Fat Friday, General

Couch to 5K

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, or have been scrolling through some of my recent posts, you’ll notice that a) I read a lot, b) I like travelling, and c) I’m currently on a weightloss and fitness regime that I’ve affectionately dubbed ‘Fat Friday’.

During my Fat Friday ‘journey’ I have dived head first into the world of dieting and the world of exercise. I decided to follow an age old method of weight loss and witness and scrap following fad diets. Simply, this is the Eat Less and Exercise More diet. So far, I’ve lost 20lbs, so I guess it could be labelled a success. The main discovery of the diet has, so far, been all about routine. Routine in eating, work balance, and exercising has been essential in sticking to my goal.

The latest thing I’ve thrown myself into is Couch to 5K. This running programme was created for the NHS Live Well scheme and aims to get you from the couch to running 5K (or 30mins) within 9 weeks. It sounds ambitious, but the myriad of resource and the essential (free) podcasts are a wealth of information and support to put you on a healthy, low cost path towards better fitness. For me, it offered the chance of a flexible, yet structured, work out plan, and helps me on the way to running a charity race and/or triathlon at some point down the line.

As with my Fat Friday posts, I’ve decided to create a place to record my progress, my findings, and my moans, in the hope that it both keeps me interested and engaged, whilst hopefully helping someone else like me!

Things To Know Before You Start

A collection of thoughts for someone before you start, mainly comprised of a list of things that I wish I’d checked before I started:

  1. Check that your glasses stay on your face when you run. You can test this by jogging on the spot, shaking your head vigorously, or running down the stairs. There is nothing more annoying that constantly pushing the glasses frame up the bridge of your nose when you dying midrun, well, doing it the 65th time is
  2. Check that the fastenings/zips on your clothes stay closed. My zipper jacket barely stays shut, but more concerning, my sports bra has a tendency to unzip at the front when under pressure or movement. Granted that’s not a quality I looked for, but now as it know, I take extra precautions.
  3. Think about where you’re going to put a music device/phone and your keys. Mine is stuffed down my bra – an uncomfortable and sweaty experience that leaves you with a perfect imprint for my front door. And it’s hard to change volume/take a mid session picture of the pretty view or a sweaty mid run selfie. Maybe you’ll like a running strap for your waist, and armband, or a good old fashioned bra stuff, but I’d check what works for you first.
  4. Check your socks. Its super irritating to be running along and find that your socks have inexplicably fallen down and gathered under your heel within the first 4 seconds of every run.
  5. Check your running shoes a) fit, and b) are actually running shoes and not fashionable accessories.
  6. Listen to the podcast lady. She tells you to run, and you run, she tells you to brisk walk, brisk walk. She doesn’t tell you to stretch, but that’s all over the website and something we (should) have been doing when exercising since we were 6 so I’d say it was a given.
  7. Running on the treadmill is A LOT harder than running on the ground outdoors. You have been warned.

Ok, I think that covers it for now. I’m sure I’ll add to the list as time goes on.

Week 1

For your three runs in week one, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then alternate one minute of running and one-and-a-half minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.

How hard does that sound as someone who is severely overweight and lazy as anything? I set off determined though and made my way to Otterspool in Liverpool, a promenade that runs alongside the River Mersey, and most importantly is completely flat, well paved, and full of very forgiving people doing to the same thing. It was the ideal location, even if the cold, windy, and eventually hail stoning weather say otherwise.

Run 1 was hard work, but manageable. I felt like I accomplished it with some level of ease, the type that would suggest it can only get harder but that you maybe get how this could work. It didn’t come naturally, however, and the sore calf muscles after weren’t pleasant. I also didn’t wear warm enough clothes. TMI but I sweat a lot, so presumed 3/4 lycra work out pants and a thin t shirt and hoodie on top.

Run 2 was a little different, mainly because it was indoors and on a treadmill. I struggled with what pace to set it at for both the walk and the run. I didn’t like the fact I had to manually change the speed, and really struggled to lower the speed after the running hit. I still managed it, but this put me off somewhat.

Run 3 saw yet another setting. The light disappears early now as we’re in December, so I decided to take advantage of an early shift, and go straight out for a run after work. My office is an area that is very flat, and have lots of paths and routes that go along the road, through woods and along the railway. It was nice to find another option for location, it was also nice to have solid ground and not a treadmill below my feet.

Week 2

For your three runs in week two, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then alternate one-and-a-half minutes of running with two minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.

Run 1 of week 2 is upping the walking AND the running, which makes sense. I headed back to Otterspool, mainly because I didn’t pack my stuff in the car, but also because the rain was preferable to the treadmill. I don’t think I found this any harder than last week (it certainly wasn’t easier though!) And as I was running further/for longer, I think that counts as progress. Finally, for the first time in 10 weeks, I’m starting to feel fitter. On the flipside, my calf muscles are killing me and I am struggling with shin splints. Neither are so bad that I would stop, but they’re deeply unpleasant all the same. Even yoga didn’t completely relieve them! And yes, I do walk and stretch before AND after!

I really hope this post helps someone, and if it doesn’t, I hope you enjoy(ed) reading all about my foray into running. As you can probably tell, it doesn’t come naturally, so any hints/tips/support would be greatly appreciated!

2 thoughts on “Couch to 5K”

  1. Go you! I wish I’d had Couch to 5K when I started running. It’s a good system.

    The thing that has really helped me with my calves (and shin splints too):

    Ignore image C — just go up and down, gently, on a curb or step about six times for each leg before and after running. It helps a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

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