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March 13, 2013 / jessicamcelroy

Couch to 5K

One muggy Houston morning last June I laced up the old beat-up gym shoes that I’d rarely worn since high school and walked out my front door.

I had just heard about this running program called Couch to 5K that helps non-runners gradually work up to being able to run a 5K in 9 weeks. After failing at many sporadic attempts to start running on a regular basis in college, I was skeptical of my ability to make it a habit.

My last notable running streak was junior year, when I ran a few times a week for mayyyybe a whole month. I had unrealistic expectations, thinking that every run had to be longer than my last and feel even more effortless or else it didn’t count.

Inevitably, the streak ended in the same way as all the others before: In frustration and burnout. I thought that maybe exercise just didn’t work on me like it does on other people.

With C25K I learned that sometimes less is more. The running schedule starts out by alternating walking and jogging for 20 minutes and works you up to jogging 30 minutes nonstop by the 9th week.

With C25K you only run 3x per week. Sometimes I felt tempted to go even more often, but by sticking to the plan I was able to keep the time commitment low and make it a truly sustainable habit.

The workouts were challenging (read: painful) in the beginning. I could barely jog two minutes without feeling out of breath and my legs screaming  to stop.

But because I had rest days to recover in between, I would always look forward to my next run. I would feel nervous anticipation when I increased my time upon the previous week, and the sense of accomplishment was addictive.

Now, here I am almost a year later, and I am preparing to run a half-marathon in two weeks! But really, I’m already more than prepared for it. On Sunday I ran 16 miles without stopping and felt pretty fantastic.

I am about to register for the San Francisco marathon on June 16th. The big 26.2, including San Francisco’s dreaded hills!

And to think, less than year ago as I was huffing and puffing through my 1.5 minute intervals, even running 3 miles sounded like a far-off goal to me.

This blog is about my journey from couch potato to marathon runner in one year.

I plan to use it to reflect on the incredible difference running has made in my life and to chronicle the rest of my journey. I hope to share my love for running, pass on running-related advice and tips, and maybe even inspire someone who has considered taking up running to give it a try.

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