Could you go from no running to being able to run 5k in just 4 weeks? 

Have you thought of taking up running but not sure where to start? Have you had a look at Couch to 5k and thinking about starting it?

I want to tell you about Graeme, Vicki and Karen and how they managed to go from 0-5k in 4 weeks. Graeme and Vicki are in my current group and Karen was in one of my groups in 2018. If I was to describe the people who join my groups, Graeme, Vicki and Karen would spring to mind.

There are many others too but these three stand out for me and perhaps you can relate to them.

Like everyone else, they all joined with the desire to be able to run 5km without stopping. They were also uncertain as to whether they would be able manage it in just 4 weeks. They were very different in terms of their background before joining the group.

Graeme played five-a-side football but wanted to get into running to help with a bigger goal. Vicki was already running 5k but couldn’t do it without having to stop and walk a few times. Karen was new to running and wanted to do this as something for herself. I could tell from the way she spoke that this would be a massive achievement for her and make a huge difference to her life.

In every group, there is always a vast difference in background between each runner but that’s the beauty of it. The group was set up aimed at the complete beginner but also to help those who have maybe run a bit or those who are running but struggle to make any progress. Each group starts on the assumption that everyone is just starting out and build from there.

Discovering The Pace

The biggest challenge for Graeme, Vicki and Karen was finding the right pace that they could sustain. Finding the right pace and knowing how it feels underpins the whole group and is why the group lasts 4 weeks instead of 9.

Once you find the right pace then the rest is easy. 

Graeme was used to a quicker pace over short distances from playing fives and while he finished the first few short runs slightly out of breath, he began to find it easier when we started to increase the distances.

Vicki normally ran at a quicker pace and found it hard to slow down. I discovered that she walks at a fast pace and so it was a challenge for her to accept that her best running pace would be slower than her walking pace.

Comfortable Pace

This is very common and the brain will naturally think that a running pace should be quicker than walking. In order to find a comfortable pace to run at to start with, it’s ok for that pace to be much slower than what you’d want it to be.

Karen was new to running and adapted very quickly once she switched off from trying to keep up with everyone else. Actually she wasn’t that far off from being able to do the 5k in week 2! Karen wasn’t fast but then its not about speed, its about completing 5k without stopping so it doesn’t matter whether it takes 20 minutes or 50 minutes.

Running the 5k isn’t that important, it’s the person you become along the way

The thing I see, which the runners don’t, is the change in their whole physiology each week.. From the way they talk about their runs, the things they’re learning about themselves and the confidence they’re displaying. By week 3, it’s almost like speaking to completely different people from week 1.

Being able to run 5k is down to knowing and believing that you can.

I like to keep my instructions vague on purpose so that the runners can review their own runs and decide if they got it right or know how to make it better next time. I think it’s important to embrace that we won’t get it right every time and we become better runners from that learning experience.

When each run becomes better, we become more confident.

Graeme has been able to analyse his runs and has started talking as if he’s been running for a long time. Vicki emailed me after week 2 to say that she’d run her local parkrun and was able to do it without stopping. I could tell she was over the moon by the way she was talking in her email. Vicki wasn’t sure what had changed in such a short space of time but she was delighted so wasn’t caring!

Karen went into week 4 nervous but that’s natural and very understandable given the journey she had been on. I was looking forward to see her run the 5k as I knew she could do it even though she had her doubts. As soon as she started running, that all changed. Karen was very determined. I will never forget her reaction when she finished. I was very proud of her that day.

What’s fascinating about Karen is that I bumped into her in a coffee shop last week and she talked about entering a 10k race. She sounded so confident being able to run 10k even though she hadn’t run for a while. It sounds like running 5k broke down a significant barrier for her.

Running should be enjoyable

Running 5k isn’t really as hard as it may seem just now. Being able to do it in 4 weeks isn’t rushing it, it’s finding the most comfortable pace for you to run at and progressing from there. When you’re starting out, running shouldn’t be hard work. Why would anyone want to do it? Running should be enjoyable and feel like you’re achieving something you couldn’t do previously.

If you stay in the Perth area, my next block of 0-5k in 4 weeks starts this Thursday at 6.15pm. Sign up now and you can be running 5k comfortably before Easter!

If you are interested in being able to run but don’t stay in the Perth area, get in touch, let’s have a chat and maybe my Running Coaching could help you?