Couch To 5K Update: Mind Games

Remember how I started the Couch To 5K (C25K) program? And remember how, when I started it, I said that my only goal was to finish it but in the fastest change of heart and mind the world has ever known, I signed up to do the Blogher 5K this August? Well, I thought I’d give you an update, not only because many of you asked me to “keep you posted”, but also to continue holding myself accountable.

When I started the program, I decided not to stick with the three days per week that the program prescribes. I decided to do what my friend Jen is doing, and go every other day. That way, some weeks have three C25K days, and some have four.

Well…here’s what happened to that plan. Rather than doing an “every other day” in the literal sense, I’m doing four days every week. The reason for this is because, had I just done every other day, every other week I would need to run on Tuesdays. I teach a spin class at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday. Though I could probably physically do the class with no problem after doing the run, as an instructor there is a lot of mental stuff that goes on and I was worried about being “up” and motivational for everybody in my class after a C25K workout. Therefore, since I started Week 1 Day 1 on a Wednesday, my workout plan for each week is:

Day 1: Wednesdays
Day 2: Fridays
Day 3: Sundays
Day 3 again: Mondays

I made the decision to stick with Day 3 twice instead of starting Day 1 of the next week’s workout on Mondays because I don’t want to hurt myself by pushing too hard with the second consecutive day of running being way harder, as well as a new challenge. Make sense?

So here I am, getting ready to do Week 2, Day 3 for the second time, when I get up tomorrow morning. I have to say, my legs feel fried right now. This morning’s run was very, very difficult for me. I was really excited when I did Week 2, Day 1 on Wednesday, because for me, it was so much easier than the first week, mentally. In Week 1, you have 9-one minute runs. In Week 2, you have 6-90 second runs. Same amount of running time, but my brain liked it so much better. It’s so much easier to “rah rah” yourself through a workout when you have less sets to count. That’s mind game #1.

In Week 1, I put a bunch of songs that really inspire me to work hard on my playlist for running, and let the app shuffle them as I went. What I learned was twofold. Number one, many songs that inspire me while spinning do NOT work the same way when I run. Number two, not knowing which song was coming up was mentally tough. What I decided to do for Week 2 was make a playlist and shut off the “shuffle” function on the app. I chose an eclectic mix of songs that inspire me in different ways. Here’s my Week 2 playlist:

1. Bad Romance (Lady Gaga): Warmup
2. Chelsea Dagger (The Fratellis) (Timely, since this is the official song of the Chicago Blackhawks, 2010 Stanley Cup Winners!)
3. Turbo Lover (Judas Priest)
4. Hanuman (Rodrigo y Gabriela)
5. Temperature (Sean Paul)
6. Devil in My Car (B52s)
7. Boom Boom Pow (Black Eyed Peas)
8. American Boy (Estelle, featuring Kanye West): Cool Down

I have one extra song on there, in case one of them doesn’t “work” for me on any given day; I can hit the fast forward and keep going. In addition to just knowing what song is coming up, the repetition of this playlist during the entire week has helped me mentally. Also helping my brain cope with this workout is the fact that I am doing this workout on exactly the same route every time, for now. Since I’m in the infant stages of running, the familiarity of the route is more soothing to me than going a different way everyday. I’ll probably change it up in a couple of weeks.

I have still been able to complete all of the runs without stopping, which I am really proud of. I find myself dying to look at my iPod Touch to see where I’m at in the run and how much time I have left, and I decided to let myself look only one time. Another mind game. That way, I put it off as long as I possibly can, knowing that I have restricted myself. Don’t laugh. It works.

All of that said, today was difficult. My legs feel fried. I was screaming all kinds of things to myself, in my mind, just to get through. When the final run started, I imagine it would have been amusing for some of you to step inside my brain, if that were possible. Though I maintained good running form, my mental state was a crazy, mixed bag of motivational phrases, some bordering on ridiculous. I even yelled (mentally) at myself, “LET’S DO THIS THING!”

I am proud of how far I’ve come, even just finishing up Week 2. Sometimes, for seconds at a time, I really feel like a runner. I do my best to think positively, and though I am, admittedly, terrified to start Week 3 on Wednesday because it includes 2-90 second runs AND 2-three minute runs, I’m not going to let my fear stop me. I imagine how accomplished I’ll feel over the next few weeks, and it puts a smile on my face.

In addition to the C25K, I’ve started being a little more careful about what I eat. I’m not going CRAZY; I will tell you that my family ate dinner at Fuddruckers on Friday and I enjoyed that burger and fries immensely. Also, Jim and I went to see a movie this evening and I had about a truckload of buttered popcorn (one of my favorite snacks). But in my normal day-to-day, I’m trying to cut out added sugar, and I’ve given up soda (even diet). It’s all paying off so far: I’ve lost five pounds since I started C25K and these dietary changes.

And so I tell myself that I am doing great things, and I continue to be motivated.


©2010 Suburban Scrawl


  • Michelle

    Yay, go you!

    On the fried legs thing, I hear ya… I found that REALLY stretching my calves and quads before running helped this some, as did using the roller after running (if you're at the club).

    Week 3 isn't so easy… but it's totally doable. Stepping up to the longer runs is sometimes freaky, but it's amazing how this actually works (just did Week 5 Day 1 tonight – three 5 minute runs which was so much easier than Week 4 but Day 2 is two 8 minutes and Day 3 is a 20 minute one, eep!)

    The mind games and me? We're good friends. I do the same:
    1) Can only look at the time at certain intervals or with certain milestones reached
    2) I run in the same pattern to judge how I'm doing
    3) The counting thing is SOOOO me – hence the 3 five minute runs being easier!

    BUT I actually don't like (for the longer ones) having the same music – I'm using the podcast and have been (ahem) doing this for over 2 years. I know for the longer ones exactly how much longer I need to go when a song changes, and it's almost depressing when I know it too well. Keeping things switched up actually helps me. Go fig.

    But mmmm popcorn. I could really go for some right now!

    Did I forget to mention, YAY YOU!!!!

  • Heather

    Good for you!! How awesome!

    Tomorrow, me & Jillian Michaels become reacquainted again. *dies*

  • Eternal Lizdom

    My motivation to change my eating habits was to start running. I've lsot 32 pounds since Mar 1 (maybe more- I don't weigh in very often). I even held steady with no gain over vacation which I was pretty shocked about!

    I'm past all the c25K stages and weeks but am still not running 3 miles. I'm getting there but it's frustrating. If I could figure out my block, I could easily get over the hurdle.

    I accidentally went 4.5 miles on Saturday- misery!! Ran as much as I could and ended up getting lost. In my own neighborhood. Niiiice. (Blogged about it, too)

    Keep up the good work!!!

  • Isabella

    I just had to comment on this one because I am the same way. 🙂

    ShankRabbit couldn't understand why I was buying music off Amazon to put on my phone instead of just using Pandora. I wasn't sure why either until the first day of running. I need predictability.

    Thanks for the song list. I'm going to check those out (totally forgot about Sean Paul!).

  • Mags

    Congratulations! I don't know if you remember but I tried this last summer when I was unemployed-I did well for a little while and then my shins, of all things, started hurting really, really badly. And you're doing WAY better than I did with the not looking at how much time you have left. I swear I used to watch the seconds tick down. Though…that kind of kept me running b/c I'd say, "OK, only 20 more seconds!"

    Anyway-great job!

  • Huckdoll

    Week 3 has been my favourite by far! It's when you REALLY start feeling like a runner and the time goes by fast. Well, the last 3 min interval is killer but mentally, Week 3 rocks.

    Also, I haven't been running every other day for the past few days and that's the beauty of the program … it's very customizable. I let myself splurge and rest this weekend (for the most part) as my body was feeling the way you described, fried.

    And as you know, I think that's THE most important thing here, listening to your body very closely and taking rest days as needed (and not feeling guilty). I think I might even do the entire Week 3 again and rock it before I move onto Week 4. That'll put us almost side by side. Neato!

    Happy running!

  • nycgirl0501

    I just finished my first week on Saturday and I've been running every 2 days in the morning. This week (2) I will be running in the afternoon because I have to be at work super early.

    My legs hurt less when I ran on the track in the park on Sat but I am loving the running 🙂

    My 3 favorite songs on my playlist are Evacuate the Dance Floor(Cascada) I made it (Kevin Rudolf w. cash monsy) and Good Girls Go Bad (Cobra Starship) something about those songs makes me run harder!

    So far I'm loving it too but not brag to do the 5K in August. I'll be lucky I can finish the program as summer starts.