Reader’s Request: Couch to 5K

by Holly on March 13, 2012

in rambling,reader's request,running

Ummm….who’s ready for some fun up in herrrre?

I am.

Enough talk about anxiety. And reprioritizing. And Monster Cookie Pancakes!

Okay, total psych on that last one. I could talk about Monster Cookie Pancakes all day long…all week long…all year long…all 27 years of my curly-haired life long! But I digress. Back to the point at hand. We can all agree it’s time for some fun, right?

And nothing says fun like RUNNING!

Am I right or am I right?

Ha! Total psych again. Whoever thinks running is fun is crazier than “horticulture expert” Rick Santorum. That dude. No words.

But seriously! Spring is springing. Daylight savings time has arrived. The weather is warmer. And race season is just beginning! Whether you’re a runner…want to be a runner…never want to be a runner…hope to get in shape for swimsuit season…or are looking for a challenge, running is IT. It improves lung function. It’s a great cardiovascular workout. People who run sleep better. Eat better. Are happier. And live longer! Runners’ see their age increase an average of 10-15% over 10 years.

I know what you’re thinking…that’s great Holly, you Everythingtarian you, but I hate running!

I get it. I used to hate it too! I wasn’t always this happy to have run 13.2 miles.

Even as a wee little elementary school girl, I hated running. I lasted one soccer season the summer after 2nd grade. It was far too much running and too much of a risk of running straight into the goalie post to make it worth it. Yes, that happened…I ran into a goal post. In middle school, I tried to convince myself things had changed. I signed up for the track team and discovered I still hated running. In high school, I still hated running.

However, when I made the commitment to get healthy my junior year of college, I decided to give running one last shot.

And I am so glad I did.

One marathon. One pending marathon. Four half-marathons. One 10-mile race. And countless other races later, I am officially one of those people completely addicted to the endorphin high I get only after lacing up my sneakers and running up a sweat.

And here is how I got there:

(1) I committed to one month of running.

If you don’t regularly run, the first two weeks of running are going to be hard. They just are. It’s hard. Running is hard. You’ll feel out-of-shape. You may want to keel over and die. Mostly, you’ll want to quit. BUT DON’T. Give it one month…that’s it! I promise after four weeks, your abs will feel tighter, your thighs will be stronger and you will experience the perfect run. That run that comes every so often where you feel so good and so euphoric that you’ll come home, stretch and fall completely in love with running.

(2) I took it slow.

To be honest, I’m still not a fast runner. I take running at the pace my body feels up for that day…and that works for me. For beginners, I would suggest running for one minute then walking for one minute. With each week, increase the time you run by one minute. Eventually, you will feel good enough to run consistently. You just gotta stick with it (see above).

(3) I signed up for a race.

I’m the kind of person that always needs something to shoot for. Do something just because you love doing it? Pssshaww…totally overrated. Races help me stay accountable to a training plan (I highly recommend Hal Higdon’s free training programs) and help me shoot for time goals (I’m still determined to run a sub-1:50 half-marathon). If I know I am going to be running a marathon in 46 days, I WILL follow my plan as not to make a fool out of myself on race day.

Plus, races are really fun.

(4) I started reading Runner’s World magazine.

Once I started immersing myself in running, fueling for running, reading about races, reading about inspiring people who run, running gear and everything related to running, I felt motivated. And whenever my running mojo is low, this is exactly what I do. I pick up Runner’s World magazine and get inspired to run. Or I buy a cute new running top.

(5) I yoga’ed.

I can only run three times per week, max. Running is too monotonous for me if I force myself to do it any more than that and then I start hating it. That kinda defeats the purpose of doing it in the first place, no? Instead, I yoga. And elliptical. And bootcamp. And Zumba. And walk. Never ever forget just how lovely a long walk in the dwindling sunset can be.

Helpful resources for running:

Brendan Brazier – a professional Ironman triathlete (and he’s vegan!)

Hal Higdon – FREE training programs

Lindsay Runs

Map My Run

No Meat Athlete – great tips for vegetarian athletes

Runner’s Kitchen

Runner’s World

Running in the USA – find races near you

Spring 2012 Running Shoe Guide

Are you a runner? If so, what is your best tip for those new to running? Sharing is caring!


Maureen March 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm

YAY! This is perfect for me right now. I am just starting to train for my first 5k and running today was hard!! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

Bronwyn March 13, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I miss running very very much. And I keep not being able to get past that 1-2 week of running! I run great for 1 week, then bam life gets in the way. It’s not like I’m not exercise (1.5hrs of yoga 3 times a week, swimming 1.5hours 3 times a week, + ski/snowboarding and xcountry skiing)… but I really do want to start exercising OUTSIDE. Time to make running a priority I guess!
Great post though. I was similar, hated running until my mom made me do it. :P

Lauren @ The Climbing Chef March 14, 2012 at 1:43 am

I used to run but my knees (and body in general) are two screwed up to run anymore… now I elliptical and yoga. The elliptical is a good option for someone with bay joints, ahem… me, who still likes the “high” you get :)

Lauren March 14, 2012 at 5:49 am

When is your marathon girl?

Amy B @ Second City Randomness March 14, 2012 at 6:01 am

Love this! I have a few friends who are talking about signing up for their first 5k soon and I could not stress enough- just start slow and don’t give up!

Lindsay @ The Reluctant Runner March 14, 2012 at 7:35 am

I ran for two years and never grew to like it. It never got easy/enjoyable. I am currently on an indefinite hiatus, but I’m stubborn and it pisses me off that I never grew to like running, because I really wanted to, so I think I am going to try again.
Just before I gave up on running, I found the actual Couch to 5k program ( which I wished I would have found at the very beginning. It was kind of too late for me then, I was already ready to be done with running, but I did a few weeks of the program and it is really great. It really eases you into running so you’re not trying to do too much too soon and getting discouraged. When I do get out there again, I am going to use C25k.

Lindsay @ Lindsay's List March 14, 2012 at 7:48 am

My best tip is the “run-walk” method!! It’s how I trained Travis for his first 5K and he did SO well!!

Meister @ The Nervous Cook March 14, 2012 at 7:52 am

Great advice, all! Just like you, I hated this thing when I started: Then I picked up a copy of “Runner’s World” one day and realized there were people out there who liked torturing themselves this way. When I set out to find out how they managed to do that, I found that I became one of them myself!

Now I blow through a pair of shoes every 2 months from mileage, and I have my first real half-marathon-length race coming up in exactly a month! So excited (and nervous).

<3 Running <3

Nicole March 14, 2012 at 8:27 am

I second the ‘take it slow’. I set my sights on a marathon (ran Chicago 5 yrs in a row!) but started with a 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon and then the full. I did that over about a year. I also followed Hal’s marathon training plan–the best. No injuries, no boredom. I got a bit burnt out after the 5 years of training and now stick to 10ks and working on speed and overall fitness.

sarah @ sarah learns March 14, 2012 at 8:30 am

i’m trying to be a runner! i’m signed up for crazylegs & a half marathon, so i’m definitely working on it. :) you’re right – signing up for races lit a fire under my ass that i could never seem to light before.

Ginny March 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

I love running when I’m really mad at someone (ahem, a boy, ahem) and you can just runrunrun. I would like to love it other times as well (it doesn’t really encourage a consistent workout regimen my way), so this is super helpful!

Amy (CookingScraps) March 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

Taking it slow is great advice. My advice is not to compare yourself, or your pace, to others! I run for me, which means I run however fast and however long I’d like. If you’re just starting, commit 20-30 minutes to begin and move about. Start out running, and if you need to walk, walk- just complete the amount of time you committed to. As you keep going, it will get easier, and you’ll start to discover what works for you.

Adey March 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

Simply said, Holly. I can say I have a love-hate relationship with running, but can never let it go because of the overall benefits. I have realized that I do not have to run for five million hours to be a legit runner. Two to four miles here and there is all it takes to maintain fitness and health. My best tip for beginner runners that prefer afternoon workouts is to throw on their gear immediately after work, which gives the motivation to get out. :)

Garet March 14, 2012 at 11:29 am

Great post! I’ve got to say, seeing you (and Brett!) run your half-mari way back when was inspiring. And now I love running too! But I still don’t love races.

Thanks for the links!

Laura March 14, 2012 at 11:30 am

I have been running for ten years, and a marathon, 6 halves and several races and cross country seasons later, I kind of forget what it is like to be new to it. I have just always loved it. But when I think of the start, it happened by setting mini goals. Go out on a run with the goal to make it a block farther than you did yesterday, or to make it to the next intersection. Tangible, satisfying landmarks. For those days when you just are struggling to even get out the door, rely on the out and back technique: tell yourself you are going for a 15 minute run, and run 15 minutes in one direction. Inevitably you will have to come back and before you know it you just completed a 30 minute run. And most importantly, never give up on yourself and always give yourself credit for the runs you do. They are all progress even if they may feel otherwise . . .

Kelly @ No Sugar Sweet Life March 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I just started the Pooch to 5K (like Couch to 5K but with doggie included)! Last night was my first run/walk. All you “runners” out there in the blogosphere inspired me :) I love that post-13.2 mile run pic of yours above!

Megan (Braise the Roof) March 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I like to map out my runs. They have an aerial view map that you can zoom in on to see landmarks so you can get REALLY exact. I’m a nerd. It’s addicting. I went for my first outdoor run of the year this morning, btw. It wasn’t a long one (nor did I want it to be), but it was in the mid-60’s already at 6:45 and it was amazing.

Hillary March 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I suppose this couldn’t come at a better time, since I’m running my second half marathon on Saturday and have had a few “how the hell did I get here?!” moments. Like you, I haaaaaated running growing up. Hated it. Then, when I decided I should probably lose 40 lbs my junior year of college, I realized that running would probably be the quickest and easiest way to do so. Quick? Yes. Easy? Hell no. I could barely make it down the block (downhill) for my first week. But, as you suggested, I would run for a bit (usually to the end of the street or until I hit a stop sign) and then walk, until I built up enough endurance to just keep running.

And now I’m running half marathons.

Honestly, if I can make this progression, anybody can. It’s the truth!

mindy - clueless nut March 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Oh…. running. ugh!

Christine @ The Savoury Traveller March 14, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I used to weigh almost 250 pounds and running was the most depressing, demoralizing, upsetting day of gym class throughout my middle school and high school life. It is exhilarating and empowering to think of that girl when I am our pounding the pavement through the deep waters of my training runs at 27 years old. As you say, it was not always enjoyable and you can have many a bad run waiting for that good one to come over you but just like other challenges in life, running will present you with opportunities to learn about yourself if you give yourself over to it and embrace that it is both physical and psychological in its challenges and its benefits. LOVE.

Claire @ Un Bello Aperitivo March 15, 2012 at 5:41 am

Awesome post! After I ran my first half marathon, I fell out of love with running for like 2 months, but I continued to read running articles and everything. Then, one day I woke up and was totally ready to run. I’m getting back into it, but I always remember that the beginning is the hardest.

Sometimes when a run is tough at the beginning, I tell myself that I can run as slow as I want, just as long as I’m running. I’ll also make plans to stop for 15 seconds or so at a predetermined landmark, but most of the time I’ll push through it and not stop.

It’s funny because while you’re running, sometimes you feel like death, but when you’re done, you’re looking forward to your next run. And I LOVE the feeling of that one really good run that comes every once in a while.

Robyn @ Blueberries and Oats March 16, 2012 at 12:47 am

I never ever thought I’d like running but since giving interval training on the treadmill a try I am loving it! It really makes me feel good and is such a great workout. I’ve been noticing a real difference in my abs, legs, and butt that I never saw from biking or swimming!

Charlotte March 16, 2012 at 10:10 am

Wonderful post, Holl! I was just emailing a friend two nights ago with some suggestions on training for her first 5K. I swear, our lives are synced sometimes.

The best advice I think I ever got was to just get out there. There is a saying I constantly see on Pinterest – “No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch” – it is so true. It’s totally ok if you are walking for most of your “run”, at least you got out there!

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