Couch to 5K

I realized that I haven’t really written about my running program.  I’m doing the Couch to 5K program from  And apparently so is everyone else!  I heard about the program from my friend Kelly.  Since then, I’ve learned that Hannah is doing it and so are a couple other friends.  

I really like the structure of the program. It’s really straight-forward and easy-to-follow.  It’s 3 days/week for nine weeks.  There’s a specified workout for each day and it gets progressively harder as you move along.  They encourage you to complete each workout in order, even if you think you’re strong enough to “skip ahead.” I

I just finished day 2 of week 3 (my running weeks and my calendar weeks aren’t in sync due to some slacking on my part.)  This workout consisted of:

  • Jog for 90 seconds/walk for 90 seconds
  • Jog for 3 minutes/walk for 3 minutes

As you can see, the longest run is 3 minutes long.  And I can run for longer than 3 minutes, but today’s workout was harder than usual.  

First of all, I was jogging outside.  When I’m doing the Couch to 5K runs, I usually do them on a treadmill so I can keep track of my time.  During the first few weeks there are a lot of walk/run/walk/run patterns, so I just didn’t trust myself to be able to keep up with them outside. Plus–believe it or not– I think I run too fast outside.  I run too fast to begin with and then wear myself out near the end. 

Hannah wrote about these podcasts that were specifically designed to go along with the program.  They are free and it was a nice day, so I decided to hit the streets instead of the gym.  I liked the podcast.  The trainer guy was helpful, but not annoying.  The music was okay. It was upbeat and had a good rhythm, but was a little too techno-y for my taste.  It reminded me of the canned music they use for aerobics classes.  Maybe next week’s will be better.

I just REALLY missed the digital readout on the treadmill. C25K is based on interval training and when I’m at the gym, I keep my eye on the time so that I know how much I have left to do.  Obviously, this isn’t going to help when I have 20 or 25 minutes to run, but there’s just something about knowing I only have 2 minutes… now 1 minute… now 30 seconds left that keeps me going.  With the podcasts, he tells you when to switch from running to walking, and he’ll occasionally pipe in that you’re “halfway through” the run, but there’s no way to know exactly how much more time is left. 

So, for all you runners out there– I need some tips.  

  • How do you make it through long runs without getting bored or fixating on the amount of time left?
  • Do you focus on something else (form, music, environment) or just let your mind wander?  
  • What are the benefits to running outside instead of at the gym?  
  • How can I get myself to stay on-pace and not run too fast?
  • Any suggestions for good running music?
I’m planning on doing a couple more podcast workouts before completely forming my opinion. If nothing else, it was nice to get outside and run for a change!

5 responses to “Couch to 5K

  1. i’m doing it too and am close to the end. at the beginning i probably ran half on the treadmill and half outside but it started to feel like i the runs were taking FOREVER on the treadmill so now i just run outside. watching movies while on the treadmill did help a little bit.
    we have a garmin watch that tells you everything – your pace, calories burned, time, direction, etc. one of the best features is that you can program it to beep at you when you’re going too slow or too fast (too fast is not usually my problem). it’s a pricey watch but we use it all the time.
    i need music to run although i think the time goes faster if i let my mind wander.
    and my runs are always better at night..why don’t they have many night 5ks as opposed to early, butt crack of dawn runs? i should start my own.
    good luck with the running!

  2. I actually do better with the podcasts and fixate on time much less than when I’m looking at a watch.

    I’m running outside now, and wish I could continue as NOW-Nov/Dec, it’s really nice to run here. . . but the time change will not allow me enough daylight. :( I’m going to have to join a gym or find another place to run. I thought about getting rid of my futon in my guest room (I have a bed in there now so I don’t really need it.) and buying a treadmill to put in there. . . but given my finicky exercising. . . it could become a clothes drying rack so I need to give this some more time. :)

    I am running in a park near me now, and I really love it. I’m so sad that I didn’t start this sooner. . . espectially as stupid Ike has made it less pretty and taken out some lovely trees. :( It’s still gorgeous though. . . and there are tons of other bikers and runners. It’s not crowded, but there are enough people passing every few minutes that I feel safe. I will probably run on campus when I’m at home. I guess I just let my mind wander because I don’t think of much. . . other than the cute boys that I cross paths with! ;)

    I do not have an issue with running too fast. . . ha! Can’t help you there!

    I usually hate techno-ish stuff, but I like this podcast music. . . although I must admit that I liked week one better than week two and am catching myself singing the old songs (yes, they had a few songs with words for week 1.)

    I like Fragma’s “Toca’s Miracle”. “My Humps” by BEP. “Give It to Me” Timbaland. “The Distance” Cake. “Flagpole Sitta” Harvey Danger. “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” Jet. “Suddenly I See” KT Tunstall. “Your Love” The Outfield. “Extrodinary” Liz Phair”. “Fool in the Rain” O.A.R. “Colorful” Rocco DeLuca. “I’ll Take You There” Staple Singers.

    Kinda weird, but those are a few songs from my “workout” mix that I can remember. . .


  4. Hi congratulations on getting to week 3. I had so many false starts when I started running. :P

    this is going to be long too, i think hehe

    long runs without getting bored … at the start it is booooooring. try running with friends. i also distract myself by focusing on my form . before a run i set what form elements i will be focusing on and shift every now and then. running outside helps because instead of obsessing about time you can spend it looking at whats happening around you.

    i listen to music also when i run. i specially like musicals (loaded Avenue Q on my Ipod) and I sing a long to it sometimes in very lonely stretches of my route. for races, i have really fast songs on playlist to keep me going. but for long runs, its usually maroon5, the beatles, coldplay or some R&B stuff i got from nephew

    I like running outside now but i started in the gym also. Running outside gives me a sense of accomplishment … im actually getting from one point to another.

    stay on-pace and not run too fast … i’m not very fast runner also. but what is important is for you to recognize your effort level. if you are huffing and puffing, time to take it slow otherwise you’d end up walking towards the end of your run. happens to me everytime. or get a garmin or a polar or even a nike+ kit :)

    keep on running!

  5. This has given me some good ideas. Musicals (Mr. Sondheim of course) are actually oddly effective because you get the music plus narrative combination that can be nicely engaging. But my favorite run music is of a different Steve…Stevie Wonder has gotten me through 3 of my 4 5Ks.

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