If I can run, so can you!

2011-08-10 by . 6 comments

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In November of last year, I had undergone some major changes in my diet and exercise routines (namely, I started watching what I ate and walking once or twice a week). I really wanted to start running, though. So, after having walked a couple times a week for a few months, I decided to try it.

I left my house, got to the end of my driveway, and started running what I felt was a “reasonable” pace. I managed to make it about 150 yards before my lungs were on fire, my legs were turning to rubber, and my head felt like it was going to explode from the increase in blood pressure. Dejected, I slowed back to a walk and finished the four miles I had set out to run at a pretty slow walk, tired, panting, and with my ankles seriously hurting by the time I made it back to my house.

It turns out that I injured my Achilles tendons on both of my ankles, and could barely walk for the next couple weeks, even just up the stairs to my apartment or office. So, thus began my quest to figure out how I could start running without killing or seriously injuring myself. Fortunately, by this time, the fitness section had just opened up on Stack Exchange, and someone mentioned the Couch to 5K program.

There’s two versions of the program, one for training to run a 5K (C25K) in nine weeks, and one for training to run a 10K (C10K) in 13 weeks. You can find more information on either of them from C25k.com or Coolrunning.com. Me being the glutton for punishment that I am, I grabbed the 10K version for my iPhone, and started the program.

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The C10K program is an interval training program that works your endurance up from running 30 second intervals between sets of walking 4:30 all the way until you can run 6.2 miles (10K) in just 3 workouts a week. The workouts range from 41 to 76 minutes. What I would consider the major milestones in the program are week 7 (workout 1), week 10 (workout 2), and week 12 (workout 3). These are the places where the program intensity takes a notable climb.

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With the app, which is available on iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod) or Android, the timing is really easy to follow while you listen to your favorite tunes from your favorite media device. All you have to do is select what day you’re on, hit the start button, and follow the prompts.

When I first began the program, I thought I was going to die after just 30 seconds of running, but surprisingly, by the end of the first week, I wanted to run more after the workout was over. Beginning week 2, I thought I was going to die again after running a minute at a time. Each week, at the beginning I felt like I wasn’t going to make the entire workout, but by the end of the week, I was ready to try something harder.

By the time I reached week 7 and the running intervals started growing a lot faster, I barely noticed. I was running 4, then 5, 7, 10… minutes in an interval. I wasn’t dying any more. I was running. And running felt great! On the third workout of week 13, which doesn’t appear in the app, I accomplished my goal, and ran a full 6.2 miles (112 laps around the track I had started running on).

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There were several weeks when, for one reason or another, I would miss a workout. When I missed a workout the first few weeks, I went back and did it, but as I got into the end of the program, I found that I could just continue without making up the missed workout. After 5 or 6 weeks of the program, I started to go and run shorter runs using the same intervals on my off days (see what I mean about being a glutton for punishment).

I had a few minor injuries along the way, mainly re-injuring old wounds, but I had nothing serious enough to see a doctor about (in my opinion). I ended the program in far better physical shape than I started it in. I ran a 5K on April 23 this year, and I’ve continued running as much as I can, although real life sometimes gets in the way. My goal now is to run a marathon in November (in less than 5 hours hopefully). If I’m not ready, I’ll only run a half-marathon.

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I see people selling prop gym equipment on T.V. (yeah, some of it works, I know) and I chuckle a little bit to myself. They always use the line “I’m in the best shape of my life thanks to <insert item here>!” Well, I’m in the best shape of my life, and I didn’t HAVE to pay a penny (although I did pay $5 for a year’s membership at my local civic center track). Being the gadget person that I am, I also bought some cool gear along the way like my Vibram fivefingers and the miCoach Pacer from Adidas.

Coach Ivo likes to tell people now, “If @NathanWheeler can run, anyone can run.” and it’s true!

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  • I love love love C25K! I have been using that same app for a while now and love it to death. I never thought I’d be able to run for so long!

  • ivoflipse says:

    What’s great is that literally everyone can do it!

    I’ve guided a group of people with one person having a 35+ BMI, after 10 weeks even she was able to jog for 30 minutes straight.

    So really, there’s no excuse and everyone should give it a try!

  • Ian says:

    Saw this mentioned on @codinghorror on twitter, and the name got me to come take a peek… Sounds awesome, I think I’ll give it a try. I guess I’ll need to buy some sneakers… :)

    • ivoflipse says:

      We were planning to follow up with some recommendations to make sure you get through the program as safe as possible.

      Guess you have to come back to check ;-)

  • Gerard says:

    I like an alternative app which covers all aspects of the training program and is better looking (to me, at least): http://radianttap.com/couchto5k/

    There’s quite a few other apps, as well.

  • Grant says:

    I can proudly say I’ve completed the Couch to 5k program TWICE. Odd thing to be proud of I know but the first time was when I just started running to get back into some kind of shape.

    The second time was after I had my ACL rebuilt from playing shoddy basketball defense. (Although I could run up and down the court all day thanks to the first time through C25k. Irony.)

    It definitely works.

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