If you’ve read my blog for a little while, you’ll have learnt that I am pro body acceptance and anti body negativity. Body acceptance, for me, involves honouring one’s body and loving it for what it can do and not treating it too poorly because it doesn’t look like other people’s (amongst other things). Body negativity covers dieting, negative self talk and shaming other people’s bodies to make yourself feel better (amongst other things).
One of the things I always wanted to do, but worried that I couldn’t, is run. Last year, in my year of being awesome to myself, I started to believe I could run! Sure, running in public as a fat person is scary and fraught with anxiety, but it was an issue I had to confront if I wanted to achieve my goal. I started by meeting a personal trainer and telling her about Health At Every Size and encouraging her to incorporate HAES principles into her ethos. Then I bought a pair of skins and walked the Bridge to Brisbane in a tutu! I’d heard of Couch to 5k a couple of years ago but instantly dismissed it because I didn’t know what my body could do, and then I forgot all about it until I was looking for iPhone apps late one night a few weeks ago. I came across the C25k app and it was decided – I would achieve my goal to run.
In the last year, even though I had a great foundation of self esteem, I became more comfortable with my visibility as a fat person. Running challenges how comfortable I am as a fat person making herself visible, because fat people are not perceived as being able to run or being interested in their health (I know this to be untrue, but do you?) I want to run down a busy main road and not worry about cat calls or abuse, because I am running for me. It’s important to mention that I’m not doing this for weight loss. Running has always been something that has intrigued me, and when I see people jogging along the road I feel pangs of envy. I enjoy moving my body – yep, even working up a sweat – but I am not interested in competitive sports, so activities like walking and swimming have always appealed to me. But running… running involves pushing through mental barriers, physical stamina, breathing correctly, and best of all… moving swiftly!
If you’re not familiar with the Couch to 5k concept, it is a nine week programme that has three sessions per week. You start with a five minute walking warm up and then do a 60 second jog followed by a 90 second walk. The jogging interval is repeated for 20 minutes, and concluded with a five minute cool down walk. Every week the intervals are stepped up until you hit Week 7 when you’re running for 25 minutes. In the final three weeks you work up to running the whole 5k!
I started the first week of the Couch to 5k programme last week and probably got a bit too ambitious – I did two sessions in two days without giving my body a chance to rest. So I left the third session of the first week until today. Upon reflection, it’s been quite amazing to see the improvement in my body: my bones are getting stronger and I have more stamina! I am aiming to repeat Week 1 again, just to make sure I am physically and mentally prepared for the next week’s challenge.
I am hoping to blog about my Couch to 5k programme weekly – to reflect and encourage myself, and maybe a little bit because I want you to hold me to my commitment! If you want to join me in the C25k there are a heap of resources on c25k.com where you can download an iPhone or iPod app or find a podcast. There’s also heaps of tips and support at Cool Runnings too!
My tips for starting Week 1 of the Couch to 5k:
- Wear skins – lycra tights that allow your thighs to glide past each other. You will regret the epic chafing if you don’t wear lycra! Mine are from Target, I found them in the men’s section!
- If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch (I think) you can download the C2Ck app; if you have an mp3 player you can download any number of podcasts that have music playing between the intervals; and if you don’t have either, go buy a stop watch with a countdown timer.
- If you’re using the Apple app – don’t lock your screen. It’s a pain in the arse but apparently Apple won’t let programs run in the background. I learnt this the hard way and pretty much walked my whole first session wondering when I’d have to run!
- Take it easy, and jog at your own pace. Even if that pace is slow.
- If you can’t push through a tough jogging interval, walk through it. Just keep moving.
- BREATHE! Even if you have to breathe loudly. It’s your right as a human being.
- High five yourself when you’re finished each session!