8 Tips to Start Running, from Me, Who NEVER Thought They Would 

I’ve just done my first 5k run. As in, ran for a whole 5k non stop and survived! I honestly never, ever thought I’d be writing that. As someone who was once revolted at even the thought of running at all, I wanted to share how I’ve managed to (almost) complete the Couch to 5k app, with my fourth attempt.

Approximately 7 weeks ago, my friends and I, and Ben, were having brunch, and discussing the Couch to 5k app. I said how I’d tried it about 3 times, but never really got past week three. There was always an excuse – usually that it had got cold, or I just couldn’t be bothered. 

Certain people didn’t think I could do it, and that was the fuel I needed for me to give it by best shot, again. 

It must’ve been 9 weeks ago, given that I’m now on WEEK 8 of the 9 week programme. 

I went out running that very afternoon. Eggs benedict rumbling around in my tummy and all. 

If the British weather was sticking to tradition it should’ve been the start of summer and the perfect time – but given the spring we’ve had I’ve had to brave all weathers to stick to it – and am a stronger runner for it. 

Me, a runner. 

I am very proud of myself for getting to this point. And I wanted to share what’s been different this time, compared to the three (or maybe even four) times before. 

Tips for Couch to 5k Success 

1. Get a community 

I think my success this time mainly comes down to having a community to talk it through with, and egg me on. My two friends I was with, and another, set up a running specific Whatsapp group and share our runs, tips and running chat regularly to inspire the others to get out. I enjoy their updates, and it spurs me on to get out there too. The hardest part is definitely getting out of the house to start with.

2. Have a goal

My main goal was just to stick with it, obviously. To get out there, three times a week and do the run. But, also, I knew I wanted a big challenge to be doing the app for. Me and the aforementioned friends signed up to do a Cancer Research 5k Pretty Mudder, 10 weeks after that first race. I knew I wanted to be fit for that. The whole peer experience is a good driver for me. I don’t want to be the unfittest there, or at least, not lag behind too much!

3. Choose the right coach

There are a few different coaches to choose from on the Couch to 5k app. I’d tried Jo Whiley before, as I’m a big fan, but this time I went with Denise Lewis.

It’s worked. I love her.

Experiment with different voices for your runs, until you find the perfect one for you. 

4. Make the commitment

I wouldn’t let myself off. Whatever the weather was doing, and whatever I was doing, I was to get out there three times a week. I knew if I could just get through those first weeks then I wouldn’t want to break my streak, and I’d be out there. 

I even ran along the Danube on a rainy day in Budapest. 

My favourite run is still the one through the New Forest when we went for the weekend.

Pre Couch to 5k I would’ve sat in the lodge, probably looking at my phone while I waited for Reggie to wake up, but with Ben guarding Reggie, I was off. I ran round Sandy Balls, up the hills and down into the depths of the National Park – in the drizzly rain as well. It was one of the hardest runs, with all those hills, but I loved the euphoria of having done it!

5. Make it work with your schedule 

One of the reasons I wanted to get into running was the fact some of my friends had told me how good it was for busy people.

I knew if I signed up to a gym I wouldn’t go. Then I’d feel guilty for not going – I’ve done all that on repeat. Gyms just aren’t for me.

I tried a PT for a while, but hated the disruption to my day and having to be there when we said if I was in full flow for work, I wouldn’t want to leave, but also obviously didn’t want to miss the session.

With running, you’re ready to go as soon as you put your trainers on, and can do it whenever. If it’s raining at 3, wait ten mins and try again. 

My son goes to nursery twice a week and so I managed to get in a good rhythm and go when I dropped him off. That way I’d already done the 5-minute warm up as well, as it takes me about 20 minutes to walk there. This was the most time efficient way of fitting it in for me – and nursery has ended up being a trigger for me to go. Then I’d just do the other run in the middle of the week, when I had 30 minutes. 

On the flipside of that though, I didn’t want to just connect the run with those events. So, we’ve been away quite a bit recently so obviously he didn’t have nursery, and there have been a few bank holidays too. I made sure that I did a few runs out of this regime, to prove to myself that I had a routine, but I didn’t have to have that routine to succeed. I could bounce back. 

6. Curate some good playlists 

I have three playlists that have gotten me this far. 

I asked quite a few of my friends that run for their tunes, but seems like everyone listens to podcasts these days. I’m not quite ready for that. I need the boost that each song gives me as it comes on. 

These are the tunes that have kept me going – which I’m constantly updating. Help yourself!

7. Bribe yourself

I bought myself some new running shoes at the end of week 3, when I felt like I was going to stick with this, this time. That was my goal for those first few runs.

I’ll think about the long hot shower I’m gonna have on the chilly rainy days, and the ice lolly I’m gonna have when it’s been really hot. Sometimes I’ve just needed a little fix of something to persuade me to carry on.

8. Mix up your routes

I’m pretty lucky here in Southsea. I have two large commons nearby, a harbour, a beach and multiple parks. There’s lots of opportunity to mix things up.

The first week that I did it, it nearly killed me but I’d finish at the same point near a particular Royal Mail post box. I would ‘high five’ it as I went past (give it a friendly slap). Now that post box is a marker for me on that route, which I do once a week. It really shows me how much fitter I’m getting as I’m not as out of breath when I pass by.

I love seeing that post box now!

Benefits of the Couch to 5k app 

It’s been a tough time at work these last few weeks (with some brutal Google updates affecting most of the bloggers I know, especially me), and at home really (what with the whole house move falling through). It’s been comforting to have control over something, and to have another interest to pursue. I’ve also loved just getting outside and being fully focused for half an hour-ish of my day, without screens and alone.

I’ve enjoyed having the goal. I feel healthier, more disciplined and stronger.

I feel freer too. Yes, my legs feel heavy on some runs, but by the end I’m so happy and proud of myself for doing it by the end.

I couldn’t believe myself the first week I ran ten minutes, and then twenty, and then 25, and now I’ have 30 to look forward to this afternoon’m on 28 before the final week of 30. The sense of achievement when I unlock another step has just been amazing. 

I’m glad I downloaded the app (again) and gave it another go. Give it a try – free fun for the summer! 

Good luck x

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