David’s Story – Couch to 5 k – flourished!

As a member of staff at UHMBfT I responded to the couch to 5k flourish campaign. I really needed to get fit as I had been ill with meningitis and other issues so had lost lots of fitness having been in hospital for 3 weeks and unable to anything remotely strenuous for at least 6-8 months after. I hadn’t realised how much fitness I had lost having previously been quite active before getting ill. for example, I could run 5k quite happily on a treadmill.


Being male and in my late 30s at the time, I felt embarrassed to join a group, so I downloaded the BBC Couch to 5K app on my iPhone. Going out running or walking on my own suited me. I know there is lots of evidence to say that running with other people helps with motivation, but for me it can do the opposite. The goals in the app seemed achievable and were enough to encourage me each week. Step by step I began the journey from my couch to running 5k. Initially (again, being male and in my 30s) I thought, “How hard can this be?” so started on week 5. This turned out to be a bad move. The following day I could barely move, my calves were agony, so if you’re reading this and think that it’s a good idea to cheat the system, DON’T!


After reverting back to week 1 and admitting to myself that I’m not Superman, Ironman or any other super hero, I carried on one step, one session and one week at a time. The next thing I did was to download a run tracking app. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. I just found the statistics that it generated really interesting and gave me benchmarks for me to see how I was improving. Within a fortnight I could really feel the difference in my legs and cardiovascular fitness. Running up the stairs was now possible, running to the train was so much easier and playing with my small children was a real pleasure without me having to say after 10 minutes, “Daddy’s too tired now.” I was able to teach them both to ride their bikes as I could run alongside them holding onto the back of the bike. I also found that my daughter loved the fact that Daddy went running. She didn’t mind me going out for half an hour and would ask me each time how fast I had ran. A great little cheer leader. We’ve even been running together, though she is only 5 so for me it was more of a walk.


I can remember the day I ran my first full 5k from start to finish. There was such a sense of achievement, Jo Whiley had encouraged me through the ordeal with laid back advice and encouragement, just at the right tempo I needed and the running tracking app gave me 1K readouts of my pace for that kilometre. At the end my children were there to cheer me on and we had a little celebration at home.


It’s been 12 months now since I started running in earnest. I am now running 10K regularly and have managed to lose about 10kg too. I was 85kg before I started and now I am down to 75kg. I’m still using the tracking app and it provides me with statistics for my run to spur me on. For example, what was my fastest kilometre? Can I do a kilometre under 5 minutes? Can I run a sub 26 minute 5K? (not yet, but I’m getting there) What was my quickest 10K? Can I get my 10K under 55 minutes? (Not there either – I suspect this will take some time.)  I have to say I have got the running bug. Just from starting the couch to 5K programme. I never imagined that it would grip me so much.