A runner's diary charting the highs and lows of the nine-week Couch to 5K plan for beginners.
A woolly hat helped Laura overcome her self-consciousness in the early days of her Couch to 5K plan.
Here, she describes the highs and lows in her diary of the nine-week programme that transformed the former fitness-phobe into a regular runner.
I chose my local park as a place to train and began on a Sunday morning. The cold weather was a good excuse to disguise myself in a woolly hat.
Once I got going, I was surprised at how easy it was, and I found that at the end of the walking intervals I'd recovered sufficiently and was ready to run again. Roll on week two!
I wasn't thrilled at the idea of upping the regime, but I knew I could cope with more so tried to think positively. In fact, it didn't feel that different to last week.
One slight hiccup – my foot started to hurt. Luckily, applying an ice pack after my run, and then each morning and evening, seemed to do the trick.
When the voice on the podcast said three minutes, I was momentarily worried – but then I convinced myself that as long as I didn't rush it, I'd be just fine… and I was! It was so cold that my eyes were streaming, so I looked like I was crying but, in fact, I felt the opposite. I was elated at my progress.
Had you told me a year ago that I'd be going out running with my boyfriend at 8am on Valentine's Day, in a steady drizzle, I'd have said you were mad. But I actually quite enjoyed it and got through the week fine.
I'm really beginning to appreciate how Couch to 5K is training my mind as well as my body. And if I'm honest, my mind is the only obstacle to getting fit.
Discovering I'd be running for 20 minutes by the end of the week really stopped me in my tracks. But I reasoned that since Couch to 5K had got me this far, I must be capable.
I can't say I experienced a runner's high, but I definitely felt a major boost on completing this week.
I got through this week OK but struggled with stitch and pains in my shin. I looked up my shin pains online and it sounded like shin splints – caused by too much training too soon, or running on hard surfaces without sufficient shoe support. Maybe it's time for a new pair of trainers.
This week involved three 25-minute runs. It's nice not to have the interruption of walking, although it still requires some serious effort.
Looking back, I think I imagined that running would become easy. It's certainly not easy yet, but I catch my breath and recover faster and faster each week.
Once again, I was struck down with stitch. I made sure I was taking slow, deep breaths, and I started doing sit-ups before my runs, as I've read this might strengthen the muscles that are causing me trouble.
I was determined to beat the stitch and finish my last week on a high, so I started each run with a glass of water, some sit-ups and side stretches. Thank goodness it worked.
My third run was my best, and fastest, yet – a fitting end to my Couch to 5K journey. The key now is to keep up my runs and improve my pace and speed. And who knows? Maybe I'll start working towards 10K.