I Always Said I’d Never Do The Couch To 5K Program. (Never Say Never)

I have never liked running, ever in my life. Even as a kid, I don’t recall enjoying a simple, quick run across a field just to meet a friend. The required mile-long runs in P.E. class when I was a teenager? I dreaded those days immensely. Plus? I was nearly always last coming back.

As an adult, I also despise running. How much? Well, as I told a friend on Facebook this week, I hate running with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. That’s pretty deep-seated, don’t you think?

So it makes TOTAL sense that, when I decided that my routine needed shaking up (again), I settled on…running.

The Couch To 5K program (Disclosure: this is not an advertisement for the program; I’m just filling you in so you know what I’m talking about) is a way to gradually build up your running ability over a nine-week period. The workout is three days per week and, as you would expect, incorporates more running and less walking as the weeks go by. When you’re done, you’re supposed to be able to run–like the title indicates–a 5K.

I don’t have such lofty goals as actually planning to run a specific 5K. You might “tsk tsk” at me because I don’t have a goal set for myself, but I would “tsk tsk” back at you for not seeing that my goal, as a person who hates running, is to finish the Couch To 5K program. That’s it. I just want to finish it.

When I started telling people that I was going to start, because that’s what you do when you want to hold yourself accountable, I immediately started getting some great encouragement. One of my biggest cheerleaders is my friend from the Great White North, Jen. (Jen, by the way, has a great new fitness blog called Shiny Healthy People that you should definitely check out for health and fitness inspiration.) Jen is, I think, a week ahead of me on this program. She’s also a Shredhead, so we always have lots to talk about when it comes to fitness: I love the two-way motivation.

When it came to actually starting Week 1, Day 1 of the C25K program, I was not excited. I loved talking about it, but doing it? Ick. In addition to the dread of the actual activity, I was a little worried about having to be a clock-watcher during the workout, because it’s made up of specific walking and running intervals. Then I did a little research and found an app for my iPod Touch (Disclosure: Again, I’m just letting you know what I’m doing. I bought the app on my own and the creator has no clue who I am, let alone that I am writing about it) that seemed ideal: it allows me to use my own music (already installed on my iPod Touch) as it gives me audio cues for each interval.

So, with that purchase, I had no excuse to NOT start.

“The hardest part of any journey is taking that first step.” (Unknown author)

And thus, yesterday I did it.

And it was DIFFICULT.

For a while, my inner voice was screaming at me, using the same advice I scream to those in my spin classes:

“Go, go, go!”

“You can do this!”

“Think about a time when you were less fit than today and what you wouldn’t have given to do THIS. You are doing it!”

“Stay strong!”

“Hang on, you’re almost there!”

“You are doing great things today!”

I was able to motivate myself like that for the majority of the workout, which was a plus.

Towards the end of the workout, though, it became harder to listen to my own voice, especially when I had thought there were only eight runs and then the ninth and final run popped up. What??? I thought I was done! Total morale crusher. But I pulled through, because one of my favorite songs popped up: “Damaged” by Danity Kane, the Friscia & Lamboy Club Mix. Although the song is about a broken heart, well, okay, I took some of my fitness motivation from what the guy (Maybe Lamboy? Who knows.) says in the beginning:

“Sometimes you’ve gotta go through the pain…to experience the joy.”

“This too shall pass…”

Whatever works, right?

I took pride in the fact that, even though it was really, really hard, I ran each sixty-second interval in its entirety, all eight nine of them. I surprised myself by getting through them all, successfully: I considered it a major win.

Today? I’m sore.

I still hate running, but…

I’ve got big plans to pound the pavement again tomorrow.


©2010 Suburban Scrawl


  • Gene

    Cool! I've done that program and the first day of the first week indeed sucked. It gets better though.

  • Mom24

    Good for you. I've heard of the program but I am definitely not ready for that at all.

    Great job for following through. I hope it gets easier soon.

  • Kim Moldofsky

    I'm kinda sorta doing this. I didn't realize C25K was an actual program. Up until recently I thought it was a concept- get up and move. I've incorporated a little jogging into my 4-5x/week walking. I'd like to do a 5K even though I don't except to job it, just finish it and not be in last place. Want to find one to do together? You can gleefully pass me by. 🙂

  • i am the diva

    Good for you!! i got as far as downloading the first podcast for C25K… but i am making it my goal for once this baby is out of me. (yeah yeah yeah, you can still run and junk while you're pregnant, but who wants that Enormous belly bouncing all over, and the *ladies* barely fit into the sports bra BEFORE i got knocked up, they definitely won't fit now… excuses excuses excuses)

    TOTALLY good for you though!!

  • nycgirl0501

    I'm so happy you did it! I will too though I need a weekend start. I'm too stressed at work this week. I barely have time to read this post but I wanted to hear about your experience. YAY Melisa!

  • LutherLiz

    Congratulations! I am doing the Couch to 5k and documenting on my blog as well along with a group of folks all trying it and trying to support one another.

    Good for you, I'm not a runner either and have had to repeat week 1 a ton as I got started but I recently jumped to week 2 and it is going ok.

    I look forward to reading about your progress!

  • Charlie on the PA Turnpike

    Congratulations are certainly in order! And don't let anyone tsk-tsk you… you met your goal, and you deserve to celebrate it anyway you choose.

    Speaking for myself, I am a lot like you (now now, don't panic… I meant in regards to running). But in December 08 I began training for a 2 mi run (a mere 3.2 K) in preparation for my part of my BlackBelt test in Taekwondo.

    Nothing in my other training or other activities made me more miserable than did running. My hat is off to anyone who does it as a routine activity, but I have had my fill.

    Well done on your accomplishment!!

  • Huckdoll

    I LOVED this post! The program is kind of what I like to tell people about having twins, "It doesn't get easier, it just gets more interesting".

    I think that'll make sense to you as you work your way through and of course, just sticking with it is the key, but you know that already.

    The mantras! Ugh … I had to dive into the depths of my soul to find a proper mantra to keep going on my run last night. There were hills and it was not pleasant.

    "You're stronger than you think" was mine. Just that one, over and over again. And it worked.

    I think the thing about running is the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when you finish. It's been a feeling I've never had with any other workout program in my life.

    Congrats of Day 1 xo

  • Eternal Lizdom

    I recently completed it!! I'm still training and my first 5K is at the end of June. Then I'm going to be an Active Ambassador for Omron and do another training program to help improve my running. I NEVER imagined I would run- EVER. But here I am… running! I've also, as a wonderful side benefit, lost 32 pounds doing it!

  • WeaselMomma

    Yay for you! Mr. Weasel does this and I've tried from time to time. He's always begging me to go with him.

  • Heather

    Good for you! I've been thinking about it, perhaps this will be the jumpstart I need! Congrats on day 1!!

  • Mrs4444

    I HATE running, too. Yesterday, I got my first exercise in about a year. It was a long, long walk with 1-minute runs thrown in for good measure now and then. Today, my goal is to just do SOMEthing!