Welcome back to the second installment of my Couch to 5K series! I am surprised, and pleased to tell you that I’m actually keeping up with it, going for three runs a week and following the podcasts. As I’m writing this, I’ve just finished week 3, but I’ll be into week 4 by the time you’re reading this. I thought I’d do a little overview of the weeks I’ve done so far and how I found them, and talk about how I’m feeling looking ahead at the next challenges.
The pattern for week 1 is run for 1 minute, walk for 1 minute (with 5 min at each end for walking to warm up/cool down). You repeat this 8 times (so you do 8 minutes of running altogether). On my first run, I didn’t do great, I’ll be honest. I didn’t know how to pace myself or what speed I should go at, so I went too fast in the first two runs and then had to slow down early for a few of the others. Not great, but I learned a valuable lesson! The second one was much better, but I did have to stop early once or twice, but I felt much happier about it. The final run I did a slightly different route, which was entirely because I’d just passed some people at the point where I’d usually just turn around and go right back the way I came, but I felt embarrassed about going straight back past them, so I made the route into a loop instead. This meant adding roads in, so a couple of my runs were shortened to allow for crossing roads, so to make up for it, I rewound the podcast a little and did a 9th minute of running. Seeing as I’d made the route longer, this worked out pretty well, but my cool down walk was still closer to ten minutes than the five the app gives you!
Week 2 is run for 90 seconds, walk for 90 seconds, repeated 6 times for a total of 9 minutes of running (again, with a five min warm up walk and 5 min cool down walk). Again, the first attempt did see me slow too soon a couple of times. This was made worse by the fact that my app started to crash semi-regularly, so I was paranoid that the app had crashed and wasn’t going to tell me when to slow down, but sometimes it turned out I actually just thought 90 seconds was shorter than it is. The second run was much better (though I still had the app issue), and the third was also pretty good!
This is where the pattern gets a bit confusing. You still have the five minutes warm up/cool down, but in the middle is run for 90 seconds, walk for 90 seconds, run for 3 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, then repeat. Again, I was having issues with the app crashing throughout this week, but I did figure out how to get my FitBit to show my timer as the priority stat rather than my distance, so I was keeping an eye on that for timings now each section is starting to get a little longer. The first run of the week was really challenging (no surprise there!), but the second and third were a bit better. The third was interesting because part of the path I go down was flooded, and on my way out I met a guy coming the other way at the flood, so we both just kinda stood for a minute, staring at it. I let him go first and figure out the shallowest crossing point, but it took me about two steps more than him to cross because I don’t have a very big stride!
Week 4 and Onwards
I thought it would be useful to look at my pacing! My FitBit records pace in ‘laps’ — each lap is ten minutes. I’m looking at the middle lap as the first and last ones include the five min warm up/cool down walk, so that affects the pace. My current pace is around 8:30/km, which means if I could keep that up for 5k, it’d take me 42.5 minutes! Not particularly fast, but I have to bear in mind that even that middle lap is quite a bit of walking, so hopefully by the tine I can run continuously I’ll get the pace up a fair bit. The goal I guess is 6:00/km to get to the 5k in half an hour target, but to be honest, I’m not going to put too much pressure on my pace. If I can get to the end of C25K and run for 30 minutes nonstop I’ll be happy, even if that isn’t 5k. The 5k can always come later!
Looking into the not-so-distant future, week 4 is very intimidating for me. It’s a real step up in the amount of time spent running (a jump from 9 mins to 16 mins), and a jump from 3 min runs to a max of 5 min runs. The pattern is run 3 mins, walk 90 seconds, run 5 minutes, walk 2.5 minutes and then repeat. This is the first week I’ve felt really nervous about being able to do, but I keep reminding myself that it’s okay if I decide to go back to week 3, or do a modified week 4 and then do week 4 properly the following week. I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to give week 4 run 1 a good go and see how I feel. Depending on how I feel, I’ll do one of three things: 1) if it’s really challenging, I’ll do week 3 runs 2&3 again, and week 4 the following week. 2) If it’s a bit too challenging, but I’m almost there, I’ll modify it to run 3 mins, walk 3 mins, run 5 mins, walk 3 mins and repeat. That way I’d be doing the same amount of running, but with longer recovery breaks, and then week 4 as the app instructs the following week. 3) I feel happy with the difficulty, and just keep going as the app suggests.
I’m sure I’ll be tweeting about my progress, but I will be doing another update post in 3 weeks time, where hopefully I’ll have just finished week 6, looking to the final three weeks, but we’ll have to see…!