One thing I never thought I would be taking up again at 50 is running! I did all that and got the t-shirt way back in my 20's and 30's. Keeping fit and healthy is of course a priority, but over the last decade it has been of a more conservative nature than returning to pounding the streets and parks of South London. So what happened?
Well with a a staycation planned for our summer and lazy days stretching ahead with just the youngest teen for company, it struck me that we could both benefit from something to focus on and as I wrote only a short while ago having a shared interest with your child or teens is so valuable. It gives us a common purpose, keeps us talking and keeps our relationship alive and as any parent with teenagers will realise that is not a bad thing.
There are some seriously accomplished running mumbloggers out there, Sarah at Mum of Three World for one and some like the fabulous Prabs at Absolutely Prabulous who like me is pushing back against midlife in style. There have also been many wonderful and inspirational pieces written by other bloggers about their own Couch to 5K (C25K) journey including Charlie over at Mess & Merlot, who not content with reaching the 5K milestone, pushed herself onto 10K. Aspirational indeed but for now we like all newcomers are just focusing on the first steps to 5K.
The C25K programme is not new, it has actually been around since 1996 and ironically was actually devised by a young man called Josh Clark with his 50 year old mother in mind, to encourage her to address her health.
When I hit 50 earlier this year I reviewed my midlife exercise regime with its focus heavily towards Pilates and Barre work outs and booked sessions with personal trainer Clare at Live In Fitness Retreat. A 56 year old whose mantra is that "50 doesn't define us anymore", Clare took me outside of my comfort zone and introduced me to HIIT, a way of exercising that can be done in just 12 minutes a day. It was a real eye opener for me in terms of my cardio-vascular health, I managed the sessions and still do some at home, but it was evident that it was something I had neglected in recent years.
Following in the footsteps of Josh Clark's mother and all the other 50 year olds like her I hope that apart from binding me in a shared agony with my daughter, running again will address that area of weakness for me. But this experience is not just about me, the other half of the "us" is my daughter who is keen to return to school in September fit and ready for the hockey season ahead, with its gruelling training schedule of early mornings and late afternoons. For her it is all about improving her stamina and of course hanging out with me!
So how has it been so far? Well we are almost at the end of the third week of the nine week programme and I think I can safely say we both feel quite smug. Firstly, because we have proved to the doubting boys in the house that the girls in the house can do "sweaty, heart pumping" exercise if we put our minds to it and secondly because quite frankly not every day has been easy!
There have been days when we have been too hot, too cold or soaked to the skin by archetypal English downpours. Some mornings we have just been dog tired. We have also been embarrassed as we pass people we know with the dulcet tones of Michael Jordan booming from our phones encouraging us to start, to stop, to run, to walk but most importantly to keep a steady pace and just keep going.
This aside, however, we have enjoyed the warm up walk and the chance to chat about "stuff"; the way we feel at the end of each session; the fact we keep on doing it not because we have to but because we want to and that as each run passes we have ticked another box, plus we are getting close to noticing a real difference. Of course we have exchanged a few cross words along the way but we don't pant now, we breathe and not just in time with our own footsteps but with each other. We are in sync on our runs, supporting and coaxing each other along the way.
Josh Clark said that he wanted the programme to be easy and rewarding, recognising that we are creatures of inertia and need carrots to get moving and to continue. In that regard, it is working for us thus far. As beginners the schedule is sustainable. I don't know how far we will go with it and whether once we reach the end and tick off our first 5K we will then join the masses running several times a week. I do, however, hope that we will both reap the rewards of improved fitness and at the very least we will get together once a week for some more "us" time. Watch this space!
Have you embarked on the C25K challenge or something like it? If so I would love to hear how you coped.