Couch to 5K: The return of the running shoes

Unearthing extra fitness equipment

Fortunately for my quest to get fit on a budget, I finally found my running shoes, which were missing in my last post

You can probably get some idea of my fitness regime by the fact said running shoes hadn’t been seen since we moved – nearly (cough) two years ago.

Plus some idea of my efficiency when moving, in that said shoes were right at the bottom of a big brown packing box.

But the good news is I also found, among other things, my fancy black shoes, my fancy black handbag, the missing soft-toy stuffing and the black tracksuit trousers bought to go trekking in the Catskills. Many cheers! (And some added insight into how frequently I go to fancy occasions, get creative or go on long distance walks nowadays.)

I completed my first Couch to 5K run in my extremely elderly trainers, but feared they were not long for this world, so I’ve been glad to switch to the running shoes. They also gained qualified approval from daughter, who damned the old pair as “weird”.

Fired up by my success at locating the running shoes, I have also unearthed some other essential items of fitness equipment.

Turns out elderly tracksuit bottoms with saggy elastic are not ideal, if they make a break for freedom every time you start running and hold your stomach in. I do not recommend running with one hand yanking up your waistband.

Luckily the resurrected trekking trousers have a drawstring waist, so if tied up more tightly than is entirely comfortable when sitting down, they stay up when running. I’ll count that as a success.

I have also realised that it helps to have more than one pair of sports socks, if you intend to go running three times a week. Luckily I also remembered that my husband has a couple of pairs of running socks that he reckoned were too small. They are mine now, mine I tell you.

I have located both my Shock Absorber sports bras, bought at different times when I was different sizes, but both involving the unsettling experience of jumping up and down in a John Lewis changing room, attempting to establish the amount of bounce. (Clue: less bounce = good).

The difference in sizes means I can wear both at the same time, which will hopefully be less terrifying for other people on my running route.

I even found my sports armband, which is held on by velcro like a blood pressure monitor with a plastic window. As I run with my smartphone, so I can listen to the podcast telling me what to do, it means I can push my phone into the plastic pocket, strap it onto my arm, plug in my headphones and run without fear of dropping it.

So, I’ve been staggering on with Couch to 5K, urged on by Laura as the voice of the NHS Couch to 5K podcasts, telling me when to start and stop running interspersed with words of wisdom.

I did flirt with Jo Whiley as an alternative, after downloading the latest NHS Couch to 5K app, part of the Live Well campaign supported by the BBC.

I rather liked the bit of the app where you awarded yourself stars after completing each run, and could see your progress building up.
But Jo just went silent in between instructions, with no encouraging if unfamiliar music, so I quickly went back to the NHS podcasts.

The first week only involves 8 minutes of actual running each time. You begin with a 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm up, then alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking, repeated 8 times, then do 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm down.


The programme is based on running one day and resting the next, so after my first attempt right after a school run I then did my second run on Good Friday (sunny, cheerful, nearly tripped over a puppy that wanted to play) and my third on Easter Sunday (wind sandblasted my face, great feeling of virtue in the face of chocolate).

The second week of Couch to 5K seemed tougher, despite the fact it only actually went up to 9 minutes of running. However, each individual run was 50% longer, as you have to alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking, repeated 6 times in between the warm up and warm down walks.

The reality of running during the school holidays also meant I had to get out before 7am on Tuesday and Thursday, while my husband was still around to look after the children.

This wasn’t so bad the first time, under cheerful blue skies, but Thursday morning started out grey and dismal. I felt every one of the extra 30 seconds of my 90 second runs, although my spirits lifted as the sunlight started slanting across the fields.

So, as of this morning I have completed my third and last run on Week 2 of Couch to 5K, emerging red as a tomato from the blinding sunshine.

Just another seven weeks to go.

Anyone have any recommendations for essential items of running kit? Or top tips for surviving Couch to 5K?


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  1. 19th October 2016 / 9:54 am

    Each Couch to 5K run includes a five-minute walk at the beginning and end of the session. You may want to put on an extra layer of clothing while cooling down, as this will stop you getting cold. Mark from Runners choice

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