I’m new to MvF, having just signed up for the Leeds league which will hopefully be starting sometime soon. I found this thread after signing up and thought I’d share my story.
For those of you abandoning or postponing the plan, I would recommend taking a look at a programme called None To Run, which is a similar programme to C25k, but with gentler progression and an aim after 12 weeks of you being able to run continuously for 25 minutes, rather than complete a 5k. It’s aimed specifically at beginner runners and those who are overweight, and also includes prescribed stretches to help reduce the risk of injury as you follow it.
I completed it a few weeks ago, although it took me much longer than the 12 weeks to get there, but it’s a programme where repeating weeks, if required, is encouraged. The 12 weeks is a guideline, but the main aim is to get to the end of it, and having a time goal as the end aim, rather than a distance one, takes away the pressure of trying to achieve a certain pace whilst building up endurance.
I started walk/running the local parkrun in mid-programme and since completing it I’ve gone on to finish my first 5k parkrun without walking on my 10th run, albeit I can currently get round the course quicker using walk/run intervals than by running the whole thing just through being able to sustain a higher running pace over shorter intervals.
I’m 5’10" and currently weigh around 22.5 stone, so my BMI is ~45 at the moment. My parkrun PB (achieved via run/walk on Saturday) is currently 47:10, so still extremely slow, but this has dropped steadily from a first attempt which took 54:10 in June. However, the achievement feels huge, given that I was struggling with 1 minute intervals earlier in the year, and the trend is going in the right direction. The parkrun community is also incredibly supportive and I get frequent encouragement from faster runners as they inevitably lap me around the course.
The None To Run forum on Facebook is an extremely supportive group (mostly American, but with people from all over the world). However, it is full of people, like me, who identified themselves as ‘failed C25k’ participants. Most of us got to somewhere around weeks 4-5 of C25k and then found the ramp ups too steep to deal with and got de-motivated. However, their success rate using N2R is much higher from following a gentler progress curve.
The key thing I found was to adapt the programme to my own pace, as I was putting my body through additional stresses compared to smaller people. In particular, I had to manage the early runs around very stiff knees in the first few weeks, so completing 3 runs in a week was difficult to begin with. I spread the early weeks over a longer period until my body started to get used to the demands and I could then increase the frequency of training. Over time the knee pain has also largely disappeared, as my leg muscles naturally strengthened from the training, so it’s very much a case of listening to what your body is telling you and adapting to it.
The main reason for this post was to try to dispel the myth of being ‘too heavy for running’ as I don’t think this is the case. However, C25k, in it’s pure 9-week form, or even with repeated weeks, isn’t a guaranteed success for many people at the heavier end of the spectrum. However, it’s still possible to complete a running programme as a morbidly obese person.
Oh, and thanks to a friend of mine on the day, I can show you what a 22.5 stone man running 5k for the first time looks like:
Good luck to all of you MvF guys trying to turn yourself into runners, via whatever programme you follow.
PS: One interesting thing from doing the programme is that I haven’t lost a huge amount of weight from it, but that’s largely down to not doing anything about my diet at the same time. My body shape has changed, my general health stats have improved significantly (e.g. resting heart rate has gone from the low 70s to the high 50s since June), and my general fitness has improved massively, but the weight loss itself has only been c7lbs in that time, despite people thinking I’ve lost much more than this.