Three weeks ago, I wasn’t running at all, and this morning I ran a total of 16 minutes.
Nobody could be more surprised than I am. I’m not a runner, nor do I gravitate towards activities that are hard, unpleasant, and totally optional. But three weeks ago, my spirit of determination and perseverance kicked into overdrive, and I now find myself in Week 4 of the Couch to 5K running program.
It’s hard, but I’m doing it. During each of my workouts, my legs get tired and I feel a bit winded, but when the workout is over, I feel more or less invincible.
Which isn’t a bad deal.
Three days a week I put on my sneakers, strap my iPhone to my arm, and head outside for another Couch to 5K workout. So far, each 30-minute workout involves a 5-minute warm-up walk, followed by alternating periods of running and walking, and then a 5-minute cool-down walk. (You can see the full nine-week plan over HERE.) Today was Day 1 of Week 4, which means I’m now running 5 minutes at a time, up from last week’s maximum of 3 minutes at a time.
I’m sure I wouldn’t be running at all if it weren’t for a little $2.99 iPhone app. The C25K app makes it possible for me to do the Couch to 5K running program without looking at my watch every 5 seconds to see if it’s time to stop running yet. Because seriously, that’s what I’d be doing. Instead, a nice man inside my phone tells me when to switch between jogging and walking.
The whole experience goes something like this. (Images are from a workout I did last week.)
I fire up the app and find that it already knows what I’m supposed to be doing today. I press the GO button.
I then slide the “Start” button and begin walking.
During the workout, whenever it’s time to switch between running and walking, I hear a series of three dings, and then the man inside my phone says, “Run.” Not a happy, enthusiastic “Run!” Just a very plain “Run.” Meanwhile the screen tells me how long each walking or running segment is, and how many there are. Oh, and halfway through the workout, there’s a shimmery magic wand sound, followed by four beautiful words: “You are halfway done.”
When I finish the workout, the man inside my phone simply says, “Workout complete.” There is no cheering or applause.
See that little blue Facebook icon up there? Every time I finish another workout, I click that icon and tell my 550 Facebook friends how my run went. I’ve posted 10 updates so far, and I think I’ve gotten a comment on every single one. People are so encouraging! And interestingly, the comments tend to come from people who are far more athletic than I am — avid cyclists, people who run marathons or half marathons, etc.
Next I take a moment to make some notes in the app about how I felt and what the weather and the terrain were like. I also type in a few notes about how the run went — usually much more detailed than what I post on Facebook.
Finally I hit the blue SAVE button, and then press a little black “Done” button. And because I’m still surprised that I’m doing this, I always click over to my Workout History screen, just to prove to myself that this is really happening. It is.
So there you have it. Oh, and while all this is going on, I’m either listening to music or to an episode of This American Life.
I’m only in Week 4, which means I haven’t run a 5K yet, but buying this app was the single most important thing I could have done to make this goal a reality.