As my weight loss has started to slow a bit, but is still steadily pushing past the 40 lb mark, I’ve been working to integrate some more regular exercise back into my routine. I started the new year doing a lot of yoga, which I still do a couple days a week but not on the scale I had originally intended. I was trying to do it at home, with too many distractions, so I’m on the hunt for a reasonably priced studio where I can take a couple classes each week. But I also want to put some cardio back into my workouts and the problem with cardio is that I really, really hate it. So I know I have to keep it interesting in order to stick with it.
I have never been particularly athletic, but I have been able to make up for what I lack in coordination with what I have in competitive nature. My obsessive Type A nature has made me quite good at taking on new workout regimens and quickly developing the skills necessary to achieve results. My favorite competitor is actually myself. I do well with private trainers, boot camp workouts and yoga because I enjoy trying to beat my last performance. I’d probably kill it at a Cross Fit box, if I could afford it.
There is one workout that I have tried but can never master – running. I don’t want to be some crazy marathoner but being able to run a few 5ks every year would be nice. Four years ago, I trained for a 5k but made the mistake of doing all my training on a treadmill, so when I got to the actual race through Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, I didn’t make it much past the halfway mark. Since then, I’ve realized I did a lot of things wrong during that training period, so I’m going to take another stab at it and train for a 5k for Cervical Cancer in October. I figure between my ridiculous need to excel at one thing I can’t do very well and a more realistic approach, this might actually happen! Here’s my list of must-dos for a successful Couch-to-5k journey.
1) Get the proper equipment. Last time I bought running shoes, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Since then, I’ve learned that I’m an over-pronator (meaning my feet roll inwards when I walk/run) so I need one type of running shoe called a “stability” shoe. There are shoes for regular feet and under-pronators, whose feet roll out, too. And there are levels of padding and stability that are mostly dependent on body type and running frequency. Who knew?! Thank you, Internet! I’ve also downloaded an awesome Couch to 5k app on my phone that tracks my progress and gives me my run/walk prompts during the interval-style workouts. Lastly, the breathable running clothes that are designed to wick away sweat actually work. Invest in some.
2) Running shouldn’t be done 7 days a week – at least not if you are a beginner. I’m aiming for three Couch-to-5k workouts a week, which is what the plan suggests, but also what I think is both doable with my schedule and will also result in the least amount of injuries. I’ve had a very hard time getting back into the gym since becoming a mom, because I used to be hard on myself if I didn’t hit the gym at least five times in a week. (I mentioned the Type A thing, right?) It’s hard for me to lower expectations, but I’m hoping this might end the burnout that tends to happen when I overdo it.
3) Sign up for an actual 5k so that you have a goal. I’m definitely in for the 5k in October for Cervical Cancer, but I’m also thinking of signing up for one more that’s a little sooner. I’d prefer one that’s fun so that a low-pressure atmosphere will seem okay if I don’t make it to the end. Like this one – it feels more like a rave than a run. If I don’t run the whole thing, I’ll still have glow stick jewelry.
4) Cross-train! I think what has turned me off from running in the past is that all the runners I knew did nothing but run – no weight lifting, no push ups, no crunches, no other cardio. I can’t stick to a plan like that. I get bored way too easily. So I’m going to incorporate activities like yoga, kettle bells, and hopefully some swimming, into my exercise repertoire.
5) Run outside a few times before you do a race. As I said earlier, I tried to go from treadmill straight to road race and it was not good. There are many differences between inside and outside running. My new plan is to get through the first 2/3 of the C25K training plan and then start doing some of the prescribed runs outside to see if I can hack it. I’ve heard of others starting the plan by doing two runs inside and 1 outside during the first few weeks then slowly increasing the outside runs while decreasing the indoor runs until all of the runs are on the road.
Are you a runner? Do you have any advice for Laura as she embarks on her Couch-to-5k? Share your stories here!