I have tried a Couch 2 5k running programme 4 or 5 times. The farthest I’ve reached is week 8. Not because I can’t do it – Oh no, I know they work.
But I get bored.
The principle behind it is brilliant – take a non-exercising Couch Potato, plug them into some headphones and into a pair of trainers and get them out the door. Tell them when to walk, and when to run – in tiny baby steps which slowly increase until after a couple of months they’re able to run 5k – and have got the running bug.
It’s a solid training principle, and I can testify from personal experience it absolutely works. The first time I tried it, I finished the first set of 60-second runs gasping for oxygen, scarlet-faced, and testing my pelvic floor to it’s limits. Quite why staggering jelly-legs make you want to wet yourself, I don’t know, but there you have it.
I’ve used an excitable American “Yeah, you can do it! Come ON!” version with a solid bouncing dance music soundtrack. I’ve used the NHS version with a polite and friendly voiced “that’s it! Excellent work! Keep going!” and bland music choices that did little to motivate me.
But none of the versions I tried really held my attention. You have to repeat the same one three times a week, and it just gets… dull…
But a couple of weeks ago I tried something new. A friend suggested I take a look at the Zombies5k app
ZombiesRun! has been around for a while, and the 5k is the C25k starter version for all us non-runners.
It sounded no worse than any other, so I downloaded it to my phone and thought I’d try again.
It took me a few days to figure out the music – because this time I get to source my own soundtrack, and once I’d realised that only the Google Play Music player would work with the app, installed it and loaded a playlist, I was all set.
And after the introduction session I was hooked!
Because every day is different. You’re Runner 5, a vital member of one of the last outposts of humanity at Abel Township. During 25 workouts, you’re trained to help find supplies and protect the town from the ever-encroaching horde of the shambling dead, in a story written by award-winning novelist Naomi Alderman.
Everything about Zombies, Run! 5k Training is designed for beginner runners: clear and detailed workout instructions, a gentle learning curve, and importantly, they don’t make any zombies chase you until you’re ready! In fact, I’ve found I’m fitter than I thought and the first couple of weeks haven’t stretched me enough; the 15-second run was ridiculously simple, so I found I’d run the minute’s ‘walk’ too, plus the next 15-second run before slowing for the second walk.
It’s just more fun than “yeah! Come on!”, and the actors are great – and because every day there’s something new, it doesn’t seem to get dull. Plus I choose my own music, so there’s no being inflicted with someone else’s choice!
In the last two weeks I’ve managed to walk/run for over 3 1/2 hours, and cover over 11 miles. That’s 3hrs more exercise than I would have got otherwise!
This was Friday’s Run from Runkeeper. Yes, I’m still painfully slow, and spend half the session walking fast – but I don’t care. I’m out there, and I’m doing it, and I can see myself getting faster, going further. It’s working!