I am 5 weeks into the ‘Couch to 5k‘ running programme. As the name suggests, this is a plan that aims to turn novice-runner couch potatoes into people capable of running for 5km (about 3 miles), or for 30 minutes. It was created by an American called Josh Clark in 1996 and has been picked up by the NHS in the UK as a way of encouraging us all to become fitter.
You download podcasts, week by week for 9 weeks, from the C25K website. Then, all you have to do is plug your MP3 player’s earplugs into your ears and walk or run as instructed by a virtual personal trainer, with up-tempo music playing in the background to help the motivation. The programme is supposedly suitable for anyone, of any age, and it starts very gently with intervals of just 60 second jogs interspersed with 90 second walks. Each week’s exercise period lasts for about 30 minutes in total but the periods of running gradually build up until you’re running for the whole session in week 9.
By the third of this week’s runs I was running for 20 minutes non-stop, which I still can’t quite believe. I couldn’t have managed that when I was at school and doing sports several times a week. I am not a natural runner. Give me a bicycle any day, a much more practical way of getting from A to B (and carrying a reasonable amount of shopping or whatever while doing it).
Many people seem to get addicted to running when training for a 10k race or some other goal. It is undoubtedly good, weight-bearing exercise and I was rather hoping that I might get the running bug, but the truth is that I hate it as much now as I did at the start, if not more. It’s not that it’s hard, the C25K approach builds stamina and fitness steadily so that each week’s task never feels unachievable. It’s just that it’s incredibly dull. Normally I walk briskly everywhere within a 2 mile radius, unless the weather is bad or I have a lot to carry, and I listen to BBC documentaries in podcast format to pass the time. Running with nothing but music and the occasional instruction to speed up or slow down is mind-numbingly boring, and I can’t even vary my route much because there isn’t a great choice if you need a circular route that will take 30 minutes. Especially if you live half way up a hill and would rather be running on the flat. I go round and round some quiet residential roads on the top of the hill where a katabatic wind off the moors chills me to the bone, but I can’t wear more than three layers because they just weigh me down and impede movement. I should have started this lark in July, not on Easter Monday.
Why, you may ask, am I persevering with this if I hate it so much? Mainly to prove to myself that I can, and because I don’t like to abandon anything half way through. I’m also expecting to see the benefits of improved fitness when I go on a cycling holiday in Denmark later in the summer. I would like to think that three sessions a week of fairly vigorous exercise will tone me up and shift some weight, but nothing doing so far on that front. Maybe, when I get to the end of the C25K programme in 4 weeks’ time, I’ll find the motivation to keep going for runs three times a week, fuelled by BBC brain fodder instead of the C25K podcasts, but I doubt it. Frankly, I’d rather walk across hot coals than pull on my running shoes, but I’m determined to get to the run-non-stop-for-30-minutes stage.
The inaugural Tour de Yorkshire international cycle race came through last weekend. This is a legacy of last July’s Tour de France, the first two stages of which were in Yorkshire and were stupendously well supported by the locals who turned out in their millions to watch and join in the party. The number of Tour de Yorkshire spectators was apparently one and a half million, which isn’t bad for a three day race that has no track record. Unfortunately, the weather was rather wet, cold and windy for much of the time and about 10% of the riders didn’t make it to the end, but that didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the spectators. The organisers had once again Frenchified the names of all the climbs on the route, such as the Côte de Cow and Calf in Ilkley and the Côte de Goose Eye near Sutton in Craven, which added to the fun.
I’ve made a shopping bag from the wine label tea towel I mentioned a couple of posts ago. I have a lot of 1″ wide red grosgrain ribbon that I once bought to trim a dress I made, before deciding when the dress was finished that it didn’t need any adornment. This ribbon was perfect for strengthening the sides and base of the bag while covering the raw edges, and I used it doubled for the handles.
I “bagged out” the base (as shown in my metallic nylon bag tutorial) to just over the width of the ribbon, to give it some shape. The finished bag is quite sturdy and is just what I need for carrying a box of tasting glasses and a bottle to BYO wine tastings, as well as more mundane tasks.