As part of my weight loss regime, I’ve decided to act upon my long held secret ambition to become a runner, and I’m doing C25K. I’m doing it at the gym, on a treadmill. What can I say, I’m weird, I like the gym and hate running outdoors. Mainly because I can’t run.
C25K is a structured programme designed to get you from couch potato to running 30 minutes non-stop in 9 weeks. A pattern of walk/run/walk is done for 30 minutes, and each week you run for a bit longer and walk a bit less than you did the previous week until you’re running for half an hour with no walking breaks. Sounds simple, and it is. But it ain’t easy.
I’ve read a lot of stuff about running for beginners, and one overwhelmingly consistent piece of advice is to start off slow, very slow. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to take this advice, because I know from past experience that running any faster than a normal person’s slow jog makes me feel like my chest will explode and death is only seconds away!
My walking pace is quite fast though, so once on the treadmill for week 1, day 1 of the programme, I decided to walk at 5.5kph and run at 7kph.
Day 1 starts with walking for 5 minutes to warm up, then alternating 60 seconds running with 90 seconds walking till you’ve done 8 runs.
I had my headphones on, my water ready, and off I went. I was feeling good. The 5 minute warm up was soon over and I upped the treadmill speed to 7kph. For 10 seconds or so I was fine. Then I looked at the clock, thinking I must be halfway through.
10 SECONDS????? IS THAT ALL??? OMG I’LL NEVER GET THROUGH THIS IT’S TOO BLOODY HARD I’M NOT MEANT TO BE A RUNNER I’LL JUST HAVE TO STAY FAT MY CALVES ARE ACHING I NEED TO STOP WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS I MUST LOOK LIKE A DRUNKEN FAT ELEPHANT RUNNING FOR THE BUS ONLY TO SEE IT PULL AWAY AS I GET TO THE DOOR MY CHEST HURTS I MUST LIE DOWN NOW I’M HAVING A HEART ATTACK WHAT IS THIS PAIN IN MY SIDE IT FEELS LIKE SOMEONE HAS TWISTED MY INTESTINES IS THIS A STITCH DOES ANYONE HERE KNOW FIRST AID
“Now walk for 90 seconds. Your first run is completed”
Somehow I’d made it. I don’t think anyone has ever switched speeds so fast on that treadmill! I decided that for the rest of the runs I’d go even slower, 6.5kph. It was a wise decision. Even though each of the remaining runs were still very hard, I managed to do them all.
Day 2 was the same as day 1, but harder. They say that 80% of the battle is mental, but trust me, this felt physical. My calves ached, my knee hurt, my back was hurting, my boobs were going in directions that were just not natural. I completed it, but I didn’t feel any sense of achievement, just pain and a general sense of uselessness. But it was the weekend, and I had 2 rest days (from exercise, I still had to work) and a night out to look forward to. I decided I would do day 3 on Monday and if I still felt absolutely wretched I would give up on my secret ambition and think of another way to get fit. Not everyone is supposed to be a runer, I figured.
Monday came, I finished work and see of to the gym. My normal shifts at work mean I’m usually at the gym between 1-3 pm, when it’s quiet, but today I’d done 9am-6pm and the gym was packed. Packed with skinny women and muscled blokes. I really wanted to leave. I felt completely out of place with my baggy T-shirt hiding my big belly while all these other people were wearing skin tight tops, lifting weights or running effortlessly. But I had a day off work the next day and I didn’t want to go out so I waited for the treadmill and got on with it. On either side of me were runners. One was doing walk/run like me. I glanced at her speed. Her walking speed was my running speed. I looked at the speed of the fella on my other side. 10.5kph. I felt like a lumbering hippo. Yet there I was shuffling away in a sad imitation of a runner, and I didn’t feel too bad. I didn’t feel good either, but not awful. And then the time was over! Without even realising, I’d done 8 runs, and at the end of the eighth, when I was expecting to have to do two more, I was done! I’d completed week 1 of C25K, in one week. I felt like a superhero.
I may not be a runner yet, but I will be one day…