January 17, 2012

My Thoughts on Couch to 5K

At the beginning of 2011, I set the goal to exercise on a regular basis. Month after month after month, I got nowhere. Finally, I started the Couch to 5K program, which was just what I needed to get serious about getting fit. At first I wasn't sure if I was capable of becoming a runner, but after finishing the program last week, I actually want to keep running.

What is Couch to 5K?
As the name implies, Couch to 5K is a progressive running program designed for those who are not physically active. For the first week, you alternate walking 90 seconds and jogging 60 seconds. By the end of the ninth week, you should be able to run for thirty minutes. The only downside with this program is that you have to keep track of how long you've been running or walking and how many times you've done each. That is, unless you download the app for Android or iPhone. Honestly, I'm not sure how anyone could complete this program without using the C25K app. You can run with headphones plugged into your phone, and it will tell you when to switch from walking to running and give you a one minute warning. If you listen to music on your phone, the voice alerts will just pause the music temporarily.

How my running improved
When I first started, a minute of running was about all I could handle. I was gasping for air by the end and didn't know how I was going to handle 2 minutes the following week. Each week I thought the same thing: How will I make it through next week? The most I'd ever run at once was a mile, and I hadn't done that since high school. I honestly didn't know if I could make it through all 9 weeks. But guess what? I did. Your body can do a lot more than you think. I've only run three miles once so far, and I did it in 33:10, while running over snow and ice for part of that time.

How I changed physically
It was never my goal to lose weight. For me, starting exercise now is being proactive. I want to try to prevent heart disease and other health problems. That being said, I still wasn't too happy when four weeks into the program, I had gained 4 pounds. A weight gain of a pound a week when I'm more physically active than I've ever been? How is that possible? I had never seen that number on the scale before. So, I had Nathan hide the scale, and I kept running. After that, I lost 7 pounds, making me 3 pounds below my starting weight. I'm sure I was just gaining muscle before losing fat, but it was still discouraging to see that I had gained. I would recommend hiding the scales before you even start running. I felt like I was in better shape, even though I was heavier.

How long it took me to complete
Although Couch to 5K is supposed to be a nine week program, between the holidays, vacation, and moving, I wasn't running three times a week every week. In fact, I didn't run at all for two and a half weeks. I started the program on October 10 and finished on January 10, more than thirteen weeks later. If you miss a day, just run again when you can. I was shuffling around menu plans and plans in general the whole time. Don't give up!

While Couch to 5K may not be the ideal workout plan for everyone, if it worked for someone as unathletic as me, I think it could work for a lot of people. Nathan ran most days with me to help him get back into running, and our dog Nenya ran every day.

For another opinion on Couch to 5K, check out this review from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures.

Have you tried Couch to 5K? Have you found a different way to exercise? I'd love to hear about it.

Note: I'm a graphic designer, not a doctor, Jim! The information above is strictly my personal experience and should not be considered health advice. Also, I was not compensated in any way for writing this post. I'm just sharing what has worked for me.

Shared at Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.


  1. Hi,

    I am new to your blog and loving it. I definitely think you look thinner in the second picture and you've got better curves. I definitely need to do this program, though maybe after my pregnancy :)

    1. Thank you! Those actually aren't photos of me though - I don't think I look that noticeably different.

  2. Very encouraging!Most of this winter I've been dong Jillian Michaels workouts to build strength, but I really want to run,
    I just started the c25k program (again) today. I've never quite made it up to running all three miles, but I'm determined this time (fingers crossed).

    1. You can do it! I know each week seems more and more impossible, but it feels so good when you realize it IS possible.


Let me know your thoughts on this. I love reading all my comments!