As of about 4:30pm on Saturday, June 6th, I am a graduate of Couch to 5K! And if I do say so myself, I ended with a bang.
Week 9, day 3 consists of a five minute warm up walk, followed by a 30 minute run. Well I completed that, cooled down with a 5 minute walk, then figured I still had more in me, so I continued to run for 10 more minutes after that. I rocked it!!
I’m going to share five things that helped me push through to the end of Couch to 5K, and if you’re working your way through the program, hopefully they’ll help you too. 🙂
A photo of me at the gym, right before my last Couch to 5K run
#1 I took my time
Couch to 5K is a 9 week program—that’s a little over 2 months. Well, it took me almost five months to complete the program.
My first run was on January 12th, 2015. My last one was on June 6th, 2015.
- There were times when I went on vacation and didn’t do my exercises.
- There were days where I just don’t wannaaaaaa so I didn’t.
- There were days where I didn’t progress like I was supposed to (see #2).
But I didn’t consider any of those failures. It’s not like if you miss a week you’ve failed the program. You can pick right back up and keep going!
#2 I repeated exercises
There were a few times where I couldn’t complete the exercise. I tried, but I couldn’t run for the full 15 minutes or 25 minutes or whatever it was they had me running.
But once again, that didn’t mean I failed, and I knew that. Instead, I just kept repeating the same exercise until I finally nailed it. Then I moved onto the next.
#3 I had an epic playlist
For me, music is incredibly important. Good music motivates me and helps keep me running. This becomes even more important the further I get into the run.
But timing is equally as important as the playlist…
Once the runs started getting longer and harder, I very carefully crafted my playlists. For example, on the 20 minute run, I timed my playlist so that 15 minutes into running, my favourite song would come on. I figured I’d be struggling in those last 5 minutes and would need a SUPER AWESOME PUMPING song to push me on. And you know what? It made a HUGE difference!
I was feeling unmotivated 15 minutes in. I wasn’t sure I could keep going and even felt like I might have to quit. But then my favourite song came on and BAM! I couldn’t help but match my pace to the song’s epic beat and it carried me through three more minutes. And then there were only 2 minutes left in the run, and it was pretty easy to push myself through those 2 minutes, because it’s only 2 minutes after all!
#4 I ran slower if I had to
Week 5 is a tough week:
|#1||5 minute walk, 5 minute run, 3 minute walk, 5 minute run, 3 minute walk, 5 minute run|
|#2||5 minute walk, 8 minute run, 5 minute walk, 8 minute run|
|#3||5 minute walk, 20 minute run|
That’s a HUGE jump to a 20 minute run on day #3! I mean, IT’S INSANE! I was floored when I saw that number.
In order to tackle that horrid week 5 day 3, I prepared myself. I run on the treadmill, and until that point my running pace had been 5.6 MPH at 0.5 or 1 incline. So, in preparation, I dropped the incline to 0 and lowered my pace to 5.4 MPH. It may not seem like a huge difference, but it certainly felt like one!
You don’t have to stick with the exact same pace throughout all of C25K. If you sense a tough run coming up, run slower. There’s no harm or shame in that.
#5 I changed things up
Somewhere around week 7-ish, my fitness priorities shifted. My goal was no longer to simply “complete Couch to 5K”. I had started to love exercise and wanted a healthy lifestyle with a varied routine. So, I started incorporating strength training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) into my routines.
Routines I’ve been trying are:
I’m not sure if these extra activities necessarily helped me complete C25K, but I do think they helped me stay motivated. Doing three runs a week and NOTHING ELSE can get a bit dull. But by incorporating other activities, it made everything feel a bit more varied.
But it’s hard to keep up with C25k, strength training, and HIIT. So, I scaled back C25K. Instead of doing three C25K runs per week, I sometimes limited it to only one. So I’d do two days of HIIT where I do more sprinting instead of just steady jogging, and then I’d have one “long run” per week, which was the C25K program. And that’s in addition to strength training 2-3 times per week.
Having all these different activities kept me going. I never worried about having a strict schedule, and I think that made me happier. I didn’t get mad at myself if I only did one C25K day per week, because there’s no one there policing me. I did what I want, when I wanted.