I'm sure most people have heard of couch to 5K before but there are an awful lot of apps and training plans out there for you to choose. I found it tough enough just to pick the right schedule for me, this was before I even stepped out in my running shoes! Below I'll shed some light onto which app I chose and how I found the program. This one is a bit of a long post but bear with it!
I should at this point make you aware that I have once started and then failed to complete the program once in 2015, I gave up mainly down to laziness but also not finding the right time and routine to fit it into my lifestyle! However, I did not let that hamper me when I decided to start it again in 2017!
I decided on the The Zen Labs Couch to 5K app, it is split into 8 weeks running for 3 days a week. Once you download the app you can see what the breakdowns are and how long you will be running for each run. If you run with headphones it will tell you when to stop and start running, it also vibrates when if you don't run with headphones! I always tend to run with headphones and music and the app allows you too listen to spotify, apple music etc and then the nice voice will chirp in when needed.
I decided to get up and run in the early morning before work (mainly because it was dark and no one could see me!). I found this the best way, if you can get up early that is, mainly because there were less things to get in the way. I never had anything planned in the morning, other than eating weetabix and drinking coffee, so I just got up 45-60 minutes earlier and found it worked really well to get me into a routine!
Now, down to the actual running. I found the first week relatively difficult even though you are only running for 60 seconds then walking for 90 seconds. At this point my run was more like a very brisk walk with my arms moving more than my legs! After each week the time of running increases building your stamina. My main point of advise at this stage is to follow the program don't run more than the app says even if you think you can (I was soon caught out by this!)
When I first downloaded the app I scrolled through the weeks and in week 5 on the third day of running it said to run 20 minutes non stop!
20 MINUTES! NON STOP! IN 5 WEEKS!
There was no way I thought I could do this (I had previously quit at the start of Week 5 before because of this!). Oh well, I'll cross that bridge when i get to it I thought. By the time that run did come, I was mentally prepared and just thought back to week 1 when I could barely run for 1 minute! Minute by minute, step by step I just kept going, and you know what I ran for 20 minutes non stop first try!! The tip here, is don't run too fast, just aim to complete it, run slowly and work on pace later! Also, I have read of people who feel bad if they fail to complete a run, DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP! If you don't complete a run, put it down to a bad day and try again! If I can complete it you can!
Past this point you think you are unstoppable (well I did), buzzing on the high of being able to run for 20 minutes straight. I went into Week 6 thinking it would be a breeze, it wasn't! Week 6 was the toughest for me.
Week 8 is when you run for 30 minutes, I should point out that even though the app says "couch to 5k", by the end of the program I couldn't run 5k in 30 minutes. However, I ran for 30 minutes straight and was ecstatic! An overweight ginger with a beard had just managed to run for 30 minutes straight without walking, even though it wasn't 5K it didn't matter!
When i went out running I decided to try and run for longer than 30 minutes, it was when I hit the 32 minute mark and worked out I was nearly at the 5K mark, so decided to keep going. I hit 5K in about 35 minutes! It then took me a couple more weeks to do 5k in 30 minutes, so do not get disheartened if you have finished the app and not run 5K in the 30 minutes! Just be pleased you can now run!