I get a lot of questions about my experience with the popular running plan “Couch to 5K” also known as “C25K” so I thought I’d put it all down here.
If you’ve never heard of C25K before, it is a 8 week running program that gradually increases your time and/or distance over the course of the 1/2 hour work out 3 days per week until you can run for 30 mins. HOLD UP. Run for 30 minutes? I know. Calm the bleep down. If I can do it, so can you.
So we can get a baseline, I never played a college sport or even anything in high school. I didn’t grace a pee-wee anything with my presence. I took gymnastics at 10 and was horrible — screenplay worthy horrible. I don’t have some sort of natural muscle tone, secret rock climbing wind surfing six pack abs cross country cycling hobby. We’re talking total beginner. Total just had 2 kids in 3 years beginner.
When I started, I had joined a gym that month but didn’t know where to start. I wanted to get fit. I wanted to lose weight. And I felt totally ill equipped. I did the elliptical but felt bored. Then I saw that the gym offered a C25K class but it was at night which doesn’t work for me (little one needing me to hold her to get sleep — more on LittleDaughter another time). I mentioned this to a trainer at the gym and she suggested I download the app. Hooray! The app! It is a no-brainer app. Press start. Do what it tells you. Rinse, repeat for 3 days a week for 8 weeks.
I ran inside on a track for the first few months because I felt wonky on a treadmill. And embarrassed. It was difficult for me to overcome the fear of people seeing me run but I would think to myself that people were thinking (if they thought about me at all), “Good for her for getting out there.” I would imagine that the trainers were impressed with my determination not judging all the parts of me that were jiggling while I ran. I tried to keep my head up with pride and imagine I had been 400 pounds when my journey began. For all other people know, I was. This could be the last leg of my body transformation. Who knows. Who cares really, except that I did.
The C25K is not easy but it is doable. It doesn’t ask you to do something that other people — tons of other people — have done before. And those people have done it with great success. I had to remind myself not to think about speed and when I did, I realized that most fit people walk faster than I run. You’ll want to set your sights for an upcoming 5K — I gave myself 5 months which was enough time to repeat weeks if necessary. Lucky I did that because in the middle of it, I sprained my ankle in a class aptly named “Cardio Chaos” and had to take 2 weeks off from running. During that time, I was devastated that I couldn’t run. ——- Let’s pause here. I was DEVASTATED that I COULDN’T RUN. —— This was the life- changer for me. I am thankful I sprained my ankle because I saw people out there running on beautiful spring days and I wished it was me. I also found out from my orthopedic that I have junked up knees (that’s the actual medical term — no, I’m kidding) so I may never train for more than 10K and should run only on a treadmill (no trails, no track, no pounding the pavement). I managed to jump back into the program and complete my first 5K only a few weeks later!
Will it help you lose weight? Yes and no. I did not lose a ton of weight doing it (lost 7 pounds which isnt nothing!) while I was calorie counting but have come to the sad realization that what I eat (not even the amount of calories but WHAT I eat) is directly related to weight loss or gain.
Did I use equipment? Yes: 1) Nike+ sensor for my sneakers that tracks speed and distance, syncs up with my iPhone, and runs at the same time as the C25K app — this is less necessary when running on a treadmill but was helpful on race day; and 2) Polar FT4 heartrate monitor which was helpful for tracking calories and allowing me to assure myself that NO my heart is not going to explode — because I’m paranoid like that (more on the Polar FT4 soon, I promise).
It can be done. You can do it too. Seriously, just get out there and do it. And then tell me about it.