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Couch to 5K - Why Did I Continue Running?

Thoughts on running, something that I never used to do.

Originally posted on Strava.com on Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

At the end of June, I downloaded the Couch to 5K app and went out for my first run with Laura from Couch to 5K in my ear. I have tried running before, and always hated it. Yet, now 3 months later I have finished the program and have continued running.

There are five things that I think were different this time, one about me, three about how the Couch to 5K program is structured, and one about how I run. I thought I would get down my thoughts on why I successfully took up running this time, when I have always quit before.

1) Personal Motivation

A few months before I started the program, I lost my job. While I have been looking for a job, there is a certain amount of stress and anxiety that had built up. I wanted something to take mind off my job search, if even for a short period of time. I always found that doing something physical puts you in the moment, and your mind off the future.

As well, running gave me something to do and improve on each week. Unlike job hunting, that can be stop and start with dead ends, running was something that I was getting better at every week.

I was motivated to succeed this time.

2) Structure

The Couch to 5K program gave a structure to running. When I had tried running before, I just went out running without any structure to what I was doing. I would go out and not run with any sense of how long or how often I should go running. When I felt tired, or if I didn’t want to run, I just wouldn’t go, and soon ended up giving up running altogether.

With Couch to 5K, I had a plan to follow. The plan told me how long I should be out for, and how often I should run. Some days I didn’t want to go out, but I knew I needed to get in my three runs a week. And sometimes I wanted to stop after 10 minutes, but knew that I needed to run for the full 30 minutes.

Having that structure kept me going each week.

3) Having Goals

When I started the program, I set myself a few goals. First, I wanted to run a 5K by the end of summer. Second, I wanted to run a 5K in under 35 minutes.

Knowing that I had those goals to work towards have kept me motivated to get out and push myself.

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4) Breaking the Wall

Before, without the structure of a program, I ran until I felt tired, and then stopped. That often meant that my runs were quite short.

When the Couch to 5K program went from running for 5 minutes to running for 8 minutes, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I was tired at the end of 5 minutes, and running for another 3 minutes seemed impossible.
But the program gave the motivation to keep running. I ran past 5 minutes, and kept pushing myself to 8 minutes. I was tired, but I kept going.

With that I learnt that it was just a matter of mentally pushing yourself to keep running when you are tired. Your mind quits before your body. While the program improved my physical fitness and physical endurance, importantly it has also improved my mental endurance

5) Learning to Pace Myself

Once I got up to running for over 20 minutes, I noticed that I usually started out fast, but got slower and slower as the run continued. That’s when I started paying attention to my pace much more than how long or how far I was running. Learning to start at a pace I could keep up, and continue that pace throughout the run, has allowed me to run further and further, and focus on getting faster.

These five things came together to keep me out running, and to achieve my goals. I have also learned that I actually enjoy running. It improves my mood, and gives me a great sense of accomplishment. Plus, I’m doing up my belt two holes tighter as my waist has slimmed.

Next up, I am setting new goals – longer distances and faster 5K times.

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Posted by GregW 03:17 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged running

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