I am well and truly ‘into’ running! There’s something that I never thought I’d type, but you heard correct. Thanks to the time lockdown gave us, the Couch to 5k app and a serious need to do some exercise, I decided to give it a go and slowly and surely I’ve been really starting to enjoy it. I have always loved the idea of running, but never been able to stick to it. I would always decide to start running and go for a run once, maybe twice and then give up when I found it too hard. Today I thought I’d chat through my experience of the Couch to 5K app so far and share the tunes that keep me going! If you’re thinking of giving running a go, then this might be just the blog post for you!
During lockdown, we all had those days and weeks where we struggled. I mean we are going through a global pandemic so understandably stress levels have been high and it has been no different for me. I first began to think about starting to run when I saw a few of my friends, who had been running for a while, doing great distances and learning to love exercise. It was really inspiring and I felt motivated to try again, especially as I knew it would have a positive impact on how I felt. I knew I couldn’t try in the same way as I always had done, so decided to try a new approach – step in the Couch to 5K App.
When you hear many people raving about something, it is normally for a reason and this app is no different. The hype around this app, created by the NHS, is due to its incredibly well researched programme, how easy it is to use and how easy it makes the process of getting into running. Incase you haven’t heard of it, the app and podcast cover a 9 week programme, in which you run for 3 times every week with essentially an increasing difficulty level. You get to choose your trainer, mine is Sarah Millican who I would highly recommend, and then it starts you off with interval training guiding you through it as you go.
For example the first week’s programme looks like:
‘A brisk 5-minute walk, then alternate 1 minute of running and 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.’
It breaks it down into manageable chunks and as someone who has hardly done any exercise for several years it was exactly what I needed. From the beginning I found it hard, but not unachievable – it was the right level to push me, but not so difficult that I gave up. I have felt like the programme has really built me up and, now about to start Week 9, I have managed to complete every run properly in the programme. No sneaky walking, can you believe it! I certainly didn’t think I would get this far and now I can run for 28 minutes without stopping – wowzers! However, what is more important to me is that I’ve got into the habit of moving my body and getting outside, it gives me such a boost. Personally it isn’t about the classic time and distance goals that seem to punctuate runner’s minds, but simply the fact that whether I go out for 15 minutes or 35, it makes me feel good!
Top Tips for Doing Couch to 5k
- Find a routine – I have mostly been running on a Monday, Wednesday & Friday and found it helpful to stick to this, and a time of day too, to keep me on track and stop me thinking ‘I’ll just go tomorrow!’
- Use the bell – in the middle of the run, a bell will ring and this means you’re halfway through. When I was starting out I used this to help me gauge when I needed to start heading home so as not to overwork myself by going too far
- Stretch, stretch and stretch some more – one thing the app doesn’t do is advise you to stretch. By week three my calves were SO tight and adding in proper stretched before and after my runs obviously really helped.
- Grass first, tarmac second – if you can start by running on grassy areas it will be much softer on your body whilst you are starting out and help you avoid injury!
- Get a good running playlist – I put together some of my favourite good beat songs to give me a boost and it really helps. The app fades out music when it needs to give you instructions and it all works so well, seamless! Here’s my playlist:
- Or A Podcast – I am obsessed with listening to Potterless and love the distraction that a podcast gives you from what you are doing. It helps you get into the zone, thanks to Helen for recommending podcasts!
- Chat with Friends – I have friends also doing the programme, we encourage each other and share our running woes!
I’m nearly finished the programme, but will definitely be keeping up the running – much to my surprise! What’s your opinion of running, have you ever fancied trying it?