A Couch to 5k During Lockdown.

After the Great South Run, I stopped running and exercising in any way shape or form partly due to injury however mainly to a real feeling of laziness and can’t be bothered.

As a result, I had put on a fair amount of weight and at the start of lockdown I started eating all sorts of rubbish, eating takeaways and drinking more alcohol. Two weeks into the lockdown I thought this is not good and I realised I could end up in a real bad way, both physically, mentally but also at more risk if for any reason I did catch the Covid-19 virus. I have underlying health conditions being asthmatic, have high blood pressure and I thought I didn’t want to add obesity to those risks. Maybe a bit dramatic but also, I realised that as a Sports Therapist I had to provide an example to others. So, I made the decision to improve my diet, start a couch to 5k and also give myself a structure.

I downloaded the BBC Couch to 5k app and thought I could listen to either the generic commentary from Laura, Jo Whitley, Sanjeev Kohli, Sarah Millican or Michael Johnson. Now, when I did this before I found Michael Johnson encouraging me to walk for 2 minutes and run for 3 minutes a little strange – This was a man who ran 400 metres so flipping quick that I’m not sure I could drive so quick. So, I went with the generic Laura but thought having Sarah Millican encouraging me for the last 2/3 weeks might be good (I find her quite funny).

The first week was fine as it was more walking than running but after week 2, I started to find the runs a little tough and I realised that I needed to do more than the runs. So, I started being a lot more careful with my diet – One takeaway a week and reducing significantly the amount of alcohol that I was drinking. As a Sports Therapist I recommend and really push the strength and conditioning aspects of the training, but I wasn’t listening to myself, so I realised that I needed to find something that I enjoyed.

This led me to join in with twice weekly circuits run by a friend of mine and with the encouragement from the group and friends I started to make some real progress. But there was still something missing!

Mentally, with the lockdown I was struggling, I was missing my clients, missing the interaction with friends and the loss of freedom. I knew I wasn’t the only one that was struggling but I thought what could I do to help me and help others? And then I had a brainwave and came up with my “Morning” routine.

What was this morning routine?

I always found it easier to run with others, for company, a bit of a chinwag and encouragement but that wasn’t possible. Also, I preferred running in the morning.

What I did, is when I went for my walk/run I said Morning to everybody I saw and gave them a big smile – Young, Old, Female or Male. My thinking was that I needed to be physically distance but I didn’t necessarily need to be antisocial.

For me, this was a Eureka moment and I found that no matter which side of the bed I had got out of, when I came back I was happier and able to get more work done. I got some lovely smiles back from people and I felt that this might be helping somebody else who was on their own or struggling in their own way. It helped me as I am always happier helping others.

I stopped invading the fridge so much, I started enjoying myself more and it was so much less of a chore and I was progressing.

I was keeping up with the exercise and the running was becoming easier. I got to Week 7 which meant that I was running for 25 minutes non-stop and then on Week 7 run 2 I was running across City Park in Newbury and I felt a tweak in the lower part of my calf – Disaster! What did I do? I just carried on – something I always tell my clients not to do. When I got home my calf got stiffer and stiffer and by that evening it was really quite sore.

For once I thought that I needed to follow my own advice. So I started with the heel drops on the stairs combined with the heel raises, I got the foam roller out and gently rolled my glutes, hamstrings and my calf muscles – gently and combined it with a good, disciplined stretching regime.

After a week I started feeling a lot better but I took myself back a week and started week 6 again and started the circuits again and avoided too much jumping around. That was a few days ago and I am about to finish week 6.

I am feeling more positive, fitter and lighter. I have lost 10 pounds to date; my blood pressure is under control and mentally I’m feeling good. It is still tough but I’m feeling a lot better in myself and I know that I’m achieving.

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