Not Quite Couch to 5k

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have seen the odd fitness updates and recaps that are posted from time to time. One of the things I’ve been continuously trying to achieve is to run a 5km in one go. I never used a conventional couch to 5k app, but I’ve tried my own versions.

I’ve been running on and off for the past 6 to 7 years. As much as I wanted to improve, I never really found a level of consistency that I was happy with. Add in a few injuries over the years and I’ve seen a consistent time of around 42 to 43 minutes to complete the run. Not a great time for a young woman!

It wasn’t until two years ago that I’d thought I’d put on my running shoes again and attempt to make it stick. I’d seen massive improvements to my health, and my body shape previously from running so knew it was something that would work for me. I joined my local park run and started running once a week. Now, I’m not sure if anyone knows but running once a week is going to do nothing for you. Stamina won’t improve and you may end up injuring yourself. I did. I tore the muscle in my left thigh and couldn’t run for around 3 months.

When I started to go back again, I still didn’t follow a couch to 5k programme. I remember trying the Nike version years ago, but didn’t like the stopping and starting that it insisted on. I wanted to just go. Luckily for me, Todd had a different approach.

New Approach to Running

Todd has never been a runner, but he decided to pick it up as a free form of exercise. Anything to save a few pennies! Because of this, when I went back out to run he came with me. But this time we started with a smaller track. With a 3km track to run round, I soon found my stamina building up. It might have also been the increased frequency to three times a week.

From this, I was able to run nearly the entire distance without feeling as sluggish as when I started. After a couple of months, we moved onto 4km. I found that I was now able to push myself to run the previous 3km without needing to slow down to a walk, but the last kilometre was a lot more painful.

This running continued through the winter, and we even bought ourselves some head torches so we could see where we were going in the dark. Usually, my running in winter falls off because of the longer nights, but 2019 was different. Although I didn’t seem to be going any quicker, I blame the extreme cold for this, I felt like my consistency was improving. I felt like I was ready to attempt a 5km again. When disaster struck.

Oh Look Another Injury!

I’ve always had weak ankles. I first sprained my ankle when I was around eight or nine. It was painful, but manageable. So when I felt my foot twist in the slight pothole on the ground, I knew that I was going to be in pain for a few days. What I was expecting was for anything worse to have happened.

After two weeks, and pain still shooting through my foot, I noticed a weird bump just underneath my ankle. It felt like a bone sticking out from the wrong place and I didn’t have the same thing on the other side. It felt like it was in the same sort of place as the pain so I went to see a doctor. I have never seen someone so visibly upset and agitated over my foot. Nothing a trip to the hospital wouldn’t clear up.

Being me, I waited a few days before I went. I mean, it could have healed on it’s own? After some x-rays, and even more x-rays, I was told it wasn’t broken this time but it probably had been in the past. So the weird bone is here to stay! I had bruised the tendons and muscle in my foot and I need to let it rest. This took another month out of my running.

The Running Luck Gets Worse

Just as I was healing, and starting to get back into my running game. I was now able to go the full 4km without needing to slow to a walk once! Lockdown hit. Although, going out for exercise was okay. The place I was going to began to feel crowded. I don’t blame people for being able to spend time outdoors and doing that when they had a chance, but I didn’t feel comfortable being around the crowds.

I started doing a small run from my house, but it wasn’t as good a route and as I live in the centre of a small town it was weird running past people queuing to get into shops. After the few times I did it, and I felt like I had improved. However, I realised that I could do my old routes. I just needed to get up early in the morning!

My first day back, and I got there for about half 8 in the morning. It wasn’t too bad, but by the time I was finishing there were quite a few people going past me. So I made myself get there for 8. It was perfect. A few people out doing some exercise, but enough space to manoeuvre around. I started back with my 4km runs. This soon became easy and I upped the distance to 5km.

Overcoming the Fear

The first day I started it, I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t know if I would be able to get over the mental block in my head. The little voice telling me that I can’t run that far without needing to walk. I’m happy to say my slow building-up of distances pushed my stamina to a level where I can run 5km with no need to walk.

In the three weeks since I started this distance, I’ve seen my time drop by 3 minutes and I’ve gained a level of consistency with my pacing that I wasn’t aware I had. It might not be quite the couch to 5k method, but it was something that has worked for me.

I’m now running 5km at least three times a week and although I feel tired when I’ve finished. I also feel exhilarated. My body is able to push myself in both distance and speed to achieve something that I have been working towards for years. My goal for this year was to average my pace to 10 minutes for a mile, or around 6 minutes per kilometre. I’m not quite there yet, but with the progress of the last month, it is looking achievable for the first time in my running history.

Am I Now A Runner?

I don’t know if I can claim that title quite yet. My current average pace is 13 minutes per mile. A huge achievement for me, but not so much for the majority. If anything, I’m currently in the jogging category. By the end of the year, I hope that my pace will have improved and then maybe I will feel comfortable being called a runner.

I enjoy working through things in my own way, and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve never done a proper couch to 5k. I wanted to prove that it was something I could do by myself. It might be a longer route, but I think it’s one that I will be able to stick to.

Hasta la fuego

My Lavender Tinted World Signature written in a purpley-pink colour. The name states Lauren with a smiley face at the end. This is the signature of a sheffield blogger

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy Why I Started To Get Fit and My Life With PCOS.

2 Replies to “Not Quite Couch to 5k”

  1. Charlene McElhinney says: Reply

    This post came at a such a good time for me because I’ve been itching to run for so long but I keep holding myself back because I’m so nervous about it! My friend swears by the couch to 5k and keeps trying to get me on board & I just keep putting it off. I think I need to do what you did and go early in the morning as the thought of me running when it’s busy and constantly passing people gives me the fear! Thank you so much for this post – I’ll be bookmarking and revisiting!!! <3 <3 <3

    Charlene McElhinney | @blogabtnothing1

    1. Honestly, I think it’s the starting which is the worst part. Once you can get into the habit of it, it does get easier. I’d say start off with small distances to get you used to it and then build up from there 🙂

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