I’m a non-runner. But not just a non-runner, but more of a ‘never have run’-er. And probably a ‘never will run’-er. Or at least I thought I was.


My exercise history is just that, history. And a very brief history at that. In fact, a history that consisted of exercise at school, when ‘forced’ and really nothing more. I was always last in cross country; the last person to be picked for the PE team. Exercise held negative memories from school to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been able to walk a fair distance (my parents used to take us hiking), and there have been the odd exercise classes through the years, but never anything that lasted more than a few weeks. And every time I though running might be a good idea, I went out, all guns a blazing, then ached so much the next day that it never happened again!


But something changed. Unexpectedly. Completely unexpectedly.


I’ve always struggled with my weight, and I signed up to an online weight loss programme with Jamie Lemon Fitness. At the beginning of the programme there were a few fitness tests. One of them was to see how far you could go in 12 minutes. To be honest, it was a fitness test that I was dreading doing. But, I did it all the same. I got out, and decided I’d run a bit, then walk fast. I pushed myself, and managed to run the first 5 minutes (which really surprised me!), and then I walked a minute, and ran a minute until the 12 minutes were completed. I actually can’t remember now how far I actually got in that 12 minutes, but that 12 minute fitness test did something more than I expected. The task that I was dreading, I actually ENJOYED! Me! A non-exerciser, actually enjoyed this run-walk!  I enjoyed the ‘me’ time, and that it actually wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. So there and then, I decided that I’d try to do the NHS Couch to 5K training programme.


Quite a few of my friends had previously done the Couch to 5K programme (C25k), and I’d often thought that I’d love to be able to achieve it too, but never thought that I’d actually do it. The programme is an audio podcast (or an app) that eases you into running, starting with running for very short periods, with longer walk breaks in between for recovery. It’s a gradual process, so there’s less likely to be that ‘ache’ that prevents you keeping going.


So I started, and didn’t find it as difficult as I expected….


And even better, I managed to keep going….



I always tracked my training with the Map My Fitness app on my phone, which enabled me to see that the distances that I was covering were increasing, and my pace was increasing too.




When starting C25k, I joined a Facebook group called Run Mummy Run which is full of inspirational stories, encouragement and advice. Here I found out about virtual races (non competitive ‘races’ that you pay to enter and receive a medal upon completion – you run the race in your own time and submit evidence of completing it).  So I decided that as a challenge to myself, I would enter a 5k virtual race.

On 17th October I decided that today was the day to do my 5k. I wasn’t yet ready to run the full 5k, but I was ready to push myself, so I decided to run-walk it (or Jeff it, as run-walking is known on Run Mummy Run; run walking is a strategy that marathon runner, Jeff Galloway promotes to enable people to complete distances without injury). By running for 30 seconds, then walking for 30 seconds, I managed to complete the 5k in a pretty respectable time:

17 Oct

And then my medal arrived in the post:

21 Oct

I continued to follow the C25k programme, which throws some real challenges at you, including a solid 20 minute run during week 5. That was HARD! And as much of a mental challenge as a physical one. And then once into week 7, there are lots of long, continuous runs. This is when I started to doubt myself. I had also found out that lots of people used the Jeffing run-walk method for ALL of their runs, including people who run half-marathons and marathons, so I was slightly divided between wanting to run continuously (which was difficult) and using this run-walk method which enabled me to continue much more easily, and over greater distances.

I continued to run regularly, in order to run continuously for longer I decided I needed to run slower. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t going fast by any stretch, but my ‘natural’ running speed was too much for me to keep going beyond about 8 minutes; I just got too out of breath.

By now I had invested in a running watch, and it enabled me to set a maximum speed, and if I went faster it would beep at me. So I set my maximum pace to something that I thought was doable and I off I went, with the aim of 15 mins solid running. I didn’t know if I’d manage it or not, but I ended up really surprising myself:


The response that I got both on my own Facebook profile, and via Run Mummy Run was amazing! One lady on Run Mummy Run even said that I was her ‘hero’! I’d never been called anyone’s hero before! (That lady has since managed to run her own continuous 5k) I even started to get Facebook messages from friends asking me about my running, and people wanting to know how I was doing it as they were inspired. It felt great! I’d never inspired anyone to do anything exercise related!


Having completed 5k, I entered a 10k virtual race. Yet again, I knew that I couldn’t run the full 10k, but the medal was beautiful, and I was perfectly capable of run-walking the distance. So off I went….


And this is the beautiful medal that I earned for 10k. Isn’t it fab?!


By now I was starting to consider myself a ‘runner’. After all, I could run 5k without stopping! And believe me, once I’d done it once, it was like a massive mental hurdle had been overcome. I now KNEW that I could do it, so I just needed to keep going and keep practising.


I gradually upped my continuous running times…


November was a great month! I covered 50km during the month. Unfortunately December didn’t quite go to plan. I still managed to run, but not as often as I should have! Christmas tasks and planning got in the way somewhat, but as soon as Christmas was over, I was back on it; I could still run.


My next challenge was Beverley New Year’s Day 10k. This would be my first ‘proper’ run, with other runners. At the end of December I felt doubtful about doing 10k. I knew that I hadn’t done as much as I should to get myself ready. But race day came, and having stuck with the 10k (when there was also a 3k option), I went out there, unsure if I could run the whole lot, but aiming to run the first 5k, and then run-walk if I needed to. I surprised myself, and managed to run the whole way!


I ached after this one! The first time since starting to run that I really ached!!! My next step is to build up so that I can run 10k in the same comfortable way that I can now run 5k. I have a few more virtual runs booked, and many more ‘real’ races that I plan to enter too this year.


I have a target. Now that I’m a runner I want to earn lots of lovely medals. In 2 ½ years time I will turn 40. I want to be fit when I’m 40. So my ultimate goal is to earn 40 medals by my 40th birthday. Not something that I ever thought would be my 40th birthday wish, but honestly, since starting C25k less than 4 months ago, my outlook has changed so much.


I know that it’s a cliché, but if I can do it, almost anyone can. Go for it, and achieve what you never thought was achievable

Dawn xxx


Download the app and find out more: http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx


From 0 to 10K in 4 months! How one mum did it…




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