NHS Couch to 5k: Week Three

This week’s podcast feels surprisingly short, even though it’s actually only two minutes less than previous weeks. Maybe it’s because we’re now running for longer periods of time (yeah, that’s right) or because we’ve foregone the five minute cool-down walk, but I was back at my house in what felt like no time at all.

Building up

In Week Three the lovely Laura alternates between running for ninety seconds, walking for ninety seconds and then running for three minutes and walking for three minutes. It sounds like a major step up from last week, but the secret to this podcast is that you’re always going to be more prepared than you think. After all, that’s what the last few weeks were working towards. By the end of the first three minute run I felt, to my amazement, as though I could just keep going and I’d found my pace, but you must stick to the plan and cool down properly. Otherwise, by the second three minute run you’ll be totally pooped and discouraged.

There are only two repetitions in this podcast, but you are running for longer than previous weeks so will still feel the slow burn in your legs. As I mentioned last week, I think it’s a good idea to do a few stretches before setting out, especially as it’s cold outside which causes more wear on your muscles.


Don’t forget to do your stretches!

Where to run?

We’re getting to that time of year where it does become harder to force yourself out of the house to run, especially if it’s raining outside. This morning in particular I found self-motivation almost impossible after a four hour staff meeting and a to-do list the length of my, albeit very short, body. But after heading out and coming in again, I realised how little time this actually takes out of my day, but how good I feel afterwards.

Personally, I like to run outside just around the streets. I prefer it to be cool and I like being able to check out some of the hideous new building work going on in my area. You can also run around parks if there is one big enough nearby. This system would also work in the gym but you would need to find a speed on a treadmill that is suitable for you. If you’re an outdoor runner like me, there are a few important things to remember:

1. Running in the road is generally better as the surface is more even and there’s less chance of you slipping or tripping on a tree root. However, remember to run close to the curb and to keep checking for cars. If you’re running at dusk or at night, wear something high-vis, but avoid running the road altogether.

2. Dress warmly, especially at this time of year. You migt feel hot while you’re running but the parts of the body exposed to the cold – head, hands, ankles – will still suffer if you don’t keep them wrapped up. If you catch a cold, you won’t be able to complete the programme. Plus, who wants to be sick over Christmas?

3. Don’t try to impress anyone! I am guilty of continuing to jog past the postman even though I’m supposed to be walking just because I don’t want to look bad. It’s not necessary. You’re doing this for yourself, and you should run for yourself too. Don’t wear yourself out just because you’re worried what someone else is thinking. In no time, you’ll be sailing past them on your 5k anyway.

This week’s podcast was another simple and easy to follow exercise, although it’s now clear that each week is building and building. As Laura says ‘the achievement of pushing through a hard run far outweighs any pain during it.’ Okay, so I have a pretty bad stitch but I’ll keep telling myself that all the way into Week Four.