Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Couch to 5K - hints and tips

* Please leave a comment if you're planning to start Couch to 5K (or similar), are half-way through it, or have done it before.

* Just click here and let us know where you're up to and how you're finding it!

* And no, you don't need a Smartphone - a watch and this program will do.

* Next week, I'd like to start my jogging diary, as promised here (as long as my knees are still holding up... :) ).

*In the meantime, here are some hints and tips from friends who've gone before.

   A Brand New Day

Jess -
  • One tip is to keep stretching afterwards. Even if you don't need it to prevent soreness, it still prevents injuries and back issues. I've noticed my hamstrings are tighter than they have ever been and it's just the running so I need to just keep working at stretching them. 
  • Tanya and I found signing up for a fun run very motivating to train for a longer distance. 
  • Having a friend to run with is probably the main reason I've kept going regularly. 
Tanya -
  • I would emphasise the importance of moving up levels despite it being hard. It's the main way you see improvement, and your body can actually cope, even if your head thinks it can't. 
  • In terms of pace/speed: if you are getting way too breathless, slow right right down, even if it's slower than walking pace. As long as you keep jogging you are challenging your body and will see improvement. You can always work on getting faster later. The rest in between runs helps.
  • Runs after very little sleep are harder but manageable. Early nights make for an easier run : ) Jess and I both notice how much harder the run is if we've had too many late nights. 
  • It really is a luxury having someone to keep you getting up and going consistently. I think encourage people to find a friend, if possible, and begin it together like we did. Not only does it help physically but can be wonderful bonding experience.
  • You'll be surprised that you can do it if you just keep going.
Jane -
  • "Hard but not too hard": that phrase sums up my whole experience. I've found it quite addictive, setting myself a difficult challenge and then finding I can actually do it. 
  • I've also found Jess' advice helpful - to "trust the program" when feeling scared the next increase would be too hard. There were times when I really wouldn't have given the next challenge a go had that not been ringing in my ears.
Me - 
  • Stick to the program, especially in those moments when you think you can't move to the next step. When I paused and re-did a step, I realised I was actually ready for more. 
  • If you can, run somewhere beautiful - it helps a lot! The best course is not too hilly, with gentle curves.
  • Put something boppy on your MP3 player (if you have one). It will make you feel more energetic, and it'll be a lot more fun.
  • I've been sidelined with a sore knee for the last few weeks, probably because I took a week off and then jumped straight into my first 20 minute run. Here's what I learned:
    • get a decent pair of running shoes
    • do a set of stretches after you run (it helps prevent muscle tightening and injury)
    • if you take a break (e.g. due to illness) you might want to go back a few steps
    • if your knees start to get sore, don't push through it: rest and ease back into running s-l-o-w-l-y 
    • seek professional help if needed.
  • My daughter's self-defence teacher told her: Stay safe. Run with just one ear-bud in, so you can hear what's happening around you. Don't run in a place or at times that are too isolated.
Three final thoughts -
  • Jogging is FUN! Who knew? Exhilarating, energising, and a great work-out. 
  • I'd never done more than a minute's jogging before. I was astonished to discover how capable my body is. You can do it!
  • The program works! I feel like Master Yoda: "Trust - the - program."


Hannah said...

Hi Jean, I'm halfway through week 5 and loving it! It certainly is addictive. I've been doing it with my husband (though he's had to pull out for now with a sore knee) and my sister-in-law. I love how its challenging without being impossible. I hadn't done much exercise for about a year and so had lost a lot of my fitness, but this was a great way to get back into regular exercise, and already I feel so much fitter.
Also, I'm a physio, and I definitely recommend wearing good shoes, stretching lots (especially the quads and iliotibial band on the outside of the leg), and seeing a physio if you have pain that doesn't improve.

Jane Lister said...

I'm with you too! Almost finished level 8 - great challenge without being too hard. Loving how it makes me feel all day long.

Sarah Cooper said...

Hi, I've done the program a few times over the years but never really got past 5km (still I'm glad to get that far). I'm looking forward to when you all finish to see what you do to go further. Anyone have any suggestions?

Jean said...

And welcome too to Meredith and Rebecca and, maybe, Karen, who commented here, and to anyone else who doesn't quite want to go public on this one... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean, I did a similar program (over about 6 weeks) in dec/jan/feb , had a month off with sickness, ran a 5k I had signed up to earlier in 35mins (with some walk breaks) because of my knees. But I am thinking of doing the program again, even if not from the beginning- hopefully to improve my pace. Running is great, but hard to fit in with a toddler and a baby. Any tips? Oh, and I'm friends with Tanya and she always had great running advice:)
I wrote a little about y running plan here: Would love for you to take a look. Take care, Mel. PS I love your blog!!

Jean said...

LOVED your running post, Mel. So much so that I might post an excerpt from it soon, if that's okay with you. Will bookmark your blog. Are you at Tanya's church (where we used to go)?

Jean said...

ps tips... Only that I never dreamed of doing this at your stage of life, but wish I did something like it, and good on you, and keep it up! And (though you probably already know this) when you go back to it, don't jump in too far, or you'll wreck your knees - start slowly. I'm actually going right back to the start. But that's partly because I want to re-experience the program as I write about it.

simone r said...

I did it a few years ago. Found I could step up much faster than it did, which felt good since I was the kid at school who came last in every race!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you liked the running post! You are very welcome to use a part of it - that's my pleasure! I certainly wouldn't be able to do running without the support of my hubby at this stage of life. And yes, I used to go to Tanya's church. I attended from 2003-2009, with 2 of those years spent in Japan. All the best with your running!

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying the running program. It really does make you feel good. I'm blessed to live in a lovely spot - my 5min warm-up takes me down to a coastal cycle/walk path. The path is 6km long and it's my goal to run the whole length one day!
Thank you for your encouragement.


Meredith said...

The funny thing for me is that I don't actually want to be a runner. Well, not at the moment anyway. But I found the bike was doing my knees in so have moved to this instead. Started. Stopped. Started again. Love those stretches you sent me. They are already and are going to in the future be what saves me (in the non-biblical sense!!) You should do a link to them on your blog at some stage.

I downloaded the podcasts you linked to earlier and they are great. Brilliant actually. What worries me is what happens if I actually manage to get up to week nine and then run out of podcasts with that kind person saying all those nice encouraging things at just the right moment to keep me going. What will happen then??

Jean said...

Did I link to podcasts? Who knew? Or do you mean the app with the trainer?

As for how you get by, you'll love it so much by then you won't need the encouragement...or that's the idea! ;)

I did find that, as I went along, I needed less boppy music / encouragement / etc because I discovered the "joy of running". Not sure it's for everyone though. Hopefully it comes to you in time...:)

I meant to put that stretches link in and forgot. Will do it now, both here and in the post...

Heather T said...

Hi Jean,
I just started this week and have only done two run/walks so far. (The snow has only just started melting here in the last week.) I have had back problems for years so was hesitant to start running. I am trying to swim on some of the days I don't run. We will see how I go. Thanks for the motivation and the app link.