Nicky Southam tells us about her Desk to 5 k experience!

Desk To 5k – 2017

‘I don’t do running’ has been a mantra I’ve lived my life by rather successfully for many years until 6 months ago, when I felt a very alien urge to go out running. Naturally I ignored it for a while, besides I didn’t own any trainers, yet the urge kept coming back. When the OS Runners club were on the balcony one lunchtime, the lovely smiling face of Egbe enticed me in and I signed up for the 11 week Desk To 5k challenge. I was keen, I bought some trainers, an OS Runners top and filled out the membership form. Goal set: to run 5km without stopping.

Week 1 began on Tuesday 4th July, a dry and not too warm sunny day, a great start! Donned in my OS Runners top and new trainers, I was enthusiastic to start but felt like the new girl at school.. all the gear no idea! We gathered outside the bike shed at 12:15 and did our introductions led by Egbe, we were to start with a brisk 5 minute warmup walk followed by repeated sets of 2 minutes of jogging, followed by 90 seconds of walking, around the 3km Beginners Route. Everyone was very friendly and chatty, although once I started jogging, I quickly stopped chatting whilst trying to keep up with Long Legs Rich, who was striding out and set a good pace.

After that first session I had caught the running bug even though there was a constant struggle with my mind saying “you could just stop now”. I downloaded the IntervalTimer app and signed up to OS Maps so I could go running at weekends. My experience of running solo is not as enjoyable as running with the group but I did find it beneficial to run twice a week to keep the momentum going. Such was the unity and enthusiasm of the group, additional runs were also scheduled on Friday lunchtimes.

We were all progressing well, each week jogging for longer and walking less whilst concentrating on something new, like using arms, breath patterns, foot placement, and with Rich as always up front. The sun always seemed to shine on a Tuesday! Unfortunately, disaster struck for Rich on Week 3 who picked up a serious injury preventing him from participating in any future runs. Wishing you a full recovery Rich.

Week 5 I missed the Tuesday run due to a throat/chest infection although managed to get a short run in on the Saturday. The following week I was on holiday so diligently plotted a route on OS Maps around the Weymouth nature reserve and sea front but halfway round I took a wrong turn and ended up on a 6km route instead. It started raining and having difficulty breathing meant I wasn’t able to complete 14 minutes of jogging; I felt my fitness and confidence had taken a nose dive. I honestly thought I’d never achieve my goal of running 5k without stopping. Thankfully this was only temporary as the following Tuesday, and buoyed by the energy of the group, we ran (mostly uphill) for 18 minutes, walked for 1 minute and ran again (mostly downhill) for another 18 minutes. I felt totally elated that afternoon having completed two 18 minute running stints for the first time and on the longest route yet. It felt like a mental block had shifted and I was also veryyy hungry. Tuesday lunch is now hugely more enjoyable and satisfying even though I do resemble the tomato I am eating!

Week 8 was my personal highlight. This was the first session we were due to run continuously with no walking intervals. We set out on the Extended Beginners Route with the interval timer set for 22 minutes yet we all did a Forrest Gump and after the 5 minute brisk walk, ran the whole route without stopping! Whilst I may not be creating a Strava account anytime soon I have signed up to the 5km parkrun, plus our official graduation run will be at the OS Runners Handicap at the end of September and I have no doubt all the Desk to 5k’ers will complete successfully.

Huge thank you Egbe for being an awesome leader and organising us every week. Much gratitude to all the OS Runners members who came and supported us every week and celebrated our beginner’s achievements, especially Nicole Frith for leading us up the ‘big hill’ on Week 7! Thanks also to Karen Connell for inspiring me to participate in this challenge and for your daily encouragement. Unlike Karen, I’ve no designs on a marathon (yet!) but I have signed up for the Endure24 team event next June! Finally, to my Desk To 5k buddies, thank you for sharing the sweat and blisters, it’s been lovely to get to know you and you’ve made this experience thoroughly enjoyable. See you at FUNdamentals!