So here I am, finally at week seven of Couch to 5K. After this, just one more week to go in order to complete the programme. I have a mixture of feelings about this – I’m proud of the progress I’ve made (especially when I look back at those first few weeks when I could barely manage 90 seconds of non-stop running), I’m glad that I’m doing this as I can feel the benefits already, but also apprehension. I’ve yet to reach the magical distance of 5k and knowing how the programme can present you with big step-changes that completely kick your bum, who knows what’s in store?
Well lemme tell you what was in store! I’ve done two of my three runs for week seven now and I needn’t have worried. Both of my completed runs comprised a five minute warm up walk, a 20 minute run (yes TWENTY minutes!), and a five minute cool down walk. When I clocked this as I started my first week seven run, I had my usual reaction (“I’M GOING TO DIE!!!”) but by now, I have learned how to deal with that initial reaction. I know exactly what to do to quell that panic and those fears. I know how to ignore those brain demons and get RUNNING. I simply put my headphones on, hit shuffle on my running playlist, and get going. I barely look at my app and I hardly clock watch now. Instead I’m listening to songs and inventing dance routines to them. I’m thinking about the park runs I can join when I complete the programme. I’m looking forward to the virtual races I’ve signed up to in June and July and earning the blingy medals that come with them. I’m contemplating taking part in actual runs, with other people, that take place all in one go. There are so many plans I can make. So many things I can do, now that I am running. Now that I know I can do it! And I did do it. I ran for the full 20 minutes without stopping and I did exactly the same again for the second run of the week. My apprehension was completely unfounded. The only obstacle or difficulty was the thought that I couldn’t do it. Yet here I am, having done The Thing I Thought I Couldn’t Do. Again. There’s a lesson in there, isn’t there.
This is me at the end of my second run of week seven. It rained A LOT, which is why this is easily the worst I’ve ever looked in a photo but also one where I’m feeling the best. Why? Because I thought it would be rubbish to run in the rain. I thought I’d hate being cold and wet through and having my hair soaked. I imagined all those lorries and vans speeding past me and spraying me with dirty water. I considered putting my run back a day so that I could do it in dry weather. But then I went out and ran. Yes I was cold (only at first) and wet through, and yes I looked like a drowned rat, and yes I did get sprayed by passing traffic but the weird thing was that I didn’t care. In fact I enjoyed it. Running in the pouring rain made me feel like an invincible badass! Does that make me a runner now? I think it might. So here’s my giant red but beaming face at the end of my run.
At the time of writing, I have one more run to do before moving on to the final week. I have been thinking more about my distance and pace, specifically how I’ll hit the magical distance of 5k. So far, my runs have all had total distances of either just over or just below 4k (mostly just below). I can see that my splits are improving and I can see that my pace is also getting faster but I’m still worrying slightly about whether I’ll be able to finally reach 5k. Even though I’m running non-stop for the required lengths of time, am I too slow? Should I be covering more distance? Will I find myself completing the programme but NOT getting to 5k? What on earth do I do then?! Luckily, my C25K app has a little feature that is meant to motivate and reward you – it presents you with badges you’ve earned as you’ve progressed through the programme. For example, you get a Lionheart badge after your first run because you’ve been brave and you’ve taken that first big step (I think that might be my favourite badge). So after my second run of week seven, I earned a new badge and I would really like to think that the app developers applied some clever and enlightened psychology to this one because I could not have received a better badge at this point. Here it is:
Why is it the best badge I could earn right now? Because it tells me that at this point, I should be a 3k runner, that I should be hitting the distance of 3k by now. In other words, I am spot on for where I am in the programme. In fact, there are some runs now where I am even ahead of where I should expect to be in terms of distance. That what I am doing is an achievement in itself, even if I’m not at my final destination yet. YET. This was an opportunity to remind myself of what I have achieved so far, what I have been able to do, instead of worrying about getting to where I want to be or think I should be. This must be what they mean when they say ‘Live in the Now’…..
Week seven has both reinforced old lessons and taught me new ones. In summary:
- You are capable of more than you know. The only way to find out what you can do is to try doing it. I know now that I can run non-stop for a much longer time than I would ever have thought I could. I know now that I actually like running in the rain. I know now what it’s like to feel like an invincible badass. And so can you.
- Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t assume that you’re not progressing as far as you think you should have. EVERYTHING is progress – you’re always moving towards your goal, whether it’s a straight route, or a meandering road, or you encounter a few roundabouts and obstacles in your path. It’s all progress. Chances are you’re doing better than you think you are anyway. But it doesn’t matter – look only at your own journey and how far you’ve come since you started it and know that you will get to where to where you want to be. And then some.
Happy running! x