5K to couch…no, that’s not quite it!

There’s something about running. You see other people loping along effortlessly and think it would be great to be that fit and fluid but your own experience is better described as a hot, sweaty, painful mess.  That’s still often my experience even after years of running.I don’t remember ever hating running though, it’s certainly been uncomfortable (chafing), painful (more chafing), and often emotional (good and bad plus chafing) but I never hated it.  It’s been therapy, an opportunity to get out, to get the blood moving, to breathe, to have purpose….I could (and when talking about running I often do…sorry) go on.  Here in Worthing we’re very lucky to have the choice of running along the seafront or running on the Downs. It’s easy to get bored or frustrated running through the streets and having to stop to cross roads but get to the seafront and you’re almost uninterrupted for miles of flatness.  Then the Downs offer a different experience – and not just because they’re the opposite of flat! – they smell different and there’s much less noise up there. 

I’ve been running on and off over the last 20 years but I’ve never actually used the couch to 5k (C25K) programme or any of the apps based on it.  It was created in 1996 by Josh Clarke to help his 50yro mum off the sofa and into running, and has been going from strength to strength ever since, especially since apps became a thing. Like parkrun it wasn’t something created for profit just to make the world a better place.  And that’s something we can all get behind.

I’m often asked for advice about starting to run and the top three things I offer are:

  • Don’t try and run fast – a pace you can talk at is perfect
  • Don’t try and run long – better to enjoy some short distances and build up 
  • Do try and run with someone else – so you have someone to talk to 

Not being able to stop talking about running means I end up dishing out at least five bits of advice – the fourth being to follow a plan and the fifth to really lean into the experience and enjoy it.  

The C25K plan is a perfect, free, easy to use plan for everyone to start running.  The NHS have endorsed it and produced their own app with the option of having Jo Whiley, Sarah Millican, Sanjeev Kohli or Michael Johnson taking on the coaching voice role.

Or if you fancy something a little darker you can follow the zombie version where you’re coached via a storyline involving a zombie outbreak – leads on to an extended training plan/storyline where you have to complete missions over greater time and distances.  I’ve always worried I’d get too into it and react badly when surprised by someone/thing mid-run… 

There’s a lot of couch to 5k apps so pick one and try it out. If you don’t like it just pick another and start over.  And I couldn’t write a post about running without pointing you to ParkRun, the friendliest and most supportive place to run wherever you are in the UK, just don’t forget to bring your barcode along.

Most of the apps let you play music alongside the trainers voice so you can pick your own tunes. Or podcasts and audiobooks if you’re running by yourself. I’ve never got into audiobooks but I’ve learned a lot from hours and hours of podcasts over the years – what would you listen to?

P.S. I know that not everyone enjoys running or can run, and that’s cool, just find something you do enjoy that gives you all these benefits and do that instead.  

P.P.S I’ll happily talk with you about running all day long but no matter what advice I give you, you are the one that’ll need to lace up and leave the house – I know you can do it!

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