As many of you know, Christina and I (along with some other lovely Year of the Yes-ers) are running a half marathon in March. Those who know us will understand quite the extent of the challenge. We literally started from nothing. So I thought this would be a good time to revisit my very first exercise blog post.
We are firm believers in the NHS Couch to 5k programme. I have recommended it to so many people after we used it to get us started in our triathlon training. It really works. Here’s my thoughts when we first got started…
It feels a little bit surreal writing my first exercise post. The reaction from most people when I told them that I was running a triathlon was varying degrees of hilarity. Perfectly reasonable really, as a self-confessed exercise-phobe. It was also the point a little bit – I wanted to do something that I knew would have made Lou laugh….loud, heartily and continuously.
It does leave me in a bit of a tricky position though; who am I to impart advice about the ins and outs of training for something that at this point I can’t even imagine? I will tell you who. I am a novice and I am going to share with you my journey from zero exercise to triathlon ready (albeit a ‘fun’ triathlon distance). Editors note: not only did it get me through my triathlon training, it started me on my journey to being half marathon ready. I hope!
Once we had made the commitment to actually do the triathlon (places booked, monies paid, butterflies set in) we thought we should probably think about getting ourselves athlete fit…or there abouts.
The triathlon isn’t until 1st June, and although it seems a long time away at the moment, it was certainly intentional to allow ourselves that time. It was really important that we didn’t promise anything we couldn’t achieve…this is to make Lou proud, not to push ourselves beyond reachable limits. So, the 11 month window has given us plenty of time to do things slowly.
At the beginning of July we decided to start with one exercise activity per week up until the end of the year (when we will start thinking about a proper training programme). Christina suggested that a good place to start might be the Couch to 5k programme, put together by the NHS.
“Probably the biggest challenge a novice runner faces is not knowing how or where to start. Often when trying to get into exercise, we can overdo it, feel defeated and give up when we’re just getting started. Couch to 5K works because it starts with a mix of running and walking, to gradually build up your fitness and stamina. Week One involves running for just a minute at a time, creating realistic expectations and making the challenge feel achievable right from the start.”
You can download a podcast to keep you on track while you are running (or if you are running with friends you can have a chief podcast listener e.g. Christina, who tells you when to walk, when to jog and when to fall on the ground in exhaustion).
The whole programme takes just 9 weeks. However, as we are starting off with one sporting activity per week, we are actually taking things a little more slowly than the recommend three running sessions a week.
It may take us slightly longer to get there but I really do feel that this approach helps. The combination of short jogs followed by walking makes it achievable for even the athletically challenged amongst us, which means that we are actually managing to sustain the momentum.
If you want to take steps to become more active, I would really recommend this is a place to start.
Just to bring you fully up to speed with where we are now, once we completed the couch to 5k we started following a triathlon training programme that we sourced online (the joys of Google) which involved training about 5 times a week. It was great to have something to stick to and guide us through. In fact, we have done the same thing with the half marathon, sticking to a plan that has us running two shorter distances in the week and a longer stint at the weekends.
Watch this space for a follow-up post on our half-marathon training, but remember the first step is getting off the couch. I hope this will inspire some of you to say yes to a challenge and yes to exercise!