I’ve been doing the Couch to 5K beginning (and returning) runners’ plan since January, and yesterday, I finished it and ran a 5K race for the first time in, uh… oh, wow: twenty years!
C25K is pretty straightforward, though there’s a lot of stuff to keep track of. You start by jogging one minute, then walking ninety seconds, then repeating — then, in the next week, you jog a little bit more and walk a little bit less. In the past, this meant lots of time spent scrutinizing your stopwatch. But I’ve been using Felt Tip’s C25K iPhone app, which tracks all the details and just gives you “run now!” “okay, walk” messages through your headphones. In fact, the “RUN NOW WOOP WOOP WOOP” message is kind of startling, like an “all hands” general alarm, which is great for getting you to leap off the blocks when it’s time to start jogging again. You can run it on top of the Nike+ application on the iPhone, which IN TURN runs on top of your iPod, so you can chug along, listening to your music, just obey the “walk now” and “run now” commands, and when you’re done you get all kinds of telemetry about your runs uploaded to the Nike+ website.
Here’s the graph of all the runs I did for C25K, on the Nike+ site. Since C25K gradually replaces brisk walking with jogging, the mileage doesn’t go up steeply, or anything. But it’s nice to have such a big collection of green bars!
Up until just a few days ago, all of those runs were on the second-floor gym track at the YMCA Youth Program Center on Chestnut street. Around, and around, and around the track!
Yesterday, I graduated with my first 5K run! I signed up for the St. Pat’s 5K race, held by the really excellent local Chester County Runners’ Store. Kevin Kelly, the co-owner of the store, was actually my cross-country coach in high school, and he puts together a whole bunch of clinics, group runs, workshops, and friendly, mellow runs like this one.
The run was held on the West Chester Downtown Loop, which is two mile-and-a-half-ish loops around town. It’s square, and flattish, and there are volunteers standing at each corner to stop traffic, even when the rain is slashing down sideways like it was yesterday. (“Seems like we’ll have a nice tailwind by the park”, wrote Coach Kevin in an email Saturday morning to let us know the race was still on.) I ran in a gore-tex jacket, and felt very hard-core running through a nor’-easter, but those folks stand in one place for the same duration, braving the weather just so we can have a nice, flat, untinterrupted jog.
Anyhow, I’m very happy to have completed ten weeks of C25K, and I’m looking forward to many runs in West Chester! Hurrah!