Tips For Completing the 'Couch to 5K' Running Program.
I recently completed the Couch to 5k running program. I became a graduate of the program on 12/3/2011. After 9 weeks of being on the program, I thought I would take the time to share some tips on how I completed the program. This article is for anyone considering starting the program. It is also for those who have never heard of the program, and might want to try it out. I am not an expert, and the tips I'm going to provide are what helped me get through the program. I'm just simply passing them on to help others. Also remember to consult with your doctor or health care physician before starting any fitness program. Please read on.
What is the Couch to 5k running program?
The Couch to 5k running program(also known as C25K), is a running program designed to get couch potatoes running 5k, or 3 miles on a regular basis. The program lasts 9 weeks in total, and is posted on the website http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml. The program consists of running 3 days a week, with a rest day in between each run. Some people believe the program is only for those who haven't run in years, or have never ran at all. However, this program is for anyone regardless of your level of fitness. I've been running since 2006. Sometime in 2009, I slacked off on my running. Since then it's been a struggle to get back to where I was, so I decided to use this program to help get me back to running regularly. I am also planning on running in my first 5k race next year, so this program has definitely helped me in getting prepared for that. I started out by downloading the podcasts for the program. The website I used for the podcasts was http://www.c25k.com/podcasts.htm. The guy who coaches you through the program is named Robert Ullrey. If you are interested in using the program, you don't have to use the podcasts from this site. There are several sites for downloading the podcasts and apps for using the program. Ok lets get into the tips that I've come up with.
Don't stop running.
What do I mean by this? Well, using this program requires a lot of dedication. Depending on your level of fitness, the first couple of weeks of the program can be fairly easy. They can also be very challenging as well. However, as you progress into the program, the runs will get longer and harder. No matter how hard the runs may seem, continue to run. If you have to slow your runs down to almost briskly walking, do exactly that. This program is about building up your endurance, which brings me to my next tip.
Focus on your stamina, not speed.
A person using this program correctly should average around 10 minutes per mile. However, if you are just starting out running, or have been inactive for years, this may be very difficult to achieve. Don't concentrate on time. Focus on building up your endurance and stamina. If you are running 11, 12, 13, or even 14 minute miles, that is totally fine. As long as you are consistently running, that's all that matters regardless of your pace. As you progress and become better at running, your speed will gradually build.
Breathe however is comfortable for you.
Breathing is another important aspect of running. Most running experts advise runners to breathe in through their noses, and out through their mouths. Many advanced runners breathe in through their noses, and out through their nose. However, many new runners find these methods of breathing difficult, and breathe through their mouths only. If breathing through your mouth is the most comfortable method for you, then do it. Like I mentioned earlier, the idea of this program is to gradually build yourself into a runner. As you become better as a runner, you can focus more on the correct methods of breathing.
Run on different terrains.
This is extremely important if you are planning on running in a 5k race somewhere down the line. If you run in a 5k race, there will most likely be a hill or hills that you will encounter. You wanna make sure your legs are equipped to handle running the hills, so don't just run on a flat surface all the time. This is a tip that I received from someone on the Couch to 5k's Facebook page. If you run on a treadmill regularly, take your runs outside sometimes. If you can become accustomed to running hills, running on flat surfaces will become fairly easy for you. During my training on the program, I had two different places I ran at. One was a flat surface at the local park, and the other was the streets near where I live. The streets had a few incline hill surfaces, so that helped me in my training.
Trust the program.
This is my final tip for those considering the program. When you get into the latter weeks of the program, the runs will become longer and more difficult. It will probably seem difficult to achieve and overcome, but trust the program and more importantly, trust yourself. The running that you do in the earlier weeks will prepare you for the more difficult runs in the coming weeks. The program will not put more on you than your body can handle. If you feel you need to repeat a day or week of the program, do that as well. Being comfortable and confident are two of the most important factors.
Using this program has been a journey for me. I almost hated to see it end, but this lady on the C25K's Facebook page told me something that will stick with me. She told me not to be disappointed that I'm done with me program because finishing it is just the beginning of new challenges. I will continue running and getting prepared for my first official 5k race next year. If you remember the tips that I've provided here, it will help guarantee your success. Remember to consult with your doctor or physician if you've been inactive for years before starting any type of fitness program. Thanks for reading.