So the day that every C25K hopeful dreads had finally come, the 20 minute run. I was so close to calling it off. My left knee wasn’t 100%, more to do with weeding in the garden than the running.
That and I have a habit of slouching on the couch when using my laptop (often with a cat keeping me company), I know it’s terrible posture as I’ll often get off the sofa and my back will go twang.
Well having done a couple of hours of work on the laptop first thing I went to get off the couch and TWANG, tried to walk it off getting ready and my back went several more times. I’m thinking my knee, my back maybe I should call it off, my old body is betraying me.
Or more likely it’s just trying to pull a sickie. I thought bollocks to it, I can’t fail before I even get out of the door. By the time I got to the field lo and behold my body had got over it, cheeky bugger! How am I supposed to spot a real injury when even my own body is pulling this bullshit.
So into the usual once round the field extended warm up, they’ve mowed the entire field again, no drag from grass it’s a sign! Not many people out here, apart from two lady’s showing me how it should be done. One of them an older robust lady was literally going at my walking pace, so I slowed down a bit not to catch her up. She then turned off the field and headed into the hills I realised she was doing the whole park, christ total respect. Time to get this show on the road and maybe one day I’ll get off this field too.
I’m running through my mental preparation in the last minute of the warmup walk. I had scoured the C25K forums for W5D3 tips and one of the useful ones was to break the 20m into 4×5 min runs and just run each 5 minutes at a time. That along with the most important tip, START SLOW. I wasn’t as nervous as I had been before other runs for some reason, almost no butterflies. So with one Last “You can do it” from Laura we get into it.
The first 5 minute mark went past surprisingly quickly, in fact it caught me out when Laura announced it (I wasn’t expecting her to chime in). I just focussed on the mechanics of running and staying in the moment (i.e. avoid pondering all the possible failure scenarios). The cause was not helped by a lovely Labrador repeatedly throwing his ball in my path in the hope I might throw it for him, sorry Lad I didn’t sign up for touching my toes as well today.
I got to the 8 minute mark and had to consciously stop myself from thinking about the fact it was the furthest I had run, because I could feel my brain trying to use it as an excuse.
At the 10 minute mark with Laura helpfully pointing out I was half way, I started to feel the oh so familiar feeling of nausea rising and I knew it could undo the whole run. So, I had chat with my body (literally an internal dialogue) to get on and do whatever it took to sort it out, because I wasn’t going to stop therefore what purpose was it serving? It seemed to do the job and it eased off. I knew the 15 minute mark was doable at that point, if I could just avoid that digging deep feeling for as long as possible.
I had built the 15 minute mark up in my mind, it was a place I couldn’t imagine what it would be like and for that reason it worried me. Now I was there staring it in the face I realised it wasn’t some new level of hell, but just the same as the last minute of every new run I had ever made. Nothing new, out here that can’t be managed by pacing and focus.
Laura chimes in with 5 minutes to go, “you can do this” (she hasn’t been wrong yet). I knew I wasn’t going to fail by this point I had found a sustainable pace, it might not be fast or pretty but it was getting the job done. My brain helpfully calculated the finishing line as 3/4 of the way round the field, and I knew I could hold on for that long no matter how bad it got. So the only question was going to be how bad could it get.
I was doing perfectly fine (not quite skipping along) up to the 18 minute marker, again just focussing on keeping everything steady, I could start to feel fatigue creeping in at the edges. and I had to remind my body about another pang of nausea, and again it abated. Then Laura chimes in with 2 minutes to go, no chance of failing at this point, but as always it seems to be a trigger to my body to start losing form, in the last minute I’ve gone from totally in control to hanging on, and I know the change is purely mental at this point not a physical limitation.
“You’re done you can slow down”, Laura chimes in and it’s over. I’m panting and staggering around, but I’m wondering what all the fuss was about. And that in a nutshell is obviously the purpose of this 20m shock run, and now I get it. In fact I’m slightly annoyed I let myself turn the last minute into more of a struggle than it needed to be, I’ll need to work on that.
I read every forum trying to understand what exactly the mindset change is that obviously must occur in this 20 minute run, in the hope I could intellectualise my way to acquiring the knowledge. But I’m afraid this is not something that you can read and understand without getting out there and experiencing it. I read it time and time again across all the forums, “the only thing holding you back is your own mind”. I understand those words, but I don’t think it’s possible to understand their meaning without first hand experience. Now I’ve been there I truly KNOW the only barrier out there in that field was me, and a lab that wants someone to throw his ball.
There are many reasons I decided to start writing a journal about my C25K experience, but for me personally I realised in the first week that C25K was going to be more of a mental battle than physical. I was stunned in the first 3 sessions how my mindset changed, a process that continued week after week and it’s that change that intrigued me. I wanted to document it, because when your on the wrong side of it, it really is impossible to understand how the next milestone is achievable.
As always as soon as I’d caught my breath, my first thought is about the next run and for the first time in the program I can look all the way out to the remaining 4 weeks and I know they won’t be any harder than the mountain I now stand atop of. Next week goes back to interval running and it feels like a holiday.
You can tell how worried I was about this run by the fact it’s the only one I felt I needed to put a 30m playlist together of tracks that had helped me over the weeks. I wasn’t going to leave it to chance this time. I also chucked in a couple of new tracks that should get me across the line.
I deliberately made this the first track of the run, it’s literally about getting your shit together, getting in the zone and seizing what you want. If anything is going to get me in the right frame of mind, this should do it:
Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
Fairly obvious, seize the moment and get this run done.
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
Yep, good chance I’m going to have all of these symptoms in the next 20 minutes. But I just need to keep it under control steady pace.
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime
I keep banging on about it, but the most useful mental tip I’ve learnt on this program, is just to remain in the moment, listen to the music and don’t let go in terms of losing focus/form. To be fair this is hardly my last shot, I can do this as many times as it takes, BUT I am here now and I see no reason to fail, so I’ll take THIS one.
Great track first 3 minutes have flown by, also helped my the distraction and sheer joy of a lab.
I’m a big Sia fan but I have to say this track feels like pure commercialisation, it might as well be sponsored by a fitness firm or gym. Either way it’s hands down the most on point running track I’ve heard so far, there’s no real need for translation:
One foot in front of the other babe
One breath leads to another yeah
Just keep moving, oh
Look within for the strength today
Listen out for the voice to say
Just keep moving, oh
Something tells me that Sia’s done a few miles.
Go, go, go
Figure it out, figure it out, but don’t stop moving
Go, go, go
Figure it out, figure it out, you can do this
Are you shitting me, honestly the C25k app people need to think about licensing this track.
Don’t stop, tomorrow’s another day
Don’t stop, tomorrow you’ll feel no pain
Just keep moving, oh
Don’t stop the past’ll trip you up
You know, right now’s gotta be enough
Just keep moving
I was listening to this somewhere around the 8-10 minute mark, at my point of greatest doubt and there was a second where I almost convinced myself it wasn’t going to be today. Not much chance of that with Sia screaming encouragement from the side lines though.
So 4 weeks left, 2 days of interval runs and then it’s ever increasing single runs up to the target of 30 minutes. I’ve no doubt there’s challenges out there, I’ve seen enough posts from people post week 5 struggling to know there still be dragons but now I know they are all in my mind.