Couch to 5k: Because I Hate Myself
I have always sucked at running. In middle school, I wanted to join the track team because I liked their sweat suits. Always the best way to pick a sport, right? Lucky for the team, dance lessons kept me too busy. Question my running ability, but never my mad dancing skills: ballet, modern, ballroom, jazz, dance team, Zumba. (Anything that required clothes remain ON, for the record.) However, sticking to what I enjoy and what I’m good at apparently isn’t enough. For some reason, at the end of September 2011, I felt the need to torture myself expand my horizons and try the Couch to 5k running program.
The program—found by Googling and clicking on any of the links claiming to be the “original C25K program”—combines walk/run intervals designed to take you from the couch to running a 5k in 9 weeks. Starting out, I thought of myself as more of couch broccoli than potato: healthier, but still a vegetable when it came to running. Maybe the program wouldn’t completely suck.
I was wrong. It was horrible. I started out walking for 90 seconds, followed by desperately flailing to keep from flying off the end of the treadmill jogging for 60 seconds, repeated for a total of 20 minutes. For the run intervals, I forced my pace to a 10-minute mile, hoping for an end result of a 30-minute 5k. My lungs imploded; my legs shook uncontrollably. But I vowed to continue. Apparently I’m a masochist.
As the running intervals increased in duration, I ventured outside. The excruciating pain faded away as my heart, lungs and legs gained strength. I began losing my mind actually enjoying running around week 7, when I ran for 20 minutes in the rain. I felt unstoppable on my “runner’s high.” I had begun to crack.
I completed the program on December 2nd, 2011, eleven weeks after my first C25K workout. A week later, I ran my first 5k race, finishing in less than 29 minutes.
Would I recommend C25K? Hell yes! Because of the program, I—the girl who always hated running—now consider myself a runner. I continue to jog three days each week and even bought cold-weather running clothes to continue through the winter. I started out wondering why I hated myself enough to start the program; I finished still wondering what was wrong with me. I now run outside in 28-degree weather. For fun.
There must be something wrong with me.