I started trying to do the C25k program 4 weeks ago. I'm 24, 5'8", 215 lbs. and I've been struggling with the program from the start. I've never exercised with any regularity and have always been in fairly poor shape. I also smoke a pack a day which doesn't help. I started off doing 30 second jogs with 2 min walks for the first two weeks, and the past two weeks I've been working on week one and having a hard time of it. I do alright for the first 30-45 secs then I start to get wobbly and short on breath. I have a hard time getting my breath back by the time I'm supposed to jog again as well. Near the end of the session I can barely get through the last couple 1 minute jogs and I've been going at a really slow pace of 2-2.5 mph walking and 4 mph jogs. I also get runner's stitch about everytime I run, but it has been getting better than when I first started. I feel like I should be doing a lot better and I don't know if I'm not pushing myself hard enough, if there's something wrong with me, or if it's just from being out of shape and a smoker. I really want to make this program work but I feel like my progress is minimal if not nonexistant. Any advice would be appreciated and I'm going to at least try to cut back on smoking as much as I do :P
When you're first starting out, 4mph (15 min/miles) isn't necessarily all that slow! It could be that you need to slow down even more. You should be going at a pace such that you can have a somewhat stilted conversation. Anything faster than that and you're trying to go too fast. Don't worry about speed at first. That will come with time and increased distance. Running is more about the motion than it is about the speed.
The main thing is to start the process of letting your heart, lungs, blood vessels, muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons adjust to the new demands that you're placing on them. Your heart, lungs, and blood vessels will made the adaptation fairly quickly (even though you're smoking, but cutting back like you plan to should help) -- within just a few weeks. It'll take a lot longer for the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons to catch up. No way around it -- running puts a lot of stress on your body, so you've just got to give it time to adapt.
If you don't seem to be trying to go too fast based on the stilted-conversation test, then maybe it's a matter of building up to week one more gradually. Perhaps you go back to what you were doing with the 30 second runs and 2 minute walks for another couple of weeks. Then you shift the balance to 35 seconds running, 1:55 walking. Eventually, as you increase the run portions you'll find yourself able to tackle the "official" week one. You can build as many extra weeks into the program as you want. The written plan is intended as a guideline, so it's okay to tweak as needed.
Most of all, realize that you're not alone. Draw on the members of the forum for advice and support. Get whatever support you can from your friends and family. Just do what you can to make yourself accountable to others for completing the program. I can't tell you how many runs I was able to finish solely on the energy provided by fear of having to post to my peers that I bailed out on a run.
Find a thread with some other people who are doing the program and join the conversation. I think you'll find that folks around here are very nice and really do want to help out.
Oh, and if you haven't already -- get fitted for a pair of running shoes from your local running store (not a shoe store, sporting goods store, or Foot Locker-type place). The local running store will get into much greater detail about what your foot's doing when you run, and they'll be much more likely to put you in a pair of shoes that will help make running fun, rather than painful.
Good luck, and post often!
2012 Race Schedule
Providence Marathon (4:48:55)
Buffalo Half-Marathon (2:03:16)
Chicago Marathon (October 7)
I just started the C25K program myself, so I am by no means an expert, but my suggestion would be to walk for a few weeks. I am doing W1D3 tomorrow morning and enjoying every minute. It's hard sometimes but reading all these forums on the Internet really helps.
Good luck with the program and hang in there!!!
1st of all, good for you! I have also struggled a bit with the program, but I just try to take it at my own pace. I am on week 3 of working on week 4. And I am VERY slow. But, I think a couple of more runs & I can kick it up a notch. Everyone is different & what matters is that we are working toward our goal. And stop smoking!
Good Luck! You will get there!
Well, for starters, just because the program is 9 weeks, don't think you "have to" push yourself into finishing in 9...once you get into it, even if it's the first week, don't be afraid to repeat it an extra time...or five times...or whatever it takes. Many, perhaps most, people repeat weeks.
Second...as someone else said...perhaps you should take a few weeks of just daily walks first. Your breathing and heart rate should be your guides. If you couldn't carry on a conversation, you're going too fast for your condition. Your breathing should be a little deeper and more frequent than when you're sitting on the couch and staring at the TV, but you shouldn't be gasping and wheezing sucking in great lungfulls of air with every couple of steps.
The smoking is definitely a problem - for some people more than for others. It's like driving with a very dirty air filter. Or for another analogy, picture sitting and watching TV but all your air has to be inhaled/exhaled through a cocktail straw. Your lungs are likely quite dirty and you can't "use" as much of the air you're breathing as someone with cleaner lungs. I wouldn't be surprised if you're hacking up black lung cookies every time you run for a while...although that'll probably only quit if you do (either running or smoking...)
Don't try pushing yourself harder - that'll only make you quit (running). The fact that you're getting stitches and having to "catch your breath" means you're pushing too hard as it is. Check your heart rate, too. Don't need to spend money on a fancy heart monitor just yet, anything that shows seconds is good enough. During your walks or just after your run intervals, stop and find your pulse (wrist or neck) and count the beats for 15 seconds and then multiply by 4.
THIS IS ONLY A GUIDELINE and may not be accurate for you *** but at age 24, you want to be looking to keep your heart rate below about 145 while you're walking and try not to get too far above that during your running for right now (~ 35 beats or so in 15 seconds). By your side stitches/breath catching, I'm guessing your stabbing 180 (45 beats).
By way of comparison, I'm 38. Only been running since April (and missed 6 weeks or so due to foot pain that turned out to be a mechanical defect rather than injury) and I'm still out of shape myself. Walking a 15 minute mile in 75-80 degree heat at near sea-level gets me up to about 130 heart rate. Jogging at 12:30-13:00 mile pace ( a bit below 5mph) gets me up to 155 or so after a mile or so and it creeps up from there as I heat up. I start to actually notice breathing getting heavy around 164-165...and I start gasping and might get stitches up around 170. Never had a stitch when I was below that.
I think it might help to "key" your breathing on your left foot - stitches seem to be more common on the right side, and brought about by starting to inhale/exhale as the right foot strikes pavement.
Where are you at? Altitude could be a factor here too - if you're up in the mountains, there's less oxygen in every lungful...
Thanks for the encouragement and responses everyone.
@dwm082 - I'm going to slow it down a bit because I can barely talk when I jog. I'll have to look into getting some running shoes, I don't even know if we have a store like that around here.
@TeejWI - I live ~12 miles from the ocean so I don't think altitude is an issue. I run on a treadmill and start to get wobbly, have a hard time maintaining balance and start having a hard time with my breathing near the end of the week one sessions when I'm jogging, but I'm able to complete them. I've been trying to focus on exhaling on my left step which has worked well but when I start to get winded really bad I just start sucking in air and get a stitch sometimes.
Hopefully slowing down some will make the sessions more reasonable for my level of fitness. Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply.
The stitch in the side was my problem from the beginning. Before the C25K, I thought I was pretty fit, but running is definitely different from working out in a gym environment. What made all the difference for me was wearing an mp3 player.
With the right tunes, getting through the weeks was bearable. I have completed the program now, and can run(jog, crawl?) at least 2 miles 3 times a week or better. I will never be the fastest runner in the world, but the feeling you get when you finish is the greatest! Good luck with your program
When I was doing c25k, I paid a lot of attention to my breathing as well. I remember reading somewhere that it's a good idea to make sure you're not always inhaling/exhaling on the same foot strike (I seem to recall that there was some sort of injury concern, but darned if I can find where I read it). I got into a habit of breathing in for two steps and breathing out for three. That worked pretty well, and I can't say I had any side stitches while doing that.
Since then, I've stopped paying all that much attention to my breathing. My body seems to work things out okay on its own, and I still seldom have problems with side stitches. As with most things in running, though, YMMV.
2012 Race Schedule
Providence Marathon (4:48:55)
Buffalo Half-Marathon (2:03:16)
Chicago Marathon (October 7)
You've been given some great advice from the other responses. Yes, you should check out specialty running stores (like Fleet Feet) to get properly fitted or you'll end up sidelined with an injury, and it's darn hard getting back into it.
You are making a respectable pace, given your fitness level. Repeating the earlier weeks is a good idea if you're struggling. And I hate to preach, but yes, please try to give up the ciggies.
One of the things that made a huge difference for me was reading Running On Air by Budd Coates. It teaches you how to breathe properly for stamina, speed and reduce the chance of injury. It also helps with those side stiches!
Sometimes when I get side cramping it's a sign of dehydration - when I'm careful, they happen much less frequently.
I just want to reiterate what others have said about taking more than 9 weeks for the program - not everyone starts the program at the same level of physical readiness. I repeated workouts during week 6 when I had trouble progressing, and being flexible helped keep me from feeling like a failure or quitting.
Walking a few miles on your off days or instead of a workout while you're ramping up into the program is a great idea... every active thing you do is going to help move you forward, no workout is wasted.
Sounds like you're at an amazing turning point where you're making some decisions to change things in your life... I wish you the best of luck as you try to smoke less, and run more. If you stick with it, are patient with yourself, and keep working at it, I think you will be amazed at the difference running can make to your health, life, and happiness. Who doesn't want more energy to do the things they do every day? I feel less tired, my overall mood has improved, I eat healthier because I like feeling better when I run... it's been incredible.
I wish you the absolute best... this could be the start of something truly amazing.
I write a running blog geared towards motivating runners of any pace or distance at http://www.iamrunningthis.com!
Couch to 5K graduate, September 2012
First 10K, June 2nd, 2013
First Half Marathon, September 2013
Training for my 6th half marathon, November 2015.
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