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  • Writer's picturethe_uphill_runner

This Mum Ran

After graduating from the Run30 programme created by This Mum Runs, I thought I’d share my thoughts about my first experience following a basic training plan and how it has helped me begin my journey back into running after taking time off to have a baby.

One of the main reasons I chose this programme over the very similar Couch to 5k was the fact that it focuses more on the minutes you run than the distance you cover. I felt like it really took the pressure off trying to up the pace too quickly just so that I could still fit running in around Max’s (albeit pretty loose) schedule. I knew that I could carve out thirty minutes every few days for that little bit of running. As I was trialing running with the buggy too I also thought any longer might be pushing it, not only for me but for Max getting used to the experience as well. I think it’s a fantastic idea that the programme is designed for mums to set aside a small and manageable chunk of time each week to focus on doing something for themselves.

However, not all the runs are actually exactly half an hour. Initially, everything is included in the thirty minute window, that is a warm up walk, run/walk intervals and a cool down recovery, but as you start to build up to running longer, the warm up and cool down start to push the time needed to complete a session up to ten minutes extra. It’s not too much of a big deal, but it does jump around a bit, so it’s worth having a quick check for the timings for each individual session before you head out the door, just in case you do have to be back for a particular time! That being said, I did appreciate the warm up and cool down being a fixed part of each session, as I know I could otherwise easily be guilty of just running straight out the door! Returning to running after a long break I wanted to try my best to avoid getting injured.

Another feature of the programme is the audio prompts given by founder Mel Bound. She tells you when to run, when to walk and when to ease off for a final recovery walk. She also provides reassuring and encouraging little reminders that you are doing well, that pace isn’t important, and that you should be proud to have taken some time for yourself amongst all the juggling mum life brings. It was a shame that in my experience, about half of the time the audio prompts didn’t work at all, so I was left trying to work out when to run and when to walk and missing that vital encouragement - particularly on the early sessions. I know that the people behind the app are well aware of this problem, along with a couple of other issues people experience linked to the audio, such as problems with trying to play podcasts or music at the same time, and it was suggested that I could resolve it by deleting and re-downloading the app, but I really didn’t want to risk losing my data that I’d worked hard to build up. The slight saving grace was that if you leave the screen on and have your phone somewhere visible during your run (not always the easiest thing to do!) then the background colour changes from purple to blue for every run interval, so there is a back-up visual prompt if all else fails. I managed to use this a few times by strategically placing my phone in the drinks holder on the buggy.

If I’m being a bit picky, I would also say that it would have been nice to have a bit more variety in the audio prompts as they did become very repetitive. However, they still always seemed to come just at the moment when your mind starts to think about slowing down or switching to walking early and did work to keep me motivated to finish each run interval. It would also be a really nice extra motivational boost to have something more tailored to the length of the run you are doing, for example celebrating your first ten, twenty or thirty minute run.

Another thing I found to be a slight anticlimax was that although the programme has twenty-four sessions, you actually do your first full thirty minute run on session twenty-two. When you achieve the benchmark goal you set out to achieve you still have two sessions left to officially complete the training plan! However, I totally understand the logic behind it - this means that in theory your final week of training is the week you ‘Run30’ every time, and you prove to yourself that you can not only do it once, you can do it consistently. In fact, one of the key aspects that drew me to the programme is the way the very clear and simple guide builds up gradually and is designed for people to run three weekly sessions over the course of eight weeks. Even when you think the next session is going to be too much of a jump, reminding yourself of Mel's philosophy, that it’s about minutes spent running and not how fast or how far you go, makes it achievable.

A final, and probably the best, feature of the app is the community that comes along with it. I joined the This Mum Runs Run30 Community group on Facebook and found it brilliant to see photos and share experiences with other mums all at different stages of the training plan. It’s an example of how amazing the online community can be at keeping us motivated and sharing in our successes and our worries. It’s not just new mums either, it’s a whole variety of different women, including some grannies too! I’ve seen a few people mention about repeating sessions or weeks to build up their confidence, or if they’ve had to take unexpected time off due to all the commitments being a mum brings and everyone is always so supportive. There are also lots of regional This Mum Runs Communities being set up all the time around the UK - it would be amazing to go on a real life run with some of the women I’ve connected with online one day!

So, although the app definitely isn’t perfect right now, it’s being improved upon all the time and the creators are working really hard to respond to and use feedback productively. And considering it's completely free it's definitely worth having a go. There is also a Run60 programme which I’m looking forward to investigating, although it's more of an investment of both time and money. I can see it being a really great way to help people progress from running just one minute intervals at the beginning of their Run30 journey, to building up their fitness and being able to run for an hour - a fab milestone to aim for.

To read more about my postpartum running journey, please click here. Don’t forget to subscribe to be the first to know about any news and updates, just enter your email address at the bottom of the page. Thanks!

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Mar 10, 2021

A fab review! Absolutely nailed it on the head with the positives and (temporary hopefully) negatives. I wasn't aware.of the Run60. Thanks for the heads up. Good luck with your running and your lovely blog too!

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