Couch to 5k, and beyond

Run, Jon, Run.

Ten weeks ago I decided I wanted to be in better cardiovascular shape. I do yoga regularly, but with a two year old and staring a new business, a 90 minutes a workout just isn’t practical. The weather in Phoenix getting nicer and running is a great option.

Enter the couch to 5k running program.

Couch to 5k consists of 10 weeks of running 3 days a week for a total of 30 runs. At the end of the program, you have enough endurance and training to run your first 5k (3.11 miles). It’s called couch to 5k because it pretty much assumes your level of fitness nonexistent. This is a good thing, as I found out I was in poorer shape than I thought. The program not only trains your repository and cardiovascular system to run 5k, but also your body to deal with the wear and tear.

Couch to 5k has been around for awhile, and there are many iPhone apps that will help guide you through the 10 week program. I ultimately decided on an app called Runmeter, as it was recommended on a few running blogs. Runmeter tracks an insane about of data, including your splits, intervals, speed, time, distance and elevation. It then maps it all to a Google map. Not only does it has the couch to 5k program, but is also has 10k, half marathon, and full marathon programs. It’s a steal at $4.99.

Today was my last run of the 10 week program. It was a test 5k, which I ran in 27:30, and I feel great. My body feels like it is finally conditioned for running. I barely even broke a sweat until about a mile in. The best part is the endorphins after the run. It puts you in a fantastic mood. This alone is why I now understand how people obsess over the sport of running.

My endurance also obviously improved. I get noticeably less winded with physical activity. My legs and calves also seemed more tone. I didn’t seem to lose any weight during the program, though that wasn’t the goal. If I did, maybe it was replaced with muscle. My wife does say I look slimmer.

So if your looking to get into running, I fully recommend the couch to 5k program. It worked well for me and I’m looking forward to my first official race next Sunday, the Phoenix 10k (in which I am just running the 5k portion).

If you do couch to 5k, here’s a few tips:

  • Get fitted for running shoes. With all the abuse your feet take, it’s worth it to invest in a pair of shoes to protect your them. I went to Roadrunner sports where they put me on a treadmill and analyzed my step. I found out I have a wide foot with a high arch. The recommended the Asics Cumulous, which was not the cheapest shoe. I ended up finding the pervious year’s model for 50% off. (If you’re in Phoenix, the Runner’s den is also a great, local place to get fitted).
  • Don’t run on pavement.This is running 101, but just didn’t think about it. I love to run on the Bridal Path on Central Ave, which is dirt. To get there, I had to run a mile on the concrete sidewalk. Afterwards, I noticed my knees and back were significantly more sore. When I started to ride my bike to the bridal path and then run from there, the pain seemed to subside noticeably.
  • Diet helps a lot. When I didn’t eat well, or not enough the previous day, I felt it on my run. Trying to finish 3 miles with no energy takes all fun out of running. By watching what I ate and making sure I was getting enough carbs made a ¬†difference. Protein is also key to helping rebuild your muscles, and as I understand, should be consumed within 30 minutes after your run. I drink protein shakes, and again, notice a difference to how fast my body bounces back.
  • Take a supplements. Unless you’ve condidtioned your body to run before (I’ve never been a runner), then you may have joint soreness, as I do occasionally in my knee and ankle. Taking a suppliment such as glocolomine can help fight that.
  • Don’t push it. Early in the program, it’s tempting to run more than what the program recommends. The program is conditioning your cardiovascular system to handle longer runs, but it’s also conditioning your feet and legs. It’s easy to hurt yourself, and not realize it to the next day.

The next race after the Phoenix 10k (again 5k, for me) is the Rock and Roll half marathon. It a significant step up in milage, but at this point, I’m enjoying running so much, I couldn’t imagine not challenging myself to go for it.