The Grumpy Naturalist

Couch to 5K : 70 second read by Farriz Mashudi 05/07/2020

Said cow parsely.

My daughter went running today. She nearly tripped, she said, when she saw a dead animal. Silver tailed, curled up in foetal position, she didn’t think lying on the ground would be a life choice for a squirrel.

Leaping over the fresh carcass, the wild flowers in the field we walked across last week were different today. No more buttercups, now cow parsley and yellow rattle. They could change again by tomorrow, I said, hoping to follow.

“No Mum, it’s rest day, I’ll run the next.”  

Rest days, it appears are real, and to be taken seriously. Such is the sage advice of Michael Johnson on the ‘Couch to 5K’ running app. Known also as ‘C25K’, its podcasts aren’t on the BBC or Sky, but on the NHS website. She thinks it’s because many Brits are obese.

The buttercup field.

Googling, it turns out a 50-year old couch potato was what inspired the app’s creation in the US. Not fat-fat, the man’s mother (like me) was perhaps just being lazy? Besides, I don’t have the fancy headphones my daughter has.

Listening to all their voices, she’d gone for the coach with the most soothing tone.

Was it because he’s black, I asked?

Olympic great Michael Johnson wants you to think F.A.S.T.

“No Mum, look at the photo.”

With heavy-duty gym equipment in the background, he does appear the most professional. Never mind the American accent, which she admitted, was pretty cool and she found motivating, especially on uphill stretches. She only wished he was a celebrity.

What was it with this Instagram generation?

            He may not be Mo Farah of the long distances, but Michael Johnson’s 4 Olympic gold medals and string of 8 World Championship titles in the sprints certainly wasn’t shabby.

“It’s well-designed,” she adds on second thought, “I can even hear my music playing in the background.”

But what of birdsong? Was it too much to expect everything from an app?

C25K has only managed to persuade millions to get running. But whether we’re sat on our bums or looking alive, ‘couchers’ of all ages it seems, are hard nuts to please.

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