January 31, 2011

Couch to 5K

I started out in January 2010 with the Couch-to-5K running plan, a beginners running program (www.coolrunning.com) that is designed to help you get your couch potato butt off the sofa and run a 5K (3.1 miles) in 9 weeks.  I wholeheartedly agree with the premise, even if it didn’t work exactly as planned for me. 

I think I was a month into the program before I discovered I wasn’t exactly following instructions.  The first three weeks have you doing a combination of walking/running for a certain number of minutes.  The fourth week says to “jog ¼ mile (or 3 minutes), walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds), jog ½ mile (or 5 minutes), walk ¼ mile (or 2 ½ minutes)" and so on.  So I thought I had a choice between mileage and minutes.  I chose to go by time – jog 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, jog 5 minutes, etc.  Are you seeing the problem here?  They don’t tell you how fast to run; I run at 4mph, so jogging ¼ mile takes me 3.75 minutes, not 3 minutes as indicated above. 

Every week that I went on this way, I got further behind.  By the 9th week, I should have been running 3 miles in 30 minutes.  The way I was going, I was charted to run 2 miles in 30 minutes, had I been able to keep up – which I wasn’t.  Being quick on my feet (pun intended), I finally realized my mistake. 

I agree in theory that the Couch to 5K is a great program.   However, they don’t take into account certain determining factors such as age, weight and overall health.  And maybe ALTITUDE!  I moved from sea level to 9000 ft. elevation and then started running.  I could barely even walk up my driveway without gasping for air!  Who knew altitude could do that?

Ten months down the line, I could finally run what they said I should have done in 9 weeks, LMAO.  Here is how I think they should modify their running plan to accommodate everyone time-wise:

1.   Add a day for every pound you’re overweight
2.   Add a week for every year over 30 years of age
3.   Add a month for every 2000 foot incremental increase in elevation above sea level. 

....yeah, that’d be about right. 

Just sayin’…… there are other factors to consider when you begin training – not every program is right for everyone, and it’s okay to modify the program to suit your needs. I’ve had to continually modify my own program because I found that when it was just too hard, it made me reluctant to want to do it again.  And that is not the point!  The point is to get moving and get healthy, not to dread the next step. 

All joking aside, I really do think that the Couch to 5K is a great program.  If you’re looking to start running, check out their website at http://www.coolrunning.com/.

(Always consult a physician before beginning any new fitness program). 

No comments: