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How I Went From A Couch Potato To Running 5 kilometers

Three years ago, I couldn’t even walk down the road, forget running without getting out of breath. My knees hurt, my feet hurt and my lower back ached. I was living a sedentary lifestyle. I had no exercise routine. Oh and I weighted 118kg’s. I pretty much hated myself. I hated that my body was so weak. That I was so unfit. That everything made me out of breath and sweaty and tired.

Then I started banting and with each milestone I achieved, the desire to be fitter, better, stronger and healthier grew.

I knew exercise was the key.

And so one day I went for a walk. And then suddenly, I wanted to walk every day. And then that desire grew and I decided to see if I could run a little bit. And then I started running in short bursts during my walks. And then I found that I could run further and for longer periods of time. And then I didn’t want to stop. 

And now, running gives me so much joy. It’s a privilege to be able to run. To feel my legs burn, to pound the pavement, to feel my body working and to know that I did that. 

Running has become a part of my life. I train, for nothing in particular, but I train 5-6 days a week. Five of those days are spent running and one day is spent horse riding, which even after just 3 sessions, I can feel, has had a huge impact on my core strength and my legs. It’s my me time. A time when  don’t I can go inside my head and let my body instinctively take over. I literally zone out. It’s like my form of meditation. It’s how I prepare myself for the day ahead. It helps me get in the game. It sets the tone for my day.

So many people have commented on my work outs on Instagram asking how I do it. How I find the time, where and how to start. 

So here are my tips for going from a couch potato to a 5km runner:

Set a goal:

A 5km goal is a good start. A 5km run is often referred to by runners as the holy grail of fitness running. It’s just long enough to get in a good workout, but without over exerting yourself. Regular 5km runs build great base fitness. They don’t take too long either, especially for us busy working mom’s where time is often limited.

There are loads of GREAT free apps out there that you can use to track your distances and most of these app’s come with a built in coach, so you can set your 5km goal and realistically work to achieve it.

I use Nike Running Club, it has a great coaching app, so no matter what your goal, 5k’s, 10km’s, half or full marathon, the app will guide you. And it’s personalized too, so you can set your starting point as couch potato and grow from there. Check out the Nike Running Club 5km plan here

Set a time & stick to it:

This is easier said than done. But find what works for you and stick with it. For me, the only time I have to train is between 6am and 6:45am. I can’t go earlier as my husband is at the gym between 5am and 6am. I can’t go later because I’ll be late for dropping Hannah at school and late for work. I can’t run in the evenings because that’s when I’m cooking supper and packing school lunches so that time works for me.

It’s not always easy, especially in winter, when it’s cold and dark. But I try to keep up with my schedule as much as possible.

Share your progress:

I’ve found that generally, people are hugely supportive of my efforts and it helps to keep me motivated. Also sharing my runs on social media helps me stay accountable by using you for my accountability. 

Ask for support:

From your family and friends and join running communities. The advice and support is invaluable. And even just talking to my husband about my running escapades helps him realize just how important this is for me. Because we have young children and are married, our time is a partnership, we had to rearrange our schedules to allow for both of us to work out. Walter has always been active. I was a couch potato and initially it was hard for him to adjust his schedule to allow for me to have work out time too. But we negotiated and worked out a way that would allow both of us to train.

Also I’ve found joining online running communities helps keep me motivated, I’m encouraged by other peoples accomplishments and efforts and these groups have provided tons of support and useful tips and advice.

And lastly….

Just DO IT! No excuses. You can. Start slow, build your strength, build your fitness and just get out there. But most of all, just enjoy it!

From Couch Potato to 5kms Pinterest

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47 Comments

  • Reply kerryheathfield

    I have always said to myself that I want to become a runner – it is such a great way to track progress and set goals and then achieve them.
    I just haven’t done it yet though, but I am going to make more of an effort to get stared. Downloading one of those apps now.
    Also, well frikken done on all your determination and just kicking ass in general 🙂

    September 7, 2016 at 9:21 am
    • Reply Sharon

      If I can, you can Kerry! Go for it. Start slow and have fun! I just love running because I love being outdoors!

      September 7, 2016 at 9:25 am
  • Reply Celeste Booysen

    Thank for this post. It is only because of your success and clear determination and motivation that I took the steps to speak to you and get my arse into gear too. Thank you and well done on all you have achieved so far.

    September 7, 2016 at 9:37 am
  • Reply Liezel Malherbe

    So awesome to read about your amazing journey! I agree, running brings a sense of strength and freedom that is incredible. Well done!

    September 7, 2016 at 9:40 am
    • Reply Sharon

      It just allows me time in my head head and time to get in the game before the day starts.

      September 7, 2016 at 9:56 am
  • Reply Karen

    You’re right, it is such a privilege. While other people have flying dreams, mine are of running. Unfortunately its something that flares up my excruciating hip pain, but it doesn’t stop me from taking part in every 5km fun run/walk I can. I used to train 10 hours a week in kickboxing so feeling how week my body has become is sad 🙁

    enjoy every stride!

    September 7, 2016 at 12:37 pm
  • Reply Kim Muller

    I so badly want to start. Just do it like you say. But I need to find a place I can safely run at 5am as that is the only time I have. Thank you for this post, it’s very informative. I’ve never even thought of joining a running community, but I’ll probably be luckier in getting more info on where is a good place to run in my area.

    September 8, 2016 at 8:08 am
  • Reply Symonah Myers

    So inspiring. I have just 2 wèeks ago decided to start banting (no clue what I’m doing) and would like to be able to walk/run eventually. Thanks for this ☺

    September 10, 2016 at 6:08 pm
  • Reply curlyheadsanddimples

    I would love to start running but time is something I don’t have much of. At night I also have all the cooking and checking of homework and tidying up that normally leaves me exhausted afterwards. See that we’re approaching summer, early mornings would be a good time for me to go. Thanks for your tips!

    October 19, 2016 at 11:37 am
    • Reply Sharon

      You can do it!!!!!

      October 19, 2016 at 2:02 pm

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