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Couch to 5K: Tips for the Running Newbie

Updated on January 26, 2015
After my first 5K - with my Dad and sister Jackie. It was SO FUN! Run a Disney race - they know how to make it entertaining.
After my first 5K - with my Dad and sister Jackie. It was SO FUN! Run a Disney race - they know how to make it entertaining. | Source

Running Is Awesome

I've been a self-proclaimed runner for a little over a year. Honestly, I never thought that phrase would ever be used in association with my name. Running does not come naturally to me; it's very challenging. That's probably what I love the most about it.

Well, if I'm being completely truthful with you, I also LOVE the weight loss side effect. Losing weight is why I got off the couch in the first place. And according to Women's Health Magazine, "[r]unners are much more likely to be at a normal weight than members of the sedentary population, significantly decreasing their risk of osteoarthritis." So yay for that.

If you've been running forever, this probably isn't the article for you. This is geared to my people on the couch. The ones reading this thinking, "Ugh, I just don't know if I can or if I should." I'm here to tell you that you can and should! I've had two knee surgeries. Yes, two. One on each knee. I have terrible asthma. When I say that, I mean TERRIBLE. I've been hospitalized twice for it and spent hundreds of hours in the ER because of it. Plus I have a husband who works cray hours and two small children. But I still manage to get out and pound the pavement. You should too!

What time of day do you prefer to run?

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My kicks: Nike Pegasus 29
My kicks: Nike Pegasus 29 | Source

MommaStu's Rules of the Road

They aren't exactly "Rules of the Road", more like my advice to make your run stink a little less.

  1. Get your running shoes at a REAL running store. Seriously. If you are in the Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter area, check out TriRun. The employees at a store dedicated to the sport can help you select the best shoe for your body and gait. This makes a world of difference when you're out on you run. Trust me. Spend the extra mullah and get an amazing pair of kicks. *I run in Nike Pegasus.
  2. Wear dry fit running clothes. This might seem like a no brainer, but when I first began I wasn't sure if I was going to like it enough to invest in a new wardrobe. After about a month of running, I traded in my regular "work out" clothes for a drawer full of dry fit running attire. And when I went out for a run in my new duds, I was pleasantly surprised. Pick stuff that's comfortable and cute. Yes, cute. If you aren't crazy about the outfit when you are at the store, you won't want to wear it out on your runs. And if/when you find something you like, buy it in a few colors. You'll be happy you did when that particular tank is no longer available.
  3. Drink LOTS of water. This is another "duh" one. Actually, there's a great article in Runner's World (click here to read the whole thing)... For those who didn't click, the article has one of the best pieces of advice for Florida runners: "Drinking an adequate amount of fluids is the single most important thing you can do before, during, and after a run. Especially a long run on a hot day." It's always hot in FL, so it's imperative to be properly hydrated. Aside from the obvious heat stroke issue, drinking enough will actually help you on your runs. You won't be dragging and sluggish. So bottom's up!
  4. Prepare a rockin' playlist. Nothing will kill your progress and enthusiasm like a slow song. Create a running playlist or two and load them up with upbeat, fun songs. It might be a good time to ask for iTunes gift cards.
  5. Download an app and "add friends". There are TONS of running apps available in the App Store. And bonus: lots of good ones are free! When I first got off the couch, I used a Couch to 5k app (photo below). Now that I've been running for a while, I use RunKeeper and since my Nike watch with NikePlus. I love the Nike apps. I've just joined RunKeeper with friends, I'll critique it after I've used it a bit. Now that you've picked out your app[s], invite friends/family to join you. It's great to have the support of your people. And it's a great motivator: people are literally watching! It's a wonderful form of accountability.
  6. Stretch and take your rest days. I was desperate to lose weight and thought that I should be doing more than my app coach was telling me to. So I pushed it and doubled up on the runs, basically skipping most rest days. And the inevitable happened... I got hurt. Really hurt. I twisted my knee and was ordered off it for a month! And this basically knocked me back down the ladder of progress to near bottom. Your body needs the break. Your muscles and joints are tired from the stress. Give them the rest they crave. And don't skip stretching either. Before and after. I recommend doing a bit of yoga. Yoga is a fantastic compliment to running. There are some great poses that can boast your progress and keep you injury-free.
  7. Just GO! It's time grasshopper. You are ready. It's time to hit the pavement. Remember, it's a mental game. Sign up for a race now so you have something to work toward. Be proud of yourself. When I began, I couldn't run for more than 60 seconds at a time. And now I am training for a 10-miler.

My 1st 5K!

My first 5K was at Disney - I ran the Jingle Jungle 5K.
My first 5K was at Disney - I ran the Jingle Jungle 5K. | Source

My Week

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Run/Walk 2miles
Run/Walk 2 miles
Run 2.5 miles
Crosstrain (yoga)
Run 4 miles
Search around, be flexible with your training. Find what works for you and do it. There are plenty of training programs out there for you to choose. Try them. Anything is better than the couch.
Snapshot of the App I used when I first began. In the App Store, search "Couch to 5K" and scroll over until you find it.
Snapshot of the App I used when I first began. In the App Store, search "Couch to 5K" and scroll over until you find it. | Source

Coaching Apps

Since you are just beginning your journey as a runner, 8 weeks might not be enough time for you to be 5K prepared. I know for me it was more like 12-13 weeks to 5K. That's ok.

The app that I used and recommend is flexible for such a runner. There were several days where I simply could not complete the day's required tasks - for me it was around the halfway mark when you are told to run for 12 minutes straight. It took a good 3 attempts before I was successful. This app allowed me to repeat that "day" without having to move on. I did. And I ran my first 5K last year.

Go at your own pace. You are not being judged, only congratulated. I mean have we learned nothing from the Tortoise and the Hare? I know it might seem silly, but whenever I reach a new milestone I always whisper to myself, "Slow and steady wins the race."

Make sure your playlist is long enough to go the distance with you.
Make sure your playlist is long enough to go the distance with you. | Source

Rockin' Tunes

What's the best running song on your playlist?

I'm always in the market for some great tunes. It'd be great if you left your favorite song or two in the comments section below. Together we just might create the Ultimate Running Playlist!

© 2014 Mindy Studer


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    • MommaStu profile image

      Mindy Studer 3 years ago from Sunny South Florida

      Thank you @khensel

    • profile image

      khensel 3 years ago

      Well written down to earth advice for us novices!