I will talk about my body weight a bit in this series, its one of the things I focussed on at the time and that got me through. I just want to say, there’s nothing wrong with any body shape or size and the world would be a better place if people didn’t judge each other on such petty things. Losing weight was one of my goals for doing C25k, and probably for many others too, running became something else though, something I now can’t deal without. Weight loss (or now just being able/needing to eat a lot) became a secondary benefit. So I recommend running for everyone. Don’t let people who judge, have any say over how you live your life.
It is the 12th of April 2016. I am working as a research assistant at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. About 2 weeks ago on the 1st, I was released from hospital. I had been sent to SAFIRE ward because of feeling suicidal and self harming. That was my first experience of being in a mental hospital (although I had previously been hospitalised for mental health reasons) it was scary, with four of us to a room. I remember a nurse saying “it’s a mixed ward but all males at the moment” although I couldn’t tell why at the time, the fact it was mixed comforted me a lot.
When I got out I stopped drinking and was determined to lose weight. I think they weighed me over 110kg at the hospital. I remember them asking if that was normal for me, and me being embarrased and thinking, this isn’t me! You aren’t seeing me!
I am about 5’10”-11″ (1.8m) in height which puts my BMI at 34
I started to diet and exercise, this included getting as many steps as possible, I wanted to get all the weight gone as soon as possible. I have an extremely strong will when I am determined to do something and I was losing weight rapidly. Although by this point hadn’t bought weighing scales, I was researching them online and finding that there was no good set of weighing scales to my dismay.
My researching online had also made me aware of an NHS running plan called Couch to 5k (C25k). I had become a serial Lurker on the health unlocked forum, where I read of the inspiring stories of people doing the program and becoming runners. I was immersed in weight loss and getting into running. When you drink too much and then give up, you end up having a hole in your days and nights. That hole is called living. I become ultra obsessed with one thing in order to fill it, since society these days is so obsessed with DOING, over the much neglected and denigrated SOOTHING (reading, painting by numbers, knitting – non goal oriented things). I set about DOING stuff, having goals, numbers of steps per day, steps during lunch break, weight loss per day, weigh loss targets per week and month, running goals anything I can measure!
So today, a reasonably warm day, around 10C, I do run 1 on C25K
For your 3 runs in week 1, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then alternate 1 minute of running and 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.
Unfortunately I didn’t track this run. I wanted to get down to the river before the first run interval so that it wasn’t messed up by crossing a road. I can’t remember how I timed things, for this 1st session maybe I just used a stopwatch on my phone. Once I got to the river I started the 1 minute run…
OH MY GOD!! Running for 1 minute was hard. I was questioning myself, “can I do the next 7 of these? Is running a good idea for me? Maybe I just go home now.”
Now I am more experienced, I know I was running too fast, that was the simple answer to my problems, I didn’t know that back then. I ignored my gremlins, I did up to run 4, turned around so I would be closer to home by the time I had finished. During the last four of these my lungs were on fire, I was overtaken by a runner, I was seriously looking forwards to this being done. I pushed on and finished. I got home and felt super proud I had finished, I trusted the program and knew I had made my first steps to 5k. This was it, this was the start, if I continue I will get there.
Since my last run I downloaded an app which tells me when to run and walk, also lets me play my own music. I actually started recording partly for this very reason, 3 years later I am able to look back at what I did. Also I simply wanted to know how fast I was going. Beware however, I don’t believe the top speed in this case, although averages should be fairly accurate. I think I was pushing for 12kph because I remember running that fast before, and averaging 10 (6:00 per k) during the running sections. These are only 1 minute remember, so I was sprinting to get these speeds. This entire C25k journey will be me doing it wrong and telling you to slow down.
This time I turned around a bit later so that I would have a longer walk back home. I think I was enjoying being outside and with the river. I would often see people canoeing down the river too. By run 3 the 1 minute runs were tolerable. I again have to say don’t do what I did, I had done all 3 runs on consecutive days, but I was obsessed as I described above, this was filling the gap.
At this point I am well over 105 Kg (somewhere over 16.5st) I will finally buy some scales in a week (my birthday present) after much researching. I am doing over 20,000 steps per day, using the crosstrainer for an hour at the gym, walking on my lunch break. Also limiting my calories, this wasn’t a healthy diet it was just calorie limited. Burn off more than I put in = weight loss.
I still remember how I felt on these runs, sometimes through a race where I am absolutely pushing myself I get the same thoughts “maybe I should stop running” “maybe this isn’t for me”. It reminds me of how I started and the willpower I used to keep going. If you experience that on a C25k run, slow down, you are going too fast!
Beginner runners have one thing on their side, and that is diminishing returns. Sounds funny but it is true. When you start running you get 90% of the benefits and rewards (increased fitness) with only 60% of the effort level (OK I’m not sure on the exact numbers but you get the idea). You can push for the extra 10% but you are increasing 2 things in my opinion.
1: Your injury risk sky-rockets, your body isn’t used to running yet, your joints are unstable. It isn’t worth it
2: Even worse in my opinion, you wont enjoy it. Why is that worse than an injury? An injury might stop you from running temporarily but if you really despise these first runs you might shelve it completely for the rest of your life.
If you are like me your experience of running was in school, coming last every time, hating it. I missed most PE lessons I got a medical note I hated it. Running isn’t like that. It is like walking, you don’t go on a walk and push yourself to go as fast as you can possibly walk, you go and enjoy yourself. Treat running the same way.
I again recommend everyone to give this a go, give it another go, go easy on yourself, whatever you manage is better than nothing. The weather is getting better and you can graduate in time for summer!
Love you all