I'm new to this site and had a quick question. I've been doing the C25K program and doing great. I'm on Week 5 with no problems and I've gone from hating running/dreading heading out, to being indifferent, to actually looking forward to my runs. I'm signed up for my first ever 5k on Father's Day, which is a little soon for my liking but was important to a friend who recently lost her father and wants to run it in his memory. Since it's my first one my goal is just to finish with no walking and not be dead last. However, I would like to start working on my speed a little bit since I'm SLOW. (11.5 min/mile pace)
I was wondering if it would be a good idea to continue with the c25k program three days a week like I've been doing (I'll finish the program only about a week before my first race), but add a fourth run a week? During this fourth run I was thinking about starting C25K from week one (which is run 60 sec, walk 90 sec) and using it to run faster than I could keep up for the "longer" run times. I don't know if 4 runs per week is too much for a new runner (although I haven't been completely sedatary, prior to running I did spin classes and ellipitical workouts, ect) or if there was a better way to increase speed.
Let me quote from the plan (http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml):
"Be sure to space out these three days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to rest and recover between efforts. And don't worry about how fast you're going. Running faster can wait until your bones are stronger and your body is fitter. For now focus on gradually increasing the time or distance you run."
There is a reason for running every other day, and the same reason for holding off on speed work. That is, to give your body, muscles and joints particularly, time to adjust to the stresses of running. Be patient. "Too much, too fast, too soon" is a recipe for injury.
Len is 100% correct. The biggest mistake new runners make is too much too soon. Think of it this way, your body isnt always in perect balance. You might be at a point where your muscles are recovering nicely and you are feeling like doing more. The problem is that your bones, ligaments and tendons might not be ready for more yet. By going slow and gradually building up, it gives your entire body a chance to catch up. This will prevent injury and keep you going strong. Best of luck!
I agree with Maria, Len and Bill. Increase in speed will come as your body's capacity for endurance increases. You're doing very well now. Don't mess up a good thing. Also, the fact that you will finish the program a week before your 5K means that you can taper during the week before the race so that you're well-rested. Good timing.
Completed in 2012:
The Qualifier HM, Midland MI, May 2012, 2:58, 80+ degrees
Dam to Dam 20K, Des Moines, IA, June 2012, 2:17, PR for this race
Garry Bjorklund HM, Duluth, MN, June 2012, 2:20
Fox Valley HM, St. Charles, IL, 9/16/12, 2:23
Des Moines HM, 10/21/12, 2:19
Tentative plans for 2013:
Wisconsin (Half) Marathon, Kenosha, WI 5/4/2013 (registered)
Dam To Dam 20K, Des Moines, 6/2/2013 (registration opens March 20th)
Grandma's (Half) Marathon, Duluth, MN, 6/22/2013 (if I get picked again in the lottery)
Des Moines HM, 10/20/2013 (registered)
Thanks for the replies everyone! I guess I will stick to just doing the 3 days per week. I've been going to a spin class one day a week (used to go more, but have been running instead) I'm assuming that's probably okay right? Since it's low impact on the bones?
I think if you have been active - ie a steady program of spin classes and other activities, then you could go to 4 days a week. I did. I started not from the couch but from several weeks of walking up to 1 hr 15 min four days a week before I started C25k. So when I did do C25k I generally did 4 days a week but I had to slow down a couple of times when I overdid a few things.
What the rest of the posts have stated is true - the biggest mistake most new runners make is getting impatient and overworking which leads to overuse and injury and back on the couch. It comes down to learning to listen to your body - which new exercisers tend not to do well - to see how much new work you can handle.
For most people it is best to stay with the program and be patient. You are demanding your body do some new, beneficial but stressful exercises and it takes a while for the body to adapt fully. John Bingham wrote (as I remember) that the cardio system adapts in about 3-4 weeks, the muscle system in about two months while the skeletal system takes 12-18 months to really adapt to new, stessful work condition. This is why many runners get muscle injuries - or overuse injuries like tendon problems or stress fractures - because they are trying to prograss faster than their bodies can adapt. Be careful to try to increase your workload by no more than 10% a week, while giving yourself a chance for the boddy to recover. For example we have the time on W5D3 for the 20min run while W6d1 is back to run/walk. it stresses you to give your body a taste of what it will be expected to do then falls back in intensity for a few days to let the body adapt. In fact, once you finish C25k it is better to not keep advancing right away. It is a good idea to stay a few weeks at the same running level so the body can better adapt to running at the new level, before starting up on a new program that taxes th body more.
Speed will increase as you run longer with greater comfort. The best way to increase speed is to first gradually increase your training distance to around 4 miles. Then you can start throwing in some other things like fartleks and other speed work to increase your speed.
Anyway, that's my opinion based on what I've experienced and my research. It's your body so find what works best for you, then go with it.
OVER 50 PRs
5K - 31:50 5K La Joya 2011 - Aug 2011
10K - 1:14:30 at Guayaquil Half Marathon - Jul 2011
Half - 2:32:22 at Guayaquil Marathon - Oct 2011
InterAmerican Family Fun Run (5k) 36:04 (Previous Year 39:22)
Emelec 5K 33:16
15 June - 5K Ciudad Celeste
22 June 5K por los Ninos
1 July - Guayaquil Half Marathon
5 August - 5K La Joya
2 September - 30K Milagro
7 October - Guayaquil Marathon
18 November - 5K Villa Club
2 December - 5K DM3