Hey guys, remember me? I’m just checking in to see how you’re getting on with your first week running on your own. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, last week I finished nine weeks of the NHS’s Couch to 5k programme, which takes you from couch potato to competent runner in just two months. It was a tough challenge, but very steady, and the results have been well worth it.
The most important thing, that I took away from the NHS challenge, was that absolutely anyone can make running a part of their weekly routine. No matter what size you are, if you exercise a little or do absolutely nothing, this programme will get you up and pounding the pavements in nine weeks. Guaranteed. After that, it’s up to you to maintain it, but the possibility has been proven without a doubt.
This week was my first without the podcasts and the helpful voice of Laura in my ear, but I’ve still managed to run three times this week, and I’ve enjoyed it! I’m using the Nike + Running app, which has a really clear and easy interface, lets you choose your own music and also keeps you updated on your distance, time and average pace.
There are a lot of other great running programmes out there, but this one is great for beginners, as it allows you to choose a distance or timed run or a series of challenges. The voiceover in your ear is also reminiscent of Laura on the podcasts, so you don’t have to keep time yourself. Plus, after nine weeks of NHS commissioned music, it’s a big bonus to be able to listen to your own playlist.
Healthy and happy
The health benefits of cardio are well known, but regular exercise has also been proven to improve your overall quality of life. Rather than losing weight, I took up the challenge to get fit, learn a new skill and get out in the fresh air for half an hour every other day. Personally, I feel much better about myself after a run and it can really help to clear my mind. And then on the numbers level, I’ve lost 3 inches around my thighs and 5 inches around my waist since starting the programme.
Slow and steady
Even though you’re definitely a competent runner now, I’d still suggest taking things slow for a while, and gradually increasing your running distance. I’ve found that I still have to do some kind of warm-up before starting my runs, even if it’s just a few stretches or a brisk walk, otherwise my muscles begin to hurt almost straight away. Running for 30-40 minutes a few times a week is a great way to keep fit, so don’t push yourself into a marathon just yet. But, having said that, the more you run the stronger you’ll become, so do push yourself as well.
If you’ve completed the programme and carried on running this week, then give yourself a big pat on the back. I’ll see you out on the streets soon!
Have you enjoyed Alex’s weekly updates on the NHS Couch to 5K? Been inspired to take up running, or even to give it a go? Let us know in the comments below.