So instead I downloaded a Couch-to-5K app for my iPhone. You boot up the app at the start of each half-hour running session, and a woman with a soothing voice tells you when to run and when to walk. There's a bit more of the former and a bit less of the latter each time. The idea is that at the end of eight weeks and 24 sessions, you are able to skip round 5K routes like Kate Hudson in that advert, except without being so smug about the fact you're selling leggings.
I completed a C25K programme five years ago, so initially I was confident I could do it again. Then, about 45 seconds into the first run, I remembered some important things:
1. I was five years younger then.
2. I have since had two children.
3. I should have done more pelvic floor exercises.
4. Like, about 28,000 more.
5. Running is really fucking hard, actually.
But I pressed on, returning home 29 minutes later, bright red and soaked with sweat. "Wow!" said my husband, "You must have worked really hard! What's the longest interval you ran for?"
"A minute," I said, collapsing on the sofa. "I've got to hydrate. Bring the wine. I'll need the whole box."
If you'd told me then that in seven weeks' time I'd be running for 25 minutes straight, I'd never have believed you - but that's where I am now. I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed every one of those 25 minutes. I feel painfully out of breath, exhausted, fed up and ready to quit for at least 23 of them.
The main thing, though, is the feeling that I'm doing something for myself. For that half hour of running, it's just me, on my own. No one can ask me what's for tea, or where their Iron Man underpants are, or why dogs can't talk. And the kids can't bother me either.
Over the course of the past seven weeks, I've learned a few things. I'm pretty sure I must have learned these things last time round, but they have fallen out of my brain since having two children, along with useful facts like the capital of Yemen and the year decimalisation was introduced. I'll never win a pub quiz again.
So, for posterity - i.e. my own reference when I inevitably give up running for Christmas and have to start the whole thing again in January - here are my top tips.
Music is essential
At first I thought running would be a great time to catch up with The Archers omnibus, but this is no good. I need pounding beats to keep my feet moving, not a discussion about whether the switch to automated milking will result in a higher yield. Also every time Rob's on I just want to stop running and punch trees.
Motivate yourself with presents
This is great if, like me, you are deeply shallow and fulfilled by the acquisition of material goods. The presents don't have to be expensive - I promised myself a new pair of cheapo running leggings if I kept going for two weeks, and when the time came I felt stupidly proud, like I'd earned them. Also I once rewarded myself for getting up to exercise at 6am by running to McDonald's and eating a double sausage and egg McMuffin. It's a lifestyle.
At first I would worry about my pace when I noticed other runners in the park passing me. But when I tried to speed up, the runs became a lot harder, and I felt much more like quitting. Then I read that as a beginner, you shouldn't worry about speed - endurance is more important. This made me relax and now I concentrate on finishing the run rather than doing it quickly.
I didn't even mind when, the other day, I noticed a bloke put on a burst of speed to pass me before slowing down again, perhaps as if just wanting to prove he could overtake a woman. I simply kept going, enjoying the afternoon sunshine, breathing in the crisp autumnal air, and staring at his sweaty back while silently mouthing, "Cocklord, cocklord, cocklord."
So those are my top tips, for what it's worth. All I can really say is that the Couch-to-5K app works, for me at least. Mind you, here comes week eight...
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