My big New Year’s Resolution is to run a half marathon this year, but my first goal is a 5K in the middle of March. Last weekend I finished up week 3 of the Couch to 5K training plan.
Guys. Seriously. Running is HARD. I was hoping it would be a lot easier since I’ve been working out consistently for a year now, and it was … at first. But week 3 kind of kicked my butt, and I’m scared about tonight’s work out because I’m starting week 4.
It really shouldn’t be this hard. The longest stretch of running without stopping last week was only 3 minutes at 5 miles per hour. It should be much easier than it is. But like I said, I’ve never been a runner. I kind of hate it. But each week starts out much harder than it ends up, so at least I’m making progress.
I’m still afraid to weigh myself because I know I put on a few pounds over the holidays, and I don’t think I’m losing. My clothes aren’t fitting any better yet. But I’m sticking with it because I really want to run that 5K.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned that are making my training a little easier.
Couch to 5K iPhone app
This thing has been indispensable in my training. If you have an iPhone or an Android and you’re training for a 5K, I highly recommend it. I can listen to music and forget about the time, and a voice pops in when it’s time to change pace. If you don’t have a smart phone, there are many C25K podcasts that follow the same general idea. You could easily track your time with a stop-watch or on a treadmill timer, but something about forgetting about the time and focusing on my music makes it a lot easier for me to follow the program. Which leads me to my next tip …
Focus on anything but time.
I still catch myself staring at the clock, waiting for the run to end. But the more I focus on how much time I have left, the slower time seems to go. Instead, focus on the music, focus on how powerful you feel running, focus on why you’re doing this for yourself. Think about your to-do list or what you’re having for dinner. Honestly, if I’m thinking about other things, the time flies by, the run seems easier, and my time is better.
Remember that food is fuel.
I started training in December, and I learned the hard way that what you eat has a direct effect on how your workout will feel. The day after Christmas was torture, because I’d spent the day eating nothing but crap. Since I’m also trying to eat healthier, I’ve become very conscious about what’s on my plate, but I also consider how rough that run will be tonight if I spring for the french fries at lunch. Food is fuel, and if you eat healthy, you will feel healthier during your workout.
Listen to your body.
It’s okay to push yourself to increase your time and speed. It shouldn’t be easy. But you should always pay attention to your body’s limits. I try to bump up my speed a little bit with each workout, but if I slept poorly the night before or I’m not feeling at my best, there are times when I think I might die before I reach the end of a run. It’s okay to slow down a little if this happens to you. You’ll feel better at the end of the workout, and you’ll be less likely to skip working out the next day if you’re not dreading it.
Since I’m so new at this, now I want some tips from you. How do you stay motivated to run? And how do you improve your time and endurance?