Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lessons From a Couch To 5k Program

Yep, I’m back in action!  First blog of the new year, so Happy 2015 to all of you!  Hope it’s be a healthy year for you so far.  I’m always looking for new and different ways to challenge my body, and this year I started with a Couch to 5k Program.  For those that don’t know, this is a running program designed to help you run a 5k race.  Before we get ahead of ourselves, no, I haven’t run a race…yet.  In following this eight week program, it reminded me of the benefits a training program can provide.  It also taught me a few things about myself.  Here it goes…

First of all, it’s no brainer cardio.  It tells you exactly what to do: when to run, when to walk.  The only thinking you need to put in is where to do your workout that day.  I did a combination of treadmill on snowy days, sidewalks and city trails when they were dry.  The last is my favorite I must say.  Each workout was 30-40 minutes in length with a warm up and cool down.

The workouts week one through six are interval training, ie walk for this long, run or jog for that long.  They progressively change from mostly walking to mostly jogging/running, then the last two weeks are all running (except the warm up/cool down).  This type of progressive interval training gradually lets the body get stronger and builds endurance.  It’s easy to push yourself harder by sprinting instead of jogging for an interval or two.  Being the numbers nerd I am, I used the Runkeeper app to find out how far and fast I went each time.  Farther and faster was the rule week over week.

Each week of the program includes three days of workouts.  I experimented with the days of the week I ran, depending on my schedule and sometimes the weather.  What was I thinking doing this in winter in Colorado?  I would say the majority of the weeks I did the program Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.  I found that having three days off in a row made Monday’s runs feel HARD.  The weeks I did Monday/Wednesday/Friday were my best, where I ran the fastest, felt awesome after each run and wasn’t as much of a disaster the following Monday.  Running is an activity where consistency is your friend for results.

A regimented routine, interval training and consistency all make this a program I would recommend to someone who is looking to challenge their body in a different way.  Now, what did I personally get out of this program?  I learned I’m not a runner, but am certainly capable of running with no aches and pains.  Stretching before and after is critical to my success with running.  Interval training does indeed kick start the metabolism.  I enjoy being outside to do my cardio, but I already knew that.

I hope your spring activities take you outside, and give this program a whirl to change up your routine, or to even train for a 5k race.  Whatever you do, just keep moving!

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