This week marks a personal anniversary. One year ago, on the 7th October, I started Couch to 5K, a programme designed to get absolute beginners running for thirty minutes – or up to 5 kilometres – in nine weeks. I downloaded the app, and ran my first run in circles inside my house. I felt somewhat silly. I’ve since discovered that I’m not the only nervous runner to begin in this way; too embarrassed to run outside but desperate to make a change to my life.
The change was made. And it was phenomenal. To begin, I couldn’t run for sixty seconds without stopping. It was tough. But over time things got easier. Over the past twelve months I’ve completed Couch to 5K, and become more comfortable with running. I can run outside. I can run with other people. I can run for hours at a time. I talk about running all the time (I really am a running bore). I’ve lost weight (three stone since starting running, 7st 13lb in total). I now see food as fuel. My general health and energy levels have improved.
My running has taken me to new places, and has also given me the opportunity to explore my local area in a new way. I’ve found new joy in sharing running with family members, as four of my children are also runners.
The social aspect of running included going along to Parkrun – free, weekly timed 5K runs. At Parkrun I met a community of friendly, supportive people. I have thought about joining a local running club for further support but I really don’t have the time to go to club meetings. So, instead, I joined the Lonely Goat Running Club. This way, I can get support from an online community, while running when and where I like, at my own pace.
A big milestone was running 5K in one go, without any walking. Like most people completing Couch to 5K, I found that the thirty minute runs at the end of the programme fell short of 5K. I still take more than half an hour to run 5K, but that just gives me another goal to work on.
I have gradually become more confident and comfortable with longer distances. I now have six 10K races and a half marathon under my belt. I’m looking ahead to running a full marathon in April. I don’t share this to boast – but to prove just what can be done.
My running is still slow. Very slow. At times I struggle. I’m still overweight (but thrilled to have moved down from the morbidly obese category). But I’m looking forward to new running goals and challenges. Running is now a part of my life.
If you, like me one year ago, are thinking about giving running a try – don’t be afraid.
Join the global community of runners. We’re a friendly bunch. And running is good fun, honestly.