I Never Thought I Could Run
When I first started my journey to better health and fitness, my goals were simple. I wanted to work towards a healthier weight by eating better food and becoming more active. Why? I want a healthy body. I want to live longer. I want to be able to go up a couple stairs without being out of breath. There are a lot of reasons. You know what wasn't a reason? So I could run.
Even as a child I never liked running. It wasn't for me. My attitude was always something along the lines of "if you aren't being chased, there is no reason to run."
The day I decided to try Couch to 5k I had lost 23 pounds. My total goal was to lose 200 pounds. I still weighed 328.7 pounds. Not the type of person you would expect to see jogging down the running path!
I was on one of my normal after meal walks and I got to wondering if I even COULD run with all of this weight. 15 seconds later I was totally out of breath but there was a spark somewhere that made me want to keep trying. There is just something about seeing exactly what your body can do that is so amazing!
I had heard about Couch to 5k before and decided I was going to give it a shot. Even better, my fiancée decided he would be joining me!
Note: I'm still working my way through the program. I'll be updating after each run to let you know a bit about how it went for me!
Couch to 5k is a running program meant for anyone who wants to run, whether they are a couch potato who has never ran before or an experienced runner who stopped running and wants to get back into it. The goal of this program is to ease you into running in a way that is challenging but do-able.
While it is a 9 week program, you can repeat weeks if you are struggling to give yourself more time to adjust. (I'm sure I'll be repeating a lot of weeks.)
If you want to learn more about the program itself, click on the article below.
When I decided to start Couch to 5k there was a lot to do and I didn't want to put it off too long so I gave myself about 5 days to prepare. I needed to get a few things together.
There were three things I needed before I got started:
- A good sports bra
I started with the sports bra. Any woman knows how important proper support is when you are moving quickly. I had never sized myself for a sports bra so I looked around and found this great guide.
Next was shoes. Good running shoes are so important! Without proper shoes you are more likely to end up in pain or even injure yourself. My issue was that the average pair of running shoes is around $100. What I did was go to a specialty running store to find out about shoes. They sized my feet and told me that many people actually wear a different size running shoe than they do everyday shoe. They also checked how I moved when I run to figure out if I need any extra support or anything like that. It was a great experience! They gave me a bunch of suggestions. I took these suggestions and decided to shop around. I was able to find the same shoes that were $110 at the running store for only $60 at another shoe store.
As for information, the biggest question I had was how do I know when to switch between walking and running? I also wanted to know a bit about running itself.
I created this Facebook group to connect with other C25Kers.
When it comes to knowing when to change between walking and running, the two ways people use are podcasts/mp3s and apps.
If you have a smartphone, the apps will probably be a better choice. Most of them allow you to choose your own music and the app will play the voice overs for when to switch over your own music. The mp3s and podcasts are for those of you, like me, who have an mp3 player but no smartphone. With these someone has taken music and put their own voices on them to help other C25Kers.
Here are some free podcasts you can look through. Try to find one with music you will enjoy running to.
There are many more available. Just search Google to see what you can find. If you find some good ones, feel free to let me know in the comments so I can add them to the list!
Here are some of the apps available.
Partial Week 1 Day 1
Today I did my first run. It was a lot harder and a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I honestly wasn't sure I was going to make it through my first 60 second run before I got started.
I started with some basic stretches after changing into my running shoes and my fiancée, Taylor, carried my Kindle Fire in his pocket with the speaker on so we could both hear the podcast.
In week one you start with a 5 minute brisk walk and then alternate between 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking, ending with a 5 minute brisk walk. The total time is close to 30 minutes.
The brisk walk was going well. I'm used to walking. I was going a bit faster than I normally walk, but I was fine. The first run came. That 60 second run felt like nothing! It was a great feeling. It went by so fast. My legs were already getting sore at this point though. Taylor suggested for day 1 we skip and walk through every other walk. I went for it because when walk 2 came I only got about 10 seconds in before I was struggling. Running is hard when you are carrying this much weight!
In the end we actually stopped 20 minutes in and continued to walk for another 3 minutes to get back to the house.
Part of my was disappointed I didn't finish but most of me is proud I did what I did. I've never ran before like this so it was HUGE for me.
I did figure out a few of the reasons I was struggling besides lack of experience and fitness after asking around.
- My new shoes weren't broken in. I had only worn them around the house for a few hours. They didn't bend like they need to for best results.
- Generally people step down with their heel when they walk but when you run you don't want to do that because it can cause damage to your feet and legs. I naturally shifted to stepping closer to the middle or ball of my foot and the ball of my feet got sore pretty fast because I'm not used to it. I'm told it is something you just get used to with practice.
- I was overheating because I was wearing sweats and a long sleeved shirt. I'm going to need to switch to a t-shirt and shorts in the future.
Taylor did a lot better than I did but he was very supportive the whole way through. I wouldn't so much say he is "in shape" but less out of shape than I am. It was actually fun to run with him and work towards getting healthier together!
When I got back I was so dehydrated all I wanted to do was suck down water. We both told ourselves no drinks besides of water for an hour after the run because it is too easy to grab a diet soda or something and end up not properly hydrated.
My next run will be Wednesday. I'm excited to see if I can do the whole 30 minutes!
Partial Week 1 Day 2
After speaking with my doctor I'm modifying the program a bit because of my weight. Until I'm under 300 pounds he wants me to take extra care with my heart and knees.
The basic changes are...
- Take two rest days between runs where I can do light cardio on my elliptical as well as yoga and strength training.
- I wear my Polar FT4 heart rate monitor and if I'm struggling to keep my heart rate from going over the max he gave me, I take a five minute cool down walk and stop rather than continuing the run.
While I would love to just go through the program like the average person, I understand I do need to be careful and I'm happy I have a great doctor willing to work so closely with me.
Day 2 went pretty well. I decided not to skip every other run and see how I did. I managed runs 1, 2, 3, and 5. After 3 my heart rate got a little high so I skipped 4 but it shot right back up during 5 so I took a five minute cool down walk and stopped. I made it a little farther than day one and skipped less runs so that is an improvement! I look forward to my next run.
I am feeling much better the day after than with the first run now that the shoes are a little more broken in, which is great. Yoga has also been a huge help in keeping my muscles from getting too sore.
Here is my progress so far in my journey to lose 200 pounds!
CoolRunnings created the Couch to 5k program and they share tons of great tips on running on their site. Here are some of the recent articles.