I Did It!

Couch-to-5K

Full Disclosure: I wasn't quite this perky.

This morning, one day after my 46th birthday, I finally realized my goal of running 5K (3.1 miles) with the Couch-to-5K running program. Can I get a YAY from the congregation? 🙂

It was an amazing feeling. When I got to the end, my fists shot up in victory and I couldn’t help screaming a loud YEAH. The people driving by on the avenue must have thought I was a bit off. (Some would say that’s true even without the public display of Rockyness.) I’m embarrassed to admit I even had a wee tear in my eye. But maybe that was sweat.

I’ve mentioned Couch to 5K a few times in other posts. For those who are interested in starting a running program, I think this one is great. And that’s coming from someone who tried to run at various times in her much younger days and never succeeded. It’s a slow build that seems deceptively simple on paper. In fact, because I was already up to one mile before I started the program, I almost skipped ahead. Lucky for me, I decided to start from the beginning. I’d advise others to do the same.

The program starts off with intervals of walking and running. There are three sessions per week and a total of nine weeks until you get to the 5K. The workouts in the first few weeks vary each session, so I suggest downloading Robert Ullrey’s podcasts. They feature music, instructions from Robert on when to walk and when to run, and a tad of encouragement, which was just enough—I don’t need people screaming “do you feel the burn?” at me, thank you very much.

When the final week arrived, I set out on a overly warm day without water (yes, intelligent). I nearly died but finished the run along with the podcast. I was happy for that, but I had a suspicion I was running slower than a 10-minute mile, which would mean that I hadn’t actually reached 3.1 miles during the timed podcast. Sure enough, mapping it out with my car’s odometer later that day, I’d only run 2.5 miles, avereraging a 12-minute mile.

I charted the rest of the course, and on my next running day, I set out again (this time with water) to give it another try.  That day was hotter than the last and I couldn’t even make it to the 2.5-mile point. Disgusted, I decided to take a break and walked for the next week and a half, which is much easier to do in the heat.

But then the perfect day arrived. I woke up this morning to the absence of sun. It was much cooler than it’s been, and I thought “this is my moment.” I grabbed my iPod, tuned in to Robert’s podcast, and did it.

So, what next, you ask? 10K? Half marathon? Marathon? HELL, NO! For now, 5K is a goal achieved and I’ll be very happy to go back to a weekly combination of walking and running (fewer than 3.1 miles at a time).  We’ll see what happens when the cooler days of autumn arrive.

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67 Comments

  1. Alice said,

    June 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Happy birthday for yesterday! I would’ve written you an email. Perhaps I shall anyway. Ooh, the drama of indecision.

    Well done! 😀 I take my daily exercise from walking up three flights of stairs to Geography, and that’ll do for now. Is there nothing you cannot achieve?! Besides world domination, and I don’t recommend that…

    Hope you’re well! I shall go and write an email of mind-boggling glory.

  2. June 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I don’t even drive that far. Good for you, however.

  3. dearrosie said,

    June 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday Margaret. I am very impressed and inspired to do something more than what I currently do – yoga, walking and swimming – but I’m older than you and my knees won’t allow me to run anymore, so I can’t join you on your next marathon.

    • June 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you, Rosie. So maybe I’ll be joining you in yoga. I’ve never been able to do it. I’m not very flexible naturally, but people tell me I can get there if I just keep with it.

  4. huffygirl said,

    June 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Yay. Well done Margaret, and Happy Birthday too. I’m not surprised youdid the Rocky fists and shed a tear – I’m the same way with my new physical accomplishements, small tho mine are.

    I’m going to share your post with my nephew, who’s been an on and off again runner.

    • June 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

      Thanks, Huffy. By the way, the rotator cuff was not torn. I just have tendonitis. Any tips?

      • huffygirl said,

        June 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm

        Yay. Well done Margaret, and Happy Birthday too. I’m not surprised you did the Rocky fists and shed a tear – I’m the same way with my new physical accomplishements, small tho mine are.

        I’m going to share your post with my nephew, who’s been an on and off again runner.

        For RTC tendinitis the treatments are: 1. NSAIDS (Motrin and the like), ice, rest – you’ve probably already tried these. 2. Physical therapy – ultrasound, cross-friction massage (helps, but OUCH) exercise. 3. Cortisone injection – probably the fastest and quickest fix; can only be done about 3-4 times a year to avoid thinning the tendon. 4. Surgery to strip away calcification – generally used only if 1-3 don’t work. I’ve got a case of calcific RTC tendinitis right now, and I’ll probably opt for # 3. I’ve had it done once to the other arm – it feels worse for a few days, then feels better – so I know what I’m getting into. What do you think?

      • June 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm

        I think I’ll continue with the PT exercises at home for now. I’m not feeling too bad. I’m just amazed at how long this takes to heal. It’s been going on now for four months.

  5. Todd Morris said,

    June 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    That is awesome … congratulations. I love the idea behind the couch to 5K concept. Too many goals seems unachievable when we try to jump right to the end … and thus are never even attempted. As you pointed out above though, often just starting a “deceptively simple” plan will put you on track to succeed. Great lesson. 🙂

    • June 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks, Todd. I’m so glad I didn’t jump ahead. The first week of the program seemed too easy with its very short bursts of running mixed with walking, but it was actually more difficult than running a mile all at once because of the quick shifts in intensity. I was laughing at my foolishness at the end of that first run. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. mommarge said,

    June 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Way to go Marg! I’m proud of you. One more accomplishment off your bucket list.

    • June 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks, Mom. I may never get to the end of my “list.” Every time I cross one thing off, I add something new. Such fun.

  7. June 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Fantastic! I can barely run to the couch! Maybe I should set some goals for this year?

  8. June 11, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Congrats! I ran a half-marathon in October, but experienced the joy of plantar fasciitis almost immediately afterward. I finally braved a 12-minute run about two weeks ago. I’m sure I’ll find a 14-minute run in me sometime in the next week or two . . .

    I’m going to have to, else I’ll never meet my bucket list goal of running a marathon in under 4:00! :p

  9. June 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    You are so sly. So we were chatting on your birthday??

    Way to go on your goal. My favorite part: you didn’t up the ante to some ridiculous thing like, “Now I’m going to go for the Ironwoman title.” You said, “I’m going to keep on keeping on.” Which is often about the most challenging thing I face.

    Wahoo for you!

  10. SuziCate said,

    June 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Yay you! And happy belated birthday!

  11. Carol said,

    June 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

    You go girl! That is a great birthday present to yourself.

  12. Linda said,

    June 12, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Way to go girl! Any goal a complished is a good thing and should be rewarded. Hopefully, you propped your feet up and celebrated with something like a big bowl of ice cream. BTW, I’m glad you’re back in the blog world.

    • June 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

      Thanks, Linda. It’s good to be back. I, indeed, did have a bowl of ice cream last night with my cuzzie. (And then we compared our fat deposits. ROFL. I’m not kidding.)

  13. June 12, 2011 at 9:12 am

    You tricked me! I fully expected to see “I finished novel #2!” , but I still have to say way to go, Margaret! I’m totally still on the couch portion of that program and getting off in the near future is not looking good since I don’t even own a pair of running shoes. I’m not sure my heels could make it a full 5K!, but you are inspiring me to do something. I just don’t know what that is yet. 🙂 I hope you had the most wonderful of birthday, my friend! I’m so glad you’re back!

    • June 12, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Running 5K is much easier than finishing my novel. 😉

      You’ll figure out what to do. It took me a long time to get into an exercise routine that I actually look forward to. Walking is always a good start. It’s good for your head, too. I was reading something recently, can’t remember where, and it said average levels of exercise probably won’t result in much weight loss without changes to the diet. I totally agree with that. (Just compare the calories you burn walking a few miles with the calories in your favorite snack food and you get the idea.) However, exercise helps to reduce stress, which reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which will in turn help to keep the belly fat off. YAY, keep the belly fat off!!

      Finishing my novel is much easier than keeping belly fat off. 😉

      Thanks for the warm wishes.

  14. Brenda said,

    June 12, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Those are the most amazing accomplishments, fulfilling a dream or secret desire. I actually dislike exercise, lack of ability really, but a couple of years ago I promised myself I would make working out a part of my life. I still dislike waking up at 5:30 in the morning, but I confess I love how I feel, how it makes me feel strong, Xena, warrior like. I’ve not venture out to run in real world, again, the klutz in me, but it’s something I think about… For now, I have declared in my head (still a secret to the world) to achieving a certain number of miles per week on the elliptical, whereas before it has always been about the time I spent on the machine. We’ll see. You’ve inspired me to stay on track.. Hope the novel is coming along, and you are probably right about finishing it that dealing with belly fat. Argh!

    • June 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      Go for it, Brenda. You can do it. Imagine me cheering you on and showering you with confetti made from shredded scenes that didn’t make it into the book. 😉

  15. Marjorie said,

    June 12, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Yay You

  16. Lenore Diane said,

    June 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I must know…. did you feel the burn? Sorry.
    Congrats, Margaret! A wonderful thing to accomplish near your birthday, too. Yay to you!! ~ Lenore

  17. Richard said,

    June 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Congratulations! I don’t know how you do it, but you were always going to succeed. 🙂

    Only today I completed my 5k to Couch program. I gave in to the temptation to skip forward and went straight to the Couch. 😉

  18. Girlboxing said,

    June 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    You rock & roll, Margaret!!! Congratulations! And, a belated Happy 46th!!! What a TERRIFIC birthday present!

    If you do decide to run the marathon — do it in NYC so we can cheer you on!!! 😉

    • June 13, 2011 at 7:15 am

      I don’t see a marathon in my future, GB. I went to the NYC marathon once to cheer on a friend, who completed it, and it was great fun. Very exciting.

  19. June 13, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I find the notion of a podcast coaching as you run fascinating. I don’t think of myself as a big runner although I run a few miles several times a week because I have to, and I was thinking that the podcast coach might be a way to get speedwork (which I abhor) done. Now I’m off to investigate that possibility on the great wide interweb. Had no idea. You may have just made my life that much better.

    I thought this post was going to celebrate a 2nd novel completed, too. And I was going to indulge in… I dunno, champagne or ice cream or something on your behalf. But I think this is pretty damn awesome, and worthy of the toast/treat anyway!

    Note to self: purchase champagne. 🙂

  20. bronxboy55 said,

    June 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Congratulations, Margaret. What a great accomplishment. You must be very proud.

    And happy birthday!

  21. June 14, 2011 at 10:58 am

    YAY!!! Congrats!!

  22. Kim said,

    June 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Fabulous — congratulations! I’ve wanted to try this forever — and now I may just do so. Good for you 🙂

    • June 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

      Let me know how it goes, Kim. I spoke to a friend who competes in marathons and triathlons and she said she never liked the run/walk interval training methods. She found it easier to just stick with running. I can’t argue with that. I found those early weeks of switching back and forth more difficult than straight running, too. However, it seemed to improve my breathing, something I always had problems with when attempting to run in the past. Good luck.

  23. Melinda said,

    June 14, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Congrats!!! That’s awesome!! I don’t blame you one bit for a tear as it’s well deserved -so is the Rocky imitation. I’ve perfected the couch part (more like sitting at my desk) but I’m thinking summer in FL isn’t the best starting time..so my app sits patiently waiting for Fall. Happy belated Birthday!!

  24. Linsey said,

    June 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    That’s awesome! I’m not a runner, but the few times I did run, the walk/run combo worked for me.

    Laughing at your comment on my blog about practically being able to shake hands with your neighbor through your bathroom window. Me, too!

    Xo, Linsey

    • June 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      🙂 Yeah, that’s fun and neighborly, huh? Just remember to wash your hands first. 😉
      Glad you stopped by, Linsey.

  25. June 17, 2011 at 1:02 am

    keeping it real. way to go margaret. happiness to u.

  26. Val said,

    June 19, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Well done! 🙂
    Impossible for me to run – since I injured toes of one foot I can only just walk these days.

  27. Michael G. said,

    June 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Happy Birthday Margaret and well done on the 5K run!

  28. melsar93 said,

    June 25, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Godd on ya! My wife did the same couch-potatoe-to-5K a couple years ago and then last year she ran 4 half marathons. She ran one more half marathon this year and says that 5K or 10K is plenty.

    I’ll probably be running another marathon at some point.

    • June 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      It feels good to get congrats from people who are leagues ahead of me but still remember what it was like when they were starting out. At this point, I have no intention of training to the next level. I’m happy with shorter runs (2 miles), walks, and the occasional longer run (5K). If my body starts screaming that it’s ready to get on with it, then we’ll see what happens. 😉

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ll be pointing my husband in the direction of your blog. He does most of the cooking.

  29. June 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    […] Exercise – I finished another week of the C25K running program. […]

  30. August 5, 2011 at 4:21 am

    congratulations!

  31. October 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    […] only run 5K once, the day after my 46th birthday back in June, and though it felt like a great achievement, it wasn’t one I thought I’d be repeating any time […]

  32. duckofindeed said,

    November 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Nice job! I need to exercise more. Sometimes, I can make myself run around the living room for a half hour, sometimes I can only manage ten minutes, and sometimes I’m too lazy to do anything. I don’t think I can do 3 miles, though. But, I need to do something.

    • November 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      Oh gosh, I couldn’t do 3 miles when I began either. I started walking 2 miles per day and did that consistently for years. Then I decided to run a block and see what happened…then two, then three. And then I found those Couch-to-5K podcasts and that made all the difference. It was like having my own personal trainer in my ear. Just do it, Duckie! 😉 Whatever “it” may be.


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