Friday, 19 February 2016

Couch to 5k: Week 1

So, here's a thing: I cannot run. I don't really know how to do it and I've never been able to pick it up despite trying now and again either on the treadmill or in the outside world. My gym routine when it comes to cardio has basically been sticking to the bikes, but I've felt for a while that this is only really exercising certain parts of my body and, for me, I really have to cycle for a long time to make any noticeable difference. So I decided to give the NHS Couch to 5K podcast program a go. I've read loads of good things online about it, and despite being in a slightly weird position in that I am a regular gym-goer I still feel like a total amateur when it comes to running. I walk really, really, quickly and so my main issue with running is that I go too fast too quickly, over-exert myself after about 30 seconds and then have to stop as my legs hurt too much and I have a stitch. Couch to 5K teaches you to build up slowly - you intersperse bouts of running with a fast-paced walk, building up over the weeks until the focus shifts and you're running more than you're walking.

I thought it might be useful to keep track of the different runs, to see if I make any progress and remind myself of when I've found it both easy and hard.

Run 1!
The Couch to 5K program suggests that you run 3 times a week. My gym-schedule is quite flexible depending on work, so I reckon that some weeks I'll be able to do 3 runs and others only 2, so I'm just going to move on from week to week after 3 runs, regardless of whether this has taken me a week or a week and a half.
My first run was on the treadmill at the gym. For the first week you do a 5-minute warm-up and warm-down walk at the start and end, and then you do 60 seconds of running followed by 90 minutes of walking. The whole thing lasts 30 minutes, meaning you do 8 mini-runs in total. 
The first session wasn't too bad - I started to struggle by the end but the voiceover tells you when you only have two runs left so that really helps when you get to around minute 22. I was worried that the music would be really annoying and make the time go slower, but it's interesting because even though it's not music I would listen to at any other time, it's paced in the right way so it builds up as your 60-second runs come to an end meaning that you sort of know how much time you've got left without having to clock-watch. Finished my run feeling pretty positive.

Run 2!
Again, on the treadmill at the gym. Definitely found this run easier than the first one, which I initially put down to the fact that I had already done it once. I had a little stitch towards the end, but in that sort of way that you're pleased you have it as it shows you're working hard. Finished my run feeling very positive.

Run 3!
Still at the gym, and the hardest one of the week. I'd had a glass of wine at lunchtime, and I really think this hampered me when I ran that evening. From about the second run in my left calf was really hurting, and I got quite a painful stitch around the 20-minute mark. I also noticed I drank loads more water than I had the previous two runs - my lungs were needing it - but, again, this is probably due to the lunchtime wine. It helped though that this was the third run of this section, so I knew what I had coming and how long I had left. Finished my run feeling less-than positive, but pleased I powered through and completed it. I think as the weeks go on I'm not going to feel bad about it if I need to do an extra run before feeling like I'm ready to move on to the next week, however for this one I think I'm ready to move on to week 2.

Week 1 Stats:
Average calories per run: c. 200
Average distance per run: c. 2.25miles
Time spent running: 8 minutes
Eastenders storylines picked up on: Sonia is a lesbian again, a blonde-haired girl is faking a pregnancy, Sharon now has brunette hair [I haven't watched Eastenders since I was at university, but it's usually on at the time I'm at the gym so this is what I've noticed from the subtitles]

Any other amateur runners out there? Advice greatly received!

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