Stretch it, move it… owwwwwn it.
Exercise. I know, dirty word right?!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved a bit here and there. I’ve joined more gyms than I’d like to remember and have had a crack at just about all the Les Mills classes that don’t make me laugh-snort out loud.
But in the last six years (I’ll blame my kids for this one), exercise and fitness fell off the priority spreadsheet.
With the rapid approach of a significant birthday and the gradual slide of my butt into the back of my leg, I thought I’d better take some action.
One of the first things that jumped to my mind was running.
Mainly because when I’m dragging my sorry arse on the school run I see these lithe gazelle creatures bounding past me and I think… “yeah, I can do that”.
But it also seems to be an activity that is:
a) Free – I have chosen to start my run-journey on a treadmill because I still drag around a two-year-old and quite frankly I need a crèche. But this activity requires just two feet and a heart beat.
b) Portable – You can do it ANY where at ANY time. Outside, inside, cold, hot, whatever. Heck you could even use the stairwell of your hotel in snow storm if you wanted… or on a tropical beach where they serve margaritas… mar-ga-ritas… I digress.
c) Effective – From my anecdotal observations of other runners, it gives you a bangin’ bod.
Now I don’t consider myself overweight. But fit? No siree. So when I told several of my close friends I was starting to run, I tried not to take their fits of laughter as a deterent (thanks Bev).
So I did what all the cool kids are doing these days and got me an App.
I liked the idea of Couch to 5K as it described EXACTLY what I was trying to do. To be clear, this review is part one of a two part series and I’m currently halfway, at week five. I’ve felt that I am far enough into it to give you a fair account of my progress thus far.
First you need to compile yourself some tunes to go with your ‘program’. I created a new playlist in my iPhone called ‘Running’. Creative. It includes gems like ‘I Like to Move it Move it’ from Disney’s Madagasca and ‘Maniac’ from Flashdance.
Then you pick your trainer. I picked the lovely supportive Constance as she’s encouraging with her “You’re halfway there! Keep going!” and I love her accent. I don’t repond well to orders being barked at me, they make me want to throw my phone in a shredder and get an ice cream. So I left Sergeant Block and Johnny Dead (the brain-chasing zombie) to someone else.
Now you’re ready to go…
The Couch to 5k app has three sessions per week and on each occasion has a five-minute warm up and five-minute cool down….my favourite parts. Here’s my week-by-week breakdown (*I use the word ‘run’ very loosely – what I do is more aptly described as a languid jog. But lets call it running.)
Week 1: After the warm up we have alternating intervals of one minute running and 1.5 minutes walking for 20 minutes. In an indication of my fitness levels, my lungs are burning in the last two intervals. But I did it, and I didn’t vomit. Yay me.
Week 2: The intervals are upped very slightly to now 1.5 minutes running and two minutes walking for 20 minutes. I actually didn’t get burny lungs this week. I should be an athlete and run marathons and stuff.
Week 3: More of the same but with two sessions of: 1.5 minute run, 1.5 minute walk, three-minute run, three-minute walk. I’m feeling pretty good about myself this week. I had an extra day at the gym too, but I still wasn’t (mentally) ready for the jump to week four so I repeated a day. The app is very flexible and it’s easy to do that.
Week 4: I ran for my first five minute stretch this week and I finally get this ‘zone’ thing that runners talk about. Yes, I know I was only a tourist to the ‘zone’ as I was only there for a nano-second. But I did get into a pace and didn’t even think about anything for at least a whole three minutes. That. Was. Awesome.
Week 4 intervals – Warm up, three-minute run, 1.5 minute walk, five-minute run, 2.5 minute walk, three-minute run, 1.5 minute walk, five-minute run, cool down.
Week 5: Ok. This shit is starting to get serious. Just looking at the screen at the start it says warm up, eight-minute run, five-minute walk, eight-minute run, cool down and it makes my eye twitch. But I talk myself down off the ‘lets get coffee instead’ cliff and just go ahead. Not as bad as I thought, although I do check the timer at least four times in the last eight minute block. End! End!! END GODDAMMIT!!
The whole program aims to take you to a full 5km run by nine weeks, and I’m up to Week 5, Day 2. So far I can see how people can get addicted to running as I feel awesome after I’ve finished, but I still don’t skip to the treadmill with a smile on my face. At least I haven’t cheated… yet.
Stay tuned and I’ll break down the second half of Couch to 5K in four weeks time… or follow us on Twitter (@thestyletrust) and get my daily thoughts, both good and bad, on the program as I go.
The Couch to 5k app is $2.49 from iTunes and I bought and paid for this app… all by myself.