Remember when I used to be fit and strong, and running 5k a few times per week?
You probably saw me zipping around the streets of your suburb, only you wouldn’t have recognised me because I was travelling at the speed of light. Perhaps you managed to catch a glimpse of the sparks flying off my shoes in your peripheral vision.
Well, perhaps not. But two years ago I was running 5k with relative ease and I miss that.
(Original source unknown)
So it’s time to hit that pavement once more! Couch to 5K was the secret to my success a couple of years ago, and judging by all of the traffic I get from your C25K google searches there are a lot of people out there who are on the same journey. Especially that pesky Week 5 that scares the daylights out of us all!
This afternoon I went for my first run in a long time – probably my first this year! I strapped on my shoes, strapped in my “girls”, and plugged in my trusty Couch to 5K iPhone app. It certainly felt like my first run in a long time, but it felt good.
The Couch to 5K program worked brilliantly for me in the past, even though I started with a fitness level of zero. By the end of the 9 weeks I was running (and I mean running!) the distance with confidence. It taught me all about the power of mind over matter, too – it’s incredible how much further you can run when you know that you could make it to that tree/lamp post/intersection two days ago.
This time I made a cute chart to help me along. You can have it too – just click on the image below to open up a high-res version in a new window. You might notice that I have removed all references to distances, because how do you track that anyway? The time-based program is the only way to go, especially if you’re using an iPhone / Android app or podcast to alert you when it’s time to run and walk.
While I was running this afternoon I thought about the tips that have stayed with me from the last time I did this program. I thought I’d share them here for anybody who is considering C25K, or running in general:
10 TIPS FOR C25K SUCCESS
1. SHOES. Over the next 9 weeks your shoes will be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Do not put up with shoes that give you blisters.
2. BREATHE! Feeling good? Great! Breathe. Getting cramps in your side? You’re not breathing! Feeling tired? Breathe more! Breathe from your belly, not your chest. This is the best way to avoid cramps and keep good posture. This will make for easier runs, fewer injuries, and the occasional honk from a passing car. On a good day.
3. LADIES, keep those boobs on a short leash. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than feeling them land half a second later than your feet. I wear two sports bras when I run.
4. DITCH THE GEAR. Try not to carry anything, it will distract you. Pin your house key to the inside of a baseball cap, put your phone/ipod somewhere secure. I always put my phone in an ipod sock and let them hitch a ride in my cleavage (see tip #3). I run the headphone cord under my shirt (good for getting rid of tangles) and my hands are free! Relaxed hands are a sign that your breathing and posture are under control. And don’t carry water with you, nobody died of dehydration in 30 minutes.
5. TUNES! There is no way to do this thing without a kickass soundtrack. My running music of choice is Streetlight Manifesto – Everything Goes Numb and now I can’t really listen to that album without feeling really itchy for a run! Anything upbeat and energetic will do the trick, but be warned – the tiniest things can annoy you when you’re feeling fatigued so this is not the time to find out whether Nickelback is for you.
6. ASTHMATIC? Me too! It sucks, but it’s fine. Make sure you prep your lungs half an hour ahead of time, and always take your inhaler with you. Stop when you need to, keep going when you don’t. And see tip #2.
7. REPEAT. If you feel like you’re not ready to move on to the next week, it’s totally fine to repeat the week you’re on. Anything you do will strengthen the foundation of the fitness that you’re building. The next week’s program will be ready when you are.
8. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? I get far more satisfaction from running all the way around a small park than running half way around a big one. Also, I am more inclined to put on my runners if I’ve promised myself a pedicure when I get home. Basically, I am like a four year old child who is bribing herself with narcissistic pleasures. Work with yourself, not against!
9. MIX IT UP. Vary your route as often as you can. I can’t run on a treadmill because it hurts my shins, but mostly because I get extremely bored! It’s also much easier to trick your body into keeping going when you’re not measuring your run by the last one you did.
10. DENY, DENY, DENY. This might be the most important tip of all: DO NOT look at your watch! I can guarantee that you will always feel revolting after seeing how much longer you have to go, as we naturally estimate we’ve been running longer than we really have. Let the app or the podcast beep when it’s time to change, and don’t be tempted to peek at the time. It’s just not worth the damage that it does to your state of mind.
So. Who’s with me? Join me on this adventure and I will happily be your cheer squad. I’ll write about my progress as I go – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly!