Thought I’d post a quick update on my health kick. I’m just over halfway through the NHS Couch to 5k podcast. I’ve finished week 5 of 9 (and, yes, I know it’s over 5 weeks since I posted that I was starting the programme, but I’m happy with speed of progress).
The most recent step in the programme was the hardest. The last run of week 5 is a step up from intervals to a single continuous run. The difficulty in that step isn’t physical, it’s mental. Physically, the step isn’t that large: from two 8 minute intervals with a walking rest between to a single 20 minute run. In reality it’s only an extra 4 minutes of run time.
In my mind it was a quantum leap. I’ve been surviving my runs by living from breath to breath in anticipation of my next resting interval. “Impossible,” my mind was shouting. “8 minutes to 20! That’s more than double. What happened to that fabulous, faux-Fibonacci progression that the interval times seemed to be following?” All this shouting cowed me. I put off starting this run as long as I could, but in the end I had to try it, and risk failing myself, or fail myself in a different way.
I gritted my teeth. I ratchetted my trainers tight. I got into it.
After 5 minutes my mind was shouting again: “You’ve got to be kidding me!” When it’s your own mind saying things like that to you, the true refrain is “I’m kidding myself.” I can never be the sort of person who runs. I’m 30; it’s too late; even when I was 13 I couldn’t run any farther than the bus stop at the end of the road; I’ve no chance now. Obvious horseshit.
I sweated through the minutes and despite counting down the last few second in a trance of desperation, I found that once I knew I’d made it I had enough left in me to carry on a little longer. And I did.
The real victory for me wasn’t the time or distance covered – I know that to seasoned runners/fitter individuals 20 minutes isn’t such an achievement. My victory was that I didn’t let myself give up or slack off.
I did it.
From that foundation, I know I can do the rest. I can get to 5k.