Over the last few years I tried to start running many times. Unfortunately however I never made much progress. I would start off, then get tired and give up, telling myself that I did not know what I was doing and most likely was doing it all wrong. It’s quite amazing the number of excuses that fall fully formed into your head when you decide you prefer to sit on the couch reading a book instead of going out and getting active!
Every time I drove past a runner I told myself that I was simply not young enough, or fit enough, or that I did not have the time needed to put in the effort to run.
However the truth was that I knew that some of those runners were older than me, and that a number had been just as unfit as I was when they got started, and that most likely they also had jobs and families and struggled to find the time. I knew that I was just making excuses.
Until last September, when suddenly something clicked in my brain!
I was on vacation with my family and as we hiked up a gorge I was embarrased at how I was struggling, while my husband and children scampered around without so much as breaking a sweat. I realised that my laziness was impacting my ability to do things with my family, and that unless I did something about it, it would get worse and not better.
So I decided to change.
In order to succeed I needed to do things differently. I needed a programme that told me exactly what to do in order to get started running, while giving me the flexibility to do it on my own time and at my own pace.
I downloaded the podcasts, strapped on my running shoes and took off, following Laura’s instructions as she guided me through week 1 (5 minute warm up walk, 8 repeats of 1 minute running / 2.5 minutes walking, 5 minutes cool down walk), giving me advice and motivating me along the way. That first week I felt my heart was going to burst out of my chest when I completed my first 60 seconds of running. I finished my “run” 30 minutes later and wondered how on earth it was possible that I would ever run for 30 minutes straight, as Laura assured me I would, just 9 weeks later.
However I kept at it. In the second week I progressed to a mix of 90 seconds running / 120 seconds walking (total 30 mins with warm up and cool down), and every week the running time increased while the walking time decreased. Every week I thought to myself that this was the week when I would not manage to make the leap from the previous week’s running time. However somehow it was always possible. A couple of weeks in it was clear to me that this programme worked and that if Laura said that I could do it, then I could!
It helped that the podcasts are accompanied by an excellent support forum where thousands of newbie runners like me shared their woes and their successes. I often logged onto HealthUnlocked to ask questions and dozens of people who were following exactly the same programme always answered, sharing advice and encouragment. When the going got rough I posted about it and they assured me it was worth it, and so it was.
By week 5 Laura had me running for 20 minutes straight. I could not believe it, just over a month earlier I could hardly run for 60 seconds and now I was doing 20 minutes. For the first time I felt like a runner. I was one of the people on the road instead of a driver zooming past, and I loved it!
By week 9 I was running 30 minutes, and in fact on my last run I ran for 45 minutes, just to prove I could. Two weeks later I ran my first 5k, and I have the medal to prove it 🙂
The moral of the story is that if you want to achieve something don’t just wing it. Get advice and make a plan, and then stick to it.
Yesterday I embarked on step 2 of my plan. I joined a running club and attended my first group coaching session. I applied to join the beginner sessions, but after participating in a Cooper test, the coach moved me to the intermediate group. It was a proud moment!
I am delighted at my progress. Running had been a dream for many years but I never really thought I could do it. Believe me, if I managed, anyone can.