I mentioned the Couch to 5k training program in my last post and I thought I would devote an entire post to the idea.
I’m actually a very big fan of the program and I certainly recommend it to others (including my best friend, she lives half way across the country – otherwise I would run with her on her new [future] quest to be a runner this summer).
I mentioned in my last post that I didn’t actually finish the Couch to 5k program… well I sort of did because I completed two 5k races last year. Quick recap: started the program, ran 5 weeks (out of 9), got busy with life and stopped. Started again and ran another 4 weeks (weeks 4 -7), got busy with life and stopped. THEN it got nice out! The reason I stopped the Couch to 5k program was because I stopped running on a treadmill and started running outside, but I used the same training and philosophy of the program. I built up slowly and kicked some 5k butt!
And in the process, I learned to love running.
That’s the main reason that I recommend it to other people and think it’s a great idea! There are two other reasons that explain why I think it’s a good program, so let me expand. To do that, I’m going to quote from a book I love so much I actually handed it out as gifts this holiday season (and I would recommend it to anyone!): The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik.
1) It’s ok to start slowly:
“The reason many people (non-runners) say [running] is painful is because they go out for their first run and virtually sprint for as long as they can – which isn’t very long – with their chest heaving, their tongues lolling, their muscles straining until finally they can go no further. They stop and pant, hands on their hips, wobbly kneed. ‘I – gasp – hate – gasp – running.’ they say. So would I if I ran like that every day. (page 4)”
Running isn’t about going as fast as you can for as long as you can! Running can be enjoyable. I like that the Couch to 5k creates small goals and gives new runners the permission to walk. (Because they may not otherwise give themselves that permission but should!)
2) The treadmill BLOWS! (I’m in New England where it’s cold and dark… the treadmill is important)
“The first 10 minutes go by pretty quickly, but each minute after that can feel like an hour if you don’t figure out some distraction…. It’s a matter of perception, according to exercise physiologist and runner Ken Sparks, who does all his speed training on the treadmill. Nothing is moving around you; your brain notices that you’re working really hard to go nowhere. (page 252)”
Ms. Kowalchik recommends mixing up your workouts: vary your speed or incline based on music or when commercials are on if you’re watching TV. Or just vary speed and incline to make your workout feel like a game. Plus then you’re only focusing on short increments of time. I’ll talk about this more in another post…
However, the C25k program follows that in the early weeks by mixing up how long you walk vs run.
So if you’re new to running, good luck! Have faith in yourself! Don’t be afraid to take it “easy” – you don’t have to sprint the whole time! And make it fun if you can!