A word that always struck fear and self-doubt deep into my heart. Growing up I loved to dance— that is, I loved to dance until the girls around me started to hit that age when bullying and clique-forming seemed as easy as breathing.
Maybe you've felt like this too. Maybe you were also that person picked last for sports and games (it's such an outrageous cliche, but I really do have vivid memories of this happening that make my heart constrict for my younger self). Maybe you did everything you could to not participate in gym (especially basketball, except dodgeball, at which I excelled on account of my being astonishingly small and non-threatening. I couldn't really throw, but neither could they hit me. Stalemate bitches).
Either way, I had a life-long association of physical exercise as boring, painful, self-esteem crushing, and ultimately humiliating. I couldn't be happier to tell you, however, that these horrible feelings slipped away when I started running.
Over the past seven weeks or so, I've been doing Couch to 5k, a popular program comprised of intervals of increasing difficulty over about 9 weeks. At the end? You can jog a full 5k with no breaks at all. From the beginning, it sounded totally impossible to me, but as I looked back over my progress I was floored and knew I had to share it, if it could encourage just one other person.
Day 1 | 2.87km
Expecting death, not as bad as I thought. Today was short intervals of 60 seconds running, 90 seconds walking. Slow, but steady. A little cool this morning, and I deal with this ridiculous ear pain whenever it's windy and cool— like, been-kicked-in-the-head-by-a-small-horse kind of ear pain.
Day 2 | 3.21km
Although the jump in distance wasn't very big, I was surprised by how much easier this day was than the first! All of the intervals this week are the same.
Day 3 | 3.69km
Another increase! Almost a kilometre more from two days previous. The wind was pretty bad today, but I felt great. Already I'm noticing how much easier it is to breath and how much more conscious I am of my pace— especially when it comes to not pushing myself too hard too soon.
Day 4 | 3.50km
This week starts to get a little bit harder, with 90 seconds of jogging and 2 minutes of walking! My distance dipped a little bit here, which I began to notice over the next few weeks was common each time the jogging interval increased. Still felt pretty good though, which surprises me every time!
Day 5 | 4.02km
Today was the furthest distance yet. I missed the "half-way" signal and kept going until it was time to cool down— and I hadn't even turned around yet. Whoops! I did a few extra intervals to make it back in time, but only counted the distance covered during the set time of that day's run into the count (actual distance covered that morning over 5k). Pretty awesome feeling!
Day 6 | 3.87km
An uneventful day. I think I would have done even better here if it weren't for the terrible side-stitch, my arch-nemesis.
Day 7 | 4.00km
The first day of week three— the first run with 3 minute jogging intervals. Quit eating before running and cramps have subsided somewhat.
Day 8 | 3.14km
An easy day, with a slow pace.
Day 9 | 3.03km
Another slow day– not sure what happened this week! Felt good though, an effortless jog.
Day 10 | 3.79km
Week four begins and it is off to a great start! Almost twice as much time spent running as the previous week, with two five minute intervals. I can't believe I did it. While my legs felt tired by the end, I didn't feel totally clobbered. Success!
Day 11 | 3.94km
A good distance, but a rough day. My legs felt tired from step one. Haven't been sleeping very well lately, and I feel like that is really starting to have an effect. Still trying to figure out when I should eat; if I don't eat before, I end up incredibly dizzy with low blood sugar by the end of my run. If I do eat, I get the world's most suckitudinous side cramps.
Day 12 | 4.04km
Last day this week and I manage to break through the 4k mark. A little side-pain again, but that would be the brownie I ate before heading out.
Day 13 | 4.02km
Week five— apparently the toughest week where the most people get stuck. Three 5-minute intervals at the start of this week. Not too bad, and no drop in distance with the increase in running time, which is great.
Day 14 | 3.91km
A good day to start, but tired. Very tired. First day with 8 minute intervals. The next day is going to be killer— 20 minutes, no walking break! I can't image how my distance is going to suffer as I trot along at little more than a walk to stop from puking/passing out on the side of the road and getting trod on by families of skunks and squirrels.
Well, that's it for the first half of Couch to 5k!
Stay tuned for the next half and see if I survive the first 20-minute jog, and whether or not I eventually conquer the 5k. If you're looking for a fantastically easy way to get started with running, to get yourself up and off the couch (which can sometimes be pretty difficult as an exhausted student/budding entrepreneur/general overwhelmed multi-tasker), and to change your life, I really couldn't recommend C25K enough. It's amazing how much progress you make in just a few weeks, and yet I never felt as though I was punishing myself, or working myself to the point of exhaustion.