My Lockdown Couch to 5k
Hello everyone..me again!!
Some of you may not know me, my name is Hollie and I have been a member of this remarkable running club since April 2018.
I had regularly been running in the Monday & Thursday night beyond groups and have also done the 5-10k course, resulting in doing the Worcs City 10k in 2018, which remains one of the best days I’ve ever had.
I also did up to 15k of the 10k-HM course last year. This is still, and will always be, the furthest I have ever run!
My last run before lockdown was with HF on Halloween. Since then “life” got in the way of getting out running - the usual winter coughs & colds, Christmas & mainly being crazy busy at work. I work as a buyer at Webbs Garden Centre, so at certain times of the year I don’t know whether I’m coming or going with lots of travelling, visiting showrooms and trade shows and have order deadlines to hit.
All through my break my aim was always to get back out for a run with HF. Although I was still connected to the group via Karen & Sharon & the FB page, I missed seeing everyone in the groups and being out & about running around our lovely city of Worcester.
My running kit was always ready & waiting in my car all that time..ready for the evening I finished work on time or I had enough energy to go or it wasn’t raining!
The New Year arrived and it crossed my mind to start the HF Couch to 5k course..but stupidly for someone who wasn’t running I felt doing that would be a backward step..so I continued not running!!
Fast forward to March and Covid-19 arrived. I was furloughed from my busy job & as I am a creature of habit, who thrives on routine and having structure - I knew I would have to create a new timetable & set myself some new goals. If I didn’t do this I would eat to excess & gain weight, never leave my house apart from doing my horse and I would go just a little bit crazy!!
Now was my chance to finally get my new Christmas trainers on and start Couch to 5k. If I started now I would be back up and running 5k ready to go back to the HF groups when restrictions were lifted.
Just getting out through the door to run on my own for the first few weeks was going to be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, so I had to commit to doing this and make myself accountable by telling people I was doing it, so I told Karen & Sharon and also Marie & Rhi.
I’d got a full card of running credits, so I committed to using two of these a week and would top up when I ran out.
I also asked a couple of friends to join me, I thought we could FaceTime each other before each run, run separately and then check in after running, but despite initially being keen when it got to the first run neither felt up for it..so I was on my own.
I’d never done C25k before, so to make sure I didn’t do too much (!) and get injured, I downloaded the NHS C25k app and selected Jo Whiley as my virtual coach. I also pulled together a running playlist to listen to.
I decided to start each running week on a Tuesday, to allow me to participate in the HF Challenge Chuesday, which would be another reason to get out through the door.
Weeks 1-4 went really well, made up of a series of walk-run intervals which built up the running time gradually and at the end of each session I was feeling like I could have done a bit more, which I took as a good sign. I guess I still had some residual fitness from previous running and from being active doing horsey stable work!
These early weeks allowed me to explore the area around where I live & discover a lot of lovely new places to walk & run that before Lockdown I didn’t know existed.
Thank you Lockdown!!
The 3rd run of week 5 was to run for 20mins, with no walk breaks...this was the first time I felt worried about not being able to complete a session. I’d not run for that long non-stop for a long time! I was also starting to get a bit deflated that the end of my runs were getting harder, mainly due to the fact that to get home I had to run uphill...the joys of living in beautiful Malvern!
But after some encouragement from Marie & Caitlin on Strava, on Sunday Runday l planned a route that would hopefully finish somewhere on the flat. I put on my HF t-shirt and while I was procrastinating on my couch I took a scroll through my Strava & looked at all the runs I’d previously done & reminded myself of what my legs & I had achieved before; 15k - my longest ever run, Race for Life, Worcester City run and a few other 10k’s..so running for 20mins should be fine, shouldn’t it?!
I did my HF stretches, fired up my playlist & off I went & loved it, the first run that I actually felt like I was a runner again!
When Jo told me I had “just” 5 mins left to run the song playing was Journey’s “Don’t stop believing” and it was just what I needed to hear. Then at 2 mins to go, when I was really struggling to keep the legs moving it was John Mellencamp & “Hurts so good”....Too true..push on through the pain!!
Music is a huge part of my life and there’s hardly a minute goes by that I don’t have the radio on and I have now realised the benefit of having it with me on my solo runs. Having a playlist that is far longer than I will ever run for means that if I play it on shuffle I don’t get used to which song is coming next, or how far through a run I am. It has helped me push through in the absence of friends to chat to to pass the time & take my mind off the fact that I’m running.
The trouble comes when I try to sing along..it interferes with the breathing a bit!!
Run 3 of Week 7 has to be my biggest achievement of the course. Not because of distance, pace, or conquering hills..but just due to the fact I actually got myself out through the door & ran! The Lockdown blues had finally got to me..it was a chilly day & I’d had one of those days where I’d spent most of the day under a blanket on the sofa. I couldn’t get warm no matter what I did, I’d eaten rubbish all day, but I knew I had to get out & run TODAY..I couldn’t put it off as this was run 3 of the week & it was Sunday.
I eventually got out from under my blanket, but it was all I could do to get changed into my running gear as I just could not stop shivering!! I so very nearly didn’t go.
But, I put my trainers on & did my warm-up (literally) stretches up & down my lounge & started to feel a bit better.
In went my earphones and I started my playlist. Now, the song that played as I stepped out of my door wouldn’t be an obvious choice to go on a running playlist, however at that moment it was just what I needed to hear..Céline Dion’s “I’m Alive”!!
I put one foot in front of the other & off I went. For the remainder of the session my playlist threw up some real gems & got me around..some Greatest Showman, some Witney & some Little Mix to name a few.
Week 7 - Done - Thank you for the Music.
Week 9 soon arrived..the final week!! According to the app by the end of this week I would be able to run 5k in 30mins..from previous experience and current performance this was rather ambitious! So I thought I’d follow the app for the first 2 runs and run for 30 mins, then for the final run I’d run for 5k, however long that took me!!
My planning hadn’t taken into account that my graduation run would be during the hottest week of the year so far (!) so I got up early to run early morning to beat the heat.
However, I had planned my route to make sure I had plenty of shade to run in, but of course, by switching from running in the evening to a morning run, the sun was in a different place and the shady places I was used to were now sunny places...Oops!
Apart from this my run went really well..I’d made a different playlist for graduation, featuring obviously the very best songs, the ones that always kept me going & inspired me, which as ever they did this time.
In the end I actually ran 5.5k as at the point my watch notified me that I’d completed the distance I also got a text message notification, so that cancelled out my distance alert, so I didn’t know how far I’d gone!!
I had planned my run to finish outside the playing fields of my old secondary school, in my own way a show of defiance to the PE teachers and athletic types who hadn’t encouraged or helped me and who had made me feel like running wasn’t for me all those many years ago.
When I finished I felt elated and although I’d run 5k & beyond before this meant so much to me in that I’d done it all myself, I’d kept to my schedule, I’d not missed a run or had to repeat any weeks. Even the fact that I’d had to walk out of my door in my running gear was a big deal to me & I’d done it. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so committed & determined about completing anything before.
As I was so happy & ordinarily would celebrate C25k graduation with Happy Feet I thought I’d do a live FB post to the group to talk to somebody, about what I’d done.
Thanks to everyone who watched..apologies for the sweaty, red-faced, emotional mess!!
So now my C25k “journey” is over and the next challenge is to keep going out 3x a week without the driver of needing to complete the weekly runs to finish the program.
But the incentive to get back out with Happy Feet remains & Challenge Chuesday will still be my first run of the week.
Throughout Lockdown, Happy Feet has been a shining example of an organisation who genuinely cares for its members at such an uncertain and worrying time and I thank Marie & Rhi and all the members for being so supportive to everyone in the club, wether they are currently running, walking, cycling or even taking a break.
Thank you x