We’re excited to welcome Dayle to our blog, and to share her experience doing “Couch to 5k” with all of you!
As a 41 year old who has never really done much exercising to speak of, taking this step would be considered by most to be a pretty big deal. For years, I’ve dreamed of becoming a ‘runner’ due to the fact that those I knew seemed to be in decent shape and appeared happy. No…fantasy is more like it. Aside from being on the flag corps and playing a little bit of tennis in high school, the only exercise I had ever really engaged in was the stuff they force you to do in P.E. class. And I hated every last second of it.
But a few months ago, everything changed for me. On the heels of a bad breakup, I was depressed, angry, bored, and every other negative emotion you can think of. I spent all of my free time sitting on my couch, wondering how someone who said he loved me could so easily walk away and wondering how I could possibly find the energy to start over AGAIN. One day, after several weeks of sitting on the couch, feeling sorry for myself and just staring at the TV without actually watching it, I had this overwhelming need for fresh air. I decided to get up and go for a walk around the neighborhood. After my walk, I actually felt better…for a few minutes. People always say that exercise helps your mood, but it was going to take a lot more than feeling better for a few minutes to convince me.
At this point, it was the week before Christmas, and I found myself with 12 days off of work, which scared me, because I learned that idle time sitting at home by myself was not my friend. I started to realize that the way I had been behaving and my approach to dealing with this breakup was hurting me more than the breakup itself. It was as if I was waking up and seeing that what was happening was all about me and not him or the relationship at all. I decided to focus on me and spend some time taking care of me and figuring out who I really wanted to be and what I really wanted out of life. So, I went for a walk again. Then, I decided I needed to be around other people, so I began reaching out to friends and looking for things to do.
I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t talked to in over a year, and we went for a walk. As we left the house, she took out her phone and turned on an app that told us how far we had walked and how much time had passed. I started asking questions, and my friend told me about the app, but also mentioned the C25K app. I had heard of the Couch to 5k program a while back, but never got past reading the first few paragraphs on the website. If there ever was a story of perfect timing, this was it. My new determination to take care of me combined with hearing her talk about the weight she lost and how much better she felt after doing this program was exactly what I needed. I went home and promptly downloaded the app and began learning how it worked. It felt good, and I knew this was the day things would change.
How It Works
Essentially, the Couch to 5k program is meant to guide an inactive person (the couch potato) to a point where they are able to run a 5k. It gives you a different ‘workout’ to do 3 times each week for 9 weeks, alternating walking and running. Each week, the amount of time you spend running increases, as you build your stamina. For example, the first workout is alternating 1 minute of jogging and 1 ½ minutes of walking.
The mobile app is very helpful because it times each period of walking/jogging for you. So, you just plug in, and walk until it tells you to jog and then jog until it tells you to run. Simple enough. For me, this is all I needed, because walking on a treadmill while staring at the timer has always bored me to tears. But, the app does so much more than that. It allows you to log each session so that you can track your improvement over time, and has a section for each workout to record notes on how the session went for you. One of my favorite features is that it lets you share your stats with others, like on Facebook, which has helped keep me accountable. Plus, it’s great to get encouragement from your friends.
After I downloaded the app, it took me a few days to actually start. I wanted to take this seriously and make sure I was fully prepared. I went to Best Buy and got an armband to hold my phone so that I wouldn’t have to worry about holding it or having is tossing around in my pocket. I highly recommend getting one. Not only does it keep my phone safe and easily accessible, it helps me feel like less of an amateur. And trust me, in the beginning it is ALL psychological…so do whatever works.
The first day was very exciting. The hardest part was figuring out where I was going to do my walk/run. My neighborhood is adequate, but there is a lot of hills, and I know from just walking around that the inclines would likely result in discouragement; plus, I was a little self-conscious of people seeing me making a sad attempt at running. So, I drove a few minutes away to a sports complex my friend showed me and used the long sidewalk that circled the park. It was cold and dreary, but I wasn’t going to let anything discourage me that day. In fact, it was New Year’s Eve, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon.
This is the workout for Week 1 (which you do on 3 different days):
Brisk 5-minute warmup walk. Alternate 1 minute of jogging and 1 ½ minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Then a 5 minute cool down walk.
The first workout wasn’t bad at all. I was on a high and super excited to be doing this. After the first couple of rounds of jog for a minute/walk for 90 seconds, I became convinced that I could do this and was proud of myself. The app even tells you when you’re halfway through, which was very encouraging. I thought, “I’m halfway?! I can do this.” When I was finished, I was so happy to be doing this that I kind of wanted to jump right into the 2nd day’s work out. It was a great feeling.
Below is the first post I made on Facebook through the app, which got 9 “Likes” from friends and one “Go Dayle!” Again, such a great feeling.
Days 2 & 3 of Week 1 got more “Likes” and more words of encouragement. After how the previous few months had gone, I really needed some external validation. After the first 2-3 workouts, my mindset changed dramatically. While I still had moments of sadness, they were fewer and much further between, and I had a significant sense of determination. This seemed almost too easy. Why had I not done this before? I mean, I know it isn’t going to be EASY, but I’m excited about it and will push through and keep at it!! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the next few weeks go with increasing the amount of jogging time during each session.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Dayle! We can’t wait for your next installment.