My Couch to 5K Journey

People congratulate me and say something encouraging when they hear that I’m doing week 6 of the NHS Couch to 5K (C25K).  What they don’t realise is that this is the fourth time I’ve completed C25K. I have also transitioned from 5K to 10K.

What is Couch to 5K?

Couch to 5K is an NHS sponsored simple running programme to get into fitness. There are targets and advice of how to achieve them. At various points in my life I have returned to this programme to get back my fitness, as I find it easily accessible and fun to do. Yes it’s a bit challenging, but it’s not overwhelming and really achievable. This is my journey.

So why did I have to keep starting again?

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease aged 28. The condition can remain dormant for months or even years, but every so often I have ‘flare ups’ and get ill. Some people can run through their flare ups but unfortunately I’m not one of them. I’d have to stop running regularly and wait until the condition stabilised before building up to running 5K again.

There are times when I’ve been very fit and at one point I was a ‘regular’ at weekly aerobics classes. Unfortunately my UC flared up and I had to stop. The aerobics teacher asked me to sit in on classes whilst I was flaring because I was missed, but eventually I stopped going.

The Wii Fit stage!

After a protracted flare I felt really out of shape and unfit. I started the Nintendo Wii Fit Jogging Challenge, running in place at your own pace around a virtual island. The virtual game was fun, you could even run with cute animals! After a couple of months I felt ready to run outside and completed my first NHS C25K in November 2012 with my husband Graham. It was great building up my fitness and stamina and feeling my muscle tone improve over the weeks. I felt an amazing sense of achievement.

My Second C25K

I started my second C25K in October 2015 inspired by Ben Smith, the 401 Challenge runner. Ben began running 401 marathons in 401 days on 1st September 2015. This was to raise awareness of the issues children in the UK face when it comes to bullying.  As well as encouraging anyone to join him on his runs, he also stopped at schools and talked to children to spread the anti-bullying campaign. I used the Zombies, Run! app to give me a bit of variety for my training. It’s a running adventure game where you are a runner in a post-apocalyptic world, completing missions and uncovering mysteries whilst being chased by zombies!

In early 2016 my husband and I had some great runs whilst on holiday in Fuerteventura. The island has wide promenades, ideal for runners with amazing views. We’d go out early in the morning returning to have a yummy all-inclusive breakfast. We completed 5K to 10K transition training, because that was the minimum distance you could run with Ben during his final marathon. We ran 10K with Ben on 5th October 2016 and followed it up by running the Bristol 10K on 7th May 2017.

My Third C25K

In June 2018 I completed another C25K, followed by 5K to 10K transition training in July 2018. I had to stop part way through because of a flare. In 2019 I had surgery to create a stoma, where a bit of your intestine is poked outside of your body through an opening in your abdomen and your ‘output’ goes into a bag which is attached to your stomach.

It’s July 2020 and I’ve completed week 6, day 1 of my fourth C25K!  Having a stoma doesn’t limit you, it’s given me a whole new lease of life!

Find out more !

The 401 Challenge

IBD Runners & Riders


Zombies, Run

Guest Author

This Blog has been written by Ruth Bruce

Ruth is a Virtual Assistant, kind of like a freelance PA. She is a data nerd with a background in project administration. Ruth has a passion in numbers that helps small business owners fulfil their passion. She also has a genuine interest in giving them more time to focus on the bigger picture, on their priorities and on the things that need their personality stamp. If you’re constantly overwhelmed with the volume of business tasks, contact Ruth at:   

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About The Author

Sharon Critchlow

Sharon Critchlow is a Wellbeing Advocate, speaker and facilitator at Discover Your Bounce for Business. Passionate about people being the best they can be she is a Time To Change Champion for mental health and holds a Masters level qualification in strategic coaching for performance. Sharon is a qualified accountant and has 20 years experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector.