Stephanie Conway goes from the couch to 10k in 10 weeks - Credit: Submitted

From the couch to 10k in 10 weeks - Stephanie Conway

Stephanie Conway

For my new year’s resolution this past December, I resolved to try running. I’ve been able to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes at the gym, but I really struggled to translate that into real life. I was living in Barnstaple at the time, and I kept trying to head to Rock Park to try to run for 20 minutes without stopping, but I really struggled.

My body felt discombobulated, and I felt sharp shooting pains in various parts of my body, and I hated every second. I quickly decided that running wasn’t for me, and wrote a story for Stylist magazine on how crap I was at it.

I quickly wrote running off as something you should only do if being chased by a lion, and moved on with my life. But fate had other plans. Asics spotted the article and reached out to offer to train me to enter the Austrian Women’s Run in Vienna, where I could choose to either enter the 5k race or 10k race. Tempted by the offer of a free trip to a country I had never visited before, I said yes to the opportunity.

Stephanie Conway goes from the couch to 10k in 10 weeks - Credit: Submitted
Stephanie Conway goes from the couch to 10k in 10 weeks - Credit: Submitted

I was given 10 weeks of training, which began with a trip to the London Asics store on Oxford Street to complete a gait test. My run was analysed by a computer to figure out how my foot strikes the floor when I run. It turned out that I have a neutral gait, meaning that my feet don’t turn inwards or outwards as I run. I was recommended the correct pair of trainers to use, and then met with a trainer, who took me on a run in Hyde Park.

The first run was absolutely excruciating. I couldn’t breathe properly and I wanted to cry because I felt pain all over my body everything felt so unnatural. But my trainer was incredibly encouraging, and said that she would send me a weekly running plan so that I could build up my confidence as a runner before the event. So on a weekly basis, I would try to run three times a week after work. I had ambitiously stated that I would run in the 10k race, which was way out of my comfort zone, but I was determined to achieve my goal.

Stephanie Conway goes from the couch to 10k in 10 weeks - Credit: Submitted
Stephanie Conway goes from the couch to 10k in 10 weeks - Credit: Submitted

Then this past weekend, I travelled to Vienna to enter the 10k race. 18,000 women from 65 countries were present on the same road as me and the energy in the air felt electric. There was a huge crowd of people cheering us on as we ran together towards the finish line. The first 5k felt amazing, and I felt like I had found a good stride. But as I closed-in on 4.5 miles, I looked down and realised that my right shoe was frothing with bubbles of blood from my foot. My right foot didn’t hurt any more than my left, so I decided to keep going. By mile 5, I knew I was nearly there and I faced a mental block: I was so close, which made me want to stop. But I couldn’t let myself down, so I dug deep and continues on to the finish line. I completed the race in 1 hour, 1 minute and 20 seconds – a new personal best.

In accepting this challenge, I learned a lot about myself, including that my body is far more capable than my mind gives it credit for. Running a 10k race was completely out of my comfort zone, but it completely changed my perspective. When you take on new challenges, you learn what you’re really made of. I hope to keep running, and hope to set myself a new goal of running a half marathon. I might not be Mo Farah, but pushing myself beyond the limits of what I thought I was capable of has inspired me to keep going.

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