The thing about Couch25K…

When I decided to sign up for a triathlon back in November 2008, I knew I was going to need help with the running. I have never been a runner, never even made it the mile in high school and never had any desire to be a runner. So how does a complete non-runner get started? I was walking, but running is a whole different animal.

I went online and did some research and found the Couch25K interval training program on the Cool Running website. It started with minute-long running intervals. “I can do that,” I figured. I can do anything for a minute. I sailed through weeks 1 to 3. Optimally, through this program you can be running a 5K in 9 weeks. I am not optimal. I got really stuck between 3 minute intervals and 5 minute intervals. I just couldn’t make that change. So I stayed at week 3 probably for about three weeks and then presto, 5-minute running intervals. Triumph!!

What I found with Couch25K, and they even say it on the site, while the program is designed to get you started running, it is a guideline. You still have to listen to your body and go at your pace, even if that means repeating weeks, creating your own intervals and progressing at your own pace.

I ran 3  miles this morning. It is the very first time I’ve run 3 miles consecutively with no walking. And it’s seven months after I started C25K. I’m not saying that to discourage anyone or  in any way take away from the C25K program. I think its brilliant. Anyone getting started running or starting to run again should take a good look at the program. I would never, ever have succeeded to this point without it as a starting point. However, I needed to make adjustments to the schedule to get here. Not to mention I started on a treadmill and had to start all over again when I started running on the road.

But I’m here. I credit C25K for making me a runner. When I started I was still over 200 pounds. Now I’m under 175. When I started, 1 minute of running nearly killed me. This morning I ran 3 miles. When I started I didn’t have any confidence that I could complete it, but I did, because the program made it easy.

The thing about C25K is that it’s a starting point and we have to modify it to our specific needs to be successful at it. And for me, that meant being patient. I’m not a patient kinda girl. If the program said I could be running in 9 weeks, then I should be running in 9 weeks. I like instant gratification. I imagine that’s also why I have overeating issues and get really frustrated when the scale doesn’t move.

I’m 50 now though. And I don’t really want to lose this weight and then gain it back and have to start all over again at 55. So I’ve been working on retraining myself to take it slow and enjoy the journey. To listen to my body so I don’t get hurt. To be patient (or more patient than I’ve been) and cut myself some slack.

And look, by sticking to C25K sort of, seven months later, I can run a 5K. The old me would have quit in the second week of week three.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Yay yay yay for you!!!!!! I also love couch 2 5k. Like you, the one minute at the beginning was a struggle. It was the longest 60 seconds of my life. I’ve now run two actual 5k races and they were both exhilarating (although not easy). Congratulations on that 3 miles! That is an awesome accomplishment. How long is the running portion of your triathlon? I could never do a triathlon – (OK, I shouldn’t say NEVER) – or am HIGHLY UNLIKELY to do one because swimming and biking both terrify me. I need my feet on the ground. 🙂 YOU are awesome.


    • my triathlon in August is a mini. 400-meter swim, 6-mile bike, 2-mile run. I attempted one in April too, but it was converted to a duathlon, 1-mile run, 6-mile bike, 1-mile run, because of problems with the pool. I’m looking forward to the swimming and now the running. I am also very tentative about the bike because I don’t want to fall or get hit by a car, but as I train, I’m gaining some confidence there too.
      I am looking now for some 5Ks in my area to participate in in the fall! I never thought I would actually look forward to running!


  2. Awesome awesome awesome! I did C25K as well. I was scared to death of week 3. Then I stopped running as fast as my brain told me I should run and I ran as fast/slow as my body wanted to. It was an amazing discovery. You have been a wonderful supporter. Congrats on the 3 miles without stopping!


    • Slowing down my pace was key for me too. When I went from running on the treadmill to running on the road, I never thought I would be able to run the distance until I realized I was going too fast and wearing myself out. Now that I’ve slowed down, it’s so much better. You’ve been a wonderful supporter too! So glad to have met such great people!


  3. […] See the original post:  The thing about Couch25K… […]


  4. Posted by Fran on June 30, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I see so many simularities in your story compared to mine. In Holland we have something called: start to run which leads you in 10 weeks to a 5K run. I followed this program and the first week was heavy but oh the glory when I reached the finish line on June 14th at my first 5K run.

    I’m sure you’ll have the same feeling when you’re doing your triathlon!
    I’ll keep following you.



  5. Congrats! That is fantastic. I will probably take a little longer to run 5k than the 9 weeks as well, as I don’t run a pace of 6 minutes /km so I won’t have run 5km in 30 minutes in week 9, but I hope I’ll be able to get there within 3 weeks after that. I have a 5km race coming up in just a little over two months anyway!


  6. Ran across your blog through Prior Fat Girl’s twitter followers, and this was JUST the post I needed to read. I had all but given up on C25K, b/c, like you, I knew I wouldn’t finish in 9 weeks. I have just started running and can only do about 1/2 mile before stopping. Your post made me realize that I *CAN* run…I just need to adapt the program. Thanks!!!


    • So glad this post was helpful. I’m sure there are so many of us out there who start on C25K and get discouraged. But if we just keep at it, at our pace (I can’t run a 10-minute mile either) and keep pushing a little harder a little at a time, we can get there!


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