Couch to 5k – my first attempt at running

Today on the blog, it’s all about Couch to 5k and what it’s like to start up the running program as a new runner.

If you have any friends who are trying to lose weight, or have taken up a new exercise hobby, you will know that they will not rest until EVERYBODY THEY HAVE EVER KNOWN LEARNS ABOUT THEIR NEW LIFESTYLE CHANGE, AND WHY YOU SHOULD DO IT TOO.

Seriously.  Imagine doing something like that.

Oh did I mention? I have convinced my good friend Sarah to try out the Couch to 5k exercise program, and today she’s taking over the blog to tell you all about it.  Enjoy!

Hi guys!

starting couch to 5k

Sarah here, Scotland based lazy person.  Fife, Scotland to be exact.  I’m so excited to be invited as a guest post to Pam’s blog!  I get so excited every time there a new post alert, partly because I’ve convinced myself that reading about running is just as good as actually doing it.  That’s how it works, right?

Let me start by giving you a little background about myself. I grew up near Glasgow with Pam, and recently moved to Fife.  I have tried this running thing in the past, but approached it with completely the wrong attitude. I had decided that running at a slow, ‘jogging’ pace didn’t make me a runner, and my route had plenty of fast runners who would think I was, well, a bit rubbish at running!  In my wisdom, I decided to go out as fast as I could in order to keep up with all the seasoned runners who were well established in their sport.  Crazy, right?

As it turns out, that was the worst thing I could have done. I made sure to do all my dynamic stretches, I felt good, I ran from my front door for 3 minutes and thought I was doing great.  Then the first stitch hit and I couldn’t run through it, so I walked it off, then full out sprinted until I couldn’t take a full step, and walked a little again.  I don’t know why I thought this was a good plan when clearly I was already struggling. I should have just walked the rest of the loop I had planned and chalked it up to experience.

Did I? Not a chance.

I tried to sprint as much as I could. I walked from one lamppost to the next then ran for 3 lampposts, continuing this way until I was home. I remembered the static stretches to finish and then promptly spent the rest of the night on the couch. My legs were like jelly and I barely managed to make it to the kettle never mind a walk to cool down properly! My legs hurt a little but I thought that was probably normal.

That was until I tried to get up the next morning.

Oh my gosh the pain! Have you ever had that cramp that wakes you up in the middle of the night? Yeah, that kinda sore. Every time I moved I felt like I couldn’t raise my legs, I didn’t want to stretch out my ankles because the pain was so bad. Every step I took felt like my shins were trying to pull away from my calves. Stairs were crippling. Hello shin splints!

I have to admit I didn’t even know these were a real thing, I thought they were just a thing that elite fitness folk said to alienate us mere mortals. Well, I can assure you that it most definitely is a real thing. And boy, will you know about it!  It took 3 days before my legs stopped hurting enough that I felt ready for another run. However, I did the exact same thing again, I hit the ground flat out and injured myself all over again. It’ safe to say that I injured myself worse and didn’t run ever again. That was about 2 years ago.

Couch to 5k

This time will be different! I’ve done some research, I know what caused my shin splints (I run flat footed), and I’m definitely going to take it slower follow a proper training program.  That’s where the Couch to 5k (c25k) comes in!

So what is Couch to 5k?

Well it’s an app. And I LOVE me an app. With C25K you have an 8 week program that coaches you into running, starting with no experience and ending with you running 5k without stopping.  So you literally go from lying on the couch to 5k runner!  You start with a small amount of running and a lot of walking, with the app prompting you when to start running and when to stop.  Over the 8 weeks, you gradually run more and walk less, until you are running 5k without stopping by the end of the program.  Each session is around 30 minutes long so it suits me perfectly too.

I’m really excited about starting this program!  This weekend I ventured into the big city for a quick (3 hour…) gym clothes shopping spree, I went a bit overboard – but hey, I’m sorted for a while now! I’ve fallen in love with almost everything New Balance, so I think I’ve found my brand of choice too. I feel like this might be the runners equivalent to finding ‘the dress’, and I’m OK with that.   All that’s left now is to actually start running.  Couch to 5k, I’m ready for you!



Here's my haul, I imagine brighter colours to come!
Here’s my haul, I imagine brighter colours to come!


C25k – DAY ONE!! 

Ok so enough waffle, how was my first run? Well to be honest, I really put it off. I could have gotten up and out by 10am on Sunday morning, and I eventually got my ass out the door at 3pm. Close enough, right?

Obligatory before photo. Excuse the mess of my hair, it was Sunday!
Obligatory before photo. Excuse the mess of my hair, it was Sunday!

On the first day of C25K you have eight 1 minute runs with 90 seconds of walking in-between. For the first 5 minutes you briskly walk to warm up, and by this point I was already regretting it. The anticipation of that first running beep was something I didn’t really expect. It came though, and I was off on my first min run!  The first 45 seconds were fine, then I wanted to give up already. I pushed through and the walking beep came and that may be the best 90 seconds I’ve ever had!

I took some big deep breaths and got myself ready for the next beep. Same thing, 45 seconds in and I was pretty much ready to lay down but I made it to the beep and began walking again, much to my delight. By this point I’m thinking Pammy has this all wrong and what on Earth has she roped me into?!?!

3rd run, actually felt good! I could feel myself breathing easier and settling into a jog rather than trying to sprint out a good minutes worth of running. There’s a reason Olympians only sprint 20 seconds you know!

This pretty much continued as I was running on flat roads around the housing estates near me. Until run 6.

I hit my first hill.

It was pretty slight, but after 5 runs it looked like Everest. I’d begun to hate the woman telling me to run/walk. I did it though, I managed run 6, and run 7 was a cinch. Then I remembered I had left the big hill until last.

It’s actually kinda deceptive because it looks huge but as soon as you start it’s actually fine, I wish I’d taken a photo for you guys now. Next time, I promise!  I got near the top and then came the dreaded beep…run 8. My legs had turned to jelly by now, my hands were pink and tingly, and I was generally roasting and over it. I knew though, that if I give up I’m only cheating myself.

So off I went, one last big push! For all of 30 seconds. I tapped out, gave up, decided I’d done all I could without really injuring myself or making myself give up for good so I skipped the last 30 seconds of running and walked the 5 minutes home. All in all though, I’d managed the distance almost perfectly as I was nearly at my door when that lovely little voice said ‘Workout Complete‘.  She was forgiven. In the door, take photo, stretch it out, review stats. How did I actually do? 

Well, according to Strava I covered 3.7km at 8min a km (~12.75 min/mi for the Yankees). I have no idea if that’s good or bad, but I’ll take it.

Pammy, why are you making me do this? I hate running. I hate you!
Pammy, why are you making me do this? I hate running. I hate you!


I have 8 whole weeks of this?!?

I have 8 weeks until my first 5k so that’s plenty time, right?  I’ll report back regularly with how I’m getting on and how I’m finding the pace.  Oh, and did I mention?  I’m only running my first ever 5k in NASHVILLE, BABY!  And Pammy and I are running it together which is AWESOME, as we live on the other side of the world from each other now and don’t get to do things like this normally.

We’re running the Rock’n’Roll 5k Nashville, it has the coolest medals and is supposed to be an amazing experience.  It’s a good one to pick for my first 5k!

I’ll do two more runs this week, and I’m also going to try eating more to see if makes a big difference. I have terrible, terrible eating habits though, today my food intake has consisted of chocolate for breakfast and Ryvita crackers with cream cheese for lunch. Don’t tell Pammy though, she’ll tell me off!  Maybe I’ll add in some gym classes along the way too, but one thing at a time!

Taking the running slower definitely makes my shins feel much better. My left calf has a little ache and my bum is feeling the burn when I’m walking up stairs! All in all though, I’d say it was a pretty successful run, and I definitely deserve a long hot bath.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my guest post!  If you’re toying with the idea of starting Couch to 5k, I hope my introduction has helped  to show you that it’s definitely possible!  For all of you seasoned runners, I hope you’ve found it entertaining! Thanks for having me!

Sarah x 

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