My Experience of Couch to 5k: Graduation Day

Well – I’ve done it!

I’ve just returned from my last run of the challenge where Jo and I went back to where it all started, the beach, for a brisk seafront 5k. While still wearing the dodgy headband, I was able to ditch the gloves with an improvement in temperature. Mentally, the seafront is always more of a challenge for me as the distance just stretches ahead of you, but physically it is nice and flat. Added perks are the dogs off their leads who run alongside keeping the pace until they realise they have the wrong person. It is impossible to feel the worst with a happy beach doggo smiling at you.

Recent weeks have been a bit of a blur. No more intervals, just 20 minutes, 25 minutes and then 30 minutes for this last week. That amounts to 6k according to my steps, although that includes my warm up and cool down walks. Jo has certainly been less chatty, although this last week I have so appreciated her letting me know every 5 minutes how much time has passed. 

Reflecting on the highs and the lows of the experience, here’s what I would say. 

The lows: 

  • Those runs where your legs are like lead and even the next minute, let alone 30, seems impossible. This is where the head has to rule the body and any distraction is welcome. Actually having roads to cross and traffic and people to dodge helps pass the time quicker. Mixing up the routes and sometimes making it up as I go along helps.

The highs (these actually outweigh the lows! A fact I would never have imagined at the start of the challenge): 

  • Noticing other people out doing the same thing, whether they look like they are marathon material or obviously red-faced and having that mental battle going on, like me. The knowing smiles and acknowledgements help. 
  • Without sounding morbid, I have found passing through the local cemetery on one of my routes comforting. I guess it makes me appreciate my body, health and ability to be doing what I am doing in that very moment and feel lucky to be alive.
  • Music remains the overriding thing that has helped, apart from my buddy Jo of course. The beautiful ‘Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drop’ by Cocteau Twins accompanied me to the ‘finish line’ today. A pretty perfect ending tune. I also had the treat today of ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin S (shout out to Beezer as it is ‘our song’!), that never fails to take me back to my very few and far between club moments in my youth. I was always more of an indie, pub and a pint girl.
  • That post run smug, wobbly-legged feeling when I step out of the shower knowing that I will be soon tucking into a bit more food (yes, it makes you hungrier doing this). Cake has to be one of the best incentives to run.

So, graduation day is upon me. What next? Jo tells me that I need to keep the momentum going and keep up 3 runs a week for about 30 minutes. I am worried how I will fare alone without her in my ear – so I may sneakily take her along for the ride for the next few weeks.

As I ponder my next challenge for my ageing body, I am thinking maybe of starting yoga. I wonder how Jo’s downward dog is…?

I have honestly found that the biggest challenge is the actual thought of doing it, from the very beginning lying in my bed downloading the couch to 5k app and selecting my tunes for my run playlist, not really believing that I would ever get out there. Being at work and remembering that it is not a rest day and the next run is due once I clock off was always tough. But once you start it is difficult to turn back.

In the words of that massive sports brand that has become my mantra when the doubt creeps in ‘Just Do It’. It works.

Image courtesy of Dulcey Lima.

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