The Couch to 5K Challenge

For some strange reason, I have never been able to run. I can do intensive cardio, I can hike, I can go for an hour on the elliptical, but running? Give me about 90 seconds, and I’m out of breath, holding on to my side and generally feeling incredibly defeated and utterly miserable. I’ve made multiple attempts to start running, and yet they always ended up with me deciding that “I just wasn’t made for it”.

And then… I discovered that I was not the only person on the planet with these issues, and that there was a whole system of interval workouts meant for people like me that promise to take you from zero to 5K in just 9 weeks! So I had to give it another try, and this time I’m also conditioning my dog for a “Pooch to 5K” program.

Here he is, after our first run yesterday morning:

Looking pretty happy to be getting some exercise, isn’t he?

There are a number of programs that offer their take on the Couch to 5K training, here are some of them:

This is completely personal preference, but I wanted a program that a. started out really slow (some of them have you running for 2 minutes from the get-go, which would end disastrously for someone as unprepared as I am!), b. had music (some of the apps let you use your own music, but I love being able to pace myself according to the bpm of the track), c. didn’t talk to you as you were running (a chime to let you know that it’s time to change pace is more than enough for me) and d. was free. I compared a few of the options and in the end decided to go with the free Podrunner: Intervals podcasts that you can find here and here under “First Day to 5K”.

Yesterday was my first try – Week 1 Day 1. It was a couple of minutes of warm up (brisk walk), and then 8 sets of running for 60 seconds, walking for 90, followed by a cool down. There’s a sound cue that lets you know when to change from running to walking and vice versa. One minute of running, how hard can that be, right? Well, by the end of the sixth set I was pretty much praying to never hear the change-of-pace chime again! It was definitely much more challenging than I would ever have thought, but it really did feel great afterwards to see that I was able to do it. And while Anvi didn’t enjoy not being allowed to sniff things during the intervals, I think he definitely enjoyed the exercise.

Had to insert ridiculous “guns” picture here

I also came to understand the main mistake I was making previously – I tried to run too fast too soon. The Podrunner intervals have you start out with a very slight jog as opposed to an Usain Bolt-style sprint, and without the selected music setting pace for me I never would have found that out. I was also a little concerned about looking like a crazy person with all the pace changes, but since you go from fast walk to slow jog, it really didn’t feel like anything strange and extraordinary.

In any case, I’m going to try to follow the program, and I’ll definitely post updates. Hopefully, a couple of weeks down the road I’ll be able to see enough progress to keep me going!

Have any of you tried C25K or something similar? And if you have been wanting to get in shape for summer – now’s a great time to start! It would be awesome to have virtual “run buddies” and know that I’m not the only one out there struggling. 🙂


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