Couch to 5k

25 02 2011

A new weekly series by guest poster Dr G, as she prepares for her first ever 10k fun run.

Couch to 5K is a 9 week beginner’s running plan, designed for people who are just taking up running.

Couch to 5k – Week 1. “Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Five-minute cooldown walk.

If ever I was to start running (well, jogging, actually. Quite slowly.), I was going to need a non-threatening programme. Anything with ‘couch’ in the title was going to be a hit. I’ve nailed that particular skill already.

I bought the app for my iPhone, and downloaded lots of motivational music to keep me going when the spirit was willing and the flesh weak. I bought those headphones that clip over your ear – how do people keep the other ones in? – and an armband to hold my phone. Spending money on exercise-type things burns calories, and I have the barely-used gym membership to prove it.

The first time I tried week 1 day one, I managed the first two runs, skipped one, did the next two, and walked the rest of the way. The next day I couldn’t stand without assistance, and the quad and abdo muscle pain were incredible. A few days later I attempted it again – with similar results. I gave up for a while.

This time, I’ve built up slowly to week one. I lost 10kg before I started, out of respect for my knees and ankles – mainly through diet, and a few resentful trips to the gym to accelerate my metabolism a bit. Oh, and I’ve watched a fair bit of ‘The Biggest Loser’, too. From the couch. Exploitative and trashy though it is, it’s proof that people like me are physically capable of exercise. Also, I love it.

Having witnessed my gradual weight loss and generally improved attitude to life (I walk to the fifth floor now, instead of taking the lift), he’s challenged me to run the 9.5km ‘Lake to Lagoon’ in Wagga in September (ed – actually Dr G wanted to do the run in 2012, but I talked her into this years event). If I commit to jogging the whole way – however slowly – he’ll keep me company, regardless of the speed. This is a pretty big sacrifice on his part. Our time is likely to be almost double what he’s capable of. The agreement is, that if I drop to a walk at any point, I won’t see him for dust.

So, with my competitive spirit firmly intact, last Sunday was C25k week 1, day 1. I changed the course from my usual route, and chose something a little bit flatter. I aimed a little bit lower in terms of jogging speed. I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to complete all the runs, but I was prepared to give it a shot. Also, I decided to start at sunset – the fewer people who could see and identify this overweight, unfit jogger, the better.

The amazing thing about weighing 10kg less than last time? I did it!! I got to the halfway reminder and I was still jogging!! That, and the relative ease with which I was recovering from the runs, convinced me I could complete the whole day. And I did, finishing with a one minute run up an incline! The last run was the hardest. And I was willing to give up, focussing on a street light in the distance. Then, an angel (well, a gorgeous shirtless man putting his bins out) told me I was doing well, and my feet took flight. Not only was I stoked to have completed it on the first try, about five minutes after finishing, I got the endorphin high.

The pain this time round wasn’t too bad. My abs hurt every time I sneezed, but otherwise it was pretty unremarkable. So day 2 was relatively easy to start, and I noticed that it was easier already than day 1. I finished day 2 feeling fantastic.

The program insists on a day off between programme days. Reluctantly, I had Wednesday off despite being super-motivated. Today, I would’ve preferred an early night, but my competitive spirit (and mild fear of Chris’ reaction) spurred me on. Again, I completed the whole programme. I also added the GPS portion of the app, which tells me I travelled about 3.3km in the half hour. That’s 6.6km/hr on average… Not great, but there’s plenty of time til September. Unfortunately, those stats are all calculated in miles and have to be converted – hopefully they’ll update the app soon for all the highly evolved metric users among us!

Chris asked me to write a weekly update of my couch to 5k progress – hopefully by September I’ll be extolling the virtues of running 9.5km in under an hour! Until next week…

ed. Congratulations Dr G.

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