Have you done the Couch to 5k running programme yet? I can’t recommend it enough. There are now a myriad of apps but I first found the podcasts via the NHS website. It takes you from being a non-runner in Week 1, to running 5k (about half an hour) by Week 9. It is genius! It starts gently with alternating one minute of running with a 90 second recovery walk and each segment increases gradually over the weeks. You always start and finish with a 5 minute brisk walk and you are accompanied by music and the lovely Laura, who will not only remind you when to walk and run, but give you lots of helpful tips and a bit of encouragement along the way.
I started it when Oscar was about 9 months old. I know that because I ran a 10k when he was a year and I was still breastfeeding. Probably the slowest 10k in the world but I impressed even myself. Since then I have dipped in and out of running and I always go back to the programme after a break, not necessarily to Week 1 but around about Week 5 or 6 to assess my fitness and get back on track. And the great thing about running is that you build up core fitness. Which means that even if you have a break of a week or two, a month or even 3 months, you don’t start again from the beginning. You’re a lot fitter than you think!
So. Having been banned from exercise for a while, I’m keen to get back to running. Especially now the weather is that glorious northern speciality of sunny and brisk. Belfast is so green that you could run from park to park with minimal roadwork, constantly surrounded by mountains, blue skies and birdsong. Fab.
Another motivator is Alfie and his weight. What better way to get a bit of Number One Son time than running together? We have therefore embarked on the Couch to 5k, starting at the very beginning. We began on holiday in Donegal and ran on the beach the first couple of times; water, rockpools, dunes and a dead sheep. Then we ran from cousin Jill’s house in Omagh – all country lanes, (living) sheep and a beautiful church. Yesterday we ran in Botanic park; rose garden, hyacinth flower beds, tourists, students and an ice cream van
(which we ran past Very Fast). We’re about to complete Week 2 and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Alfie, on the other hand, spends a lot of the time complaining loudly and professing to hate me, running, and the world at large. He’s finding it tough which proves how unfit he is and how his weight really is holding him back. However, in true Alfie fashion he doesn’t stop, or give in, or give up. We get through the half hour and he does, despite himself, feel good afterwards. I’m determined to get him through this and harbour dreams where he becomes some athletic god and thanks his old mum for pushing him through the running programme and kickstarting his sporting career.
But I’ll settle for him not being last in his Sports Day events this year. Which, as it happens, is exactly the week after we complete the Couch to 5k running programme. Fingers crossed!