Couch to 5k – I think the sunshine has gone to my head!

Couch to 5k

Couch to 5k has been on my mind for some time.  Many of you will know that whilst I bang on a lot about how good exercise is for you, I haven’t always practiced what I’ve preached. I have learned all the excuses for not doing it from my patients over the years.   For the past 14 months, I have been going to a personal trainer every week which has inspired me to do some exercise at home and use an exercise bike.  Without a doubt, I am a lot fitter for it, and a little thinner.  But, I reward myself with food, which means that the more I exercise, the more I feel that I ‘deserve’ that glass of wine or Ginger Nut!

I treat a lot of nutters, I mean runners.  I have a little smirk when I ask them for their training regime.  Generally, they confidently tell me their mileage regime, showing off that they do actually have a day off from time to time.  But… they don’t strengthen, they don’t train the muscles that they need to run.  And it really does make a difference.   Does Mo Farah just put on his running shoes? Or does he train in the gym to strengthen his gluts etc?  I think so!  Does Lewis Hamilton train for Formula One by just driving cars?  No, he is super fit.

So, after a year of being battered by Jaine Swift (sorry Jaine), I finally feel that I have some strength to run.  My walking has recently been curtailed by my aging border collie and I have been motivated recently by a friend who has been running to help battle mental health problems.  I have trainers, new wireless headphones and an arm strap for my phone.  The Couch to 5k App has been downloaded, I was awake at 7 am, it’s warm and sunny. So, no more excuses.

Week One, Run One

So, Run One, Week One started with a brisk 5 minute from Ashburton Physio to the Fish Deli. Followed by a 60-second run past Cleder Place and a  90-second rest/walk past the Victoria Inn. The third 60-second run was the gentle climb up Rew Road, I hadn’t really noticed the slope before!  I saw a couple of my dog walking buddies who looked at me a bit strangely.  I proudly told them that this is my first run in 10 years.  Actually, it is probably 17 or 18 when I had a knee injury and used it as an excuse to stop exercising.  That and meeting my relatively inactive husband!

So, how was it? Absolutely fabulous. It was a bit tricky, but nothing hurt.  My Achilles seem OK, my knee hasn’t swollen.  I want to do it again! Result.  A drink of water, a banana and a shower and I’m plotting my diary for the week for the next two runs.

If you are interested in the Couch to 5K, the link shows how to do it.

Week One, Run Two

One day’s rest, as suggested, and I was (sort of) ready for round two. Only now it’s 7 am on a work day and it’s cloudy, miserable and damp.  But, I was keen to go again.  My left heel and Achilles were a little sore yesterday, and I tried not to use it as an excuse to not run.  As I’d walked Jed first, I started the 5-minute walk while I got my headphones and music sorted – my first mistake. My third 60-second run was then timed with the uphill out of Rew Road, I didn’t like that. But I did it.

I misguidedly thought that the second run would be easier than the first.  It wasn’t.  I don’t have the euphoria that I had on Monday, but I feel good.  My Achilles and ankles are reminding me that they’ve had more activity than they’ve seen in years.   I’m now worried that my strengthening regime prior to running wasn’t enough. The knee is good.  Change of trainers required I think.  Two days off for ankles to recover and hope for some cheerier weather on Saturday. 

Week One, Run Three

OK, I admit it, the sun did get to my head last weekend when I started this. My heels have not enjoyed the Couch to 5k challenge so I had two days off to recover and yesterday felt OK. I spiky-balled my calves last night and did a bit more of a warm-up before I started but what a struggle. Round three was the same as the previous runs but my Achilles complained from the 2nd 60-sec run, almost limping at the end. I am very disappointed. I have spent the past year doing gym training and strengthening exercises, I thought I could do it.

But, I’m not beaten. I’m going to treat it, do some local calf work and some rest and go again. I think that I was a bit unrealistic – I really haven’t run for about 18 years. Foolish to think it would be easy, I have enjoyed it and will be back next week, one way or another! The 9 week Parkrun goal has gone – but delayed, perhaps aiming now for the Autumn!

An anteromedial view of the right foot showing pain in the heel.

Week Two

Well, week two has not gone well and involved a trip to the Physio. There was no way that running was an option, and actually, I have been relieved that Jed the Border Collie is 13 and doesn’t want long walks. Even walking has been difficult.

Looking back, I can see that the sunshine really did get to my head. I do have a history of Achilles Tendonitis, but I thought that I was now strong enough to cope. So, some acupuncture, anti-inflammatories and gentle exercises have been the order of the week and it is a little better. Walking in heeled boots is OK for short distances, but a decent walk is out of the question.

This Bank Holiday I have turned to cake making, winning first prize at a Stand Up For Cancer Bake Off with my Victoria Sponge. I need to stay off the cakes and Ginger Nuts….

So, what next? Rest and strengthening exercises to be followed by some running evaluaton to see what bad habits I have. At the moment that feels a long way off. 5K is still a goal, but it’s a long term goal now, not a 9 week plan! I’ll be back…… watch this space.

Week Six

Six weeks down the line I am now walking more comfortably and not limited by my Achilles pain except for first thing in the morning when I am hobbling down the stairs for my first cup of tea. I have been (mostly) diligent with my strengthening exercises which have been quite taxing. Being a patient is really good for us Physio’s, and I can see why patients aren’t as compliant as we’d like. These exercises are so dull! I’m strengthening up, but realise that I have nowhere near the strength to step up and run, it is still a way off. But, I’ve got the bit between my teeth and I really want to make Park Run in the Autumn…… Follow for updates.

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