As part of TY each student is expected to do a report on every activity undertaken. Here is one student’s report on their Couch to 5K challenge, which culminated in a run on Saturday October 28th in DkIT at the weekly Parkrun. Congrats to all the girls who participated and to Janne whose time of 24 minutes was the fastest.
“As part of Transition Year, in our PE classes, we had to partake in a 5km run. To do this, we downloaded a training program on our phones. We also had to ensure we had appropriate and suitable clothing for this activity. I had already amassed a formidable collection of sports leggings but was in need of some t-shirts, so I went to my favourite shop TK Maxx. I paid for the app on my phone, downloaded some motivational music and I was finally ready to start running.
Before this I didn’t think very highly of running in general. It was for athletic crazy people, certainly not me. While I always made sure my fitness was of an acceptable standard, I resented having to push myself much further than necessary. In my first bleep test, I got a score of 6.0 of which I was fairly proud. This could be attributed to the fact that over the summer I had participated in a gymnastics course. This course was led by possibly the most tyrannical person in existence, who seemed to be under the impression that we were training for the Olympics, not for fun. Although I was barely able to walk after the course each day, I was very happy with the increase in my level of fitness. It was for this reason that I believed running would be okay. I mean, how hard could it possibly be?
On the first day of our running program, we were cheerily informed that we would only be running for a total of 6 minutes, in 1 minute bursts. We began running with hope and joy in our little hearts. When we finished running we realised that this was not going to be easy. We also realised that in order to run, you have to consume enough food that you don’t pass out; too much food would lead to painful cramps and stitches. I was a victim of the latter.
We went home and had to do a run by ourselves. Out I headed into the pitch blackness with one loyal sister-supporter at my side. I played a random selection of music that could be heard from miles away as I had not yet discovered the joy of earphones. Tired but exhilarated, I finished my run, satisfied with my newfound level of commitment.
The next class, we had to run again (surprise surprise) This time, the duration increased to a whopping 1 minute but 8 times instead of six. I was pretty exhausted after this run and looking back now, that’s slightly shocking. The next PE class was basically the same but we had to run for fractionally longer. I felt quite good about this run because I didn’t feel too overexerted afterwards. At this stage I had figured out how to eat lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays without feeling like I had been sliced in half with a samurai sword.
Every day we went running the program got progressively harder. I started needing water while I was exercising, not just after. When we had shorter times to run we all sprinted. As running times got longer though, our speed slowly decreased to a moderate jog/run. As we ran, some people found running harder than others. We all tried to encourage each other as we all felt absolutely exhausted. Around this point in the program, my memory seems to have blended the whole experience into one giant mess of exercise and running. I felt like I had peaked around the 3 minute mark. One week it was hard for me to run for 4 minutes which is amazing looking back on it now. At this stage we were missing PE left, right and centre for various TY trips. It was up to us to run at home to make up for the missed classes. Being totally frank, I skipped some of the duplicate runs because of other commitments and laziness. However I soon realised that this would not be a viable option because the runs were getting much harder.
At the start of this program, running for 5 minutes was absolutely shocking. However, towards the end of the program, when there were five minutes left, everyone let out a sigh of relief. For the longer runs, the last minute was the hardest. You knew you were so close to finishing but you felt dead.
As the weeks progressed, fewer people used their phones, which I felt was a tremendous mistake on their part. Without my phone and my music I actually wouldn’t have been able to run. My taste in music quickly changed from pop hits to a bit of Tchaikovsky for several reasons. Personally, I like classical music anyway and when I listen to pop I always have to sing along. However, when you’re running you are obviously unable to sing because your precious oxygen is going towards keeping you alive. Classical music distracted me because I listened to the music instead of thinking about how awful I felt whilst running. Running releases endorphins which are supposed to make you happier. Unfortunately, you only really feel their full effect when you finish running, so it’s up to you to persevere.
As the running got harder and longer, my leggings went from full length to cropped. I didn’t even bother bringing a jacket any week, no matter the weather, because I knew I’d be warm anyway. The strange thing about running was although it got harder each time, it also got easier in an unusual way. I still felt like I was dying but it felt easier and harder simultaneously. The point at which I remember the running taking a step up was Week 6, Day 1. We had to run for 10 minutes, walk for 5 and then run for another 10. I remember the feeling of outrage and dread in our year group. It was a very hard run but I felt really proud that I had run for 20 minutes. Throughout the entire 8 weeks, I never let myself stop running. I felt that if I stopped once, I would be setting an unconscious precedent in my mind which I felt was very important not to do. Running is as much about the physical as it is the mental.
The last few weeks of running were daunting. Whenever I ran, all I could see in the back of my mind was 35 minutes. I felt incapable of such a thing. When the runs began to hit the 15 minute mark, I began to experience shin splints. These were worse than stitches because there was nothing I could do to stop them. When I came home after runs my shins would ache when I walked or put weight on them. However, I persevered because I was so close to actually running 5km. I told myself I could do it and I continued to run.
In the last 2 weeks, Ms. Spain informed us we would be running outside. This sounded like a great idea except for one thing. It was absolutely lashing. We headed outside and began running. Rain covered my glasses and I needed windscreen wipers to see. I tried wiping my glasses on my t-shirt, which was also soaking. I just continued running half blind. When I returned to the hall I still had 5 minutes left. It was a very hard run inside the hall after running outside. Strangely enough, I much preferred running outside because it gave me a sense of purpose. There was a tangible route and it was easy to mark your progress internally, whereas in the hall, it just blended into a big mess of circuits and circles. I found when running in the hall again, it helped me when I followed the lines. Cutting the corners did not please me for some unknown reason and I felt that the lines gave me some purpose because I focused on going corner to corner.
We ran outside several times after this. Thankfully the weather was getting cooler as the term progressed because running in warm weather is not a particularly pleasant experience. I enjoyed running outside because it fuelled the competitive beast inside me. I liked starting at the back and slowly making my way to the front.
Our last run at school approached. We only did a short run the day before our 5k. We also redid the bleep test. I was very pleased to have improved my score by 11 runs, bringing it up to 7.1, which was in the “very good” category. I was glad to see a tangible increase in my fitness level after putting in all that hard work.
To prepare for our Parkrun we had to register online. I signed up and received my barcode, which I forgot to print until the morning of the run. I also had to persuade one of my parents to take me to DkIT on Saturday morning because this was our one weekend off from orchestra in the same place, at that time. We all went home on the Friday evening feeling slightly nervous and possibly terrified that we actually had to do this.
I woke up on that Saturday morning feeling very tired. My muscles ached and I wondered why. It was then I realised my mistake of playing dodgeball and running, the day before my first 5k. Not very wise of me. I decided a good breakfast would consist of some high energy, non-stodgy food. So logically, I turned to sugar. I wore cropped leggings and a t-shirt because this combination had served me well before and I printed out my barcode.
When I arrived at the Parkrun site, I realised my choice of clothing was probably not the wisest. Freezing is an understatement. I knew that I would be warm when I started running, but what I hadn’t counted on was the wind turbine right beside us and the temperature that morning. We all huddled like penguins and complained about the cold. We were shown where to run and our mouths dropped open when we saw how long the course was. We had to run all of it 3 times. 3 times. We all lined up and prepared to run. We started running. It instantly became clear that we were the middle of the pack runners. The sprinters took off and were all well ahead of us. My first lap was okay. I developed a steady pace. I had lost all of my friends but I continued the way I had been running. I abandoned my jacket after the first lap. The second lap was pretty hard. The fun was wearing off and I was beginning to feel tired. I was also slightly peeved that people were sprinting then walking and kept appearing in front of me and then behind me. The third lap was the hardest. I have no idea how I kept going. Towards the end of the race, the sprint then walk people were just ahead of me. With a sudden vicious competitive streak showing, I sprinted past one of the perpetrators. 10 metres from the end I flew by a poor lady who just let out a sigh of disappointment as I crushed her hopes and dreams. I finished running the 5k in a time of 31:46, much better than a previous time of 48 minutes walking. I was 8th in my age category and was delighted with my achievement. I really enjoyed running even though it killed me every time. It was satisfying to work hard at something and achieve my goal.
I am very proud of my achievements so far in TY and this is one of them. I would like to continue running in the future as I feel that it really improved my health and wellbeing.”