Running non stop for 20 minutes was something completely unimaginable 6 weeks ago. Back in August I could barely run for 1 minute without requiring a break. Yet the Couch 2 5k plan has moved me on to a workout of a 5 minute warm up walk, 20 minutes of running and a further 5 minute warm down.
I was slightly nervous but mostly excited for this run. I hadn’t gone a single session without completing the suggested run so I assumed I’d be fine with this. It was all in the mind I told myself.
I started the 5 minute walk yesterday morning at 9:00am and headed toward a large housing estate with few side roads, giving myself no reasons to stop. I wanted to get the 20 minutes going as soon as possible, and as I entered the estate my iPod friend told me to start running. Keep it slow, pace yourself, you’ve a long way to go. The first 5 minutes were tough. The longest I’d run for before this was 8 minutes, and when 5 minutes took so long I wondered how I’d ever reach 8 again and knowing I’d have to go past it. Within the first 5 minutes I’d ran the circle of the estate twice, and with a man mowing his front garden I didn’t want to be watched so I headed into the park. I had in mind a new route, and the focus of this and dodging any pet dogs kept me going for the next 5 minutes.
Between 5-10 minutes was the easiest part of the run. I was in the park, running downhill, wide open spaces, no people or animals to avoid. My iPod friend told me that I’d done the hard work building up my fitness and that I’d done enough to complete this. 10 minutes in, that was half way. I’d already run for longer than I had done before.
As I approached 15 minutes I’d decided to run to the car park and run along the road back toward my house. I left the park and turned left, a hill in front of me. Suddenly I came to the realisation that this wasn’t the road I expected the see. I was a lot further from home than I realised! I made a casual U-turn and headed back into the park. Slightly down hill but I had to run back past all the people who had just seen me leave. 15 minutes in, only 5 left to go.
The last 5 minutes were the hardest, I’d already done so much more than before surely I could stop now! But I would feel so guilty. My iPod friend told me I’d done enough training to do this so I would be a failure if I didn’t. I focused on the text I would send James when I got home to proclaim my achievement. I focused on one foot in front of the other. I was running across a field, staring at the path ahead and knowing I’d be done once I reached it. 2 minutes to go. The longest 2 minutes of my life. And as I reached the path the slow down music played in my ears, it took an eternity for my iPod friend’s voice to speak over it to confirm I had done it. That was it, 20 minutes running done. My legs were wobbly, I needed to get my breath back. I would’ve sounded so unfit in my final 2 minutes.
I walked back toward my house for the 5 minute warm down. My iPod friend congratulated me, it was the best feeling I’d had all year. I was able to run for 20 minutes.
As I approached my house the slow down music came to an end as my iPod friend said the 5 minute walk was over, then she through me a curve-ball. “If you didn’t complete the 20 minute run, don’t worry, next week retry Week 5’s runs to build up your fitness to try it again”. Hang on. I had no knowledge that running 20 minutes was optional! I would’ve stopped after Minute 9!
Next week goes back to 5 minute, 8 minute and 10 minute runs while I build up again to 25 minutes. But for now I feel happy, I’ve run for 20 minutes and no one can take that from me!