If you’re running this programme along with me/you’ve already completed it, you’re going to know that I mean it when I say that this week is absolutely, positively, the biggest challenge so far. The main thing I enjoyed about this week is that the three runs are completely different, as opposed to just repeating one podcast three times in previous weeks. This kept the whole week varied and more interesting and made it easier to get out and run as it was a different experience each time.
The first run this week involved running for 5 minutes and walking for 3 minutes, for three reps. The total run time was 15 minutes and, considering that in week four I’d run for 16 minutes, I found this first podcast quite easy to get through and was therefore ready to tackle the rest of the week. The interesting thing about this programme is the genuine consideration for your mental progress, as well as your physical. Laura continues to remind us that, by now, we’re fit enough to run continuously for up to 20 minutes, but it’s all about harnessing the mental power to do it.
The second podcast this week consisted of two 8 minute runs with a 5 minute walk in between. I found this run the hardest out of all three this week – which might surprise you when you find out what the third run was – and it was a definite push to find the mental power to get me through. For me, eight minutes wasn’t long enough to find a good running pace, so it just felt like a real struggle, followed by a walk, and then another struggle. But, as ever, the important thing is to just keep jogging, even if it’s slowly, all the way to the end.
The final podcast this week was a full, non-stop 20 minute run. And it really wasn’t that bad. The initial reaction might have been ‘oh no, oh no, oh no,’ but Laura calmly talked me around to the run during the five minute warm up walk. She pointed out that the previous four weeks of interval training had boosted my fitness, and I had the capability to keep putting one foot in front of the other. So, I went for it. And it’s mostly because you don’t want to disappoint Laura (who isn’t even there) but also because, by now, you know how darn good it feels to complete a podcast. The first ten minutes were tough but the last ten were almost a breeze. Just. Keep. Moving. It’s amazing how easy that is.
- This week, Laura pops up at regular intervals to remind you that you can slow down at any point during your run if you’re feeling tired. Even if it seems like you’re at a walking pace, as long as it is still a light jog and you’re keeping your heart rate up, it counts. When that urge to just stop and start walking comes along, slow it down for thirty seconds. You’ll soon feel better and can pick up the pace again.
- I think it’s essential to remember for the rest of the day and throughout the week the progress that you’re making in your runs. It’ll keep you motivated, and you’ll even start to look forward to the next run. At some point in the day; stop and remember that you ran for twenty minutes this morning. Suddenly, everything looks a bit brighter and a bit better.
At this stage in the NHS programme, it’s vital to remember one important thing – you wouldn’t be here without the previous weeks of hard work. If you’re starting this from scratch then there can be absolutely no skipping of weeks or runs, or you won’t make it to week five and you’ll feel really disheartened. Improving your general fitness isn’t only beneficial so you can run, but for lots of other aspects of your daily life too.