Couch to 5K
As I mentioned here, my blog is nothing if it isn’t unoriginal. I thrive on the good ideas of others, particularly those of my good friend and groomsman Michael, who has a blog so successful he has begun to be recognized as “that blog guy” by strangers.
One of the ideas I took from Michael was to follow a 9 week program called Couch to 5K, meant to transform me from a supermorbidly obese couch potato to a merely morbidly obese dude who can jog through a 5K without dying. The idea I have stolen now is to set up a separate page on my blog (like Michael’s) to track my progress in both this program and weight loss in general, so that my normally lucid posts don’t get bogged down in those details.
Some basic details about C25K: The program’s 9 weeks each have 3 workouts, which for you English majors means 27 workouts total. When I say “Day 5,” I’m referring to the second workout of the second week, get it? Good. Here we go:
Day 5 (Saturday, 10/02/10):
Yes, I’m starting this page on Day 5. I don’t really feel like going back and remembering how I felt the other 4 days, though you should know that Day 1 appears to be universally terrible for everyone who goes through this program. I’ve settled into a routine where I start each week on Thursday night, do the second day Saturday/Sunday, then finish the week out on Monday/Tuesday.
Day 5 therefore fell on Saturday, and I drove myself to the park to run on a proper City of Hercules trail. The trail is flat, unlike my neighborhood, and I seem to be making further inroads on the trail as the days progress, despite running for the same amount of time. My six repetitions of 90 seconds running/2 minutes walking went smoothly, though I was slightly miffed to find out I hadn’t lost any weight since the program started when weighing myself afterwards.
Day 6 (Monday, 10/04/10)
Did day 6 after work today, having done the stationary bike in the morning. I again drove out to Refugio Valley Park in Hercules to use the trail, and began to notice how the trail is almost entirely uphill heading away from the park. My first three stints running were terrible, my first in particular felt like I wasn’t getting my feet more than an inch off the ground. By the second 90 seconds, I felt like I was seriously leaking oil, huffing and puffing like I was sprinting a 400.
Luckily, except for some minor chaffing, I was able to coast on the three 90 second stints of running my way back (this is where I noticed I had been running uphill almost the entire first half). Day 7 won’t be until Thursday, so I’ll have two days rest to completely recover (and perhaps get some Vaseline?), before I head back out. I’ll also do my weigh in Thursday, since I’ll be in LA on Saturday during my normal weigh in. Perhaps this is the week I’ll start seeing some results on the scale.
Would be Day 7 (Thursday, 10/07/10)
My allergies have turned in an all out, hacking, coughing phlegm-my nightmare, and a flurry of stuff to do at work in anticipation of being out until a week from Monday for a training class didn’t help either. So I’m pushing the start of week 3 tomorrow morning before driving south. Check for my update sometime tomorrow. I can tell you that for the second consecutive week I failed to lose any weight.
Actual Day 7 (Friday, 10/08/10)
Determined not to let the accumulated sinus fluids in my lungs hold me back, I took off in my neighborhood to kick off week 3. Week 3, like week 2, includes a mere 9 minutes of running total, but ups the ante by including the plan’s first 1:1 walk:run ratio as well as requiring three minutes of uninterrupted running. So, after the customary 5 minute warm up walk, today’s formula was 90 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, 3 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, repeat.
Needing to get off to San Diego, I decided to just to today’s run in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, I looked kind of like I did in this familiar photo:
I also had to do the first three continuous minutes of running uphill, past the elementary school. Luckily, I wasn’t wearing a shirt that said “Amber Alert” on it, and I wasn’t gang tackled by concerned parents. I can only assumed the horrified schoolchildren looked up at their parents and said “I hope that Yeti isn’t the last of his species, because I think that poor bastard is about to die.” (Yes, this is how I imagine elementary school kids talk in Hercules, because it’s funnier that way) Anyway, I survived my uphill battle, and was able to coast my way back down, aided tremendously my gravity. I can only imagine the kids that saw me on the way down said something like “Look out! It’s the damn boulder from the beginning of the first Indiana Jones movie coming to flatten us all!” Screw you, 8 year olds.
Day 8 (Sunday, 10/10/10)
Ran outside of Morgan’s grandmothers house north of San Diego before the drive back to the Bay. Workout was the same as Friday, and the entire first half of today I ran downhill. Unfortunately, since gravity is a conservative force conforming to Green’s Theorem (Nerd reference), the last few minutes of running was terrible. No kids though, and I made it back up.
Day 9 (Tuesday, 10/12/10)
So I’ve begun to notice that some days seem to be harder than others, not necessarily in a conditioning, sucking wind way (all days seem to be about equal in that category), but more in a muscle tightness, can’t seem to get my feet off the ground way. I don’t know if it’s hydration, not enough sleep, not enough time to recover from the previous run or what, but some days of C25K suck while others seem fairly easy regardless of the particular workout. Today was one of the harder days.
I returned to Refugio Valley Park after work to run again on the trail that runs parallel to Refugio Valley Road in Hercules, and noticed immediately from my starting stretch that I felt tight. I also parked up the hill on the North side of the park so I had to walk up for the final walking portion of the workout, and felt like I was just dragging my legs up the hill.
I’m slated to move into Week 4 on Thursday, which changes the workout from 9 minutes running and 9 minutes walking from Week 3 to 16 minutes of running and 8 minutes of walking. I really hope Thursday is one of the easy days, because that will be the most significant jump in the program to date.
Day 10 (Thursday, 10/14/10)
Went back to Refugio Valley Park after work to start week 4. 5 Minute warm up, then run 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes and 30 seconds, run 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, run 5 minutes. Jeez. Quite a bump.
Although I was expecting a repeat of Day 1 where I felt terrible, surprisingly it wasn’t too bad. Once again I felt really tight at the beginning, but felt like I was able to get into a rhythm by the end. I started to recall how I felt running cross country in high school, when the first mile was always the hardest. All in all, I felt much more muscle tightness than tiredness, but hopefully that will start to pass as the weeks go by. I’ll try to do Day 10 Saturday, so tune back then.
Day 11 (Saturday, 10/16/10)
Feel great today, seemed like I could have kept running for a long time after I finished. Parked on Refugio Valley road by the high school, near where I usually turn around so that I could explore parts further up the trail. Not much else to say about today’s run.
On another note, have any of you noticed the exercise courses they put up along running trails, as if all joggers are actually training for a decathlon? Hercules’ version is called “Vita Course 2000″ and is no different than most, including the fact that nobody uses it. Perhaps I will try to be the first person to ever complete the Vita Course 2000 after I finish C25K, because who says it doesn’t make sense to periodically stop during a jog to play on some monkey bars?
On the scale, it looks like I actually lost a pound or two this week (despite yesterday’s Kinder’s lunch and the poor food choices made in San Diego last weekend), though I really need to get a better scale. We have a small mechanical scale that is both nearly impossible to read and unable to fit both of my size 13 feet. Perhaps a larger digital scale is in order. I’ll have to check Amazon later.
Update: I just ordered this 12″ by 13″ digital scale on Amazon to replace the 9 3/4″ square analog scale that has been the bane of my existence. Now I really have to stop buying things on Amazon, bane of my wallet.
Day 12 (Monday, 10/18/2010)
Got the new scale in the mail today. Turns out our old scale gave a reading about 4 pounds too light, though it’s really hard to tell since it’s such a crappy scale. I’m going to restart my weigh-in numbers with the reading I got today as my initial weigh-in.
Today’s run was the same as Days 10 and 11, but I started a little further up Refugio Valley once again. This time, I got to the end of the road, and continued up a steep gravel utility road behind a fence until I reached a second gate with a “no trespassing” sign, which I reached right as i was going to turn around anyway. The first half of the run was by far the steepest to date, as I continue my trend of trying to do the hardest run possible while still feeling great at the end (since the last half is usually downhill)
Here’s the end of Refugio Valley road and the hill I struggled up (just past the gate). You might be able to barely see the second gate at the top of the hill, you can make out the utility ditch running parallel to the road on the left pretty easily. Week 5 starts Thursday, or Wednesday if I feel good enough to take one day rest after spending 8 minutes running straight up.
Day 13 (Thursday, 10/21/2010)
Week 5 seems easier than week 4 to me, having only three 5 minute spurts of jogging separated by three minutes of walking each, so I switched it up a bit. I went to the same place where I started Day 12, and did only 3 minutes of a warmup walk before running uphill for nearly 6 minutes before I looked at my watch and realized I had easily exceeded the required 5. After only 2 and a half minutes of walking, I reached the same gravel road at the end of Refugio Valley, and sprinted to the top in only 1:38. After taking 2 and a half minutes to walk down the gravel road, I ran all the way to my car in 7:20, meaning I used 7:30 of walking and 14:48 of running (as opposed to 11 minutes walking and 16 minutes running on Monday). We’ll see how I feel in the morning after upping the pace today.
Day 14 (Saturday, 10/23/2010)
I checked the cool running program today to make sure I had remembered the week 5 plan correctly, only to find that week 5 is the first week to have a different program for each day. Today’s run was 8 minutes jogging, 5 minutes walking, 8 minutes jogging. Since it was cold this morning, I decided to go with sweatpants and do some extra stretching.
I’m not putting too much stock in that 2.4 pounds until I see a few weeks in a row of improvement, though.
Anyway, being a little stiff from my uphill spring two days ago, I decided I would just run around my neighborhood and skip the Refugio Valley Road hill, only to be cruelly reminded that the hill going up the road near my house is just as steep if not steeper. I was just barely shuffling by the end of my 8 minutes uphill, but I made it. As always, the downhill portion was refreshing and left me feeling much better.
Day 15 (Monday, 10/25/2010)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking. Uhh, what? The last workout was two 8 minutes stretches of jogging separated by 5 minutes of walking, this doesn’t seem like that logical of a progression. In any case, decided I wouldn’t fight hills for 20 minutes, and decided to time myself doing laps around Refugio Valley Park.
I figured I would get about 3 laps around the park in twenty minutes, and I was about right on. My splits were 6:01, 12:41, and 19:24. I finished up the final 36 seconds, walked for a few minutes, and headed back home. Good day, feels like I’m getting close now.
Day 16 (Friday, 10/29/2010)
Had a busy week, and took three days off, resulting in my going from one day ahead of schedule to one day behind. Today’s workout was 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 8 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running. I went to my spot near the end of Refugio Valley Road, but started my warm up walk and first 5 minutes running heading downhill, the opposite direction from where I normally go. I did all of my walking downhill so that I could do my 8 minute and second 5 minute running spurt uphill and still end near my car. Felt pretty good. Day 17 comes Sunday.
Weekly Weigh-In (Saturday, 10/30/2010)
Despite only 2 runs since my last weigh-in, I still managed to lost 1.4 pounds according to my new scale (which weighs to the closest 0.2 pounds).
Day 17 (Sunday, 10/31/2010)
10 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 10 minutes running. Went around the park again to see how many laps I could get in 20 minutes of running, knowing a week ago it took about 19 and a half minutes to do 3 laps. I did 90 seconds walking each direction in the middle of the two 10 minute runs so that my running distance was consistent, and did about 3 and a half laps in 20 minutes of running. I had finished 3 laps in 17:30 of running. We’ll see how far I can get in 25 minutes of running without any breaks on Tuesday.
Day 18 (Tuesday, 11/2/2010)
In the home stretch now, as all of the remaining workouts include at least 25 minutes of continuous running. Today I did about 2.2 miles in 25 minutes of running through the Point Richmond neighborhood near my work. The area has some difficult hills, so I was happy despite the sub 10 minute mile pace. Click here to see the route I took (it says 1.1 miles, but I did it round trip).
Day 19 (Thursday, 11/4/2010)
Second of 4 consecutive 25 minute runs. Did the same path as Tuesday, but made it perhaps a hundred feet further down the road before hitting the 12:30 mark. Also, both days have had me finish at about 26 minutes, which seems about right because I think there’s a net downhill movement on my way out (since I go out towards the bay and I think the elevation at my office is further above sea level). Definitely feeling the workout now, a stark contrast to the first few days where my body felt like I was doing weightlifting and not cardio, though my muscles are still adjusting a bit.
Day 20 (Saturday, 11/6/2010)
Did my 25 minutes at Refugio Valley park, and made about 4 and a quarter laps in 25 minutes. Had 4 laps done in 23:15, and I’m pretty happy with that. Will be happy to take two days off after doing 4 runs on one day rest to make up for the three days rest I took last week, legs are a bit tired. Also weighed in and lost 0.8 pounds, making a total of 4.6 pounds in the last 3 weeks.
Day 21 (Wednesday, 11/10/2010)
Took another 3 day rest after three consecutive runs on one day rest. Felt pretty good, though I would hope that to be the case when I take two extra days off. I ran at work and left my watch in the car, so I just made my way a little bit further than last time. I’m going to try to run Friday while I’m down in SoCal, but if that doesn’t happen it looks like I’ll have another 3 days off before running Sunday.
Day 22 (Sunday, 11/14/2010)
28 minutes today, made about 4 and two thirds laps at the park, having made 4 laps in 24 minutes. That’s about 11 seconds a lap slower than the last time I went to the park, but I’m going to attribute that to spending 20 of the last 48 hours in the car, since I felt especially stiff today. I’m also thinking I may need to get new running shoes, the ones I have now are New Balance size 14 extra wide, and I think they’ve stretched to the point where I have to tie them too tight to comfortably run in. Today my left foot fell asleep for the last 6 minutes or so, which was a little disconcerting. I also didn’t buy my current shoes for running originally, as I usually buy size 13 or 13 wide.
Day 23 (Wednesday, 11/17/2010)
Did not make it out during work today, which is unfortunate since it was so nice and warm, but I did get out to Refugio Valley Park after work. Sadly, it was cold and very dark, but the run itself went great. Kept a good pace, wasn’t sore and didn’t feel like I was going to fall apart. I didn’t do laps since the park is almost completely unlighted and the running path isn’t exactly even, but even running next to Refugio Valley road after dark seems to be relatively perilous. I’m going to try to make as many of my runs as possible daytime runs from this point on.
Day 24 (Saturday, 11/20/2010)
I wanted to go out at work yesterday, but sadly the sunny warm daytime weather gave way to cold cloudy rain. Luckily, the rain finally stopped this morning, and while it was still freezing and wet outside, I made it out for a nice 28 minute run around my neighborhood. Of course, by 10 minutes into the run I had heated up and no longer noticed the cold, which helps. I also took a different path, circling around a couple of my immediate neighborhoods rather than going up past the school, then running down to where sycamore ave meets palm ave (you can look that up in google if you care), the heading up to the library before turning around and making a couple more small loops to round out the 28 minutes.
So that’s it for week 8. Three more days of couch to 5K, all 30 minute runs. I should start looking for an actual 5K to participate in. If anyone has any suggestions for bay area 5K runs coming up in the next few weeks, leave a note in the comments.
Day 25 (Wednesday, 11/24/2010)
After a few days of rain delay, I start off the final week of the program with a nice 30 minute run along Refugio Valley road. Was a good run, the extra day off probably helped, but I felt great afterward. Made it from the park to the community center and back, which I believe is about 2.5 miles, though it’s hard to gauge how much the winding running trail adds to the distance that you would travel by car.
Day 26 (Sunday, 11/28/2010)
The penultimate day of the couch to 5K program is upon me! For the occasion I wore my new Saucony Grid Nitro running shoes that I bought at Big 5 Sports Black Friday sale ($50). The size 13 felt a little snug width-wise until I put my own superfeet inserts in (highly recommended for anyone else wanting to get into running). These widened the base of the shoe so that it didn’t feel like the edge of the existing insert was cutting into my foot. The shoes aren’t broken in yet, causing them to be a little tighter than I’d like today (my right foot went numb during the last couple of minutes), but I’m going to walk around in them some before my next run to get them a little more seasoned.
Anyway, the run itself was good. Still chilly, but clear and sunny which made for a great run along Refugio Valley. Made 2.6 miles in 30 minutes according to Google Maps, so good progress in distance today.
Day 27 (Thursday, 12/2/2010)
Ran my old 3.5 mile loop at work, going all the way from the office to the Pier at Miller/Knox Regional Park and back, in a mere 42 minutes to celebrate the final day of couch to 5K. We’ll have to see where this goes from here.