Couch to 5K 2020

I began the Couch to 5K program on 1/1/20 at a nearby local park that is mostly level ground. Since then, I’ve been keeping records of each run in a personal run journal and also on Instagram (and sometimes Facebook). I’d decided to consolidate the records here as well.

Week 1
This first week of C25K begins with a five minute warm-up walk; then one-minute run, 90-seconds walk, repeated eight times; and ends with a five minute cool-down walk. Total time: 30 minutes. Running time: 8 minutes.

Day 1 – 1/1/20
Slow, steady run with Jason (he basically walked while I ran because I’m that slow). Other than some shin splints, I actually felt okay during this run. Right around the sixth run, I began to get really tired, but was able to continue on. I felt very triumphant afterwards.

Time: 3o mins
Distance: ~1.6 miles
Pace: ~18:45/mi
Avg HR: 137 bpm (prob higher though, Fitbit didn’t register correctly the first half)
Max HR: 170 bpm

Day 2 – 1/3/20
Alone, felt about the same as the previous run. Got tired around the sixth run. Shin splints were a bit worse despite warming up with some yoga beforehand. I was happy to see some improvements in both distance and heart rate, especially since these first two runs felt the same.

Time:  30 mins
Distance: 1.7 miles
Pace: 17:39/mi
Avg HR: 148 bpm
Max HR: 171 bpm

Day 3 – 1/7/20
My shins were in so much pain during this run. The entire run was a struggle and I knew it was time to replace the shoes. I felt like I was going much slower than my first two runs as well. (Note that while the distance is the same as Day 2, these are rounded so it was slightly less mileage with a slightly higher pace.)

Time: 30 mins
Distance: 1.7 miles
Pace: 17:43/mi
Avg HR: 149 bpm
Max HR: 168 bpm

Week 1 wrap-up: This is hard and so far isn’t getting easier. Also, I need new shoes.

Week 2
Five minute warm-up walk; then six repetitions of the following: 90-second run, two-minute walk; finish with a five minute cool-down walk. Total time: 31 minutes. Running time: 9 minutes.

Day 1 – 1/12/20
New shoes. The park was partially flooded so there were two sections of each lap that I had to walk through, even during running sections. My GPS was not working well, either, so I only have an approximate of what I ran. Like during Week 1, I started getting tired around 75% of the way through the run sections. No shin splints, but otherwise this felt about the same.

Time: 31 mins
Distance: ~1.7 miles
Pace: ~18:14/mi
Avg HR: 147 bpm
Max HR: 172 bpm

Day 2 – 1/21/20
For the first time since I began the C25K program, I felt like I was going about the same pace and effort, but my legs, heart, and lungs didn’t feel nearly as rough and I didn’t start flagging around the 75% mark. Yay! Though I admit, it was surprising to not increase my pace at all even with an extra minute of running.

Time: 31 mins
Distance: 1.75 miles
Pace: 17:43/mi
Avg HR: 143
Max HR: 173

Day 3 – 1/30/20
Terrible run. I had a migraine and my body felt heavy and exhausted. Every step was slow and clunky. My heart rate was way too high. Afterwards, though, my legs actually felt really happy, so that’s good.

Time: 31 mins
Distance: 1.8 miles
Pace: 17:13/mi
Avg HR: 146 bpm
Max HR: 179 bpm

Week 2 wrap-up: Had ups and downs this week, but honestly not seeing much improvement and a bit worried how the next few weeks will go and if they will end up being possible. Regretting a bit not doing the program indoors first.

Note: A long time passed between Week 2 and 3. During that time, I did a lot of indoor running, got a PR in a walked/run 5K, and also got a PR in my mile-time in a separate run.

Week 3
Five-minute warm-up walk; two repetitions of the following: 90-seconds run, 90-seconds walk, three-minute run, three-minute walk; then a five-minute cool-down walk. Total time: 28 minutes. Running time: 9 minutes.

Day 1 – 3/6/20
Never has C25K felt so easy. The four runs were short and sweet, and I got to the end of the last one and said, “Wait, really?” My Fitbit didn’t connect properly so my heart rate data couldn’t be recorded. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was lower than usual, though, because this run felt really easy.

Time: 28 mins
Distance: 1.63 miles
Pace: 17:13/mi
Avg HR: unknown
Max HR: unknown

Day 2 – 3/9/20
For the first time, I felt a compulsion to run despite it being a terrible day for it: hot, muggy, wet/flooded, raining off and on, injured toe. I had to take this one really slow and easy because of injury and needing to walk through the two flooded sections for every lap. My legs ached because of the six-mile hike I’d gone on the day before, and every step felt clumsy and uncoordinated. Despite all the not-fun, the compulsion itself felt wonderful.

Time: 28 mins
Distance: 1.63 miles
Pace: 17:12/mi
Avg HR: 144 bpm
Max HR: 175 bpm

Day 3 – 3/16/20
Pushed myself harder during this run because I knew I could. It was the first day of C25K that I tried to increase my pace rather than staying at a slow, comfortable pace. Still slow, but definitely a major improvement in speed.

Time: 28 mins
Distance: 1.72 miles
Pace: 16:19/mi
Avg HR: 151 bpm
Max HR: 185 bpm yikes…

Week 3 wrap-up: The extra work I did between Week 2 and 3 definitely helped improve my running fitness. This was an awesome week for me. Even the bad run had great things about it.

Week 4
Five-minute warm-up walk; three-min run, 90-sec walk, five-min run, 2:30 walk, three-min run, 90-sec walk, five-min run; then a five-minute cool-down walk. Total time: 31:30. Running time: 16 minutes.

Day 1 – 3/21/20
Another day with the park flooded, walking those two sections per lap, plus someone had gotten mud everywhere so the entire path was slippery. Took this one slow and easy both because of the mud/water and because of the jump in running times. My lower legs could definitely feel the change, but it wasn’t too bad.

Time: 31:30
Distance: 1.87 miles
Pace: 16:46/mi
Avg HR: 150 bpm
Max HR: 174 bpm

Day 2 – 3/25/20
Clunky, heavy, hot run. Felt clumsy throughout, and I know that my footfalls both walking and running were striking hard no matter how soft I tried to be. Could not find a rhythm and honestly I nearly gave up about halfway through to try again another day.

Time: 31:30
Distance: 1.84 miles
Pace: 17:10/mi
Avg HR: 152 bpm
Max HR: 177 bpm

Day 3 – 3/29/20
Beautiful cool morning, great run. Ran faster than normal but didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard or anything. Unable to determine my actual C25K distance/pace because RunKeeper’s GPS was really off today. Instead, I’ve based my stats on the average distance of the five laps I always do of the park. Notably, it’s probable that my Day 1 stats are too high because RunKeeper recorded the five laps as 2mi when it’s actually around 1.95mi. (Today recorded as 1.9mi.)

Time: 32:47 (31:30 for C25K specifically)
Distance: 1.95 miles (total)
Pace: 16:49/mi (total)
Avg HR: 153 bpm
Max HR: 180 bpm

Week 4 wrap-up: Honestly, I didn’t mind moving up to the higher running times, and I felt like I could have run steady longer than the five-minute stretches. Definitely irritated about RunKeeper’s GPS. Not scared of Week 5 anymore!

Week 5
Honestly, I skipped Day 1 (three 5-min runs with 3-min walking breaks in between) and Day 2 (two 8-min runs with a 5-min walk between). I went straight to Day 3 – five min warm-up walk; 20-min run nonstop, five-min cool-down walk. Total time: 30 mins. Run time: 20 mins.

Day 3 – 4/2/20
I was determined to go right into this day because it’s so intimidating, and during the run I kept up a steady 3.6 mph (16:40/mi) pace. I ran 1.2 miles in the 20 mins of running and had plenty of steam to even speed up for the last minute. I felt awesome and like a badass (hence the silly photo!). It was both the longest and the furthest run I’ve done since 2014 when I was 80 lbs lighter. It also helped me reach one of my current running goals – to run a full mile on flat ground (rather than downhill).

Time: 30 mins
Distance: 1.78 miles
Pace: 16:51/mi
Avg HR: 161 bpm
Max HR: 183 bpm

Week 5 wrap-up: Um, this feels a bit pointless, but the biggest thing I learned during “week” five is that yes, I can run for long periods of time as long as I go slow and steady. Yay!

Week 6
Each day of Week 6 is different, so I’ll give details on the specifics in the individual day posts.

Day 1 – 4/10/20
Five-minute warm-up walk; five-min run, three-min walk, eight-min run, three-min walk, five-min run; then a five-minute cool-down walk. Total time: 34 mins. Running time: 18 mins. // This run was tough because 1) it had been eight days since my last run, and 2) it had been five days since my last exercise (re: quarantine/illness in the house). I ended up pushing myself harder than normal, and couldn’t tell because my legs hurt regardless of pace. Still, I had one of my fastest runs to date, and I can see gradual improvements along this path. Also, I was still able to do all the runs without trouble even though I pushed harder.

Time: 34 mins
Distance: 2.06 miles
Pace: 16:28/mi
Avg HR: 154 bpm
Max HR: 184 bpm

Day 2 – 4/21/20
Five-minute warm-up walk; ten-min run, three-min walk, ten-min run; then a five-minute cool-down walk. Total time: 33 mins. Running time: 20 mins. // Extremely warm and muggy and gross out this morning, plus I ran across this coral snake (!!!) during my second-to-last lap. No fun! The run felt okay though clearly I’m not running often enough to keep up my strength at the moment. That’s a weather and circumstance thing, so I just have to keep trying.

Time: 33 mins
Distance: 2 miles
Pace: 16:30/mi
Avg HR: 158 bpm
Max HR: 181 bpm

Day 3 – 4/23/20
Five-minute warm-up walk; 22-min run; five-minute cool-down walk. Total time: 32 mins. Running time: 22 mins. // Got out early and had a wonderful run in mid-60s temps with a breeze. Almost no one in the park. Started my 22 mins at a pace of around 16:07/mi and steadily increased, because the entire 22 mins totaled 1.4 miles in 3.8 mph or 15:44/mi. A huge improvement over the end of Week 5’s 20-min run. Longest nonstop run in both time and mileage since back in 2014 when I was much thinner. Plus, I ran an additional three minutes after the C25K bit was over, for 25 of 38 total mins (about 2/3rds), with a total pace of 16:11/mi – my fastest workout to date according to RunKeeper. Woohoo!

Time: 32 mins
Distance: 1.99 miles
Pace: 16:06/mi
Avg HR: 162
Max HR: 187

Week 6 wrap-up: I can feel myself getting stronger and faster. I know I can probably already run the full 30-min end of Couch to 5K, though I know it’ll be no where near an actual 5K. But I never ran an actual 5K in 30 mins even when I was at the height of running, so I’m not fussed about that.

Week 7
Each run this week begins with a five minute warm-up walk, then a 25-min nonstop run, and then a five minute cool-down walk. Total time: 35 minutes. Running time: 25 minutes.

Day 1 – 4/28/20
This was a horrific run. Warm, muggy (99% humidity!), mask on (which made it warmer), and clunky. My shins hurt, my gait was too heavy, and the GPS on RunKeeper was off by about a tenth of a mile, which is ridiculous. I’d guess I ran 1.5 miles in those 25 mins (about 3.6 mph or 16:40/mi), but it’s all speculative. I just tried to take it all very slow and easy today, especially on my heart. Not fun at all.

Time: 35 mins
Distance: ~2 miles (?)
Pace: ~17:30/mi (?)
Avg HR: 148 bpm
Max HR: 174 bpm

Day 2 – 5/2/20
Another terrible run. I didn’t give myself enough rest between my sprint intervals two days before, and my hips were locked up, changing my gait and causing both shin splints and numbness in my extremities. My heart rate was way too high, and I nearly gave up to start again another day. Hoping Day 3 will be better. Run portion: 25 mins, 1.59 miles, 15:33/mi. Note: RunKeeper recorded my mileage slightly higher than normal, so these numbers are skewed slightly further/faster than actually achieved.

Time: 35 mins
Distance: 2.17 miles
Pace: 16:05/mi
Avg HR: 164 bpm
Max HR: 190 bpm

Day 3 – 5/7/20
After two horrible runs for Week 7, I decided to stop focusing on speed and return to my original intent to run at a pace that felt easy on my legs, heart, and lungs. Consequently, I quite enjoyed this walking-pace run, and afterwards I didn’t feel shaky, exhausted, or starving. And since the RK GPS did some weird jumps across distance that tried to tell me I was walking an 8-min mile pace, I only have guesses on what were my actual distance, pace, and speed. Note: Run portion was approximately at a 17:45/mi pace.

Time: 35 mins
Distance: ~1.95 miles (?)
Pace: ~17:57/mi (?)
Avg HR: 141 bpm
Max HR: 164 bpm

Week 7 wrap-up: Lessons learned this week: Running with a locked hip brings lots of pain and problems to the table. Pushing myself for ever-increasing speed/distance is more damaging to me over time, as well. Need to focus on endurance before speed.

Week 8
This is the last week of the Couch to 5K program. On Days 1 and 2, the five-min warm-up and cool-down sandwich a 28-min nonstop run, and on Day 3, the nonstop run is 30 mins. Total time: 38/40 minutes. Running time: 28/30 minutes. But honestly, I skipped all this and went right to a 30+ minute, 2-mile run.

Day 3 – 5/30/20
After five months, I completed the C25K program. I didn’t bother with a walking warm-up, but instead began with a slow-paced run (just under 18:00/mi). Jason walked alongside me. As I did the total two miles, my pace gradually increased. Every time the program called out a 5-min interval, my average pace would be faster. First mile was completed in 17:18, second in 16:07. This isn’t my fastest pace, but actually the fact that I wasn’t winded and felt really strong and steady in that second mile at that pace really speaks strongly for me. Plus, I’m just really stoked that I managed to finish this program, with Jason beside me for the first and last runs. I’ve now run nonstop for two whole miles and over 33 mins. I also know I could have continued on to finish a full 5K if I’d chosen to today. Woohoo!

Time: 33:22
Distance: 2 miles
Pace: 16:43/mi
Avg HR: 159 bpm
Max HR: 179 bpm