Couch 2 5K or C25K has played a massive part in helping me turn myself around and in me becoming someone who enjoys running. There are so many different apps, plans and podcasts associated with Couch 2 5K and the majority of them all follow a very similar pattern building your running up by running 3 times a week over an 8 or 9 week period.
I used the NHS Couch 2 5K plan which is a 9-week plan. You can get an app for the NHS plan but I opted to add the podcasts from iTunes to my iPod. I had made a very half-hearted attempt at Couch 2 5K about three years ago and made it through 1 workout before giving up with it completely. This time I was determined that I was going to take this seriously and was going to give it my absolute best shot. Before I go into how the Couch 2 5K plan worked for me, I’ve got to share how brilliant I feel the NHS podcasts are. Clear concise instructions on when to run and when to walk, great advice and music that doesn’t make you feel like you want to cave your skull in.
I started the plan on 5th January at this point I struggled to run for 30 seconds, and when you start out in week 1 running 30 seconds and walking 90 seconds it can seem hard to figure out how in 9 weeks you are going to be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. I had a few issues throughout the plan firstly in the middle of week 2 when I was starting to get comfortable the weather turned and we had snow and ice that I was not comfortable running on. After a week I was able to get back to running and everything went smoothly until I got to week 6. I struggled with week 6 and really struggled with the first run of week 7. After that run I missed about 3 weeks with a mixture of calf/shin pain and also the weather turned dreadful with the “Beast from the East” coming in.
I was finally ready to go again on 11th March. I decided to re-start week 6 with the intention of dropping back to week 5 if it did not go well. Luckily for me everything went really well and I completed week 6 and week 7 with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. At this point I was covering at least 5km during each run and I decided to take part in my first parkrun to see where I was at as far as my running and stamina was concerned. I went to my nearest parkrun which is at Strathclyde Park, this is a nice practically flat course (I believe it’s the third flattest parkrun in the UK) which is run fully on paths. My best time for 5km prior to the parkrun was around about 32:00 and going into the parkrun that Saturday morning I would have been happy with completing the course and doing it in around 35:00 as it would give me something to work with.
I was amazed when I completed that parkrun and found out my time was 29:47. I was really surprised that I could run that quick as I thought it would take me some time to get close to or under 30:00. This couple with how well week 6 and 7 of the plan had gone at the second attempt really reinforced that running was something that I really enjoyed and that was very good for me. Week 8 and week 9 went smoothly and I was even adding in an extra run or two each week to satisfy the running bug I now had.
Looking back on completing the plan I really feel that the structure of the plan really helped me in having the right mindset to complete it. The progress I have made in how long I can run has been a massive boon to my physical and mental health. The support of my family, work colleagues and even complete strangers on Instagram (many of whom were in the middle of training for marathons) was another major helping hand in completing the plan.
After completing the plan I was left with one question