How I Ran My First 5k with the Couch to 5k Program


Yeah, I need to write more on our trip to Ireland.

Teaser photo…

My husband says that he misses my Restaurant Impression posts. {I’m so behind!}

Patience, my friends.

My first order of business is just a follow up to yesterday’s post to Challenge Obesity.


If you’ve ever considered running a 5k, you’ve probably heard about the Couch to 5k program.

The premise is to help those who have never run before and those who are just out of shape to run a 5k race in approximately 8 to 9 weeks. I will readily admit that I’ve started and stopped this program several times before fully committing. When I did commit, I didn’t follow the program perfectly.


How the Couch to 5k Program Works

There are many different 5k training programs out there for beginners, but they are essentially the same. During the program, you “run” three times per week, with no two run days being consecutive. The first day starts out with more walking and a little bit of running, usually only a minute at a time. With each run day in the training program, the amount of time you run increases and the amount of time you walk decreases. You slowly build up your endurance.

Although this is only an 8 to 9 week program, if you are planning to Challenge Obesity with me on April 21, 2013, IĀ encourage you to start now. Why?

Because you have time to do so.

I was very nervous about running a 5k, so the sooner I started the better. And remember when I said that I didn’t follow the program perfectly? I recently looked back at my iPhone App to find out what days I used the program and was surprised to find this:

  • The first record on my iPhone App shows me starting the Couch to 5k program on April 7, 2011.
  • I quit after just four days of the doing the program. (Week 2, Day 1 was my last run.)
  • I re-started, not from the beginning, but at Week 2, Day 1 on August 11, 2011.
  • I quit again.
  • I re-started, not from the beginning, but at Week 2, Day 2 on September 4, 2011.
  • Then I did the program only about once or twice per week (not the three days scheduled) through October, still following the order of the plan.
  • It looks like in November of 2011 is when I got serious.
  • This is when I continued with the program, doing the slotted three run days per week. FINALLY!

I am not recommending that you utilize the program the way I did.

Actually, I highly recommend doing the program as planned for much better results! The point I’m really trying to illustrate is that I didn’t give up. In fact, I was the girl in elementary school who couldn’t run The Mile for the Presidential Physical Fitness Program in gym class. I was always one of the last to finish, walking across the finish line, embarrassed.

This time I persevered.

This just goes to show you that even if you aren’t fit or just don’t think of yourself as fit, it’s still possible!


What I Added to the Couch to 5k Program

Once I hit the “Run 30 minutes straight” mark on my program, the next run was 45 minutes. The following one was 60 minutes. I can’t tell you how much that terrified me! 30 minutes seemed hard enough.

Since I knew I still had some time before my first 5k, I did something a little different. I decided that I’d still run the three days per week, but increase the increment each time by one minute. In my mind, this felt more manageable. My thought process each run day went sort of like this, “If I could do 31 minutes last time, surely I can do 32 minutes this time!”

I played a lot of mind games like these to keep me going! Another thing I did was post on Facebook how many minutes I intended to do that day in order to hold myself accountable. I received overwhelming encouragement from friends and family members! While I often dreaded these “long” runs, I felt like I couldn’t let these people down. I would post when I had completed my minutes each time.

This was the best way for me to help keep me going!

I did this all the way up to running 60 minutes straight. Once I made it, I still couldn’t believe that I had run that long. It was hard, but I was proud. It didn’t matter how slow I was going, either. In fact, I’m still slower than the average runner. But that’s okay. Even though it’s hard not to compare ourselves with others, I’ve come to learn that it’s all about my own improvement.


Advanced Beginners 5k Training

At this point I still had time before my first 5k. So I found this Advanced Beginners 5k Training program. I’d highly recommend this for someone who has done the Couch to 5k Program already or who is getting back into running.

I ran my first 5k race on April 21, 2012 and have been continuously doing races ever since. Why running? If you want to know how and why I started click here. But I’ve continued because I’ve learned something. In the past when I began a workout regimen, it was way too easy to make excuses or to just say, “I don’t feel like it today.” With running, if I have a race in scheduled, I have to get my runs in for the week to build up my endurance in time for the race. I can’t just go out and run it! While the days I do my runs are pretty flexible, I just need to get them in each week.


Choosing a Couch to 5k Program

You can do a search for Couch to 5k Training Programs or Schedules online. Many of them are free. There are even free apps for Smartphones.

The particular iPhone app that I used, made following the training program very easy. It has since changed its name to Ease into 5k. I believe it was something like $1.99 to $2.99 for the app, but it was more than worth it for the amount of training and motivation I gained from it.

The reason why I liked it so much was that I could listen to my music and then a voice would tell me to “Run” when it was time to run and “Walk” when I could stop running. I didn’t have to remember what my schedule was for the day and time myself for each interval. In addition, since I didn’t know how fast I truly was, when I began to run outside the voice would say to me, “You are halfway there!” I didn’t have to map a route or know how far I could go in a certain amount of time. All I did was turn around and head back in the other direction.


After I ran my first 5k, I was hooked. The races aren’t easy, but signing up for another before I have the next one finished keeps me going. I feel empowered.

And guess what?

I have my first 10k scheduled the week following the Challenge Obesity 5k.

No matter what, I’ve learned that we all have our good days and bad days when it comes to running. Some days are so hard and I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into, while other days I feel great! You’ll experience the same thing. If I can do it, so can you. Please join me on April 21st!

Have you ever done something you’d thought you’d never do?


{Of course, I’m not an expert of any sort. You should always consult your doctor when beginning any exercise regimen.}


23 responses »

  1. I want Ireland posts! I went a couple years ago and had a blast.

    As far as something I never thought I’d do… walking across a stage in a bikini for a figure competition last weekend tops that list!!!

  2. I can’t wait for the Ireland posts. A couple friends just went there for their honeymoon, what a beautiful place! I’m not a runner but, envy you people that do it! That’s awesome. I’ll do a 5K if you pull me in a wagon! Totally kidding…geesh I just meet you and I act like my normal self…lol! šŸ˜‰ A couple things I thought were cool, we started blogging a week apart (I was a week after you!). Secondly, I thought I was the only one that gave my dogs middle names! I have Haley Rose and Roxy Rae, two german shepherds. Your pups are precious. I look forward to getting to know you Carrie šŸ™‚

    • Will you tell my husband that I need a good bulk of time this weekend to write Ireland posts rather than do yard work? šŸ˜‰ I *really* want to get them up.

      We have a lot in common! Sounds like you’ll just have to do a 5k this spring… šŸ˜‰ Looking forward to getting know you, too! Cheers~

  3. The first time I rn a 10K, I never thought I could! I trained for months with the goals of doing the race without walking. The day of the race I had a not so good running day, I felt lazy and tired. I learned quickly to rely on my training and I got through it, no walking and all!

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