I mentioned in a previous post that I’ll be following a program for runners called Couch to 5K, which helps transform couch potatoes into fit, hot people who can run 5 kilometers.
The program assumes that anyone can alternatively walk and run for 30 minutes. So you begin with a five minute warm up walk followed by a minute of running then you walk for 90 seconds and then run for another minute and so forth.
That can’t be too hard I thought. After all how hard can it be to run for a minute. Everyone can do that right?
Running for a minute can be pretty exhausting if you’re out of shape or if, like me, you just hate running. As a kid I played soccer often but I hated running and always stayed up the pitch where I did the least amount of running possible. The problem was that I quickly got winded, and though I was very good at sprinting I was never able to continuously run for any distance longer than 500 metres.
Even as I got older and worked out I never ran, always preferring push ups and other calisthenics. At some point I could do more than 50 push ups but still couldn’t run. When I played (and play) football in the village it’s always midfield positions where I just pass the ball around with minimum running. I had just resigned myself to the fact that i have a weak chest or something.
But after I decided to improve my health and did a lot of reading on the web I thought I’d try the Couch to 5K program.
As I said, the program involves alternative periods of running and walking, allowing you to recover during walking times.
Every week the running interval increases and the walking time also changes, gradually conditioning the body by increasing endurance and building muscle. This is done 3 times a week, every other day with recovery days in between and a rest day.
After nine weeks you should be able to run for thirty minutes(roughly 5 Kilometres). Of course if you can’t walk for 30 minutes it becomes a bit complicated.
After deciding to follow the plan and choosing Monday, Wednesday and Friday as the days for the sessions I then downloaded an app for my Windows Phone which helps keep track of the running and walking intervals. The app I got notifies me when it’s time to run and when to walk. It even pauses my music to issue the commands and resumes soon after.
Then on Monday I put on a pair of sneakers, tracksuit and went out just after 5 am. Here’s how the week went:
I hadn’t exercised for sometime, but I was not too terribly out of shape. The first two running intervals were ok but things got harder. I didn’t think I would be able to run the last minute.
Thankfully the walking intervals allowed me to recover just enough to run again. It was torture but I made it.
Woke up and hit the road at exactly 5. Tried to control my breathing and running slower. I had read that when running you shouldn’t be winded. The trick is to breathe deeply and run slowly.
Was a better experience than the first and my confidence grew. If I keep at this I may run for five continuous minutes.
Despite the rest days I feel a bit of soreness in my hamstrings and calves. Like the previous two days I hit the road at 5 and it’s more enjoyable than the first two days.
I’m now breathing better and when I complete the program I’m hardly tired. I could have done another ten minutes.
Running is not fun but it’s good for keeping in shape and general health. It’s also cheap, besides good shoes there’s no other cost.
However it’s painful and frustrating. I’m still getting started but I already feel I made a very good decision. Wish me luck.
The images are maps of how I ran generated by the Couch to 5K app