This past weekend I ran a 5K, and YES I treated it almost like running the NYC Marathon because I haven't worked out in, well...it's been a while. Maybe before I had my 2 year old? Sure I am "active" and try to eat well, etc but actually exercising isn't really my jam right now, you know what I mean?
The thing is, I am almost 40 (7 weeks from this Friday but really who's counting?), and I really REALLY thought I'd be the kind of person who was like, "cool" with turning 40, but, I'm not. It's not that I have a problem with it, I am just less cool and casual than I thought I would be, and I guess I am dealing with the turning 40 anxiety by trying to make small improvements/doing stuff I have been saying I'm going to do for a while but haven't started.
The real catalyst though was my 4th grade daughter, who joined a running club at school specifically to train for a 5K that her teacher and her husband hold each year in honor of their son that passed away (read more about Ryan's Run here). She asked me to run with her and after I sort of snort laughed at the idea, I agreed. The problem was, I hadn't actually RAN in years and I mean YEARS. The last time I ran a 5K was around 2010? So I had some work to do. Also, let's get it straight, I'm not a runner. It has never appealed to me, I never liked to run, even when I did that 5K a million years ago I have to say I didn't actually enjoy it a ton? So I was kind of skeptical.
I'm the kind of person that needs a plan, and someone to keep me ON that plan, so I decided to try the Couch to 5K app to get my butt in shape in time for the race. The basics? You spend about 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, for nine weeks, and the claim is that you'll be ready to finish a 5K (3.1-mile) race after that. I had to do it a little bit sooner (around 4 weeks), and I truly TRULY went from my couch to the 5K with this app.
Pros: You get to choose your trainer (I picked the unicorn, yes there is a unicorn dude and I love him) and it tells you when to start, when to jog, when to cool down, and even gives you little motivations like letting you know when you are halfway through and gives you quick pep talks to keep moving. You can quickly glance at it to see how much time you have left (which I did A LOT) and it was easy to navigate, to see what the next workout looked like, and to pause and skip warm ups/cool downs if need be. It started out REALLY easy, like jog for a couple minutes then walk for a couple minutes and I was slightly alarmed because that was actually hard for me at first.
I was totally surprised after probably a week or two when I realized I was doing now 10 minutes without stopping (again, seems like something laughably easy for some people but it seriously was a challenge for me) and then last week by the time I was getting ready to do the actual 5K I had gotten up to 25-30 minute runs and it was so gradual that I felt confident and able and although it was still pushing me I could do it. Now, because I had a shorter time to "train" I ran more than 3 times a week, more like 5-6 times a week, so I cut that time a little bit, but even with the extra runs it felt really gradual and didn't exhaust me so much that I didn't want to run the next day.
I also really love that you can just run whenever you find the time. I know it may sound like an excuse to some people, but with five kids and running a small business by myself from home, I legit do not have time to work out. No joke. I'm at the kind of schedule where I need to decide between showering and putting laundry away, so fitting in a new thing isn't easy. Carving out time to go to an actual class or gym isn't a reality for me at the moment, plus there is the extra expense of a) a class or gym fees and b) a babysitter to go to said class and then being able to make it to the scheduled class on time and trying to fit that in between school hours and work. It's just not what I can/want to do right now. And let's be honest, I am all about being healthy and fit but I'm also about not spending a bunch of money a month on working out. Nope.
So yeah, running is FREE and I can do it whenever I find the time. Most, if not all, of the workouts with this app were 30 minutes or less from leaving my house to getting back, warm up and cool down included. Sometimes I ran before the kids got up, sometimes on weekends I ran during nap time, sometimes after bedtime, sometimes my daughter ran with me, so it was easy to find the time even with all the kids and all the laundry and all the work. Really.
The only con I could find was that now that I have transitioned to 5K to 10K (YES I signed up for a 10K FOR REAL) I wish that there was a way to sort of make a continuation with the 10K up, pick up where I left off with the 5K app so to speak, but right now I'm just finding it as a fresh start at a higher level, which is cool too.
Last Saturday when I finished the whole 5K without stopping I felt pretty great (I had a very adorable cheering squad which helped, I'm talking about you Sean) and even though my 9 year old beat me by quite a margin I was like, I did it. And like I said I already signed up to do a 10K, because I figured if I could get my butt off the couch and do the 5K, I can do the 10K. I guess maybe I am sort of, kind of, a runner now. I ran my first 5K to 10K run last night and I felt great. Great because I had actually started doing something, and great because I had some alone time to listen to music/podcasts uninterrupted, the trees in my neighborhood are all in bloom and smell AMAZING, and yes, great because I accomplished my small goal and am confident enough to start on the next one.
Have a question about my magical unicorn coaching couch to 5K experience? Leave it in the comments below and we'll chat. xo