July 26, 2021

Couch to 5K : Week 9 Recap (the final week!)

It's over! I finally completed the Couch to 5K plan. (I'm referring to the really old school plan from way back in 2005-ish.) I've attempted it several times, but this was my first time actually finishing. I'll save a "final thoughts" post for later this week, but I just wanted to write a recap of my Week 9.

For Week 9, all three workouts are the same: Run 3 miles. Simple! But definitely not easy.

Week 9, Day 1: Run 3 miles

I went up north on Monday. I packed clothes to do two runs while up north. As it turned out, I only ended up doing one. It was really hard to push myself to go do it, but I'm happy that I at least did one while I was up there. And I chose to do it outside, despite the fact that my sister has a treadmill at her cabin.

Her road is all dirt/gravel--and the gravel is pretty big. It's the kind that will cause you to roll your ankle if you're not careful, so I threw away any sort of ideas of what my pace might be. I even changed my Garmin to show only my distance, time, and heart rate so I wouldn't know what my pace was.

The gravel is 2/3 of a mile, and then there is asphalt. It's extremely rural, so I was only hoping not to encounter a bear. I ran straight on that road (no other options) until my Garmin showed 1.5 miles, and then I turned around. I just kept hoping to get to the dirt road, so I knew I only had 2/3 of a mile left. The last quarter mile or so was really hard. I just wanted to be done!

Overall, though, I felt pretty good. I knew I was probably going at a slower pace, but I was worried if I picked up speed, I wouldn't finish. It worked out well.

My pace ended up being much slower than on the treadmill (or on the streets by my house)--12:33 per mile. I was really happy with my heart rate, though--an average of 149, 150, 154 per mile, respectively. I was simply focusing on running easy--if it felt too hard, I went slower. Most of the run was in Zone 3, and what was in Zone 4 was on the low side.

Week 9, Day 2: Run 3 miles

I didn't do my second run until Saturday. I chose to do this one on the treadmill; it's been super humid here.

I don't know what it was about that day, but my run was horrible. One of the worst runs I've ever had! My heart rate was really high and I felt like I was going to die when I was done. I made it through the run, at the usual 5.0 mph, but the second I stopped the treadmill, I was gasping for air. I could barely gulp down water because I was trying to catch my breath. Jerry said, "Man, you must have been flying!" But I went the same speed as always, and it just felt so much different. I was even still trying to catch my breath after I took a shower.

My heart rate for each mile was 147, 155, 158 respectively. I was so sure it would be higher, based on how hard it felt.

After that, I had bad anxiety about running again. I was so nervous it was going to feel horrible. I planned to get it done yesterday, but like I wrote in yesterday's post, I was extremely tired. I'd even put on my running clothes early in the day, but I couldn't get the energy to do it. So, I put it off to today--knowing that today was my last shot.

Week 9, Day 3: Run 3 miles

I chose the treadmill again. Running in the humidity makes my heart skyrocket, and I really like passing the time on the treadmill with whatever book I'm currently reading. During the morning, I felt very "off". I did manage to sleep a little last night, thanks to my anxiety medication (I rarely take it because it makes me super tired, but sometimes it comes in handy).

Despite sleeping, I still felt lethargic (which was probably the medication still in my system). I knew I had to get my run done today, though, so I got dressed and onto the treadmill. I had a bad feeling about it, but I still just wanted to get it done. A mile in, I knew I wasn't going to be able to finish. I dragged on as long as I could, but I called it quits 1.3 miles in. My legs just felt super wobbly and weak.

I was so mad at myself! I knew I wasn't just being a baby about it--I really didn't feel right today. I laid on the couch, still in my sweaty running clothes, just staring at the ceiling. Two hours later, I woke up to the sound of Joey barking (someone was delivering a package). I had actually fallen asleep! That never happens.

After that, I started thinking about how I should just get back on the treadmill and finish out 1.7 more miles to hit my total of 3 miles. I didn't care if it was "cheating" by not doing it all at once. I wanted to do it--it was my very last day of Couch to 5K!

I was feeling much better than a few hours prior, so before I could talk myself out of it, I hopped back on the treadmill. The treadmill had cleared the data from the previous run, but my Garmin was still showing 15:00-something for the minutes I'd already run, so I was able to just continue on that. Since I was running at 5.0 mph, I knew if I ran until the minutes read 36:00, I would have gotten in 3 miles (the distance on the Garmin isn't correct when running on the treadmill).

The time actually went by pretty quickly--I was so relieved when I saw the 36:00 approaching on my watch! But I still felt like I was cheating somehow. I knew I wouldn't feel like I'd really done it. I wondered if I could keep running until I ran three miles straight. I would only have to run another 1.3 miles.

And I decided to keep going! It was SUCH a hard decision, considering how I felt earlier, but as I got closer to 3 miles, I knew I'd made the right decision. I was thrilled when I finally did it!

In total, I ran 4.41 miles--1.31 of it was at 11:00 AM, and then 3.00 was at 1:30 PM. I think that because the earlier one was so hard, I was probably still feeling the effects of the medication I took last night. A few hours later, I felt better (not good, but definitely better!).

Interestingly, my heart rate was still really high for the second run (in all, my average heart rate per mile was 150, 152, 162, 165). Look how much of it was in Zone 5! Usually, if I hit Zone 5 at all, it's only for a few seconds. Today, I spent 21 minutes in Zone 5. It's weird how the same exact run can feel so different.

I feel like I'm kind of going backwards in the heart rate training--I have been hoping to run at the same pace and eventually my heart rate will get lower (less effort). The logical solution is MAF training, but I don't want to do that (that would mean a lot of walking and I am just now getting back into running). I miss running; it just makes me feel good in a way that no other exercise ever has.

Anyway, now that I've completed the Couch to 5K, my plan is to continue running 3 miles, 3 days a week. I'm going to stick with the 5.0 mph speed on the treadmill and hope to see my heart rate improve over time. I'd like to start noting things like my hydration, amount of sleep, whether I've eaten, and things like that affect how I feel during my runs.

Overall, Week 9 was successful in the sense that I did it, but it was (by far) the hardest week of the plan! I'll write my final thoughts about the entirety of Couch to 5K later this week.


  1. You ever try HIIT? It might help heart rate. I don't remember you ever writing about it. I know it's not a running thing really, I never tried it seriously.

    1. Yes, HIIT can really be applied to any exercise--and it works really well, in my experience! Running intervals (going very slow/easy alternated with very hard/fast) is a form of HIIT. I was thinking of adding some intervals once a week to my running because I know that it gets good results as far as fitness goes!

  2. Congratulations Katie!

    1. Thank you, Tammy! I'm excited to have finished :)

  3. Congratulations on finishing despite the initial setback. As I was reading, I chuckled to myself about the couch nap in the middle. Your run was a 5K to Couch to 5K. 😆

    1. Hahaha, I didn't think of that, but yes--it was quite literally couch to 5K ;)

  4. I always relate to so much of your struggles. Good work getting it done! I know you don't want to walk, but I went "all in" on MAF180 during 2020 when I couldn't run with my group and now I HAVE to run in order to get out of zone 1!! It was all my ego in the road. When I was able to set that aside, I really gave it a go. I'd been running in zone 3 for years and not getting results. Sorry to bear that news. Not what you wanted to hear. Maybe just running 3 miles at the same pace will have the same result. I'll look forward to continuing to watch you experiment. Always wishing you the best, every day.

    1. Ugh, I know what you're saying has so much truth. I did MAF training (correctly) for months and had great results with it! But I was able to run then (no walking) and stay in my MAF zone. That's all I want--I miss running! I think I may add some interval training to see if I can get results that way. I do know that the logical thing to do is go all-in with MAF training, but I am just not ready to let go of running now that I finally got back into it!

  5. Katie, I am wondering how climate-controlled your garage with the treadmill is. Your treadmill is in your garage, right? I am wondering if it's still pretty humid in your garage, and that's what's getting to you. High humidity certainly could have made your HR jump up like that. Good work getting through it, though! I think that part of training to run is training that discipline of sticking with it.

    1. The treadmill is in the house now, actually--I couldn't stand having it in the garage! It was hot and humid in the summer and freezing cold in the winter--so it was basically like running outside (which defeats the purpose of a treadmill, haha). The humidity definitely makes my heart rate higher, which is why I choose the treadmill much of the time now. Even in the air conditioning, I sweat like crazy, though! ;)

  6. I know the heat & humidity have a huge effect on us while working out. As much as I hate winter, I'm looking forward to cooler temps. You give all of us much encouragement when you tell us how you pushed yourself so hard. It takes determination to finish that challenge and that look on your face... well to me it looks like pride, and I think runner's high! You are glowing!

    1. Thank you, Karen! I felt very proud of pushing myself to finish--I knew I'd be mad at myself later if I didn't do it. Sticking with a running plan takes so much discipline (for me, anyway!).


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