Last December I decided that I wanted to be a runner.
There was one teeny problem though. The last time I ever did anything resembling running, apart from running for the bus, was when I was 14 and doing dreaded track and field at high school.
I have hated running all my life.
In fact, I would say that I was probably the least likely person to ever become a regular runner. It was just too hard.
But I WANTED to be a runner. I mean, I really wanted to be a runner. I think for me, running epitomises fitness and health and I wanted that for myself.
Running does so much good for your heart and body, and I desperately wanted to be the kind of annoyingly healthy person that goes for a run. And actually enjoys it! This is when I got the idea to try Couch to 5K.
But I knew that learning to run was not going to be easy.
What I found was that there were a huge number other benefits that came with Couch to 5K, that was more thank just running.
If you are already very good at motivating yourself, these will seem obvious – but as someone who is always impatient to finish, there were definitely some aha moments in there for me.
Have a System to Follow
The C25K podcast takes you through a proven to work 9-week programme. Each week was different from the week before and built on what I had done previously.
Also, knowing that other unfit people had been able to make it through meant that I knew that it was possible. If they could run, then so could I!
The Importance of Community
I also joined the Health Unlocked community which is a free forum for people that are doing the Couch to 5K. Reading other people’s challenges and celebrating their successes kept me motivated when I was worried about whether I could do it. A support network was crucial to keeping me motivated.
Success Takes Time
I keep having to remind myself of this.
There is a part of me that expects to be able to do things quickly and easily. And I get frustrated, yes, like a child, when that doesn’t happen. But the Couch to 5K programme helps keep your patience in check.
You need to complete each week and each step before moving on to the next level. This is something you build on, week on week. Patience is a must.
And because it would be too physically challenge to skip a step, I had to learn to follow the pace of the programme. And thereby, learn to be patient.
But by doing so, I managed to get there. It took me 13 weeks because of a knee injury partway through, but it was worth it. And I was so proud of myself.
You Don’t Need to Be Perfect All the Time
Let’s face it, nothing ever goes as smoothly or as easily as we might like.
Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes you make mistakes or no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get there. Again, it is easy to let self-doubt and negative thoughts take over and talk you out of following the next step. But not this time. I knocked those nasty thoughts to the curb.
I trusted the process and stuck with it and based on other’s experiences, I knew if I did, I would get to my goal.
First things first
Going for a run was an absolute priority for me, but the thought of it can be incredibly off-putting. I, therefore, made sure it was the first thing I did in the morning. I didn’t give my brain a chance to talk me out of it.
Brian Tracy calls it Eating that Frog. Stephen Covey, calls it First Things First. Regardless, the principle is to do the hardest thing first so that it is out of the way.
And getting out the door was the hardest thing I had to do (particularly in the middle of winter!) so I made it the first thing I did when I woke up.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I managed to do it, but I did. And breakfast always tasted so much better.
Making the Commitment
Finally, the thing that really helped me to complete the programme was just deciding that I was going to do it and fully committing to that decision.
There were no exceptions or excuses. Every week I committed to completing 3 runs a week.
Having that goal and being able to see my progress was very motivating and knowing that if I made the effort, I would get there. I had to show up every time to get the results that I was looking for.
Just keep going
As you can see, I learned a lot of lessons from this, probably even more than I have listed.
Since I completed the programme, I run a couple of times a week along with doing other exercises and I have to say that running has changed my life and my health enormously.
When I have had to stop for one reason or another, I have noticed that I could feel my fitness start to slip quickly – so now I have committed to running 3x per week.
I can’t say that I love running all the time and I do still find it hard sometimes to get out the door, but I never regret it once I do. The results are definitely worth the effort.
Have you ever taken part in Couch to 5K? How did you find it? Or, is it something you want to try? Let me know in the comments below, or join the conversation on my Facebook page.