If you watched my YouTube vlog last week you’ll learn that I was, growing veg and finished the Couch to 5k NHS running programme.
I really didn’t believe it was possible, although I was mid-programme with other intense workouts such as the 30 Day Shred when I took on a new challenge. I like to keep my mind interested so my exercise lifestyle doesn’t turn stale.
When I started the first programme, I would run on my lunch breaks towards my post office with a backpack of customer’s parcels. I could do it as it was very light exercise. As the programme got harder and harder, I slowly had to ditch the backpack during lunch, then eventually found post-work runs were more suitable.
The running programmes do really work and once I had finished, I instantly wanted to keep it up as opposed to just free styling a 30 minute run 3 days a week. I say free styling because I don’t want to stop listing to a programme and just set a timer and play mixed music. It is the choice of music I don’t feel competent with as well needing a little voice, such as NHS Laura, to remind me about running techniques and whether I’m half way, two thirds and so on.
So on Tuesday I followed Laura with the new challenge, 5k to 10k, starting with the “Stepping Stone” level and repeated the run on Thursday. This time I opted to start my runs before work like I do with yoga, when I did 30 Day Shred etc. Mornings work better for me. Once the excercise is done before 9am/10am, I can solely focus on my business, and the rest of the day is mine.
And since it’s before 9am, I am also going to share with you my first impressions. Note I am not training for anything, I just want to keep focused with the structure of a programme and always upkeep my fitness levels.
I did struggle with my 2nd session however, but this was because I ate a supper late the previous day and half way through the run, I got stitch across my stomach so stuck my belly out, slowed my pace and focused on deep breaths.
“Before I tell you more, let’s start our session with a 5 minute warm up walk”:
Everything started the same: upbeat royalty free music, NHS Laura’s calming voice and a 5 minute warm up walk while she shows me the ropes. This programme is all about building up your pace by slowly increasing the tempo of specially designed music, encouraging you to strike the floor with your foot to the rhythm of the beat. I am musically minded, so thought this concept was perfect.
You can download the podcast without the intro once you’ve listened to it, but didn’t notice any difference. I thought it was worth noting that I found Laura a little bit off-putting on the first day as she read out beats per minute: 1, 2, 3, 4… 1, 2, 3, 4. However, it becomes less and less as the programme continues and found it useful as a reminder in case you slip into bad running habits.
Other key points:
1. Laura continues to give new running tips: pretend you a riding a bike while you run. I think I may have put too much thought into this and my back legs started to feel unnatural and achey.
2. The amount of running is 3 minutes less than the final week 9 of the Couch to 5k programme which obviously is lovely. If I’m given a shortcut, I have no problems.
3. Each run is broken down per song and how many beats per minute, such as 150, 155 etc which gave me the impression the programme goes very quickly. I find it easy to waste 30 minutes at home, drinking my morning coffee and slowly waking up while idly checking emails, instagram, twitter…
4. By the end of my run, I found I had ran a mile less than I had been doing with the old programme. I did find running to the beat a little hard as it was slower than I expected, although my fiancé is always telling me my run is too slow. My speed does not bother me at all; I am comfortable with it knowing the programme is a slow progression to building my pace, stamina and running style. After all, I didn’t think I had the lungs for running – I was just doing it all wrong and diving in to the deep end too soon.
5. Laura reminds you of your body posture: chin up, arms not swaying and elbows by your waist. Deexer or Spotify don’t do this, so I’d rather opt for a virtual Personal Trainer while it is offered to me.
6. The music is fast and engaging. I strangely like royalty free style music as opposed to music that I know – knowing and singing the lyrics is distracting when I need to focus my attention on Laura.
7. The structure of the programme doesn’t feel as set in stone as the c25k one (3 runs a week and move to the next level). It seems more about prgressing when you feel ready so I am going to need self discipline and chat to others on Facebook Support Groups for more tips otherwise I may slip and stop.
8. There are two other levels: Speed and Stamina which I will eventually report back on once I have promoted myself to these levels.
9. And finally, I loved Laura’s inspirational talk at the end during the 5 minute cool down and felt they were great poster quotes to take note while my heart beat returned to its resting rate:
“Savour the moment”
“Remember, some runs will feel better than others”
“There’s no rhyme or reason to it”
“If today wasn’t one of your best, try not to think too much about it”
“A bad run is always better than no run at all”
If you want to try the initial Couch to 5k Challenge, then here is the link with podcasts you can follow on your phone. There are of course apps you can download if preferred, but I found the music was worse and kept crashing mid run and you don’t need distractions when you’re putting in the effort.
Also, here’s the 5k to 10k programme which I refer to in this post.
Perhaps one day in the near future I will feel confident enough to join a running event, but as I run alone with my dog in my new town, I’m quite hesitant about committing. One day I’ll man up.
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