Is the Couch to 5K Program Worth It?

Every January there’s a slew of new programs that promise to get you fit for New Year’s. I’ve actually gone “resolutions free” for the past few years.  Partly because I was one of those who’d always faltered quit by February. This year, though, I did set a few resolutions, and the Couch to 5K program is a big reason why.

Why I started the Couch To 5K Program

One of my fitness dreams has always been to be a runner. Sounds and looks pretty simple. I mean, all you’re doing is walking really, really fast, right? The movies and “suburban housewives” all make it look so easyBut in today’s world, it’s an accomplishment to just get off the couch and move around a little bit! I’d been reading about the

I’d been reading about the Couch to 5K program for a couple of years, and last year I finally decided to make it a part of my #17Before2017 goals list. I started in November of 2016, with the goal completion date in the last week of December.

Why? Because even though I knew that being a “couch potato” was incredibly unhealthy, I was, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) starting to notice some of its physical side effects, like:

  • Stiff and achy joints
  • Weight gain
  • Some swelling in the lower legs
  • More tiredness overall
  • Crankiness / Moodiness


What I expected from the C25K program

Honestly, I thought I’d probably fail miserably. You see, walking faster than 1.5 mph took effort, let alone stepping-into-a-trot, let alone feeling like I can’t breathe (‘cause running breathing is different from regular breathing)… let alone…

But I did better than expected — I was hitting new weekly milestones in speed and distance. I was feeling accomplished and was motivated to keep going. I was noticing that my clothes were already starting to fit better. The thought of achieving my goal of running 3.1 miles (that’s what a 5K is) was on the horizon!

And… then… I failed.

Why I technically failed…

I made it about halfway through the program – to week 4 out of 9. So technically I did fail… because I didn’t complete it. Why did I stop? Well the primary reasons excuses are:

#1) Timing – I highly recommend starting something like this at any time other than during the holiday season. Trying to go for a run on the day after Thanksgiving… well that was just dumb. And it didn’t happen, which led to…

#2) Commitment Issues – I wasn’t fully committed. The original intention was to complete the program before the end of 2016; I mean the timing was perfect! But once I faltered (read: skipped a run or two) I wasn’t committed enough to push through, even if it meant missing my original goal date.

#3) Lack of Accountability – I didn’t have an accountability buddy. Sure, others knew what I was doing, but there was no one to hold my feet to the fire. Without someone saying “Hey, why aren’t you working towards your running goal?!” I was able to just let it slip away.

Why I Actually Succeeded

While I didn’t complete the full nine weeks, I DID gain a lot more insight than I thought I would… During those 4 weeks I realized that I can overcome my foolish fears of running!

  • I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do the first exercise and I did it – slowly & a little painfully, but I did it.
  • I was afraid of looking stupid — but literally no one was watching. (Which is good, because I’m sure I looked a hot mess!)
  • I was afraid that I wasn’t healthy enough. But each week, I found myself not only looking forward to “run days” but running further and faster as the week went on. (I thought each week would get more difficult as the week progressed, but for me, it was the opposite.)
  • I was afraid that it wouldn’t be worth the effort. But I noticed that I had more energy, better overall moods, less leg swelling when sitting, and zero weight gain over the holidays. That’s pretty impressive because I ate a lot!

I also found that even though I was no longer following the running routine, I was still very active on the treadmill — walking more and trying other pre-installed programs.

7 Tips to Succeeding in the C25K program.

So, this year, I’m attempting to complete the Couch to 5K program again! Here are seven tips that I’ll be implementing to increase my chances of success.

Tip 1: Learn to breathe!

By this, I mean learn to breathe better while running. I got so winded so quickly, and I was constantly stopping to catch my breath. It helped to slow down when necessary, but, I’ll be taking time to learn some better breathing exercises.

Tip 2: Get an accountability buddy.

As stated above, it was really easy to quit when there was no one holding me accountable. Find someone to workout with you. If there’s no one local, try posting to Facebook or Instagram and track your progress together. Tell that one person who will annoy you enough to make you workout – just so they don’t get to say “See…”

Tip 3: Get a pair (or 2) of quality running shoes.

Running hurts (until it doesn’t). Running in the wrong shoes, however, can negatively affect the quality and efficiency of your run. I’ve been very happy with my investment in the Puma Cell Raize women’s running shoe. When these wear down, I’ll be getting another pair.


Tip 4: Get outside – the treadmill can be boring.

The first-go-round I was indoors the whole time. While it was convenient, since I wasn’t running in the elements, it was also quite boring. This time I’d like to get outside in the sunshine, fresh air and green space! It’s good for both your physical and mental health. 🙂

Tip 5: Plan your schedule accordingly.

One of my goals/resolutions this year is to plan my life around my goals… rather than to let time pass and then think “What happened to my goals?!” Make the Couch to 5K program a non-negotiable part of your routine, and literally schedule the workouts into your days.

Tip 6: Track everything!

I’ve set up a new tracker in my bullet journal. This one is a little more streamlined – as I found that the time portion of the program is easier for me to focus on than the distance.

My 2017 Couch to 5K Reminders and Trackers

Tip 7: Stay hydrated and listen to your body.

This one’s pretty obvious, but how often do we ignore what our bodies are trying to tell us? Yes, some pains are expected because you’re using your muscles in a different way. But dehydration and serious pains are nothing to ignore. If any pains are concerning, please stop and see a professional. The goal is to get healthier, right?! Some hydrating fluids include: water (obviously), sports drinks and even water based fruits (like watermelon and grapefruit). Also, find a stretching routine to do before and after running.


Join The Classy Lady Society!

I hope my Couch to 5K experience, and tips, have been helpful! Have you ever attempted, or completed, a Couch to 5K? If so, let me know in the comments below. Why did you stop? What were some of the things that helped you succeed? Also, I might be looking for some accountability buddies, so, if you are getting started, feel free to connect!

Stay Classy!

~A.C. Taylor

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