If you’re training for your first 5K, you’re not alone. Here’s how I did it.
I was a runner in high school and have stayed fairly fit off and on most of my life. However, prior to the Spring of 2008, the only running I’d done for the prior 6 years had been to the fridge. Last year however I ran two 5K’s quite easily and signed up for a 1/2 marathon this year and also hope to compete in a short-course triathlon. Check out my 2011 goals.
I got married in Dec of 2008 and my wife and I realized we love to travel and SCUBA dive. For a couple years we traveled about every 6 months and so about 3 months out from our vacation we’d get serious about our diet and looking good in our swimsuits. Mostly I would do sprints and interval training, not much on the cardio though as I never really “enjoyed” running that much before; even though I was good at x-country in High School.
But finally I realized that if I really wanted to live healthier, I needed to start working out more regularly. So eventually in 2010 I forced myself to sign up for a local 5K. This is a description of how I went from the couch to running 5Ks in a few months.
One of the most popular stories or programs is the Cool Running’s Coach to 5K running plan:
“You should ease into your running program gradually. In fact, the beginners’ program we outline here is less of a running regimen than a walking and jogging program. The idea is to transform you from couch potato to runner, getting you running three miles (or 5K) on a regular basis in just two months.”
Getting Start: Slowly
Little did I know that when I began training in 2010 that I was actually sort of following Cool Running’s program. OK, not sure I would call it “training” as I just wanted to learn to enjoy running and being more fit.
I’ve included a diagram which is the square section of neighborhoods around my house and shows how I eventually got up to over 4 miles of steady pace running 3 days a week. My home is near point “A” on the diagram and so that is where I always started from. I started off day one just walking. Basically I would walk from “A” to “B” and back to “A.” I did that for probably the first 2 days (in the context of this articles the term “days” will be training days which I did three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and either Friday or Saturday).
NOTE: I always start out with 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm up.
By the third day I was ready to jog just a little. So after my warm up walk I began jogging and made it probably only a block. That was all I could do before being totally out of breath. Then I would walk for another 2-5 minutes and jog again till I was out of breath.
I did this from point “A” to “B” and back to “A.” Each day I would exercise I would try and add more and more time between having to stop and walk; pushing myself a little but never too much. The idea is just to add a little each time(day) and gradually work your way up.
Eventually I was able to jog the entire 2 miles within, I’d say… probably 3 weeks to a month. Now, there were times when I was pretty much out of breath but something I would often try is to just keep moving.
I’d tell myself it didn’t matter how slow I jogged as long as I kept jogging. It’s important to realize also that I took it easy, I wasn’t totally pushing myself insane and was enjoying the gradual progress I was making.
I think I did the A-B loop for a good week after I could do it all without stopping for breath. That’s when I started turning the corner at “A” and heading towards “D.” The blue dots on the diagram are light poles and I believe they’re about 125 feet apart. So as I would turn the corner at “A” after coming back from “B”, I would run to one of the light poles, run around it and head back to “A” an finish. Each day I ran I would go to another light pole (adding one each time).
I did that for the next few weeks and by that time I at “D” on the diagram. So the next time I ran I knew I was running close to four miles already so I just started at “A” and went all the way around the huge section from “A” all the way back around to “A.” It was pretty awesome and it felt like I’d accomplished a lot. Once I hit “C” I knew I was halfway home and just keep moving and jogging.
So that’s the route I take 3 days a week now and will be adding onto that again to get ready for the 1/2 marathon in June. I’ll continue until I can make 2 laps easily and then run one of 3 laps a week before the race to know I’m ready then take it easy the last week before the race.
Over this last winter honestly I probably ran a total of 6 times at 30 minutes of jogging each time on the treadmill. Once I got back out to running this spring, I was a little out of shape but not as bad as I thought I was. I started a week ago and ran “A” to “B” and back to “A” again and had to stop and walk because I was out of breath. However, I was feeling pretty good the next day I ran so I did the entire square (3.9) miles. I was pretty tired but it wasn’t too bad. The surprising thing is, not working out very much this winter wasn’t as hard on my cardio endurance as it was my belly!
Getting from couch to 5K is all about starting something and continually adding to it and making progress. For a more detailed outline and popular Couch to 5K program, check out Cool Running’s Couch to 5K.