Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Experience with the Couch25K App

I like to challenge myself to do things that work towards my life priorities. One of those is to get fitter. So I decided to have a go at completing the Couch25K training program.

It's 8 weeks of running towards a goal of being able to run continually for 30 minutes. The name is because it's designed to get you off the couch and running 5 kilometres. Supposedly anyone at any fitness level can do it so let's put that to the test.

When I started I already did a lot of walking and have a job where I'm stood up for 8 hours moving around constantly. I hadn't run for years though and got out of breath if I had to run for a bus or something.

The program is on an app on your phone which prompts you to run or walk depending on the day you're on. Every session starts with a warm-up walk of 5 minutes and ends with a cool-down walk of 5 minutes. On the first day you alternate running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes.

You train for three days a week running for longer and longer each week. It started off fairly easily for me until I got to week 4. It has a total of 13 minutes running and I felt like I wouldn't be able to do it. It seemed like it'd gotten suddenly serious and as I looked ahead to the following weeks I began to wonder why I'd even started.

I'd been posting on Facebook after each week's training was done to make it public so I'd keep on track and I'm glad I did because people were very encouraging making it much easier to carry on.

The training went well on week 4 despite my worries and then I was on to week 5. Week 5 is a shock after the first four weeks. For the first time each day has different run lengths. I looked ahead to see what we were going to be doing and week 5 Day 3 is just to run for 20 walking at all after the warm-up. I felt slightly panicked at the thought of it but I put it out of my head and got on with the first two days of running.

My husband JD had been running with me from the start and after the first few runs he held the phone so I wouldn't be tempted to keep checking how far we'd done on the day's training. This was even more vital for the 20 minute run, I have a terrible mental struggle even when doing a walk if I know how far we've gone (or more importantly how far there is to go!) so I knew I'd have to just run without any thoughts of how long we'd run for.

It worked, I ran for 20 minutes solidly and felt amazingly happy. It's the longest I've run for years (probably even since school!!). All of a sudden 30 minutes of running seemed like something I could actually do, I might finish this thing.

The 20 minute run was followed by 22 minutes, 25 minutes, 28 minutes and finally 30 minutes. I'd done it, I'd finished the training program and run for 30 minutes continuously. I was over the moon. ^_^

I think the Couch25K is a great program to get a non-runner slowly running and gradually increase their ability and confidence over the 8 weeks. I always ran at a steady pace, had no problems with joint pains or anything else.

When I first started running I felt very aware that I was a fat woman out on the street jiggling about, we only went running after dark and I felt nervous if we saw anyone as we ran. My confidence grew the more I ran, soon we were running in the morning instead (a much better time for it) and I felt less worried someone would shout anything mean at me. In fact a few times people called encouraging things at me as I ran, an old lady shouted "Go on lass, give it some wellie" much to my delight. :D

One of the best things to change about my body during my Couch25k training is how I breathe, I can feel that I breathe much easier while doing any exercise now, I don't wheeze or pant when I'm running, I can breathe deeper and control my breathing if I get out of breath now. It feels good.

Thanks to my husband JD for being so supportive and running alongside me, it was beneath his level of fitness to run at my pace but he did it, without complaining or making me feel slow. It made it tons easier for me by having him to run with and I really appreciate his help.

So, yeah, give it a try. It's good to challenge your body. I challenged mine and I've never been so proud of it for finishing the Couch25K. Bad news body, now there'll be more challenges. Mwhaha. :)

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