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My Couch to 5K Journey

Posted on December 7, 2016 by under Health.    

I recently started a Couch to 5K program. I hate running. Absolutely despise it. However, I envy people who run and enjoy it.
A few months ago I asked Tammie, a friend of mine at work who runs regularly and enjoys it, for some advice on how to get started and she told me to do intervals of alternately running and walking. For example, run for a minute, walk for two, and then just do that continuously for 30 minutes straight. I took her advice but, me being me, I needed more structure.

It seems I’m good at telling other people what to do but, when it comes to working out, I need to be told exactly what to do. LOL. Ironic, I know.
Derek, another friend from work, recommended I download a C25K app. I’d seen my friend Andrea post screen grabs from her app and I had other friends who went through similar programs using an app so I found a free app (and there are several in the App Store) that appealed to me and began my C25K adventure last month. November 15 to be exact.

This is a picture of me after completing Week 1 Day 2. I forgot to take a selfie on the first day. Imagine that.

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I was in Topeka for training that week so I did the first two days at the fitness center of the Holiday Inn Express. It was a dinky fitness center and there was only one treadmill and, to top it off, the belt had a tear. What a way to start, right?

But I thought, if it was unsafe they would have marked the treadmill as “out of order” so surely it was fine. And, I decided I couldn’t use every, little excuse to avoid running. It was now or never.

Although, I did wonder if they didn’t bother marking the treadmill as “out of order” because they didn’t think anyone would actually use it. The two times I was there, I was the only person in the fitness room so I didn’t even bother with headphones. I just played my fun Zumba music straight from my phone. Then again, I had my back to the door, so maybe the Zumba music kept all the other people away?

That Thursday evening, I had to spend the night in Kansas City for a Friday morning meeting there so I completed Week 1 Day 3 at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott’s fitness center.

Here’s the selfie from that run.

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This fitness center is much better equipped than the one at the Holiday Inn Express. They actually have six treadmills, several ellipticals, and a few bikes. There’s plenty of equipment for weight training and they even have a studio with some medicine balls where you can do stretching (or dancing) in private.

The other thing that’s vastly different about this hotel gym is that it’s actually busy. Seriously. I prefer to do my running when I get up at five in the morning, not so much so I’m the only one in the gym (though that’s kind of a positive side effect) but because I’m a morning person. Anyway, I’m glad I get up early because by 5:30 AM all six treadmills are already taken and there are lots of people working out throughout the gym already.

The first time I went up there (it’s on the 22nd floor of the main Marriott building) at five o’clock I was surprised to see at least a couple of people already working out. I was so sure I would be the first one there. Well, it seems I’m not the only crazy person who prefers working out first thing in the morning.

Anyway, Brian and I were both on vacation the following week but I didn’t want to get off schedule so I kept going. Brian wanted to experience downtown Kansas City as I’d been experiencing it working there the last few months so we had a mini Kansas City getaway. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Kansas City. The one by the Kauffman Center. It is newer and the rooms are much nicer than the rooms at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott where I normally stay. They have a smaller gym though, and it’s in the basement. There were only three treadmills but, the entire time we were there, I didn’t run into anyone else in the fitness center. I think that’s partly because it was the week of Thanksgiving.

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This is Brian still in bed when I came back to the room after my morning run.

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It was this week that I was faced with a major decision. My “free” app was only free through W2 D1. Apparently, I was on the 5K Runner free trial. If I wanted to continue then I would have to download the app for $4.99.

Did I really want to do this?

I pondered this for a bit while Brian slept and I decided that I did want to continue but then I thought $5 was a lot to pay for a running app so I did some browsing in the App Store. I didn’t really find any other apps that were equally aesthetically pleasing, plus I was already used to this one so I decided to stick with it. Except, I found the 10K Runner for $9.99. I thought to myself that if I decided to go beyond 5K and continue on to 10K then I would have to spend almost $15 but if I just download the 10K Runner app right then I would be saving myself $5. It never occurred to me that I might not even make it all the way through.

Yes, I’m an optimist.

And so my journey continued. I completed all three days of Week 2 (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) before Thanksgiving, and even with the long break for holidays, I breezed through Week 3 without any major issues. However, I made the mistake of looking ahead and kind of psyched myself out on W4 D1.
I tried to complete it on Monday night after checking in to my hotel and I couldn’t complete it. I was devastated. I had encountered my first major setback. I was further worried by some of the articles I found online stating that most people drop out of C25K around Week 4 or 5.

Taking advice from a book I recently finished reading, The Happiness Advantage, I went to my social support network. I texted Andrea, Derek, and Tammie and asked for advice. Even then, I was still very much afraid of failing again. So the next morning (yesterday) I couldn’t motivate myself to get up for my morning run. I still got up early so I just ended up going to work early that day. I had a bunch of stuff to take care of anyway so it worked out. But I realized that I was only delaying the inevitable. I would have to get back on the treadmill sooner, rather than later, to stay on schedule.

I recalled one of the key pieces of advice that Tammie gave me about diet. She told me to pay attention to what I’m eating because the foods you eat can either help or hinder your performance. Realizing that I had to complete my run that day to stay on track, I had a light dinner of sushi and chicken yakitori about two hours before my second attempt at W4 D1.

Well, she was absolutely right. I thought I would have to modify the run slightly in order to make it through but I completed it without any issues. I didn’t have to change it. I felt so good that I was pretty confident going into my run at 5 AM this morning, even though the running segments were considerably much harder.

Week 4 Day 1 consisted of a 3-minute run, 4-minute run, 4-minute run, and 3-minute run with walking/recovery time in between the running segments. Week 4 Day 2 has two 5-minute running segments in place of the 4-minute runs. And I completed it with no problems.

I’m feeling pretty confident about the run tomorrow also because it’s the exact same run I did this morning. The only difference is that the walking/recovery breaks after the 5-minute running segments are a minute shorter (they’re only 2 minutes tomorrow, instead of 3 minutes). I don’t anticipate any issues though, because the length of the walking/recovery segments today almost seemed to long for me. I felt that ready to start running again sooner than the app told me to. In fact, when it dinged to tell me that I was at the halfway point, I got confused and started running. So I basically started running 10 seconds sooner than I should have. The crazy part is that I normally think 10 seconds is a big deal. Toward the end of my running segments those last 10 seconds feel like an eternity. Today I didn’t mind running the extra little bit. I was like, “I got this!”

I know that I’m just getting started and there are going to be many challenging days ahead but I feel like, with the support of some amazing and inspiring friends, I can totally do this. I can’t wait to celebrate with you all when I reach the finish line!

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