Julie reflects on her Couch to 5k journey

Date: 27 August 2020   Author: Energise Me

Our CEO, Julie, recently took on the couch to 5K, vlogging her journey along the way. We caught up with her as she reflected on her journey on the programme.


Why I started the Couch to 5k

I said it out loud! I said that if Pete, my husband, wanted to get fit for the football season that I knew of the #Couchto5k app and that if he wanted to try it, I would do it with him. Him saying yes was unexpected! I’m not one to back down so we downloaded the app and off we went. It helped to have a friend to run with. You can motivate and encourage each other. This was really important on the days that I just wasn’t “feeling it”. An occasional bit of competition helped me too but not in terms of racing. I just didn’t want Pete to get ahead in the programme.


Choosing the right coach

I’ve looked back at the videos and notes I made throughout the 9 weeks. My first reflection, choose your trainer to suit you! Who will help you get and stay active throughout the 9 weeks? You can try this fun quiz to help choose your Couch to 5k coach. Pete and I chose Michael Johnson. I like his minimalist commentary and his soothing voice, and he knows a thing or two about running. I’ve just taken the quiz and, interestingly, Laura would have worked for me. I’ve used Couch to 5k before and Laura was my trainer. I really liked her approach too.

Have faith in the app. It really works even if you have never run before and don’t see yourself as a runner or sporty in any way. If I had received this instruction as a young woman at secondary school, maybe it would not have taken this long to find out I can run. Being sent off on a cross country run with no guidance wasn’t going to help me like or even love running.

I had not considered the mental toughness that you need to draw upon when you start building to the longer runs. Getting over the thought that you have never run for that long before and you think you cannot do it.

Things that can affect your run

The environment in which you run can help. I recall early in the programme having an endless day of zoom calls. I didn’t want to bump into anyone when I went for a run. I wanted a quiet, open space where I could tune into the app and out of work.  I am fortunate that where I live, I can choose.

Each one of the early weeks built gently. Physically and mentally, it felt manageable. The app helps to build your confidence. Depending on your psyche, you may approach each week differently. For example, Pete always needed to check what was coming next. That helped him prepare. For me, it didn’t matter, it was the next run, it was what it was, and I would just want to get my head down and do it.

Something I had not considered was the mental toughness that you need to draw upon when you start building to the longer runs. Getting over the thought that you have never run for that long before and you think you cannot do it. I would encourage you to trust the process. It works. It has worked for millions of people. And of course, Michael Johnson’s occasional encouraging words help. It is a challenge and I hope others will experience the same sense of achievement completing the challenge.


Keep going even when you struggle

That brings me to don’t give up. When I had a fail at week 7, I just made a promise to myself that I would try again. I didn’t need to go backwards to go forwards. I don’t know if this is recommended but if that’s what is needed, try it?


Experiencing the feeling of wanting to go out for a run was a surprise. It took 6 weeks! Until this point, I was doing the runs because that’s what the programme required. It hasn’t been a feeling that has stayed with me for the whole of the rest of the time. What is consistent though is that I ALWAYS feel great at the end of a run. It might hurt but in a good way.

Music sometimes helps. I hadn’t run with music as I was focused on the app. It was my niece that mentioned that you can search for music with a beat to run to. I have Spotify and gave it a try. The beat helped establish a rhythm in the run and I got to listen to different tracks that I might not otherwise have found.

Be kind to yourself. I recall not running for 4 days because of really hot temperatures and work that seeped into the time that I might have run. It didn’t matter. Funnily enough, you still know how to run after a 4 day break!

What I should have done over these 4 days was follow my advice. Commit to a run. There was an occasion when I knew I would have difficulty fitting in a run if I didn’t do it at a specific point. I dressed in my running gear so that I could go straight out after a work call.


How I feel now

Overall, I feel that I have got physically stronger. I have at least maintained if not improved my fitness levels during lockdown. And when the day comes for me to get back on a squash court, I’ll be better prepared. I have learned that I can run and I want to continue, not least because I have invested in a comfortable pair of running shoes that I like! Running is an activity where you don’t have to book a court, have an opponent and have a fixed start and finish time. You don’t need much equipment and you can nearly always find a space where you can run.

You can watch Julie’s full Couch to 5k Journey or dip into individual weeks to see how she got on, over on our Youtube channel, 

Download the Couch to 5k App here:

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