June 14, 2021

Couch to 5K : Week 3

Just a quick recap of how Week 3 of the Couch to 5K plan went for me...

That expression, "It's all relative", perfectly describes my feelings about this week of running. I was not, at all, expecting to jump right back into running long distances and have it feel easy. I took a few years off, so of course I feel like a total beginner again! I just had no idea how hard it would feel to run for just a couple of minutes at a time when I used to run for hours at a time (and at a faster pace, too!).

When I was marathon training, an "easy three-miler" felt like a rest day; and now, running just a couple of minutes at a time, those couple of minutes seem five times longer. And the thought of running three miles seems impossible. I'll get there--I know I will, as long as I keep working on it--but wow, it's humbling.

My end goal right now is to eventually be able to run three miles easy again (and have it actually feel easy).

The Week 3 of the Couch to 5K plan is as follows (it's the same for all three workouts):

Running at 6.0 mph on the treadmill last week was really tough--and that was for just 90 seconds at a time. For this week, I decided to ease back on the speed to ensure that I can get through each 0.25-mile running interval. I used the treadmill for all three runs this week because it's been a HOT week here.

I chose to set the speed at 5.5 mph (10:55/mile) for my running intervals and 3.3 mph (18:11/mile) for my walking intervals. I didn't vary them because I figured that since I can't really see fitness progress based on speed or distance right now (especially on the treadmill), looking at my heart rate data would probably be the best way to see changes in my fitness level. If I run at the same speed each time and my heart rate gradually gets lower, then I'll know that I'm getting fitter.

It really doesn't make any difference, since my main goal is to just finish this plan, but you know how I love looking at running data ;)

Because the runs are different each week, I can't really compare this week's data to last week's. But here are the three runs from this week--all done on the treadmill, all at the same speeds. (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 in that order:)

Not enough to draw any conclusions, but I noticed that on the first day, I hit Zone 5; the second day, I did not; and by the third day, I hadn't even hit Zone 4. Today I spent half of the run in Zone 1! So if this trend continues, my goal of running three miles easy isn't just a pipe dream ;)  (Ideally, my heart rate will be in Zone 2 for an entire three-mile run--that's my MAF zone).

Reducing the speed this week made a HUGE difference in how I felt during the runs! I felt like I could have run farther if needed, though it was still tiring and I was grateful to start walking again. Whenever someone tells me that they are having a hard time building any distance, my first piece of advice is to go slower--even if you feel like you're already running as slowly as you can! It really does make a huge difference.

Next week, Week 4, is going to be a big obstacle; I've never gotten past Week 3 of the Couch to 5K plan! I attempted Couch to 5K a few times, starting in probably 2006-ish, but each time I got to Week 4, I just couldn't get through it. Eventually, in 2010, I did my own thing instead of C25K, and that's how I was able to "become a runner" (this is the plan I made up as I went along, and I found it much easier than Couch to 5K).

So while completing Week 4 is (again, relatively) easy compared to all of the other running accomplishments I've achieved over the years--5K's, 10K's, half-marathons, marathons--I feel just as nervous. It's kind of funny! Here is the schedule for Week 4:

So I have to run 1/4 mile (twice) and a half-mile (twice). This workout is double the amount of running from last week, for each interval. I feel like there should have been a week in between 4 and 5 because that's such a big jump. I know that I can always add my own week in there, but I'd really like to complete the program as written--simply because I've never done it before. And I know that I can--I just might have to reduce the speed quite a bit, which is fine.

Hopefully I'll report good things next week ;)


  1. This is so inspiring! Our local gym is just now opening so I might go back at it on the treadmill. What app for C25k do you like to use?

  2. I'm not a runner, but next week why don't you just get out there and do the very best you can with the program as it's written? You seem like you're already beating yourself up that you're not going to be able to do it. I've been an avid spinner for 10+ yrs, and in some of the classes some days I just can't do the long climbing hills, I'm on beta blockers and literally feel like I'm going to pass out from not getting enough oxygen. So I sit down and continue to pedal until my heart rate goes down enough to get back into it. Just try it, you might surprise yourself!

  3. Seeing your heart rate changes in just 1 week is amazing. I’ve attempted the C25K once but didn’t get beyond week 2, I did the same week 3 times until I stopped the program. Starting to run takes so much dedication with very little reward at first.

  4. Good work! I love low heart rate training. It's really paying off for me as well. Thanks for continuing to inspire us all!


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