So, at the end of August in 2016 after a particularly energetic day at the beach the whole family walked the half mile back from the beach, up the sand dunes and the short hill to the cottage we were renting. It’s safe to say that my son and I were clearly out of puff when I heard the fateful words from my wife, Tracy, “You and Alex should do a couch to 5K”. Well I’ve never heard my kids laugh so hard in all my life. “Dad run. Don’t be ridiculous”. My son didn’t seem too concerned.
To put this in to context, those who know me well know ‘I don’t do running’! Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve ran in the past, but that was always for sport, rugby etc or sprints (at School) but distance running…. that’s what you had to do as punishment for dropping the ball.
Like lots of people in their 40’s I’ve done my fair share of intermittent bouts of exercise over the years, gyms, hill walking, mountain biking and for the last few years’ road cycling. I’ve even tried running in the past but always failed for various reasons hence why I don’t do running! My wife however got back into running at the beginning of the year having not ran for 20 years and had truly caught the running bug thanks to North Bristol Running Group.
It was certainly true that the cycling I was doing was helping my health but it was difficult to fit it in all the time and clearly it wasn’t giving me all the fitness benefits I thought it was. My weight wasn’t changing much, I could cycle for miles without too much trouble but I guess I wasn’t challenging myself enough and I was just enjoying the ride. So, after a night’s sleep, a £2.99 app download and with the mocking laughter of my kids still ringing in my ears I decided to take on the challenge and prove them wrong! My son and I will run…..much to his disappointment.
Tracy wasn’t going to let me off once I’d committed so as soon as we returned to Bristol off we went to get trainers. We went to up and running in Henleaze who had fitted Tracy out earlier in the year and offered a fantastic service. Fully kitted out with trainers and an app to guide us my son and I embarked on our first run together.
I’ve always struggled in the past to run. Invariably I’d set off too quick end up out of breath or straining something. The Couch to 5K app however made us walk for the first 5 minutes followed by 1 minute of running and then 1.5 minutes walking. We repeated this 1 min run and 1.5 min walk six times and finished our first session as we’d started with a 5 min walk – a grand total of 25 minutes and 1.4 miles; according to Strava. Things increased slowly over the first few weeks, running/walking 3 times a week never more than 30 minutes and with gradually increasing run segments and shorter walking periods.
By week 4 I’d actually managed to walk/run a full 5K by adding a bit extra on to the apps suggested plan. By week 6 however I was starting to get a few niggles especially in the shins and calf plus my old ACL injured knee was playing up, all this despite my dedication to cooling down, using my foam roller and stretching. As a physiotherapist, you can’t always treat yourself and its difficult sometimes to assess your own body and be objective. It was therefore time to pull rank and pull in some favours!
Look out for the next part when I discovered what was causing my knee pain and how I’ve discovered why I keep getting tightness, niggles and strains in my calf and how I’m now managing this.