Getting from the Couch to Running a 5k Race

A runner in Valley Forge

I promised I would share a little bit here about my newest adventure, training to run a 5k. I realize this is a common thing, and something I actually tried once before. The first attempt was after Nathan was born and it led to debilitating knee pain and a year of twice weekly physical therapy. I actually got so that I like going to PT, it was like an extra workout that I could do during work hours and I liked the ladies and other customers there. Plus I think all that work has hopefully had some residual effects, because my knees feel pretty good even now that I’m running again.

The reason I’m running is simple. Our adoption ministry, 1:17, is hosting a fundraiser run on March 26th, called Run 4 The Children. It’s a four mile run. The idea came about because one of our members, Scott Balin, an adoptive father himself, is the organizer of a very large running club here called Katy Fit. He says these runs are simple and highly lucrative, and all you have to do is pick the right date an hundreds will come. His group alone has nearly 1000 members.

So I was going to volunteer to do photography or some other organizational thing, but Scott insisted that I should run it. In fact he challenged all of us to run. I knew all I needed was a challenge like that and some peer pressure to get me motivated. So January 1st I began. This time I resolved to find and stick to a good 5k training program and not push and not get injured. So I did what I always do…I crowdsourced my options on Twitter.

Someone I didn’t even know followed me said she loved a podcast called Running Into Shape which is a Couch to 5K program with music and verbal prompts for run/walk intervals. The idea of not looking at a watch was highly appealing, so I checked it out. Three runs per week with rest days in between, for a total of 9 weeks. I downloaded the first one and set out…turns out I LOVE her choice of upbeat hip hop tunes and her voice is so encouraging.

What’s funny is that when I asked on Twitter if resting between runs is really important, I got the most responses of any question I’ve ever posted. Overwhelmingly everyone urged me to not run, but to maybe bike or weight train on rest days. So I go to a yoga class or hit the bike on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and run on Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays. I’m encouraged by how it’s going. On Saturday I wanted to see how much distance I could cover in the 30 minute podcast so I ran straight out to the lake by our house…1.8 miles. ┬áThen of course I had to walk back so the total was 3.2 miles…5K! It felt really great, weather was perfect and I was on top of the world.

Yesterday though it was 40 degrees and totally overcast, but I bundled up and went out anyway. It was totally worth it, and after the first 10 minutes it wasn’t cold at all. I can’t wait till I can run out to the lake and all the way around it without walking. This training program is teaching me patience as well, because I want to push myself but I know that will only lead to injury.

So if you are thinking about trying something like this, I highly recommend Carli’s Couch to 5k podcasts, she has a rock and roll version if you don’t like the hip hop. Her whole website is pretty inspirational too, she’s a big girl who has been working hard to get in shape. She has now run four 5k’s.

I love that I feel like I’m joining a whole community…or cult?…of avid runners. The encouragement on my FB page has been great. It helps that our neighborhood is flat and lined with gorgeous sidewalks and scenery. But anyone can do this, so I encourage you to give it a try.