I want to share my journey to 5k (so far) to help inspire or encourage people to try running because I wish I had had something similar to read before I started as I don’t know any runners well enough to ask advice from.
I started following someone on Instagram back in January who was training for the London Marathon. I watched her miles increase on her long runs every week and it just seemed crazy to me at the time, totally unachievable to someone like me who has tried to run 4 times before and felt awful and uninspired each time… all of them done 4 years ago this month according to my Nike Running App. Back then I was running to try and lose weight, not for any kind of fitness goal.
After watching the London Marathon on TV in April and seeing everyone crossing the finish line I decided I wanted to try and run again because one day I wanted to achieve something amazing like that.
So a few weeks went by (I still hadn’t done anything to start running…) and I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time and she just happened to mention her sister was going to run the Edinburgh marathon in May as it was one of her goals before she turned 30. This spurred me on again to think about picking up running…
So 4 weeks ago I started my running journey and signed up for the 5k Race For Life in Edinburgh! I know 5k might seem like nothing to some people reading this but to me it is a big goal to reach having never properly ran before, and it is something that will keep me motivated to keep on training.
Having come from a fairly active background over the past 5 years with regular hiking, walking and spinning that it would be fairly easy to pick up running… I was so wrong!
I downloaded the Couch to 5k on my app thinking I would be able to skip a few weeks but after that first training run and walk I was looking and feeling a state and slightly disappointed that I felt so unfit! I was so embarrassed about stopping to walk I avoided going past other people by going down the mud trails that ran off the path! The first session was run for 1 minute and walk for 1.5 minutes which meant I only ran for 6 minutes in total with walking breaks in between. I told Chris how I felt when I got home and how disappointed I was that I wasn’t good at it and I tried not to be put off by my first experience and keep it up.
My next training run was with my friend Shona and I felt a lot better going out with a friend. When we started our running section she told me I was going far to fast which then made me realise why I felt so exhausted after my 6 minutes last time. By the end I felt a little better about running. My calves were killing me by the end of these two first runs and I was convinced I was injured but after some icing, ibuprofen gel and a few days of rest they felt a lot better.
My final run for the week was on my own again and I felt a lot more comfortable slowing to a walk in front of people because I realise they just don’t care! There was a total of 8 minutes broken up running in this session and my calves feel perfectly fine now. I have now realised it’s probably just my body getting used to doing something it’s never done before rather than all the problems google was telling me I had.
We went on holiday this week to a lovely little log cabin in Scotland. I told Chris I was determined to squeeze a run or two inbetween our hikes and days out. I managed one run while we were away of 1.76 miles. It was trail running and it was all downhill but I managed to run it all without stopping and I think this brought my confidence back up again. Even although it was all downhill it made me realise I could probably run for more than a minute at a time if I just slowed the pace a little.
The weekend we got back I had a training run planned for the Saturday and Sunday but this time I didn’t use the Couch to 5k app, instead I used the Nike Running app to record my distance and to try to keep my pace consistent instead of sprinting. Somehow I managed to get to 0.8 of a mile without stopping but bumped into someone I knew and I stopped for a chat. Finished my session with walk and run intervals on the way back.
Continuing my training into the next week I started to cut a walking break out on my next run getting it down to 2 and then finally 1. The runs are still really tough for me but I can tell I’m improving my lungs and legs.
Finally I attempted the full mile running at the weekend and I did it! I ran/walked the 2nd mile home. Seriously 3 weeks ago I wouldn’t have even thought I would be able to do that.
Shona joined me on my next run and I think because I was doing it with someone else it encouraged me to just keep going and I finally reached the 2 mile mark without a walking break which feels amazing. Mini goals are the way forward and keep me going.
Next day Shona came with me up the Pentland hills because I needed to get some hill training added into all the flat running I had been doing. We picked a gradual hill, not too steep but still around about a mile up to the saddle. We ran and walked up to the saddle, which was tough but not nearly as hard as I was anticipating thanks to all those other runs and hikes I have been doing! We ran all the way to the bottom clocking in at 29 minutes. I am going to add a hill training day in once a week now so I get used to it, apparently the first 2k of my race for life is uphill. The muscles around my knees have been a bit achey after the last few runs, but have been icing and using ibuprofen gel to help ease them a little.
My last run for week 4 was Saturday and I went the furthest distance on my training so far of 2.5 miles. I had to have three short walking breaks for the second half just to catch my breath and recover as it was so warm (and the half bottle of wine I had the evening before probably didn’t help)!
So far I am loving running, it’s improving my cardio fitness and my confidence in what I can achieve if I put my mind to it. Changing my mindset and goal to achieving a 5k race compared to purely just trying losing weight is what has made me stick to this. I am enjoying it and not forcing myself to do it or doing it as a punishment for eating too much.
My advice to others thinking about taking up running is just to try it out and see if you enjoy it. I found the couch to 5k app vey handy to begin with and would recommend it if you like to follow set out plans but I have really liked the Nike+Running Club app the past few weeks for recording my runs and using it to keep a steady pace going. I’m sure there are other great apps out there but these are the two I have been using and enjoying.
After my race at the end of June I will do another post on the final part of my 5k journey, until then please let me know in the comments below your first experiences in running, what running apps (if any!) you recommend, what was your first running goal and how your first race went.