The Newcastle Can 5K Training Plan!
Download the training plan from Hugh and Ross here.
Most of us could do with getting a bit more activity into our lives - and when we do, we will quickly feel the benefit. But there’s no doubt that getting started can be really daunting. Having said that, I’m convinced you will find that as soon as you have taken the plunge, you will feel good about yourself - even if the first session has been somewhat painful!
The trick is to harness that good feeling, don’t dwell on the pain, and use the positive vibes to get you to the second session. And if you know you can do two, then you know you do three…and on.
Running, going to an exercise class, or joining a gym will work for many. But if none of the above appeal at all, please don’t give up on the idea of getting fitter. There are so many different options for exercise that it’s really about finding the sort of activity that works for you.
Last year, I started running. I’m 53, and I had barely broken into a trot since I was at school. Back then, the dreaded school “cross country” was nothing but a misery for me. So I didn’t expect to particularly enjoy it 4 decades later. But I wanted to do it for Newcastle Can - to show solidarity with the thousands who had already signed up, and were already taking steps to change their lives. So, along with a whole host of people from Newcastle Can, I signed up for the Great North 5k.
I started out jogging/walking a kilometre or two, a couple of times a week. I was surprised how I started going a little bit further each time, without really thinking about it. Within a few weeks I was running/walking about 3k, a couple of times a week. I ran in the park in Bristol and on the beach on my summer holiday in Scotland (check that out here!).
But I only completed my first 5k without slowing at all to a walk a week before the Great North 5k event. The night before the big day I felt I was really underprepared. But when I arrived at the start, down by the river between the Millennium bridge and the Tyne bridge, the atmosphere was fantastic. It felt like we were all there not just for ourselves, but for each other.
It was great to find so many Newcastle Canners there, almost a hundred of us making an “orange wave” in our Newcastle can T-Shirts. I was especially thrilled that Julie and Jonny joined us for the run - you’ll know who I mean if you’re watching Britain's Fat Fight. It was such a fantastic commitment from them both. And of course Ross Noble - who was in pretty fine shape after perfecting all his dance routines for Young Frankenstein. A bunch of his fellow cast-members joined us too.
When the horn blasted us off, it felt like we were buoyed up by each other’s energy, and the first kilometre felt almost effortless. But as the race continued, it started to feel a bit more real - my lungs were straining, and it took quite a bit of puff to get me up a couple of quite steep hills. But somehow, in our own way, we all managed to keep swinging one leg in front of the other. Reaching the finish felt incredible and the sense of having achieved something together was just brilliant.
This was what I was hoping for Newcastle Can from the very beginning - a community coming together to support each other in doing something we know is really hard - changing our habits, to change our lives.
If you are someone who is contemplating that kind of change right now, then I have two words for you: join us! Sign up for Newcastle Can. And if you’re already signed up, then think about doing this year’s Great North 5k. Ross and I have a special “couch to 5k” training programme for you, endorsed by the GNR team too. Check it out here. And remember, there’s loads of other exercise ideas here too.
One thing I was absolutely certain of is that once I had finished the Great North 5k, I would hang up my running shoes and go back to gardening and a bit of walking as my main forms of exercise. I didn’t even think about running for a couple of weeks. Then one weekend I got an itch. I wanted to see if I was rapidly losing fitness, or could still run a 5k without slowing to a walk. So I put the trainers back on. It was a bit of a struggle, but I did it!
Now I run - about 5 or 6 k - almost every weekend. And I try and run out for about half that distance once in the middle of the week too. I really can’t stress enough how utterly unthinkable that was to me a year ago. So if doing something like that seems unthinkable to you, right now, then believe me: you can do it! Please get involved - and please share your story with us. You can now sign up wherever you are in the UK (though only those with a Newcastle Post Code will register on our “lbs lost” counter). We are all rooting for you - and what you do next will inspire others. That’s how Newcastle Can can spread change around this fantastic city, and inspiration right across the nation.
Download the training plan from Hugh and Ross here.
If you’re feeling inspired to take up running why not sign up to the Simplyhealth Great North 5k as a goal to aim towards? It takes place on Saturday 8 September and kicks off the iconic Simplyhealth Great North Run weekend. Enter at: Greatrun.org/North5k