The JogBlog Guide To Training For Your First 5k

A friend on Twitter recently challenged himself to train for his first 5k in just 14 days. On top of this, he further challenged himself to run it in under 30 minutes. And guess what? He did it! Hardcore.

However, us mere mortals tend to take more than 14 days to train for our first 5k, so here’s my guide for new runners.

Get a training plan

In the olden days, before smartphones (yes kids there was such a time), we couldn’t download apps like the Kiqplan coaching app and had to make do with plans in books or printed off from the internet. I can’t remember where I got my first training plan from but it was one of those Couch to 5k plans that starts off with run/walk and progresses to 5k at the end of the plan. These plans usually last for 8 weeks or so but it took me twice as long to get through mine, so if you have to redo a week, don’t worry about it. Everyone progresses at different speeds.

If you want a laugh, go to the beginning of my blog and you can read all about my early running days back in January 2006, including endearing little snippets such as:

It was the first of the 3 minutes running / 1 minute walking (repeated 6 times) schedule today and doing 3 minutes non-stop was surprisingly easy, seeing as when I first attempted to run a few weeks ago, a minute nearly killed me.

As you can see, we all started somewhere.

Get comfortable kit

There’s no need to go out and buy the most expensive kit, especially if you’ve just started running as who knows if you’re going to continue with it? I would advise not doing what I did when I started running though and buy something more comfortable than thick, heavy tracksuit bottoms, a normal cotton t-shirt, two normal bras worn at the same time, a thick, heavy, hooded fleece, and a stiff pair of trainers that cost £10 from Shoezone. You can get perfectly decent kit at bargain prices from Sports Direct although you should probably go to a specialist running shop and get them to advise you on the right running shoes for you. Be warned though – proper running shoes aren’t cheap, although Decathlon‘s own make, Kalenji, are reasonably priced and I was very happy with the ones I had a couple of years ago.

Get gadgets

Running is more fun when you know you’re going to get home and see pretty charts and graphs and stats and stuff. There are millions of fitness apps to download and try and you can even run away from Zombies if Zombies are your thing, or you can just be old school and get a good old Garmin like my Garmin Forerunner 405 (other GPS watches are available, such as the Tom Tom Runner also pictured below).

Garmin and Tom Tom Runner

Or you can be even more old school like I was in the early days and just use a stopwatch and pedometer. Or you can be really really really old school and not use anything. That would be weird though.

The other gadget I don’t run without is my iPod. Lots of people don’t listen to music when they run but maybe they sound more elegant than I do when I’m running.

Get a race booked

You could do a parkrun, but it might be more rewarding to do a ‘proper’ race and get a medal at the end for all your hard work.

5k medal

Will run for bling

You will be nervous and you will be scared but, trust me, you’re going to fucking love it and you’ll cross that finish line with a massive grin. My first race was the Crisis Square Mile Run and I still smile when I remember how I felt when I’d finished.

Get clued up on nutrition

I’m joking. It’s 5k; eat what you want.

So, that’s my tips for new runners. Enjoy your first 5k!

Why I Run With Music

Sony Walkman

I can’t remember if my very first run was done to music. If it was, then considering I only ran about three feet before stopping to have a massive coughing fit, I wouldn’t have got very far through a track (although, possibly approximately twelve Lawnmower Deth tracks). I know I ran with music when I started blogging about my running though, as at the end of each post, I listed the tracks I listened to.

The only time I run without music now is if I’m running in a group and the only time I run in a group is for a speed session as that’s over quite quickly – I’m really not a social runner; I want to be on my own and zone out and listen to music, not chat or be able to hear the sound of my feet thumping the ground or my inelegant heavy breathing.

However, one day in 2008, after reading a debate on the Runner’s World forum, I decided to have an experiment and run without music, and you can read about it here (sorry for the broken links to pics). I concluded my experiment by concluding I don’t like running without music.

I’m also one of those runners people get wound up about by running races listening to music. Seriously, people actually get annoyed by this and apart from them being a touch uptight, I have no idea why this would be something to get annoyed about (unless they can hear music leaking from other runner’s earphones, which would wind me up something chronic). I know some people say you can’t hear the marshal’s instructions if you’ve got music on but I’m not blind and the marshal’s instructions are usually more in the form of pointing, not talking and if they’re your usual happy smiley clappy marshal, they’ll get a happy smiley ‘thank you’ back, as listening to music doesn’t actually affect my ability to speak.

As a back-of-the-packer, I really couldn’t bear to be stuck at the back listening to a load of women chatting to each other and I need my music on to drown them out so, these days, I check race websites carefully to see whether MP3 players are allowed or not. Luckily, MP3 players are welcome at the Dymchurch Marathon I’ve *gulp* signed up to do at the end of November (it doesn’t matter how many times I say I’ve signed up to do a marathon, it hasn’t sunk in yet and according to my calendar, I need to start training for it soon).

When it comes to what music I’ll play when I’m running, I’ve got to say, it’s usually Audiofuel. Audiofuel keeps me running at a somewhat consistent pace, whereas if I’m listening to my own music, I’ll probably end up stopping to skip tracks or I’ll decide I really need to hear a certain song RIGHT NOW and stop until I find it and some of my music just isn’t great to run to in the first place (have you ever tried running to Cardiacs?)

In the gym, however, unless I’m in the mood to hear something specific, I’ll just keep my iPod on shuffle and listen to whatever it throws up. One thing I discovered when I joined Fitness First in London years ago though is that you need some noise-cancelling earphones so you only have to hear your music, not theirs too, otherwise you’ll end up with some weird dance/indie combo. Well, in my case, anyway. You may well end up with a dance/dance combo and not notice any difference.

So, yes, I’m definitely in the pro-running-with-music camp. How about you?


Playing it safe at 6am

It’s 6:15am. I shouldn’t be awake at 6am, I’m a student, dammit. I shouldn’t be up until at least lunchtime Neighbours (If there is still such a thing as a lunchtime Neighbours. There was in the olden days when I was on the dole in Liverpool. I need to stop saying ‘in the olden days’ though as I said it twice yesterday at my first day back at university and I’m 42, not 92).

The reason I’m up at this unstudently hour is because I want to go for a run before going to university (I’m getting fed up of spelling university in full but Shaun tells me off if I call it uni although even my mum calls it uni and she’s hardly down with da kidz) for the first playwriting seminar of the year. I also want to go for a run early so I can try out my new Run Safe running light.

The Run Safe running light is a little light that attaches to your running shoe laces. It just clips on, so there’s no faffing about threading laces through holes.


The light comes on automatically when it senses motion, so you don’t have to worry about turning it on or off.


(Sorry about the blur but it turns itself off quickly and so it wasn’t easy to get a photo of my foot not moving.)

It’s a sensitive little soul though and will come on at the slightest movement, i.e. if it’s on a table and you walk past it. The box says it will flash for 520 miles but it’s going to be flashing in transit so I wouldn’t order it from America if I were you.

I was a bit worried about looking a bit of a dick with a red light flashing on my foot and I expressed my dick concerns to Twitter who reassured me that it’s ok to look like a dick if it’s in the interest of health and safety. 

By the time I left the house, the sun had come up but I took my red flashing light for a run anyway. There’s not much to say about the Run Safe light really – you can see what the benefits are. It’s light (10g), easy to fit to your shoe, and turns itself on and off automatically. The only downside is that I could hear it clacking against my shoe when a quiet bit of music came on, so if you don’t listen to music when you run, that might be annoying (or I might not have fixed it firmly enough to my lace. Also, I have super-sensitive hearing).

A three mile run was on the schedule for today and I’d plotted out a roads-with-pavements-only route and dodged children walking to school (they start early, don’t they? I was pleased to see them walking though and not being driven. Loads of kids round here get driven to school. In my day I had to walk all the way from Essex to London to go to school (yeah, ok, so it was only about a quarter a of mile but that’s not the point)) and dog walkers.

I got back to the house at 2.87 miles and decided to carry on and do the final .13 miles and anyway, Liiines by Ghostpoet had just come on my iPod and I wanted to listen to that.

When I got back I was a teensy bit pleased to see that – although I had walked a bit – I’d done my three miles in 11.01 minute miles which is my old slow-average. Now I need to get back to my old not-so-slow-average which doesn’t mean that’s a fast-average but just a not-so-slow-as-really-slow-average.

Um, a two mile walk is the same as a six mile run, right?

I have too much sleep and get up knackered and I think why am I knackered, I haven’t had a drink for a week and have been getting early nights and everything and I should be as fit as a fiddle but I decide I have to do my six miler anyway and I even have some cereal for a change in the hope that it will give me energy and I set Cedric to pace me at 10:30 minute miles even if anything over 10 m/m is really crap and means you’re not a proper runner because apparently you’re only a proper runner if you do 9 m/m but who wants to do things properly anyway? and I do my usual wasting time on Facebook thing and laugh at the old school pictures the former Miss Lamb has put up and I put a potato in the oven to await my return from my long run and I get out the door and see the recycling bins and remember that someone stole the clothes I put out for recycling and I wonder if they were cold or just had an impeccable sense of style and I also wonder why they took the orange jumper but not the black Diesel combats that had only been worn once and I get towards the bridge and there’s a car coming towards me and I look behind me and there’s a man running up to me and I slow down to let him overtake but he tucks in behind me while the car goes past and then he overtakes me and I should have said thanks or something but I don’t as I’m too knackered and I go through the bridge and think what if I didn’t turn the gas on the oven properly or what if the flame goes out and there’s gas pouring into my house? and then I remember I’ve got an electric oven and I go over the next bridge and there’s plastic covering all over it and it’s quite nice and cosy although it’s a shame I can’t see the river while I’m going over it and I remember I nearly skidded across the next bridge and so I walk over it this time instead of skating over it and I’m feeling really knackered now and I think I’m going to have to stop and walk and so I do stop to walk and then I see the cows and two of the cows are kissing and then they stop kissing and one of them starts licking the other one’s neck and the one having its neck licked is looking at me like what are you looking at? and I’m thinking well, I’m looking at you having your neck licked by the other cow, it’s not something I see every day and I’m still walking and I’ve got two miles to walk and then I think ah, I’ll call it cross-training, cross-training is good and I cross the boardwalk and up the steep bit and onto the path and there’s two girls running and I think not fair, I want to be running but it’s not happening today and then they start walking and I think maybe I should run now and overtake them but then I think no, because I’ll probably have to stop and walk after two yards and they’ll laugh and point at me and so I walk a bit faster and overtake them that way and then one of them runs and overtakes me and I wonder why she’s left the other one behind and I get to the stables and wonder if I can manage a bit of a jog and I think I’ll wait ’til I’m round the corner where no one can see me if I have to stop again and I get round the corner and run really slowly up to the bridge and I get over the bridge and across the road and my iPod’s playing crap songs, well it might be crap but I’ve never heard most of it before and I think I’ll skip through the songs and see if there’s one that will give me a bit of a boost and Death House Chaplain’s Wherewithal comes on and I think hooray, I like that one and although it’s not exactly a good running song I decide to run until it finishes and then Graham Coxon is singing All Over Me and Graham Coxon is cool and although I hate to skip through Graham Coxon, this song is even less of a good running song and so, sorry Graham, I skip through it and Marc Almond starts singing Sex Dwarf and I think ah, that’s more like it.

Stats (running bit):
Distance: 1.76 miles
Time: 18:39
Pace: 10:34 m/m
Calories: 168
Thieves with impeccable dress sense: 1
Plastic bridges: 1
Cows kissing: 2
Cows having their necks licked: 1
Stats (walking bit)
Distance: 1.70 miles
Time: 23:33
Pace: 13:49
Calories: 147
Long runs successfully completed: 0
Proper runners: 0