Couch To 5K – Part One

Four years have passed since I last felt the intoxicating buzz of finishing a half marathon run. The relief of crossing the finish line, the overwhelming sense of achievement, the anticipation of finding out if you had beaten your previous best.

Edinburgh Half Marathon

My knee injury seemingly happened overnight. I took a couple of weeks rest, as usual after a big race, and decided to start off with an easy 30 minute jog around my old route back on my wee home island. I felt some pain in the outside of my knee in the last five minutes but pushed through thinking it would be nothing. For the rest of the evening any walking down slopes or stairs was excruciating. I done some research and asked around my running friends for advice. It sounded like Iliotibial Band Syndrome or “Runners Knee” – the remedy prescribed to me was rest, foam rolling and stretching.

Four years, hours of rolling, stretching and resting, many physiotherapy sessions, X-Rays and an MRI scan had passed and I was no closer to getting back to running. Anyone who has had a long term injury will understand the frustration of feeling like you are forever fighting a losing battle with your body. I understand that I am incredibly fortunate that I can do many other things including my two big loves in sport: Wakeboarding and Mountain Biking, but there is still this part of me missing, this strength and resilience and pride that comes from leaving my front door and pounding the pavement for miles, constantly pushing the boundaries of what my body can accomplish.

I felt hopeless. Completely hopeless.

C25K – Available on Andriod and Iphone

A number of weeks ago my good friend began running, using a Couch to 5K app on her phone and started logging her runs on her Instagram stories. I had known about running apps such as Nike+ for measuring speed and distance, but this was the first time I had heard of an app that takes you from a beginner to running a full 5K over a course of weeks. It got me thinking, could this work for me?

One of my biggest problems in recovery has been moderation. Bringing runs down to mostly walking over the course of 20 minutes instead of a 10 mile run with a 9 min/mile pace proved difficult. The C25K app does the work for you, telling you when to run and walk, slowly building up the intensity and duration of runs.

Now that I am at the half way point of the eight week programme I decided to share my progress and my thoughts on the C25K app as a rehab tool.

The app breaks each week down into three days of running each. Each day follows the same routine for the week. When you complete the run you get a satisfying green tick on that day. The app allows you to play music using other media players, whilst giving instructions on when to begin running/walking. The half way and “one minute left” markers are small but encouraging touches that can give you the extra push to run that bit faster or simply to keep you moving when you want to stop.

Making use of the Helix Park nearby

Week 1

  • 5 min walk warm up
  • 60 sec jog, 90 sec walk for 20 min
  • 5 min cool down
  • Total workout time – 30 mins

Doubt plagued my mind in the preparation for my first run. Looking at how little running was involved over the 30 minute workout felt embarrassing thinking back to how easy an hour of constant running used to feel. Unsurprisingly with so much time away from running, this week was difficult to find my feet again. I barely picked my feet off the ground when I was running, a mix of fear and fatigue weighing me down.

Week 2 

  • 5 min walk warm up
  • 90 second jog, 2 min walking for 21 min
  • 5 min cool down
  • Total workout time – 31 min

The step up of running time was small but significant. That extra 30 seconds made me feel like I was going somewhere, making small but steady progress. So far I was loving this app.

Week 3

  • 5 min walk warm up
  • 90 second jog, 90 second walk, 3 minute jog, 3 minute walk(x2)
  • 5 min cool down
  • Total workout time – 28 mins

I was sceptical about running for three minutes constantly as previously three minutes had been my absolute limit before the pain in my knee became overwhelming. Suprisingly week three had been the easiest week so far. My legs were getting used to working this way again, I had worked out good places to run in the area, things were coming up Milhouse.

Week 4

  • 5 min walk warm up
  • 3 min jog, 90 second walk, 5 min jog, 2.5 min walk
  • 3 min jog, 90 second walk, 5 min jog
  • 5 min cool down
  • Total workout time – 31 min 30 seconds

After day one I started feeling like I was getting back to my old self, back to the glory days of running, daydreaming about what races could possibly be entered in the next year. On the last day of Week 4 however my knee started to ache throughout the last five minutes. In the rest days leading up to week 5 I will be massaging and stretching out my legs in the hope that the pain will have passed and that the progress will continue. Stayed tuned for Part Two to find out if this is the end of my rehab journey or if I can complete the programme pain free.

Hoping my legs will keep the momentum going

One Comment Add yours

  1. This sounds a very similar format to my tibial stress injury rehab, have to say it’s been a long and tedious few months but it’s really paying off – hoping you’ll have similar results for your ITB! x

    Liked by 1 person

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