I started running because it works for horses. There are an awful lot of explanations for how running will make you fit, but most of them seem to involve developing a strong interest in things like muscle groups and elliptical trainers and basal metabolic rates and resting heart rates and carbohydrates and stretches and how to navigate furious internet arguments on all the above, so I’m sticking to that: it works for horses. You want to get a horse fit, nothing beats a regular pattern of gradually-increasing exercise that includes a lot of trotting up hills.
So I’m doing Couch to 5k. It’s simple, it’s structured, and it doesn’t sneer at you for caring very little about using the word ‘cardiovascular’ on a regular basis. Also, it promises to turn couch potatoes into people who can run for thirty minutes at a time, three times a week – and while I’m not quite a couch potato, I think I’m growing roots.
Day 1, though? Day 1 was a failure.
The plan for the first day of the Couch to 5k plan is 60 seconds of jogging, followed by 90 seconds of walking, repeated eight times. How do you measure 60/90 seconds? With a watch (which I don’t wear), or a stopwatch (excellent, I’ll just grab one from my secret stopwatch horde), or one of the many, many, many Couch to 5k apps and podcasts. (True fact: if you listened to all all the C25K podcasts end-to-end, the universe would grow cold and die before you returned from your run.) But there were big, grey clouds outside growing closer, so rather than wait to download one of the podcasts, I thought “eh, I can count to 90″ and headed out.
The warmup walk was fine. It felt good to be outside breathing fresh air, or as fresh as air gets in a city, and although the pavements were quite crowded I felt like I was setting a good pace. When the rain started coming down in my first run – very lightly, hardly there at all, just an occasional splash on the tarmac – I didn’t even mind. Hey, it’s raining and I’m still out here running, I hereby award myself 10,000 points and a trophy.
Except… you think it’s easy to count 60 seconds, or 90 seconds. And it is, mostly. Unless you’re also trying to keep track of where you’re going, and which road to turn down next, and how many 60-second runs you’ve done so far out of the eight you’re supposed to do, and the rain gets heavier, and heavier, and heavierandheavierandheavier until your chin’s almost tucked in your chest, and before you know it you’ve totally overshot the point at which you wanted to turn off the main road and you can’t remember whether that’s three or four more runs you need to do, and how is it even possible for rain to come down this hard outside the tropics?
But I kept running. Even the last run, which ended up being most of a short, steep hill I hadn’t intended to go anywhere near. And by the time I’d reached the top of that hill and worked out a quick way home, the rain had already soaked me through so thoroughly that it didn’t matter how quickly I got back, since it couldn’t possibly get any worse. (And it couldn’t; I had to wring out my top over the sink once I finally made it back.)
It was a failure on almost every count, except the most important one: I still got out there and ran.
So next time: podcast. And more attention to the map beforehand. And preferably no evil torrential rain. And, um, maybe I’ll call this one Day 0, and start Couch to 5k properly on the next run.