Tag Archives: Couch to 5K

5k – I Did It

There is no more Couch to 5K. I have done it. I have actually run the full 5 kilometres of the Roundshaw Downs Parkrun. It wasn’t very fast, but it was faster than last week and I did actually run the whole way. It was also fairly hard work, mainly because it was/is quite hot today. The air temperature was in the high twenties, even at nine in the morning. Leaving my drink bottle on the kitchen table didn’t help either.

I decided not to repeat last week’s mistake of being at the front of the pack at the start. A mistake in two ways.

  1. It was too easy to get carried away and try to keep up with the people who do the run in under twenty minutes.
  2. When my body quickly caught on to the fact that it wasn’t going to do the run in sub-twenty minutes, I was in danger of being trampled to death by the stampeding horde behind me.

This week I started at the back of the group. Lord Wallington’s daughter Katie made an excellent pacemaker for about half of the first lap, before she disappeared off into the distance. Lord Wallington himself had wisely blagged the job of Run Marshall for this week. There might have been a bit more to it, but it seemed to consist of barking a few instructions at us before the start, then retiring to the shade of the trees while the rest of us sweated our way round.

Starting at the back had the advantage of allowing me to occasionally overtake other runners, which gives a bit of an ego boost. There were no ten year olds in Chelsea kits overtaking me either. The marshalls situated at various points around the course were good substitutes for C.M.L. Obviously less Californian*, but still encouraging. “Come on, you’re doing well.” “Keep it up only 2k to go”. The one I liked best though was “Go on it’s all downhill to the finish from here”.

As I predicted my finish position is over one hundred places better than last weeks. Mainly because there were about 100 fewer runners. No major inter-church showdowns this week, although quite few runners were wearing their church running shirts. Some of which had appropriate? bible quotations such as Hebrews 12:v1 on them.

My result
Pos parkrunner Time Age Cat Age Grade Gender Pos Club Note Total Runs
97 John MANDERSON 38:39 VM60-64 41.48% M 64 New PB! 2

I won’t be able to do the run next week because I have to work, or probably the following week, because I have been invited to my temporary pacemaker’s wedding, but I think that the run will become a regular feature of my Saturday mornings.

I have now completed my Couch to 5k programme, so this is the last blog in the Couch to 5k series. I will carry on running (and blogging about it occasionally), probably trying to get a little bit faster rather than going further, though C.M.L. thinks I should sign up for her 10k programme. Maybe later dear, in a couple of months. Let me enjoy and consolidate my achievements.

And since you asked, yes I do feel just a little bit like an “Awesome Runner”.

Even if I don’t look to much like one in the photo

I also think I deserve a “Malt-Based Recovery Drink”

The run is on Strava. My GPS watch lost the signal going through the woods so it looks as if I have cut a corner on the first lap – honest I didn’t.

A couple of personal bests

  • PR Park Run Lap(16:43)
  • PR Start to first corner(3:37)

Interesting that I was faster to the first corner this week than last, despite not going off like a scalded cat.

*There was a guy from San Francisco doing the run this morning.



‘Running slow to get far’, is a fellow blogger,  SlowRunnerGirl’s tagline. This seems to be the method I have unconsciously adopted as C.M.L. increases the length  of my runs. Todays run was thirty minutes, the furthest that I have run continuously so far. When I was doing run/walk/run, my run phases were generally done at a pace of 7 min/km or better, but now that I am only running I seem to have subconsciously slowed my pace to between 7:15 and 7:30 min/km. It makes sure that I can get round without stopping .

There were no new personal bests today. I think they will have to wait until I start to try to consciously improve my speed. At the moment I am trying to make sure that I can actually manage the distance.

I have also decided that early mornings are the best time to go for a run, at least at this time of the year. I might reconsided going out a 06:15 in January when it is pitch black and horizontal sleat is coming straight at you. In July, it is cool, bright and quiet, perfect conditions.

Saturday is my race of truth. Last Saturday I did the Roundshaw Downs Parkrun as a run/walk/run. This Saturday I plan to run the full distance. If I succeed then I will call myself a 5k runner and might even consider myself slightly “Awesome”.

As usual today’s run is on Strava.

Couch to 5k Day 22

The master plan is more or less back on course. I didn’t have to be anywhere before 10:00 so I decided  to do my run before breakfast this morning. The temperature was forecast to reach  31°C in the early evening, when I would normally do my run on a work day. I thought it best to get my run in early while it was still relatively cool.

I dispensed with C.M.L. today, partly because I knew exactly what the run was and I could time it on my watch and partly because I had forgotten where I had left my phone charging. I kind of missed her telling me that I am an “awsome runner”, even if my results say otherwise.  I repeated last Friday’s 25 minute run, but managed to do it at a bit faster pace.

Date distance (km) Run Time Pace (min/km)
Tue, 19 Jul 2016 3.48 25:02 7:12
Fri, 15 Jul 2016 3.39 24:57 7:22

The full run is as usual on Strava

I think that I might try the same trick tomorrow. The forecast isn’t quite as bad but it will still be well into the twenties at five p.m.
On Saturday I will attempt to run the full 5k of the Roundshaw Downs Parkrun and hope to finish better than

210 John MANDERSON 39:36 VM60-64

and also hope to beat the 39:36 I set last time.

COUCH TO 5K DAY 20 also including Day 21


Today has left me with a major dilemma. I did the wrong run this morning. Instead of doing the run that I should have for day 20 I did the run for day 21 instead. The run should have been the same as Wednesday’s. A twenty-minute run with a warm-up and cool down. Instead I clicked on day 21, a twenty-five minute run. I was merrily shuffling round the park wondering why C.M.L. hadn’t told me that I was at the half way point. When she eventually told me that I had reached half way, my watch said that I had been running for twelve and a half minutes. I twigged what I had done straight away. I had selected the wrong programme. I could have just gone by my watch and cut the run short at twenty minutes, but heart overruled the head and I decided that I would do the full twenty-five.

I did it ok, but I could feel that I had gone a wee bit far by the end. Thus confirming the wisdom of the programme.

No new records today, probably confirming my thoughts that Wednesdays figures were GPS assisted, just these;

  • 2nd best estimated 2 mile effort (23:46)
  • 3rd fastest time on Through the Park (8:44)

The whole run is here on Strava.

Update Saturday 16/07/2016

I have added even more confusion into my carefully regulated programme. Everything was carefully calibrated to ensure that next Saturday I would be fit, ready, primed and honed to take on the full five kilometers of the Roundshaw Downs Parkrun. However over a couple of pints at the Duke’s Head on Thursday evening, Lord Wallington, who don’t forget is responsible for getting me into this in the first place, persuaded me that it would be a good idea to do the Parkrun this Saturday, because it would be its seventh birthday and all the churches in the area were using it to have some sort of inter church showdown  friendly race. That should have warned me off straight away. Let’s face it church people can be all sweetness and light and love thy neighbor on the surface, but when it comes to grinding the church down the road into the dust over 5k, they can be pretty ruthless.

I decided that I would rise above, or to be more precise sink below all this inter-church rivalry and do my own thing. I normally have at least a day off between runs and never having run this far before I decided on a conservative run/walk/run strategy. The plan was three-minute run and a one-minute walk, though by the uphill section on the second lap that had gone to a two-minute run followed by a two-minute or possibly slightly longer walk. It got me round in a new Personal Best for 5k (don’t forget I have never done 5k before).

There were a few of slightly embarrassing episodes;

  1. Being passed by a couple of kids in Chelsea shirts who looked about eight and ten, though they did run out of breath and stopped about 200 metres later.
  2. I was actually running down the home straight on the first lap when I was passed by a blur of orange and black and thinking ” did you start late?” Then looking at my watch and realising “he’s finishing his second lap”. I discovered later that it was this guy who, is a bit of a local legend on his way to a new P.B.
    1 Tom HIGGS 16:52 SM20-24

    He is less than half my age

  3. Following someone who was on the same run/walk/run strategy as me almost all the way round, without realising until I got to the finish that I had known him for about twenty years. To be fair all that I really saw of him on the course was his backside.

I finished in a moderately respectable time and I wasn’t last.

210 John MANDERSON 39:36 VM60-64

I was also sixth in my age category (Veteran -read old- Male aged 60-64). I think, although I haven’t checked too hard that there were more than six of us in the category.

I expect to improve my finishing position by at least one hundred places next week. Mainly because there won’t be quite so many hyper-competitive church people in matching running shirts.

I also set some personal bests, which I hope to beat next week;

  • PR on Home Straight (3:09)
  • PR on Roundshaw Hill Dash (1:19)
  • PR on Park Run Lap (17:46)
  • PR on Start to first corner (3:41)

The full results are here and this the link to my  Strava results 

This doesn’t complete my Couch to 5k adventure because I still haven’t run a full 5k, hopefully I will acheive that next Saturday. I will probably skip my normal Sunday run tomorrow., but if I am up and the weather is good I might go for a pre-breakfast walk instead.


As the saying goes “No rest for the wicked”,so I want to know what I have done to offend C.M.L. Today, for the first time she decided that there would be no recovery walks in the programme. After my five-minute warmup walk it was straight into twenty minutes of solid running – well after the first five shuffling would probably describe it better  – with no break. On top of that it was an after-work run, which always feel harder than early morning runs.

Again I managed to complete the run without stopping for a rest and without a breakdown either emotional or physical. Though having said that I am finding that I am getting a bit of pain in my Achilles tendons, even with a fairly comprehensive stretching routine following my run. Answers on a postcard or in the comments please.

Strava thinks that I have a whole slew of new personal bests today. I am slightly dubious for two reasons;

  1. They are so much better than anything I have done previously.
  2. For some reason or another my Garmin watch was finding it difficult to locate satellites. If you look at the track on the map there is a weird little loop that I did not do.

Here are the *records* . Like certain world records that are thought to have been achieved with the aid of performance enhancing drugs I feel they should be marked with an asterisk and tagged GPS enhanced.

  • Best estimated 1 mile effort (9:16)
  • Best estimated 1k effort (5:24)
  • Best estimated 1/2 mile effort (4:06)
  • Best estimated 400m effort(1:13)

The 400m effort in particular seems way too good to be true.

Couch to 5k Day 18


Grey skies and a stiff breeze met me when I went out this morning. Not quite as pleasant as last Sunday. Still at least it wasn’t raining.

C.M.L. (Californian Motivational Lady) is trying hard to turn me into a runner. Today had the longest running segment yet, a full fifteen minutes before she gave me a break. The break was what felt like a very short three-minute walk before I had I had a five-minute run to finish off. My morning running person hypothesis is holding up. I felt fine during the run.

While obviously I know that I am putting a bit of effort in it does not feel too hard. I can  only put this down to how well the programme is structured. I wasn’t a complete couch potato when I started out but I definitely was not a runner. Also because of how Grace was in the months leading up to her death I had not done very much cycling or any other exercise for about six months. I am doing things, like a full fifteen minute run, reasonably easily, that would have been impossible for me at the start of the programme.

A couple of personal bests today, one of which the one mile personal best, I knew I would beat, because today was the first time that I would run for a full mile.

  • Best estimated 1 mile effort (10:44)
  • Best estimated 2 mile effort (22:46)

I seem to have lost somewhere between 1.5 and 2 kg (3 to 4 pounds or about half a stone if you still work in imperial) which should please my doctor and a few menswear shops if I keep it up (because I’ll have to buy new trousers). In addition my diabetic control is a lot better. I am winning all round.

Here is the Strava analysis, if you are interested.



I think that my theory about being a morning running person may be correct. This morning’s run was similar to Wednesday’s. There were two ten-minute runs with a recovery walk in between. The recovery walk today was only three minutes as opposed to the five minutes C.M.L. gave me on Wednesday. Even with that I found the run easier and I was also a wee bit faster.

With Friday being part of the weekend now, I left the alarm set for six o’clock the same as I normally do on a work day. I didn’t leap out of bed as I normally do if I am working, but I still got my self up and ready to go run by seven-thirty.  It wasn’t quite as pleasant a run as last Sunday’s. The air temperature was pleasant enough, not too hot or too cold, but it was quite overcast and grey. Typical British summer weather (minus the rain). In addition, instead of other runners giving me a smile or blowing me a kiss, all I encountered were people on their way to work or school. They didn’t look quite as happy. And there were a lot more cars about.

The run is recorded on Strava. I also managed another batch of personal bests:

  • Best estimated 1 mile effort(10:53)
  • Best estimated 1k effort (6:28)
  • Best estimated 1/2 mile effort (5:12)
  • Best estimated 400m effort (2:30)

Those are encouraging. What I noticed today however, which I found even more encouraging as an indication that I am getting fitter, was that my heart rate dropped back quickly when I went from the run to the recovery walk.
I am on target for the Roundshaw Downs Parkrun in two weeks time.



Who would have thought it. It turns out that I am a morning person, at least when it comes to running. I find it harder going out for a run in the evening than in the morning. I suppose that if I am going out for a run in the evening it will almost certainly be because it is a work day. Consequently I am going to be a wee bit tired. Possibly that is what makes the difference.

All I know is that I found today a bit hard. C.M.L.* had upped the running segments to ten minutes and cut the recovery walk to five, so that didn’t help. I had also had a few problems with my blood glucose levels today. Unusually, for me, they kept going low, again that probably didn’t help either. Nevertheless I got through it. It took a bit of gritting the teeth and pushing on when it would have been easier to stop. I didn’t, so I am reasonably chuffed with myself

According to C.M.L. I am now an Athlete, and have the badge to prove it


Thre were also a couple of new personal records as well

  • Best estimated 2 mile effort (24:45)
  • Best estimated 1 mile effort (11:31)
  • Best estimated 400m effort (2:30)

My next run should be on Friday morning so we shall see if my “morning person” theory holds up.

*Californian Motivational Lady



I do like Sunday morning pre-breakfast runs, especially if, like this morning, it is sunny with fluffy white clouds. I get up and change into my running gear, have a cup of coffee to make sure I am awake and off I go, before most of Wallington is out of bed. Although I have noticed that a sunny morning brings out quite a few people with the same idea as me. Not nearly as many, obviously, as the number of MAMILs* that would be inching their way slowly up Box Hill, on their £5000 Pinarellos wearing their matching Team Sky kit, later on in the day. Anyhow it is encouraging to get a smile or a wave from other shufflers. One woman even blew me a kiss. I had just finished the first run segment and was beginning the recovery walk, possibly she thought I really needed encouragement.

Beddington Park was looking particularly fine again this morning.

The run as usual can be inspected on Strava.
There were two personal bests today

  • Best estimated 1k effort (6:36)
  • Best estimated 1/2 mile effort (5:19)

Having got all snarky about MAMILs, I have just noticed that it is time to go and watch the Tour de France highlights for today. So “See you in a couple of days” as CML says.

* Middle Aged Men In Lycra

Couch to 5k Day 14


Records are tumbling with every run. Actually it’s not really that surprising because every run involves more running and less walking. Even I run faster than I walk, possibly not that much faster, but I do so hence the flurry of personal bests.

Today’s records for your delectation:

  • Best estimated 2 mile effort (25:08)
  • Best estimated 1 mile effort (11:41)
  • Best estimated 1k effort (6:47)
  • Best estimated 1/2 mile effort (5:22)

I am getting quite into this and looking forward to the next challenge that my CML (see previous posts) throws at me.

I discovered another problem with using folk music as part of your soundtrack for running. Having eliminated Walter Pardon and similar singers, I discovered that some (especially Irish) fiddlers speed up towards the end of the track. This does not help. Especially if you are going as fast as you can. They will also have to be vetted and possibly discarded as well.

Strava evidence is here. If you click-through you will see that I am discovering parts of Beddington Park that I didn’t know existed.

Anyway it’s time for bed as tomorrow’s run should be pre breakfast.