Last week, John and I officially started the Couch to 5k running plan! I’ve read about many success stories coming from this program, so we decided to give it our best shot. If you’re unaware of what Couch to 5K is, it’s a gradual running plan that aims to get people from being non-runners to being able to complete a 5K in nine weeks. Will it work for us? I don’t know, but I really hope so! I thought I would blog about our experience as a way to hopefully motivate myself and others. Before I explain how it’s going so far, I thought I’d share a little about John and I’s fitness background.
John and I both love being physically active and it’s something that’s very important to us. Until starting Couch to 5K, we got the majority of our exercise from taking walks and/or hikes multiple times a week. In addition to our walking and hiking that we do together, we also love going skiing as often as we can in the winter. We belong to a gym, but haven’t gone very often lately because we’d rather exercise outside while the weather is so nice (gotta love Colorado summers!). When I go to the gym, my favorite things to do are Zumba/yoga classes or the elliptical. John normally rides the stationary bike there. John played football, basketball, and baseball in high school but hasn’t played competitively since then. I started dance when I was 3 and typically was always taking some kind of dance class from age 3 to my senior year of college at 22. So that’s some info on our fitness backgrounds.
Recently, I became interested in trying running for multiple reasons:
- Stress relief. I deal with anxiety, so I’m always looking for ways to reduce my stress level. Exercise helps to enhance the production of endorphins, which are your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters (putting my psychology minor to good use!). Through the years, I’ve found that exercise (especially cardio) helps me feel better mentally, so I’d like to try to do it more often.
- Ability to run outside. Like I said earlier, when the weather is amazing, it’s kind of a bummer to go to the gym and be stuck inside. Plus, when you go to the gym, you’re in the same building each time. With outdoor running, you can do it anywhere, from a city park sidewalk to a dirt trail. Variety keeps things interesting.
- Charity 5Ks! I recently finished working as an event planning intern for Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, where I helped to organize the Climb for Courage Stair Climb Race that benefitted the hospital. I really enjoyed working the race and it was wonderful seeing so many people in the community come out to support a great cause. It made me want to be involved in more races like that. I’d love to combine my love of exercise with my love of supporting nonprofits.
- Toning/weight management. Hands down, the most reliable method for weight loss/management is eating a healthy, balanced diet plus regular exercise. Very few people will disagree with that (and the ones who do are often trying to sell something). Exercise burns calories, it’s as simple as that, so as long as you aren’t over-compensating for the lost calories, you’ll notice results. Also, I notice that after I work out, I’m less likely to want to eat something unhealthy afterwards. It’s a win-win!
- John and I can run together. Like I said earlier, John and I both love hiking, taking walks, and skiing together. Doing those things have always been some of the ways that we bond as a couple, so I’d love to start running together also. Plus, having someone to encourage you when you’re challenging yourself is helpful.
Ok, so now for the details of Week 1 of Couch to 5K!
[Week 1: Brisk 5 minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.]
Week 1, Day 1 (Sunday, Aug. 21st): We had initially planned on starting the program two weeks before this, but we both ended up catching colds. John got sick first and then he gave it to me. Two weeks later and we were finally ready to officially start the program. I was proud of myself for not letting that setback decrease my motivation. I was able to do the first two running intervals without getting too tired, but after that, I was definitely feeling it. I allowed myself to go at a slow but steady pace. This run was in the middle of the day, so it was pretty warm outside which added to everything. I was tired afterwards but felt REALLY good about completing the first day!
Week 1, Day 2 (Tuesday, Aug. 23rd): Okay, so I was SUPER sore on Monday after Day 1. Much more sore than I expected to be. The kind of sore where every step hurt and going from standing up to sitting down was painful. By the time Tuesday came around, I was a little less sore but thought I might take another rest day and do Day 2 later in the week. I ended up deciding I would just try to run and see what happened (I planned on taking a brisk walk instead if I wasn’t up to running). Once I started running, I realized that I wasn’t too sore to run, which was a great feeling! I had a similar experience to how I felt on Day 1, except that on the last two running intervals, my chest started hurting slightly from being winded, so that wasn’t fun. It went away pretty quickly after I caught my breath during the cool down though.
Week 1, Day 3 (Thursday, Aug. 25th): This was my best run so far. It had just rained, which gave the air a nice refreshing breeze. It was ideal running weather. This was overall an easier run for me. I don’t know if it was the weather or the fact that it was my third run that week, but it was easier than the others had been. I definitely still felt winded towards the end of the running intervals, but my chest didn’t hurt and I felt less winded than before. After I got home, showered, and put on my comfy sweat pants, I felt SO GOOD. The endorphins had definitely kicked in and it was wonderful. I feel like I can breathe better after I do cardio. I just want to feel that way as much as possible. As a side note, I also haven’t been sore from running again since Day 1, which has been great.
Ok, so that’s my overview of Week 1 of Couch to 5K! I’ll be posting a new blog post on my Couch to 5K experience here each week as I go through the program, so I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Have you ever done Couch to 5K? Are you a runner? How did you get into running? Do you have any tips for me? I’m trying to learn as much as possible about running right now, so please share your thoughts with me! I’m really interested in hearing about other people’s experiences.
Until next time. Thanks for reading!