For those of you who are unfamiliar, c25k is an abbreviation for Couch to 5K. It is a running program designed to turn someone who can’t run very far for long into a person capable of running five kilometers without stopping or walking. My friend Pete tackled this program last year, and he seemed to really enjoy it. iPhone in hand (well, pocket), I began the routine myself today.
On the tech side, there are many ways of managing your runs with your various, portable electronics. The program works by starting off participants in a cycle of walking and running. As you progress, you walk less and run more. While you could just keep time and know when to do what, that’s no fun! There are pre-recorded podcasts and apps that you can get on your smart phone or iPod Touch to handle this for you.
After looking at the myriad of c25k apps on the App Store, I settled on one called “Get Running.” For an app to have a 5 star review on its current version with almost 1,300 reviewers is pretty astounding. The app allows you to start playing your own music, audio book, or podcast. A nice little feature is the ability to tell it what your listening to. If it’s music, the voice prompts will cause the music to soften but continue. If it’s an audiobook or podcast, the prompts pause the playback so you don’t miss anything.
With the last few episodes of Weekend Confirmed that I’ve fallen behind on, I began my first run on our treadmill (it’s cold outside!). What followed was perhaps the most enjoyable workout I’ve ever had. I felt that I was pushing myself and my body, but not so hard as to feel uncomfortable or pained. The voice prompts provided surprisingly motivating feedback. At the end, I was sweating, felt that soreness one feels after working out, and felt remarkably full of energy. This is significant for one key reason. I’ve traditionally hated running.
To be blunt about it, I was kind of a fat kid in middle school. Not morbidly obese, but certainly not thin. As such, I wasn’t in particularly great shape. Once a semester in gym class, the coach would just send us out on the track with the instructions to “run” a mile. Many of the more athletic kids begrudgingly took off and ran their 5 minute mile.
But there I was. There was no way I could run a constant mile. So I had to alternate between walking and running. Kids were lapping me. 10 minutes later, I was one of the last kids off the track. It was embarrassing, exhausting, and painful. The gym teacher would check “Make the kids run a mile” off of his list for the semester, and the next class we’d be back inside playing basketball or something.
Now how was this supposed to motivate me to become a good runner? The activity was automatically associated with pain, humiliation, and failure. So here comes this $3 iPhone app that actually teaches me and encourages me to become a runner. After that first workout, I felt great. I was confident, energized, and excited. I feel that I can absolutely do this. Just think if 7th grade gym teachers would put this kind of effort into their class. Frankly, it may have meant a healthier life not only for me, but for countless kids across the country.
I’ll update my progress occasionally on my twitter feed, so feel free to see how I’m doing and drop some encouragement if you feel so inclined.