• Helen Ferguson

Running - At My Age!

Updated: Feb 7, 2021


I’ve never been good at running.

As a youngster, with flat feet and orthotic inserts in my shoes, I viewed school sports lessons with equal measures of dread and contempt.

My big sister sprinted and hopped and jumped with the best of them; I straggled and heaved and sat at a disheartened distance from the front of the pack.

Why were school sports so bloody competitive?

Why were the kids who were naturally athletic, held up as shining beacons of triumph, whilst the rest of us, with varying degrees of ability, still turned up to the lesson, but no-one noticed?

Little wonder that physical activity and I seemed destined to remain frosty but civil.

Apart from walking to school or playing out in the street with my friends, I just wasn’t interested.

However, once school was done and dusted, I found that I really enjoyed physical activity, when the competitiveness had been removed.

I loved dancing, swimming, aerobics (80’s style!) hiking, even a bit of cycling if the wind was blowing in the right direction.

Running though, running was always daunting.

It always looked so….sweaty.

I attempted a bit of a jog, on occasion, if it felt churlish not to join in with some activity based event. (Corporate Team Building Days, heaven help us,…….could you just give me the sack instead and spare us all a lot of discomfort?)

Corporate Team Building Days: Seriously?

There was my time at college; a fantastic girl on my course went for a run every morning before classes, and she still had energy to burn by lunchtime. I decided that I needed that in my life, asked her if I could join her one morning, and 5 minutes into her warm-up you could see my agony from miles away.

That was a short lived alliance.

Then there was the time I determined that I should attempt to shed my ‘baby weight’; seemed only logical since my baby was giving me lip and had been signed up for under the 5’s football club.

So I attempted jogging in intervals around the track of the local park.

Run, Walk, Run, Walk repeat repeat repeat.

Boring and sweaty, didn’t last.

I needed to be distracted, music helped, especially if the beat of the song matched the dainty slap of my trainers hitting the bitumen.

That’s when I discovered that some people had actually put some thought into this type of thing! There were a host of playlists and apps that targeted this very situation. Who knew?

So I started using a podcast that set some music to a running programme called

‘Couch 2 5 K’ or ‘C25K’ for short. The aim being that it will kick you off your couch, and it will get you to (2) being able to run 5 Kms by the end of the programme,which is supposed to take 9 weeks based on 3 runs per week.

I tried it for the baby weight, got to week 3, decided to repeat week 3, then repeated week 3 again, then gave up. Apparently, even with all of the tools available, you still need to bring your own grit and determination. Huh!

Then, aged 49, staring down the barrel of the ‘BIG 5 0’ and watching my fitness flat-line, I resolved to give it another shot.

All around me there were women older than me doing ‘Fun Runs’ and ‘Park Runs’ and ‘Fundraising Runs’. I felt like a sloth in comparison.

I was happily doing my daily 6km walk, but what if I could do 5k in half the time?

Maybe I could be an amazing version of myself with that extra half hour back in my day?

So I stuck to it, really well, gave it every bit of discipline that I could; even on a family cruise, I was trotting on the open air track with all of the real runners.

Once we hit dry land, I took possession of the hotel treadmill every morning.

Like a donkey following a carrot, I just showed up and did the programme.

There were weeks that I repeated because I didn’t feel ready to kick it up a level, but I didn’t allow myself to get stuck there.

I just did it.

I can honestly say that I didn’t hate it.

I can honestly say that I didn’t love it.

I just did it.

What I did love, at the risk of sounding very shallow, was the way running made my thighs look.

Oh my God, they looked fantastic!

I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Nearly 50 with thighs of a teenager.

Very short thighs, on very short legs, but bloody gorgeous thighs!

So, did I keep going right to the end and learn how to run 5kms non stop 3 times a week?

Yes I did, I made that commitment to myself.

Did I promptly drop the ball the second my 50th birthday party was a fabulous memory?

Again, yes I did.

Do I still have the thighs of a teenager…..not even a little bit.

So here’s the thing.

I love my walks. I adore my dance classes, I’m partial to a Pilates class on-line.

I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that I really should give this running thing another crack.

I’m in a different head-space though.

I used to worry about what I looked like when I was running.

Did I look stupid, un-coordinated, delusional?

Probably all of the above.

The difference this time, is that I no longer give two hoots if I look daft or slow or lumbering.

I know that I look like a middle aged lady having a bit of a run, and that’s ok, because that is exactly what I am.

So I’ve started it up again.

I’ve dusted off the podcast and I’ve been for a couple of the runs in week 1, and I am going to keep a rolling record of it here…..for the fun of it.

For the enjoyment of trying something that is way outside of my comfort zone.

Follow along and see how I go.

Join in with me and let me know how you go.

If you’ve got any fabulous C25K stories that will amuse or delight us, let us all know.


C25K - Week 1

5 minute warm up walk, then alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking to recover. 8 runs in total. Warm down with another 5 minute walk:

Week 1, Session 1:

OK, I can do this, the time is right.

It's 6.30 on a Sunday evening, the streets are quiet, I don't have to worry about dodging amblers walking 3 abreast across the pavement or packs of people doing Boot Camp.

The warm up walk got me into my groove, the confident voice of the podcasts narrator tells me

'you've got this'.

Sweet, glad she has faith in me.

The first interval of running sends me a little message from my right knee -

"take it easy please, could you think about strapping me up next time? cheers"

Other than that, I'm feeling pretty good.

Breathing steadily and concentrating on not tensing up, I start doing loops of the park running track.

I dodge the dog poo, jump the puddle and swerve around the oblivious, vaping teenager.

8 intervals of running later, I'm quietly chuffed with myself.

Sweaty but not bored - I can live with that.

Bring on Session 2.

Week 1, Session 2:

It's a morning session this time. I've already been out early to walk the dog for an hour, so I can avoid the pangs of guilt when I leave the house without him.

The knee sends me another message - "remember that strapping I mentioned?"

Fair point.

Not teenage thighs

It's not too warm yet, but the day is going to be a scorcher, so I'm quite smug that I'm up and organised in enough time.

The run goes well, I remember a lot of the music from last time I was doing the programme, but I think a few sections may have been refreshed.

The final warm down walk is very welcome.

I do a few stretches, a couple of deep breaths and head home to get ready for work.

Week 1, Session 3:

Well, the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that I've been absolutely invisible on this little bit of my site!!! Week 1 started in November 2020, and here I am in February 2021 finishing off Week 1.

And you know what...I'm going to completely own that.

I didn't finish week 1 in actual week 1 for a few reasons, some might call them excuses, I'm sticking with reasons.

  1. we had a run of days that were somewhere between 36 - 41 degrees, often over 30 degrees before 8.30am, nope, not running in that. My hot flushes are quite warm enough thanks.

  2. the lead up to Christmas got the better of me, plain and simple. The work/life balance packed it's bags and abandoned me.

  3. the little niggle of knee pain didn't pipe down, and a few weeks out from Summer Holidays, I didn't need an injury or lots of strapping.

I decided to spend a bit more time on strengthening and stretching my aching body, and start fresh when things became slightly calmer.

So today, I completed Week 1, session 3.

Hurrah hurrah, well done me!

In all honesty, I'll probably have a few more week 1 style runs before I crack open week 2.

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