Mar 5, 2010 6:07 PM
These are the top 10 pieces of advice from the forums which not only helped me finish C25K, but kept me going after it ended. I don't claim at all to be an expert, so please take this advice with caution. These are things that worked for me personally, and since I've benefited from everyone's support, I wanted to share and hope you find some of them useful.
BACKGROUND AND DISCLAIMER: I am a person who has never been athletic, struggled with weight all my life and have never run an entire mile without stopping to walk along the way -- EVER. I'm not the "used to be fit in high school" person and have always struggled with running. And to top it off, I had major surgery on one of my legs which has limited my activity for the past year or so. Though the odds seemed to be stacked against me, I still set out to finish the program. And not to be cliche, but if I can do it, you can too!
(In no particular order)
1. SLOW, SLOW, SLOW. I tried C25K before and quit because I couldn't finish the intervals and got discouraged. After reading through the discussions, I realized I was running too fast. So I started out jogging the intervals at a very SLOW pace. In fact, I could basically walk as fast as I was jogging. However, my goal was to FINISH the interval in a jogging/running stride, and if it had be at a very slow pace so be it. I would only speed up if I was nearing the end of an interval and felt like I could push myself for the last 30 seconds, minute, 2 minutes, etc. And anytime I felt too tired to keep running during an interval, I would tell myself to run slower for a period of time before I would allow myself to walk. As a result, I finished all the intervals as intended (no walking when I should have been running!), and it kept me motivated. So when in doubt SLOW DOWN! You have the rest of your running career to run faster.
2. Research running forms. Because of my surgery I wanted to ensure that running did not exacerbate or create new injuries, so I researched a couple of running forms. Since you're starting out and running slower, this is the best time to form good habits. It would be a shame to have to course correct later, because you've injured yourself. It can be overwhelming, but just look at a couple. I chose "Chi" running and love it, but there are tons of discussions on this topic to help you find one that works for you.
3. Invest in good running shoes. Make sure you have good shoes (within your price range of course) to help prevent injury. I would recommend against using old running/tennis shoes that you've had in your closet for a couple of years. I was tempted to do that myself, but I am really glad I didn't. Instead I went to a specialty running store to get fit properly, and it's been a worthwhile investment.
4. Focus on the 30 minutes and less on the 5K. Because of my fitness level and previous injuries, I decided to just focus on running for 30 minutes and ran however far I could in the allotted time intervals. For me, focusing on the distance would have pushed me to run faster than I was ready to or would have discouraged me because it felt too long. But once I finished the program and could run for 30 minutes, I now had distance as another goal to focus on completing.
5. Use a C25K podcast/application. These are so helpful to track the time for you, so you can just focus on running. Love, love, love them! I looked into Robert Ullrey's podcasts which are free, but ended up using the C25k App for the iPhone. The best $3.99 I've spent, because it tracks the time, allows you to set your own music playlist from iTunes and has a nice, easy interface.
6. Mix in moderately fast to slow music. I used to only listen to high energy, high tempo music, because I thought it would keep me energized, but it also encouraged me to run faster than I should. So I started adding slower songs to my music mix to remind me to slow down.
7. Allow yourself to have some bad days. There will be some days that will be great and some days that for whatever reason don't go as well. Don't take bad days as an indication that you can't do it. When I had bad days, I just kept it at that -- a bad DAY.
8. Try the 10 minute rule. On the days when I really struggled with motivation, I would tell myself to go out for 10 minutes. If I still didn't feel like it after that, I would allow myself to stop and at least have the satisfaction that I tried. But once I got out there, I found the energy to go another 10 minutes -- and then another 10 minutes or however long I had left. Before I knew it, it was over! So focusing on smaller time increments can help if you're struggling with motivation.
9. Breathe. When I would get tired, I would slow down and focus on my breathing -- in through my nose to my gut and out through my mouth. It helped get my mind temporarily off the pain and ensured my body got the oxygen and the extra boost it needed. I'm still trying to figure this out myself, so I would recommend researching the discussions on this topic.
10. Don't tell yourself you can't do it until you've tried it. My runner friends told me running is as mental as it is physical, and I definitely found it to be true. Your mind can either set you up for success or failure. So don't defeat yourself before you even start. There were times on the program when I would look to the next day/week and have a mild heart attack. But when I started thinking "There's absolutely no way that I can do that...", I would stop myself and think "At least try it first before saying that." And amazingly, I would be able to do it using all the tips above to get me through that first 5 minutes, 8 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes.
I recently finished the program and will be running my first 5K soon. I can't tell you how gratifying it was to run my last run on the program and even better, I want to keep going. You can and will be there one day too! Good luck and believe in yourself.