I finished the 9 week NHS Couch to 5K programme last month, at roughly the same time I did my Race for Life, and then at the same time I also finished my placement and went on holiday to France. At that point I could run 5k in roughly 32 minutes, and afterwards feel tired but not absolutely spent. I went for a few runs while I was on holiday, and used them to think about what I should do next with my running. Graham ran with me while I was in France - which was very kind, as he runs MUCH faster and MUCH further than me normally. I found running in France so hard though! There were proper hills, and the weather was ridiculously hot and sweaty for running in. Graham taught me a bit about interval training, and we tackled some hills together - it started to dawn on me that I am still not very fit and I'd really like to be able to run faster than I do at the moment.
|Running past fields of sunflowers in France - at the bottom of the gorge|
I also began a running diary while I was in France - jotting down my thoughts after each run and making note of where I ran, how far I went, how I felt and what I saw. I have found this to be hugely beneficial - it is good to reflect on the run, and I get a picture of how well I am progressing which isn't always apparent if I just think about my running in an abstract way.
Now I am back home, my aim is to not just keep running, but also to improve on the things I found so difficult in France: I want to run faster and get fitter. My plan is to carry on doing Parkrun each Saturday, and do two other runs midweek as well.
I have downloaded the Couch to 5K + podcasts, which are designed for people who have finished the original programme and want something for their next stage of running. I love them just as much as the original Couch to 5K ones. The big difference is that now the podcasts want me to run to a beat - the beats per minute change through the podcast, so you start off running at 150 beats per minute, move up to 155 bpm for the middle section of the run and then end with a 10 minute blast at 160 bpm. I have never been so exhausted at the end of a run before - oh my goodness! There is no doubt this will help my fitness.
Another interesting development to my running has been an increasing enthusiasm for talking about running, discussing the minutiae of different training plans, setting up a Running Love board on Pinterest (I would really like to get some sort of running skirt - there are loads out there, amazingly), and agonizing over a few seconds faster or slower on my PB. I realised, after discussing interval training plans with Graham for a full 30 minutes before he left for work and then emailing him with further important insights about five minutes after he'd gone...I have turned into a running geek.
|Early morning run, in the sunshine|