February 24, 2021

Back in the Saddle

I have NO pictures for this post, unfortunately, so this is the logo that Jerry drew for my first Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K back in 2013. That's me, running for a cookie ;)

Ever since I decided I wanted to start running again, I didn't have a particular plan--I just added little running intervals here and there into my daily five-mile walk. My favorite way to do this was on the treadmill. I could play Best Fiends on my iPad while I walked, and then every time I lost a level, I would run for one minute. It became kind of a game in itself, which was fun! And the time went by SO fast.

I started listening to the audiobook version of 'Depression Hates a Moving Target' by Nita Sweeney while I was walking outside because the last time I listened to it (I believe it was late 2019 when I was running 3 miles - 3 times a week - for 3 months), it really motivated me to run. In the book, Nita talks about how she started out by doing a Couch to 5K plan and it reminded me of when I first started running back in 2010.

I attempted Couch to 5K a few times in the past, but I could never get past week three. I also HATED running intervals--where you run a little, walk a little, repeat. I found myself spending the entire walking portion dreading the next running interval. So, I made my own method to start running and that was perfect for me--no intervals.

Fast forward through dozens of races, including three full marathons, and God-only-knows-how-many training runs through the past 11 years, and don't mind intervals so much. I did intense interval training (short and fast running portions) when I was training to run my 10K and even though it was really hard work, I liked that I could look forward to taking a breather after each sprint. And I felt AMAZING after those interval runs.

Back then, I was doing intervals not to run longer, but to run faster. The Couch to 5K plan is meant to get you to run longer distances each time until you're able to run 5K without walking. Each run portion is meant to be very slow, so it's less intimidating than what I was doing for 10K training.

Anyway, listening to Nita's book made me think about my attempts at Couch to 5K and it gave me the idea to try it again. Now that I know I can do it and what to expect, it would be nice to actually complete it since I never did before. 

I printed out the original plan (which is no longer at their website--so I used screenshots from Pinterest to piece it together) and I did the first workout on Friday just to see if I liked it and wanted to try the plan again. The first workout says to walk five minutes, then alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Since the roads have been covered in snow and ice, I used the treadmill. I did the Couch to 5K workout and then immediately followed with my regular walk. The Couch to 5K workout ended up being two miles (after adding a five-minute walk on the end of it) so I only added a three mile walk afterward, to total five miles.

It's so strange to say this, but I really loved it! It made the time go by so quickly. I played Best Fiends during the walking portions and the running intervals were so short that they flew by--I couldn't believe I'd already completed two miles for the day. When I was done, I was actually looking forward to doing it again--it was so nice to change things up.

I decided to aim for Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays for the C25K runs (if I change it up, it's no big deal, but I figured I should have some sort of direction). And I decided that I would "officially" start C25K last Sunday. I did it on Sunday and then again yesterday, and I'm looking forward to doing it tomorrow. Then it's on to Week 2!

I've kept the running portions very easy--5.0 mph (I set it at 3.5 mph for walking). Just for the heck of it, I wore my heart rate monitor to see how my heart rate compared to my MAF rate (my MAF zone is 131-141 bpm).

Interestingly, I found that it took about one minute to go from the bottom of my MAF zone to the top of my MAF zone--so I ran and my heart rate peaked at about 144 during the running, then I'd walk and it would drop to about 129, then I'd run again. So even though I wasn't trying to train by using my heart rate, I found it interesting that I stayed pretty close within my MAF zone the whole time.

This post was really just a very long-winded way of saying that I'm starting Couch to 5K again and I am really enjoying it so far. It feels good to run again, even if it's slow and just for a minute at a time. I can honestly say that I miss it!


  1. I'm confused as to what you are printing out? C25K is an app on the phone. I used it, completed it one time, felt accomplished and haven't tried it since and as close to running as I've ever came.

    1. Once upon a time, long before people used apps on cells phones (gosh, I feel so old!) Couch to 5K was a program that became really popular (I believe it was 2006 or 2007-ish?). I know I attempted it once in 2007. There are hundreds of different Couch to 5K programs out there now, but I was referring to the original that was on coolrunning.com.

    2. It's the same one (the app is the Cool Running plan). Active.com took over Cool Running and did the app.

  2. Ah, the youngsters. They never experienced the pre-app joy of printing an interval plan, taping it to the side of your bookcase, and making those dopamine-inducing checkmarks next to each workout. BTW, it took me 20 weeks to complete the 9-week Couch to 5k plan. Twenty. And I have never and will never be able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes. I'm so stinkin' proud of you!!

    1. I still print out plans and check off the days. I agree, there's nothing more motivating than seeing all the work I've done. An app doesn't give me the same feeling of accomplishment.

  3. Over 10 years ago, I made a commitment to myself to “work out” at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week, no excuses. At the time I started running, but in the years since then I go through phase and do whatever I’m in the mood to do - yoga classes, hit YouTube workouts, body pump at my local Y, just going on the elliptical, etc. I can count on one hand the weeks that I skipped (including my honeymoon and after my c-section). I think the thing that makes it possible to keep up with this is that it’s so flexible and even on my worst/busiest weeks, I am still able to carve out this small amount of time. There’s no “goal” or “end date” and I am not allowed to beat myself up if it’s low impact exercise (it was mostly just walking late in my pregnancy). I did have years where I certainly did more, like in 2016 training for (and completing!) a half marathon. Maybe something like this would work for you? Flexible enough that you don’t toss all your plans out the window if your schedule changes or you need to do something other than run (e.g. due to injury, weather, etc.).

  4. Awesome! Will you keep wearing your HR monitor, just to see how your HR does? I ask because I'm constantly battling between just running (and not worrying about HR) and truly trying to follow the MAF plan (which then I'm power walking almost the entire time). I know that running puts a lot of stress on the body, and I know that running super easy is the best way to control this, but I miss actually running! Long story short, I'm going to do the C25K with you, and I'll wear my HR monitor too, just to gauge what it's doing. Maybe it'll go down just by running more again?

  5. Sounds like fun, Katie! I admire you playing a game while walking on the treadmill. If I were to try that, I'd no longer be on the treadmill. ;) And I agree with Nita -- I'd print out a new Hal Higdon plan for each half and there was nothing better than checking off each workout!


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)