So. For the last three months (12 months, who’s counting?) I’ve been thinking about doing the Couch to 5k. But I’ve always had an excuse.
The last time I went running was in the 1990’s and I was about 17 at the time. Back in the 90’s before instagram and selfies and all that, you had to check the size of your bum by twisting your body away from your Argos full length mirror and looking over my shoulder at your rear
(no 100 ‘likes’ back then eh? -just your word against your mirror). If you decided that that your bum was a few pound too heavy for an Ibiza beach body, then diet and exercise time it was. (Always Mondays though. Always have to rid the fridge of all the fatty evils first). There were several options for me back in the day. Cycle on mums old exercise bike in the garage to Key 103 or Rock FM or something. Go swimming at Sutton Leisure pool (now sadly gone). Or get my mate Steph to come for a run with me. To be honest, I thought we were quite revolutionary at the time as I’m sure running didn’t quite have quite the same kudos back then as it does today. (I could be wrong, as like I said, I know nothing about running). I also think I must have been pissed in the Plaza when I came up with my ‘revolutionary’ idea, seeing as I must have came in about 156th out of 160 in my school cross country, and yet here I was, envisioning myself jogging effortlessly around the dam like a gazelle.
For one motivated week, we put our Nike Air on, put on our walkmans (favourite songs of the 90’s exercise era included The Good Life by New Power Generation and Be my lover by Le Bouche ), and sprinted around our local dam. The second week, consequently, we couldn’t even walk. By week 3, we’d established some walking and running intervals. (Usually, we stayed right against the garden fence incase a tortoise wanted to overtake us on the way.)
The main problem for me when running back then was, and still is…dogs. (I’m one of these weird people that everyone hates because I don’t like dogs). It’s not that I don’t like them as such – they just scare the shit out of me. Especially big ones. And barking ones, And jumping ones. And exciteable ones. And any dog with its tongue hanging out looking like its waiting for a sugar do-nut is also a definite no-no. ( I don’t mind really old dogs, pregnant dogs, lame dogs, if you get me.) And every-time I visit an open space there’s bloody dogs EVERYWHERE. Scaring the shit out of me. Anyway. One night we went past an open fence gate and there, chasing its tail, was a dog. For one split second we locked eyes, and my anxiety peeked when it started to bark at me. Like a moron, I simple stood there and pointed to its house and said ‘GO INSIDE’. (Who’s stupid now, I hear the dog lovers laugh). It didn’t obey my orders.
Instead, it barked at me again which I think translated meant “Clear off before I eat you with some sugar and jam”.
I passed it, and it growled at me. I took a few more steps but I could still hear it panting behind me. I walked a few more steps until I felt that I was at safe enough distance away, and then, next thing I know, from out of nowhere, Steph growled back at it.She growled at it really loudly and then she began to leg it all the way down to the nearest bridge. I began to run too and the dog began to run after us. I ran so fast I nearly tripped over my own feet and the dog ran even faster after me.
‘Throw a stick’, shouted Steph.
A stick? God dammit, I needed a stick . If only I could grab a stick, I could fake a throw into the dam and maybe this human killer would follow suit. But where could you find a feckin’ stick when you needed one? And so, as I didn’t have a stick I thought-Hey, I know, I’ll throw my trainer instead.(?)
So I hopped, grabbing hold of my Nike Air, but I was a tad over-energetic, like a kid on sports day in the obstacle course race, and I over-hopped, tripping over my left foot with my right one, losing my balance and slipping downwards, clinging and grabbing onto some branches on my way down the slope as I tumbled into the water at Sutton Mill dam. I swear a couple of ducks laughed at me as they swam by and that dog was definately having the last laugh. (“Karma, bitch”). The dog just stood there, panting a little, and looking very smug. And then it just turned around, as if it suddenly got bored, and trotted off in the opposite direction. Ha ha!
So I’ve never quite been a triathlete in the making.
Recently, I made the decision to finally do it. To finally pick up running as an adult. The inspiration came when I saw an advert for the Couch to 5k on Facebook at Sutton Leisure Centre and I decided to show
myself up. I arrived, registered my details and we all (there was a big turn-out) did a couple of warm ups around the running track. Nice, friendly coaches. No dogs in sight. Happy Melanie.
The format was simple enough: run for a bit, listen for the whistle, walk for a bit. The intensity and running time would increase week-upon-week. As soon as the first whistle blew, I got a stitch.
‘Damn, I’m so unfit’, I scolded myself and wondered if I could escape though the railings. But soon enough, the whistle blew: it was time for the walking interval and somehow I recovered in time for the next run.
For the next couple of weeks, I attended every session. I had a few wobbles (both on my thighs and with my nerves) as the running times increased, but I felt elated at the end of each session. One Saturday morning, my hubby turned up at the track with my son to check my progress. (Hubby had dressed son himself – bright green trousers with a khaki green shirt – hubby’s deluded belief that any shade of the same colour are a safe bet). “Eeeeh, what have you dressed my poor boy in -he looks vile -quick, hide him before someone sees him’, I wanted to shout over, but I couldn’t bring myself to. One, because I couldn’t catch my breath, and two, because I just felt so proud to have them both there -cheering me on around the track. This running lark felt good, not just for my body but for a positive mind-set aswell.
Of course, a few people dropped out along the way. Its inevitable. You miss a session – two, maybe three – and then wonder if you’ve left it too late to catch up.
But if you’re thinking of giving it a go, then I’d say, don’t give up. It’s nine weeks, and it’s totally worth it.
At the end of the course, the ‘graduates’ were invited to attend the local Park Run to run their weekly 5k. A lovely bunch of keen runners can be found here (some of them running their 100th Park Run and all sorts of crazy running shenanigans) and then they all have a brew and a cake in the bandstand. It’s really quite a community and a supportive one at that. I ran, I drank, I scoffed, I high-fived.
If you thinking of giving it a go, I’d recommend you go for it. Agree to it now, and just do it. You won’t regret it.