Posts Tagged ‘couch25k’

The Key To Running Success: Persistence, Not Perfection

Since I started triathlon training, I have concentrated on the run the most. And it’s paying off. Since it was the one thing I’d never done before, it was also the one thing that freaked me out and made me hesitate about even trying.

I signed up anyway because I can always walk if I have to. I had to in my last race. I had to walk a lot. For the race coming up on August 1 though, I won’t have to walk. I may have to run slow, but I won’t have to walk. I can run now.

Saturday, I ran a full 5k in my neighborhood. I took a new route that I’d mapped out the night before in my car (it’s also kind of my bike route). 3.1 miles. Mostly a flat run with 3 hills (or maybe I should say inclines, but decent ones). I woke up later than I’d planned on Saturday and almost bagged this run too because I had other stuff to do. And then I considered running my usual shorter 2.5 miles. But I wanted the change, and I wanted to challenge myself. My thinking is that if I can run 3 miles, then the 2 miles (even right after the bike leg) won’t feel so bad on race day.

So I did it. I walked .2 miles to warm up and started jogging. It was hot because it was already 9:00 am. But I kept going, kept my pace slow so I didn’t kill myself and I finished in 38 minutes, which running-wise after a walking warmup, was probably about 11:30 to 12 minute miles. I was happy with that because at one point in the run, I didn’t think I’d even be able to run the whole way. It still amazes me how a run can feel great one minute, crappy the next and then good again. I was so thrilled that I completed the distance without walking that I even threw my arms up into the air a little as I turned into my driveway!

This morning I went running again. It was my usual 2.5 mile run. Until I get more comfortable with the distance, I’m keeping the long run to once a week. After race day, I’ll kick that up. This morning’s run was probably the best run I’ve ever had. It was early (6:00 am) and cool and dry. I think it’s the first run I’ve had in a while where there hasn’t been stifling humidity. This morning, I knew I was running a distance I’m comfortable with (amazing how much of a difference half a mile makes) so I decided to open it up a bit. When I’ve been running, I go pretty slow and bump up the pace at least once or twice during the run to get used to a faster pace. IThe faster pace actually feels more natural, (trust me, it’s not that fast), but  it’s been tough to keep up for very long. This morning was different though. I don’t know if it was the crisp weather or how I was feeling, but I opened up and only slowed down on one hill. I even got the thumbs up from a couple of walkers, which made me smile and then run faster. I ran 2. 5 miles this morning in 26.30 minutes, a little over a 10-minute mile pace. For me, that’s sprinting.

I was so pumped after this morning’s run. It felt amazing and I actually can’t wait to go again on Wednesday, although I rarely get the same results two runs in a row.

Thursday is my one year anniversary with Weight Watchers and serious blogging. I was looking back at some of my earlier posts this weekend. I felt triumphant when I went from walking a mile to walking a mile and a half.

Now I’m running three miles and working on going farther and running faster. I would have never thought this was possible a year ago.

MaggieApril, from Taste Not Waist, commented on one of my blog posts recently “Persistence, not perfection. Good Lesson.” It’s so true. My running experiences have been far from perfect. It took me seven months to complete the 9-week couch to 5k program. But I have kept at it and kept at it.

And look, I’m a runner now.

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.

How Far I’ve Come

I had a great run this morning. For me, anyway. I’ve been doing a modified Couch25K running interval training now since December.

And this morning, I ran a full mile without stopping. 12 minutes running without stopping. Did I mention this was great for me? Slow for anyone who is really a runner.  And I only needed 2 minutes walking recovery time before I was able to kick it up again and run the rest of my 2 miles (the distance of my upcoming race). I continued on the treadmill for three miles, but the triumphant part for me was finishing 2 in under 25 minutes (barely).

When I started Couch25K, I could barely run for a minute without feeling like collapsing. When I finally made it to three-minute intervals, I thought I would never get past that. And the first time I ran a 5-minute interval, I thought I might die. But here I am, running 12-minute intervals and now 3 minutes feels like cake. I don’t even notice when the clock goes past a minute anymore.

I’ve come a long, long way. I don’t know that I’m ready for my race in mid-April yet. I’ll be able to finish the 400-meter swim, 6-mile bike and 2-mile run mini triathlon, but I expect to be in the back of the pack. That’s ok. I’ll finish. If you told me a year ago that I’d even ever train for something like this, I would have fallen on the floor laughing.

The running has by far been the hardest part. But this morning it was worth every agonizing step. And I bet on April 18, when I cross the finish line, it will be even more worth it.

The added bonus? I’ve lost 46 pounds so far. Oh yeah, and I finally broke through that plateau with a 3-pound loss last week. Who says exercise isn’t fun?

From Exercise to Triathlon Training

I’m exercising with a purpose now. I realized that this week. While I’ve been exercising all along with my upcoming triathlon in mind, this is the week I went from “exercising” to “training.”

I get on the bike, the treadmill and into the pool with very specific goals. It’s not just about getting fit and healthy anymore. It’s about digging in and improving my times and my form, and putting together the pieces.

I mean, it dawned on me this week that while I can run/walk 2 miles, I can swim 400 meters and I can bike 6 miles (the distances in my first race in April), that’s not enough. I have to be able to do all three in a row. And I need to do them competitively.

When I swam this week, I didn’t just do 40 laps like I’ve been doing. I dug in the last 10 laps in an effort to get back to racing mode.

I’ve been pushing myself on the treadmill too. I’m still working on Couch 2 5K interval training, but I’m pushing harder, trying to shave little bits off my time each time I get on the treadmill. And when I’m walking, I’m actually raising the incline.

While I’ve really just started taking the bike leg seriously, when I got on the bike this week, I realized, while I can make the six miles, I have to work on that time too.

And then I have to put them all together. They have to be easy on their own so they are doable all at once. I’ve got 2 pieces at a time down….just have to add the third.

While it’s tough to work so hard each time out (lately even when I convince myself to just get to the gym and do a light workout it becomes something more intense), it’s empowering. Two weeks ago, running for 3 minutes almost killed me. Now, it’s the shortest time duration I’m running and it’s not killing me anymore. Five minutes is killing me. But I know if I keep at it, in a couple of weeks five minutes will be doable and 10 minutes will be the killer.

Don’t get me wrong. I still moan and groan and have to bribe myself to get to the gym. But once I’m there, I’m making the most of it. And I feel strong and accomplished when I go home.

I think I like training better than exercise. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be addicted to racing. 🙂

Triathlon Training – Couch 2 5K


I’ve been training for my triathlon coming up in April. Suddenly, four months doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time.

My biggest challenge is the running part because I’ve never ever been a runner. I barely completed the 1-mile runs in high school (and I was in good shape then!). Now 30-something years later, I’m starting to run.

Tonight I started week three of my Couch 2 5K training, only I modified it some. In week one, you run 60 seconds, walk 90 seconds. In week two, you run 90 seconds, walk two minutes (more than once obviously) and in week three, you are supposed to run 90 seconds, walk 90, run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Yeah, no. So tonight I ran 90, walked 90, ran 2 minutes, walked 2 minutes and so forth for 20-something minutes. I’m hoping by the end of week three, I’ll be able to do the 3 minutes. I’m super proud of the progress I’m making on this program. Total tonight, I ran 12 minutes of my time on the treadmill. Woo Hoo!

And the more exciting part? I actually like running. I mean really…the treadmill can get kinda boring, but by doing running intervals, it goes fast and its fun. I can’t wait until I can run the whole time! Hopefully before my race.

When I decided to go for the triathlon, the running scared me and almost kept me from signing up. But finding Couch 2 5K was just what I needed and with this, I know I can do it. When I started, I figured I can do anything for a minute. So that’s where I started. I’ll let you know when I can do it for 30 minutes!