I’m ashamed to admit that after C25K and its nice regulated structure were over, my running got… a bit directionless. A bit unmotivated. And, for a whole month there from the end of May, a bit nonexistent.
Now I’m getting back into a more structured programme again, the miles are starting to stack up, so I don’t want to dwell too much on the months where not much happened. Still, they weren’t totally uneventful. From March to May, they included:
- my (still-standing!) distance record: 4.2 miles, in 46.10;
- the time when I was doing really well for speed until someone in a 10K race t-shirt whizzed past me, and I decided that next year dammit I’d run the Glasgow Women’s 10K;
- the buying of Actual Proper Running Socks, for which my feet are eternally thankful;
- feeling pleased about regularly running 12/13 miles a week;
- the time I fell over, at exactly the halfway point of my run, because some fool had spilled strawberries all over the pavement. And it’s not like I tripped on a strawberry, or anything, which would also have been embarrassing, but as I was running past them I was trying to work out why there were strawberries all over the pavement because surely if someone had dropped a box then the box would also be there, unless they’d picked up the box, but why pick up the box and not the strawberries, unless some of the strawberries hadn’t hit the ground, but it did seem like quite a lot of strawberries lying there on the pavement, and why weren’t the birds eating them anyway, do birds even like strawberries, surely birds must eat strawberries because that’s how the seeds travel and anyway I know a cat who eats strawberries so birds are bound to, and how annoyed would you be if those were your strawberries all over the pavement, at which point my shoe encountered the edge of a paving slab in an ill-advised manner and thump.
I’d probably have grazed my knees if they hadn’t been covered; as it was, they were both skinned and sore. The palms of both hands were covered in mud and blood (strawberries would have been a softer landing). I got up as fast as I could and started running again in the hopes it would look nonchalant (it didn’t) and carried on with my route, since I was heading back to work anyway and it’s not like walking would have got me there faster. Washed most of the grime out of my hands at work, with stingy antiseptic wipes; scrubbed most of the rest out later on at home. Six days later, with one of the cuts on my hand still infected and not healing, I found the tiny sharp piece of stone that had been lodged in there since I fell. Ick.
It didn’t actually take me several months to get round to them, just a long time to do the update
Week 8 was really, surprisingly tough. Three 28-minute runs. I thought I’d got comfortable enough after week 7, especially doing the exact same route, but days 1 and 2 teetered on the edge between ‘hard’ and ‘really uncomfortably hard’ all the same.
After day 2 I thought a lot of this might be down to running the same route, letting my brain get into unhelpful patterns of ‘oh God there’s another corner after this one and then a hill and then blargh’, so on day 3, I decided to change things up a bit and do the usual run in reverse.
Runkeeper’s elevation map of that run demonstrates why this was not a brilliant idea:
Still, I wasn’t much looking forward to week 9.
Week 9 is the final week. Thirty minutes of continuous running, three times over. (If you’re doing the programme by distance, this would be taking you up to a full 5k, but running by time means you’re probably going to fall a bit short.) Thirty minutes doesn’t feel like it should be that much harder than twenty-eight, but when twenty-eight is driving you into the ground, thirty looks impossible.
It’s not, though.
I changed the route completely this time round, changing the windy river path for long straight roads, and made an effort to go slower than I felt I should be doing. At the ten-minute mark, I still felt really good. By fifteen, I was wondering when the exhaustion would kick in; by twenty, when it still hadn’t, I let myself start to feel smug.
Thirty minutes, 2.75 miles. And I didn’t even want to collapse. I could even have kept on running after the thirty-minute mark, if I’d felt like it, but I decided not to feel like it on the grounds that I’d stuck to the programme religiously so far (apart from repeating week 7, day 3) (but I was ill!) and would feel stupid if I pushed it and then fell over. Plus, only two more days to go.
Week 9, day 2, I did the same route and got to the same point after thirty minutes and still felt pretty good, and just ahead of me was a great big long stretch of downhill, so this time I went for it. And I ran 5k! In fact, a little over 5k, 3.23 miles in total (oh yes, I counted that 0.03). Tired, but euphoric.
Week 9, day 3, I wanted to do the same thing, except I was running a different route that day and wasn’t sure where the 5k mark would be. So I went with what Runkeeper told me, which was mostly ‘not yet’. It was a really fiddly route, which didn’t help. Up Great Western Road, which is long and straight and full of people, for about half a mile of endeavouring to look cool and smooth and like a real proper runner; through the Botanics with its annoying hill; down along the river path one way, then over the little humpbacky bridge which always seems a bit too close to the water, then back along the river for about a mile and a half, up into the park, down Kelvin Way and then down the nice long Gibson Street hill, by which point I was thinking oh come on, this has got to be 5k now. And yet, Runkeeper said no.
After forty-two minutes (forty! two! minutes!) Runkeeper finally conceded that the 5k mark had passed. I walked the last few minutes home, collapsed dramatically for a while, and then checked the Runkeeper site only to find that it had struggled with the GPS at two points and had lopped off one big corner and one loop. So actually I’d made it just over 3.5 miles, albeit as slow as molasses with a 12-minute mile.
Remembering back to when a 3-minute run seemed like a struggle, it’s hard to believe that I really did get from the couch to a 5k in nine weeks. And yet, here it is. C25K, complete.