Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Couch to 5K experience from a plus sized runner
There is a lot of talk out there that these “couch to 5K” programs are excellent for people wanting to run their first 5K or for someone who has not run for a while, but wants to get back into running.  I fall into the latter category having run in a few races in the past, but the last one was over 3 years ago.  Please do not let that discourage you if you fall into the 1st category of having never run a 5K.  I truly believe this program should work just as well for both of us.
Having been someone who has struggled with their weight for most of my teen/adult life I wanted to share this experience with others.  A little bit about me I am 42 years old, weighing in around 265 lbs. and am 5’8” tall.  It has been about 2 years since the last time I exercised in or out of a gym. 
I purchased an app from Active.com for the iPhone for this task.  It is a pretty cool app.  There is a choice of 3 trainers to pick from that give you verbal commands to navigate you thru the work out.  This way you can listen to your music and the trainers can step you thru the particulars of a session at the same time. The app also has GPS and social media sharing built in.  Overall it is a good purchase for $1.99.  Be wary with the apps on the IPhone there are a bunch for free, but most of them only give the 1st week or 2 for free and then charge for the rest of the plan.
Week #1 – This week’s three sessions are 5 minute warm up walk then 1 minute jogging alternated with 1 ½ minutes walking.  The first time trying the 1st work out did not go as planned.  I pushed things too hard and ran out of gas at about 20 minutes of the 30 minute session.  Now you are all probably like “great” the very first try was unsuccessful.  Do not let it be discouraging look at it as learning from other people’s lessons.  Not finishing this session was good because it helped me gauge where I should have been and not where I wanted to be for that workout.     
The 1st three workouts from week one have gone surprisingly well.  Just to mention all of these three workouts were done on a treadmill.  Thought it would be easier to keep a good pace that way and will eventually do some workouts outside as well.  My first thought was that only jogging for 1 minute intervals was not going to amount to much, but boy was I wrong.  The average distance for all of the 1st week’s workouts was between 1.8 and 1.9 miles.  Holy crap in week one right off the bat I’m doing almost 2/3’s of a 5K in 30 minutes.   
Week #2 – One of the things that I have noticed is a lack of soreness in a good way.  You know when you start up an exercise program after a day or two your muscles get all sore and tight.  That is not happening with this program which is a big plus.  For week 2 it is 1 ½ minute jog alternated with a two minute brisk walk.  What is helpful is that this program increases not only the jog, but also increases the recovery for now.  This helps mentally as well as physically to increase running strength and cardio. 
Base on how well I feel (or don’t feel) during each session I will adjust the pace of the jog or brisk walk and on lesson three of week two was able to get in 2 miles in 30 minutes for the 1st time.  I was so stoked!  Just for the record the distance that I’m logging includes the cool down.  Now any serious runner training for a Marathon or a ½ Marathon will say to never count cool down mileage and I agree with that logic.  However, this is not what we are doing…yet!!!  For now we deserve to count every step taken, mile achieved, or calorie burned that gets us close to our goal.  We’ve earned it so we are counting it.
Week #3 – This has been another week where the jog times and recovery times were equal.  This will be changing next week though.  The week 3 session has been a 1 ½ minute jog followed by a 1 ½ recovery walk alternated with a 3 minute jog and 3 minute recovery.  This week’s sessions went well.  After doing the 1st two sessions of the week I went on a weekend getaway and basically had three days of rest.  After returning from the vacation/rest and getting back on the treadmill I felt great.  In turn I had my strongest run/jog thus far.  Just goes to show rest and recovery are as important as diet and exercise.
Week #4 – Two big changes this week the 1st is that the recovery times from the jogging are ½ of the jog time and 2nd I started running on the road.  As for the reduced recovery times I had no issues.  The runs went well overall and the total distance averaged was between 2.3 and 2.4 miles.  That felt AWSOME and the program is only half over!!!  Now as for adjusting to the road that was a little more challenging.  See the treadmill keeps pace for us and we do not even have to think about it, but out on the road that is a totally different story.  To be more specific when referring to pace for this week it is not how many minute/miles are being run, but rather how fast to run to try to get a better distance and increased cardio/stamina then the last run.  This is not as hard as it may sound, it actually comes quite naturally.  Try not to get frustrated it will come.  

Week #5 – Another week done and checked off and boy does it feels good to be more than half way done with the program.  I have to say that this program is progressing at a good pace.  Definite progress can be felt in both distance and pace and none of the sessions are unachievable.  So week 5 brings us to the 1st non-stop run in session 3.  The last run in this week was a 5 min warm up then a 20 min jog and a 5 min cool down.  Have to say I was a little intimidated that there were no recovery periods in this run.  Once I got out there everything went great all of the other sessions to date have prepared me well for this run.