…better known as couch to 5km.  This is not one of our usual blogs, but is here to encourage anyone thinking of starting the Couch to 5km challenge.

Lockdown enforced changes of lifestyle on us all.  But we were told we could exercise for up to 1 hour a day.  I used to cycle to work a lot, but haven’t for at least 4 years.  Quite simply, the road has become too dangerous (country lanes), and drivers all too often harrying.  It’s fair to say that as a consequence of reduced exercise and long hours, I noticed someone was shrinking my clothes.

Just before lockdown, our son and I decided to re-start C25k.  We had tried this a couple of years ago, and worked our way up to around 4km, then simply stopped.  So we began again, at the begining.  And the hardest part really was beginning.  Forcing ourselves to get out there and start.  The second hardest part was then running continuously for 60 seconds!

The app* breaks down the overall challenge into manageable chunks of jogging (well, just about), spread over 3 days per week, for 8 weeks.  It does demand discipline – you do have to make yourself get up, get out, and go.  We chose early mornings as we thought we would be more energetic, and less likely to be distracted by other things arising from the day.

When I was about the same age my son is now, I received a scathing PE report at school:

Timothy has made no effort, and therefore made no improvement.

Pretty damning eh?  And only my Mother calls me Timothy (when I am naughty, or pull my sister’s hair).  Perhaps I could ask questions about motivation, and teaching methods, but it was the late 70’s / early 80’s, and things were different then.  Fortunately, another PE teacher saw my keenness for swimming, and I also loved cycling, so I found other passions.  The former teacher also spectacularly failed to recognise that although everyone at school sits within their own year group, some of those kids are way more physically developed than others – something I only realised many years later.  Anyway, I digress.

At first we pounded up and down paths near our local railway station, but as the weeks went by we expanded our route, and found tracks and paths we previously knew nothing about that led us through woodland, and past bluebells, which later gave way to cow-parsley.  Over the weeks, we started to run for longer, and for further.  And all we did was follow the app.

And after 8 weeks of really, really hard work, we ran 5km.  I know some might read this, and snort with derision as they prepare for their marathon.  Well, this isn’t for you, so jog on (see what I did there?!).  I cannot express sufficiently the sense of achievement we had.  We were both shattered, but we did it.  We had run our 5km.

And we haven’t stopped.  We’ve continued to run 5km through some gorgeous countryside.  And my son even suggested we consider working toward the 10km.  I am no athlete.  But I am so pleased to have achieved this.  And I want to keep on running.  Yes, my legs hurt.  A lot.  Yes, it’s hot, and tiring, but the sense of achievement is immense.

Has it had an impact?  Yes, absolutely.  We feel healthier – we are healthier!  It has helped with our mental health as well.  Lockdown, Covid-19, the whole thing, is awful, for everyone.  Getting out into the fresh air at least every other day has been a real lift.  We’ve waved at other joggers (some are very serious, and must sadly have very poor eyesight), waved at cyclists, shouted hello to the dog-walkers.  We’ve met people in our neighbourhood we’ve never seen before (well, from a distance).  We look forward to the end of lockdown, and the chance to take part in our first ever Park Run.

And so, in closing, if you are thinking of doing this, do it.  8 weeks ago, we struggled with day 1.  8 weeks later, we run 5km.  Get out there, find a good route, and own it!



*We used phone app C25K by Zen Labs.  It was erratic at times, and sometimes cut out and lost our progress; we found the best thing was to keep waking-up the phone – and make a note of what time we had started.

Update: In total, we ran over 65km through June!