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I think we all experienced a point in lockdown where we realised that, because we weren’t supposed to go anywhere, we… well… weren’t going anywhere. I know that lockdown took a toll on my physical health. I used to keep my exercise up by walking 40 minutes to and from university most days, but, when I couldn’t do that anymore, and the gym that I had been going to shut, I wasn’t sure what else to do. 

 

I had never really enjoyed exercise, mainly because it wasn’t something I was good at. In particular, I was never good at running. I had tried running before using the Couch to 5K app but, because I was a beginner and didn’t really know what I was doing, I would always tire myself out in the first 5 minutes and then think, God, I am never doing this again. But I was in desperate need of a way to keep fit and I was also tired of trying and failing at Chloe Ting workouts (I’m sorry, Chloe). I had never actually heard of the Couch to 5K app until one of my friends told me about it. She suggested that we try it out together, and so I thought, yeah, why not?

 

Here’s a bit of basic info on the app’s programme: 

  • It’s a 9-week programme designed for beginners to slowly build up their running strength and stamina.
  • The run times begin in week 1 at 1-minute slots and end in week 9 at a whole 30 minutes, and every week you are supposed to run 3 times.
  • The programme comes with a coach’s voice to tell you when to stop and start running, and also gives you running tips along the way. There are a few different voices to choose from, but I personally chose Sarah Millican. 

 

There were many times I thought, yeah, there’s no way I will ever be able to run for 30 minutes. At week 3, as I was up to running for 3 minutes at once, I remember thinking about the next week and thinking that I wouldn’t even be able to run for 5 minutes at once. But, through the app’s gradual programme, I was surprisingly able to make the jumps.

 

It was around week 5 that I started seriously having trouble, when I had to run for 8 minutes twice in one session. However, I found that if I took a break of about 3 days instead of just 1, and then repeated the session that I had failed, I was actually able to do it. After that, the programme gets you to run for 20 minutes straight in 1 session. Through some kind of miracle, I was able to do it the first time, albeit by jogging very, very slowly. Nevertheless, I did it.

 

At week 7, when you have to run for 25 minutes, I had serious trouble again. I failed at this probably 3 or 4 times before I managed to do it. The way I managed to get past it was, again, by reminding myself to slow down enough that I wouldn’t get too out of breath because I found that the problem was my breathing more than my legs. After I started slowing down, I managed to run the 25 minutes, and don’t think I could’ve felt prouder.

 

I’ve now completed the whole 9 weeks, something that me 9-weeks-ago would be shocked at. My final result: it completely worked. I, someone who could barely run for 1 ½ minutes, can now run for half an hour without needing a break. It takes dedication and commitment, but the results, in the end, are definitely worth it.

 

Niamh Parr

Nottingham '21

Final year English student drinking multiple cups of tea a day and trying to keep up with my ever growing to-read list
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