On the 28th December 2017 I set out with both dogs along the farm track for Week 1 of Couch 2 5k.
My post on social media said “We survived a run all together!… Recent photographs, weighings and talking to family has made me realise how much weight I have put on in the last year. I feel out of breath, weak & overall unfit and frankly I’d rather not feel or look that way. So today I started Couch 2 5k at Week 1 again.”
The dogs ran well together and so our Couch 2 5k program begun, for the third time in my life.
My friend’s had been encouraging me to do parkrun for a while and when I started Couch 2 5k they said I should go along to parkrun and run at whichever Couch 2 5k week I was at round the 5k course.
My best friend came to stay for New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Day 2018 we set out for a Couch 2 5k run along the farm track then on 6th January 2018 we went along to our first ever parkrun at Cannock Chase. You can read about it in my blog post here.
And so my running continued. I continued through the Couch 2 5k program, running in a morning before work with both dogs. I ran in the snow, in the dark, in the rain.
By the end of January I had ran 3 parkruns in total, 2 at Cannock Chase and 1 at Congleton.
By the end of February I had completed C25k and was running about 4km non-stop in 30 minutes and could run 5k in 33 minutes with some short walking breaks.
Finishing Couch 2 5k and still being unable to run 5k without walking is the hardest part. The NHS podcast does explain from the start that the aim is to be able to run 30 minutes non-stop OR 5k, but it’s quite uncommon that a new runner is able to run 5k in 30 minutes.
Somehow this time though, I just kept up with the running.
I bought a better canicross harness to wear with Zebby attached to me. I bought decent trail running shoes.
I did a few C25k+ runs and generally just kept up with 20 – 30 minute runs, 3 times per week.
I kept going to parkruns and my time gradually kept improving, but I was still not running a whole 5k without walking.
In March I read the news that Border Collie Trust GB were going to need to find a new premises due to HS2 running straight through their property, and I decided I had to do something about it. Something challenging. Something worth being sponsored for. So I entered the Cannock Chase 10k in August. Read the full story here.
In April I ran the Troll Run and blummin loved it.
The troll run identified a problem with my knees which then allowed me to learn more about my body and how to strengthen it. (Blog post about injury here).
I’d entered a 5k in May to keep my running on track, but with the injury my progress slowed a little so I wasn’t quite up to form. It was also a baking hot day, but it was a fun event and I got my second piece of bling!
The next week at Hanley parkrun there were pacers! I’d never seen a run with pacers before. I set off following the 35 minute pacer, trying to keep them in my sights. I didn’t stop to walk until the very last stretch, then after a short walk I managed to catch the pacer at the finish line, and it turned out he’d been going a little fast so I did it in 33 minutes!
In June I started a 10k training plan. 3 runs per week; 1 easy 30 mins, 1 interval/speed session, 1 long run.
My running mojo was gaining momentum!
I’d bought road running shoes and compression socks.
On 16th June at The Wammy parkrun I finally did it! I finally ran 5k non-stop!
It was a wet, miserably day but somehow it just came together! I was sandwiching the parkrun with a long run so ran a few km beforehand, which may have been a good warm up. Then I was lucky enough to fall behind two ladies who were doing a lovely steady pace and I just… followed them. They didn’t stop, I didn’t stop, and I did.
What a confidence boost!
Then once I’d done one 5k non-stop… I did more! Cannock Chase parkrun with it’s undulating trails. Hanley parkrun with it’s long, tedious hill x 2! I could run 5k!!
That feeling is unbelievable, but it takes a lot of work to get there.
6 months since I started running I ran 5k non-stop… this running malarkey isn’t easy! (At least not for me).
The training plan carried on, the long runs continued, and then it was August and it was time to run the Cannock Chase 10k!
I thought I’d be more prepared, when I signed up to the 10km in March I thought I’d be running 10k by now, but I was ready to do what I needed to get round.
The rest of the month was amazing. I smashed my 5k personal best twice. I ran 4 non-stop 5ks in a row. I introduced speed work. I picked up 2 pieces of bling.
But most importantly… I started to really love running. Really find my joy in it. I started to figure out what I wanted to do with it and why. I wrote this blog post all about why people run.
Now that I seemed to have mastered 5k I set my sights more firmly on 10k. I entered a 10km at Tatton Park in November, which I felt would give me enough time to get as close as possible to running 10km non-stop.
September saw another increase of miles and a new 5k personal best.
October started off with climbing a mountain and contained a number of enjoyable runs, but they were fewer and far between. I was away with work quite a bit, plus weekends were busier which meant I missed a few long runs.
The 10k arrived sooner than I would have liked. I wasn’t ready! But I just went and gave it my all, and it turns out I was capable of more than I could have imagined.
While my main focus had been the 10k, I’d also been dreaming of a sub 30 minute 5k for a while. Without realising I’d been putting more and more pressure on myself to try and reach it, and actually I was loosing the enjoyment of running altogether while chasing that number.
The few times I thought I could manage it and tried then failed left me broken and disappointed.
I decided to stop concentrating on numbers and find the enjoyment in running again.
Each weekend I would take the dogs for a long run. Glorious, happy miles with some walking but mostly running.
We saw an american mink and kingfishers on our runs along the canal. The dogs could be somewhere different and off lead and we would hardly ever meet another person.
It’s taken me 12 months to figure out what it is about running that I really enjoy and what I want to focus on, and I’m sure I still won’t have the answer in another 12 months, or my answers will continue to change.
For me running has been a long slog, but it’s definitely worth it. The hardest part is when you finish that Couch 2 5k program, that wonderful program that fills you with hope, and you realise that you’ve still got a long way to go.
Running for 30 minutes is a fantastic achievement, but actually for me it was only the beginning.
And here I am, 1 year from starting, and I still feel like the journey has barely begun.
Here’s to another year of running!