soon now! So there will be congrats in order all around!

  • Well done Ironmatt. I love your determination to run when travelling for work. I travel a bit (clearly not as much as you) and didn't even attempt it, though I was jealous of a couple of colleagues who did and wish I had the guts to. Maybe i was scared of getting lost in a foreign land!

    Also you're in my neck of the woods, I'm in Kidlington. We are quite lucky to have so many lovely places to run round here aren't we?

  • Oh, hey! Howdy, Neighbour! :-)

    Thanks for the kind words! It was a little odd to be running in Japan, not only because I didn't know the area, but also because nobody does it! As you know, when running in and around Oxford, there are almost always other runners around. The Japanese, in contrast, don't just go out and run. So I got some very strange looks!

    Is all good, though. Today was a gloriously beautiful Autumn morning. I'm still in the Chicago area for a few more days, so I went back to the arboretum for my first post-graduation run. Passed (or was passed by) four or five other runners, which was nice.

    I see from your tag that you are a fellow C-to-5k graduate, as well as being a fellow Oxonian. Have you done any actual races yet? I'm looking to find one now that I've graduated. The Running Bug doesn't list any in our area for the rest of 2012, so I'm thinking maybe early 2013. We should keep in touch -- maybe I'll see you there!

  • Yes, definitely. It was partly because there are so many other runners around here of all shapes and sizes that I had the confidence to attempt this (the same went for when I decided to start cycling to work about 18 months ago).

    I've not done any races yet, only graduated a week ago and then it was my travel week :) I have checked out the Oxford parkrun times though, and was slightly alarmed by how fast they are! woosh! The quickest people (Uni running club people I think) are doing 14 min 5Ks and the slowest one just under 31 minutes. I'm not quite there yet and don't really want to expose myself to having to make them wait for me to cross a few minutes later! So more work to do yet before I inflict myself on the general running population of Oxford. Though I would be interested in taking on a race once I have shaved a few minutes off my time.

    Would be great to keep in touch though. It would be good to know if there are any friendly beginner type clubs for people like me? Do you know much about the running "scene" round here?

  • I'm afraid that I'm completely useless so far as a source of info on the "running scene". When I decided to get started, I figured the best thing to do would be to just run. There are lots of lovely bells & whistles, like cool gear and meeting people and tracking apps, that are great in principle... but would have just added inertia when I needed to get going. Now that I've graduated, I may look into them more -- we can learn about the local scene together!

    Probably the first place I would check, when I get home next week, is the "Up & Running" shop in Headington. I live about a two minute walk away, so they are an easy first contact point for me to learn more. If I find out anything interesting, I will definitely let you know!

  • I was thinking of going there as it is probably about time to get my gait analysed and get a decent pair of shoes. Do let me know how it goes.

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