Couch to 5K (C25K) – Weeks 7 & 8 and Overall Review

I finished it! I can’t believe I finished it!! C25K is my BITCH!

Weeks 7 and 8 (consisting of runs ranging from 25 to 30 minutes long) were, not surprisingly, the hardest yet. I hadn’t cheated on a single workout (unless you consider running at a snail’s pace “cheating”), until Week 8 Day 1. I woke up in a bad mood and unbeknownst to me, my app was set to silent. I didn’t realize I hit the half-way point (when I usually head back to my house) until I had blown past it, and I just said “Eff it. I’m going to walk for a little while.”

FYI – 28 minutes is a long damn time to run. I haven’t cheated since the Week 8 Day 1 fiasco, but man, I wanted to.

Soooo here’s the thing. Even though I TECHNICALLY completed the program, I am basing that completion on time (30 minutes straight running), not distance. I actually downloaded an app (Map My Walk – I didn’t think I travelled fast enough to warrant the Map My Run app) to track my kilometres and I only travelled 3.6km this morning. I am happy with that number, but I still have a ways to go before I hit 5K.

My goal now is to slowly increase my distance until I reach 5km, and from there, work on my speed.

Overall Impression of Couch to 5K

I loved this program. It was challenging, but not so hard I wanted to quit. Sometimes I thought the workouts ramped up a little too quickly, but there was never a run I couldn’t handle (not including Week 8 Day 1, but I blame my crappy attitude). I highly recommend it.

Overall Impression of the Zen Labs C25K App

I thought the app was pretty good. It wasn’t anything special, but it didn’t need to be. It told me when to start my warm up, when to start running, when I was half-way, when I had 1 minute left to run, and when to begin my cool down. AND it let me listen to music (and YouTube and audiobooks and Map My Walk) at the same time. That’s all I needed.

Time it Took Me to Complete C25K

It took me almost exactly 8 weeks to complete C25K. I started on Tuesday, April 2nd and ended on Sunday, May 26. I’m a total slacker, so it was a surprise to finish on time.

Body Changes

I did not lose a single pound. In fact, I gained 5* and let me tell you, it ain’t muscle. I THINK my calves are a little more toned, but not noticeably so. Again, I am the slowest runner on earth, so I might have had different results if I exerted a little more energy.

* I am not saying C25K made me gain weight. I am pretty sure my cutting back on nursing the Spout did that.

Questions? 

Leave a comment below. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

Couch to 5K (C25K) – Weeks 5 & 6

Up until Week 5, I was doing the C25K program in silence. I was so elated to have some peace and quiet, I didn’t want to ruin it with music. When Week 5 hit, the running intervals got longer, and I needed something to distract myself from checking the clock every 10 seconds and thinking about how much it sucks to be sore and out of breath.

I started YouTubing episodes of Penn & Teller: Bullshit and speeches by Jim Rohn on my iPhone and it has made all the difference. I prefer the talk format over music because there’s no clear indication of how much time has elapsed (I find myself counting down ’til the end of each song when I’m listening to music), and it gives my brain something specific to concentrate on. Also, learning is pretty cool.

What I liked About Weeks 5 & 6

The runs vary from day to day (one day, you might be jogging for 3 and 5 minute chunks, the next 10 minutes, all the way up to 22 minute running intervals). I like the variety – especially when smaller intervals follow a day of 20 straight minutes of running.

What it Feels Like To Run for 20+ Minutes at a Time

I said my goal, from the very beginning, was to run for 20 straight minutes without dying, and it feels AMAZING to have made it to this point. It’s not easy, and for the first 7 minutes or so I kind of want to quit, but somewhere around the 8 to 10 minute mark, I get into a groove and it doesn’t seem so bad. I actually kind of like the long runs (especially with the aid of YouTube).

Keep in mind that I don’t push myself in terms of speed, which I think is what made my 20 minute intervals so bearable. I am a sloooow runner. Just to give you an accurate picture, I jog approximately 1 km in 10 minutes. Speedy Gonzales, I am not.

My Next Goal

My next goal is to run a full 5K without stopping.

26 Easy Steps – Step 1: Core Exercises

The other day, I mentioned that I am going to do a new* blog series called “26 Easy Steps.” I have been thinking about it for weeks, and now that it’s finally time to roll it out, I’m super pumped (and nervous) about it.

26 Easy Steps is a year-long program (spanning May 2013 to May 2014), consisting of 26 consecutive projects (each 2 weeks long), designed to better my life in some way. You’ve heard that it takes 2 weeks to form a habit? Apparently, it’s been tested and studied, but I’m too lazy to cite a source for that so you’ll have to take my word for it. My goal is to develop 26 good habits that have a direct and positive impact on my life (for example, taking a daily vitamin, eating at the table as a family during mealtimes, or flossing) – anything to make my day a little smoother in the long run, or to help me achieve my goals.

These 2-week projects will be chosen on-the-fly based on what area of my life needs the most improvement as the year progresses. Just to give you an idea of my selection process, 2 weeks ago when I started planning 26 Easy Steps (read: when I started fantasizing about how awesome it would be if I could pull it off), I thought my first project would be writing in a gratitude journal every day because I wanted to begin with a positive attitude. Last week, I was feeling optimistic, but I was constantly rushing around to get the kids out the door for our various appointments and playdates, so I thought an earlier, 6am wake-up time would be a better habit to develop. This week, my back has been killing me, and I think being pain-free will have the biggest impact on my mood, so that’s what I decided I’d like to focus on first.

My chiropractor wants me to do some of her prescribed stretches and toning exercises, as well as anything to strengthen my core. Your ab muscles help to support you, and I need to do as much as I can to take the pressure off of my lower back. Unfortunately, I absolutely hate exercise, and I’ve been putting it off (which is silly considering how much it will help with the pain).

So, my first “habit” is to do 20 minutes of Pilates at least 3 days a week (on the days I am not running). That means, this week, I’ll be doing these exercises Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I’ll check in next Saturday to let you know how it’s going.

*The truth is, there’s nothing new about 26 Easy Steps. It’s basically just a rip off of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project (or a re-hash of my 2 Weeks to Form a Habit series that barely saw the light of day, or a re-working of my horribly named Operation Fix that Shiz, or, you know, a copy of the countless half-assed schemes I had before that). I’d like to point out, I was planning things like this long before Gretchen Ruben wrote her book, but it’s easier to give her credit than to be the lady who doth protest too much. Also, it’s a good book and you should read it if you’re into self-betterment projects.

Couch to 5K (C25K) – Weeks 3 & 4

It took a solid 3 weeks, but I have really started to like running. I mean, I look forward to my workouts. I never thought I’d live to see the day when I said I enjoy physical activity, but there you have it. I’m a runner (more or less).

I like C25K because, so far, there hasn’t been a challenge I haven’t been able to suffer through, which is the key to me finishing the program. If I felt C25K was too hard, particularly at the start, I’d quit. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.

It helps that I have really been taking my time while running. I mentioned in my Week 1 & 2 review that I jog pretty slowly – sometimes comically so – but,  in my mind, that doesn’t negate the fact that I am able to keep it up over a significant (significant for me) distance. I figure I’ll work on running for 20 consecutive minutes for now, and worry about my speed later.

At week 1 or 2, if you told me I’d be able to jog for 5 minutes at a time without vomiting or passing out, I would have called you crazy. Now, I’m poised to start running for 8 minutes at a time, and I’m only slightly terrified.

Things I Like About Running

– Running (who knew?!)

Things I Dislike About Running

– Accidentally stepping in a giant puddle (I was cutting through a field), and running with wet shoes

Interesting Things I’ve Learned About My Neighbours While Running

– 10PM is a popular time to take out the garbage

– The dude down the street likes to listen to really loud music while he hot boxes his car

My Favourite Time of Day to Run

– 5am, because no one is around and it’s ridiculously peaceful

I’m Practically an Athlete! C25K Week 1 & 2 Review

I am allergic to exercise, but I have always wanted to be a runner. I have this fantasy of me waking up early in the morning, looking fabulous (with a blond ponytail, for some reason), running 10K, and coming home to my expensive kitchen to chug a big glass of orange juice, all glowy and healthy and shit (Fantasy Me looks so cute, too, in my running tank, jogging shoes, and Lulu Lemon capris – not the ones that give you a camel toe).

So, sometime during the sugarless delirium that was Lent, I decided that I was going to complete the Couch to 5K running program when the weather got nicer. Three factors contributed to my actually wanting to run (instead of just daydreaming about how good Skinny Rich Me would look doing it): 1.The lack of sugar in my blood stream made me temporarily insane, 2. Candidmommy posted her C25K review and made it look good, and 3. My friend, Jenny (an actual person I know and love!), told me she did it, liked it, and that it worked for her. One factor actually got me off the couch: I signed up for a 5K marathon with some girl friends before I lost my motivation (race date: June 23rd).

If you google Couch to 5K (or C25K), you can find a ton of information, but the basic gist is, you run for 30 minutes 3 times a week for 8 weeks. Each week gives you a specific interval (for example, in week one, you alternate between running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds), and the intervals gradually get harder until eventually you’re running the full 5K.

I downloaded the ZenLabs C25K app for my iPhone, and I really like it. A nice lady prompts you to walk/run throughout your workout and you can listen to your iTunes playlist at the same time if you like. And the app was free. Freeeeeeeee.

So far, the only things I’ve purchased for my run are a pair of sneakers (which I got on sale), and a sports bra (you’d think every girl has at least one of these, but I literally never exercise, so I haven’t needed one before). When my new sports bra is in the wash, I just wear a regular bra and one of my tight nursing tanks with the built-in boob shelf. It’s basically the same thing. Also, my PJs double as my workout clothes. Maybe in the future I’ll actually buy an outfit or two specifically for running, but I am nowhere NEAR needing to be aerodynamic or whatever reason people use as an excuse to wear spandex (although, I could use a shirt made from that fancy pants material that keeps you cool and dry).

Week 1 was great. Running for 1 minute straight was a bit of a challenge, but it was really attainable, especially with the 1.5 minute walk between jogging stretches. Also, the C25K program requires you to walk for 5 minutes at the very beginning of your workout and at the very end, so it’s really only 20 minutes of torture. I’ve noticed that they tend to tack your last walking stint onto your cool down, so you have a full 7 minutes or so of walking at the end and it’s amazing.

Week 2 (90 seconds of running, 2 minutes of walking) was a little bit harder, but still doable.

Something that adds to the challenge for me is my terrible, terrible back. Ever since I had The Sprout, I haven’t been able to stand for more than 10 minutes without getting lower back spasms. I started seeing a chiropractor about a month ago, so it’s been getting progressively better, but I am still nowhere near normal. Some days are better than others, but by the end of my run, I am usually hobbling like a decrepit old man. Sometimes I actually walk faster than I “run” (read: walk-hop). But I don’t care. My focus isn’t about looking good, or moving fast, or going far. I just want to get through these workouts alive. I am not out to impress ANYONE.

It’s a far cry from my fantasy – me hobbling around in my pyjamas in the dark (I try to work out before Chase and the girls get up for the day), cursing my bad back, coming home to do doctor prescribed stretches, looking like a hot mess while I drink tap water in my tiny kitchen – but it’s alright.

Things I Like About Running

– It is a quiet, kid-free activity, and most days, it’s the only time I am truly alone and doing something entirely for myself.

–  No equipment required (aside from a good pair of running shoes – which could double as my regular shoes if I decide running isn’t for me).

– It’s nice to have an activity that forces me to go outdoors. Sometimes I forget how nice it is just to be outside.

Things I Dislike About Running

– I feel like everyone I meet in my path, every car that passes me, is making fun of my (unintentional) Phoebe run.

– Running.

Hardest Part About C25K

– Getting out the door.

WWJD Diet Update: I Quit

I don’t think my personality lends itself well to dieting. I love the idea of depriving myself of crap, of toughing it out, of going through hell for a predetermined period of time only to return victorious, healthy, and 20 lbs lighter, but the truth is, I can’t deny myself for long. Dieting makes me want to be baaaad – two-week bender of chocolate, pop, and sugar-laden chai teas bad. I don’t just fall off the wagon; I leap off like a suicidal madwoman, kill the horses, and set the buggy on fire.

The only way I’m going to lose weight and be more healthy is by making very tiny, incremental changes to my lifestyle. I know myself and I know it’s not going to happen overnight – certainly not in 40 days.

Furthermore, obsessing about my weight isn’t getting me anywhere. I don’t have fun doing it, my friends and family are sick of hearing it, and I have better things to do than waste my energy on something that isn’t really a problem. True, I would like to look better in a bathing suit, but my BMI is still well within spec and aside from my crappy diet, my weight itself doesn’t pose any health issues for me.

Also, I would be very, very sad if, 10 years from now, my daughter echos my words and starts complaining that she’s fat. I don’t want to teach her that happiness is looking like an air-brushed model.

I hid my scale, and I’m working on making small decisions (i.e – deciding to eat fruit instead of chocolate, deciding to take the dog for a walk, etc. etc.) every day that will set a better example for my kid.

That being said, I am not anti-diet – I’m just against dieting for me because I think it does the opposite of what I intend it to do. The WWJD weight loss competition ends on July 3rd, so I’ll definitely weigh in for the finale. Cointrin has been doing soooo good – he’s been working with a naturopath, doing a cleanse, and kicking some serious butt. I love hearing about it and I’ll never tire of other people’s self-betterment projects. This is just one self-betterment project I’ll be giving up on*.

*Although, I reserve the right to change my mind and do some kind of weight loss thing in the future. I did, afterall, give up weight loss almost a year ago and here I am. We all know that my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Diet? What Diet?!

I don’t know why I’m bothering to post about this diet anymore because I have all but given up on it, but here it is: I’m sitting at only 3lbs lost. I’m not happy about it but I am too depressed to do anything to change it. I’m tired, poor and stressed the eff out and those three things have overshadowed my desire to look good. Whine whine whine whine whine. Why can’t I just go to bed and stay there for a million years? I can’t eat if I’m sleeping.

Meanwhile, Cointrin has hired professionals to help him lose weight. I’m more interested in hearing about that. I hope he blogs about it. Hint hint.