Couch To 5K: Week 4

Yesterday, Liz and I started week 4 of the Couch to 5K program, and I’ll say this: I was pretty nervous, going into things… as it was definitely kicked up a notch.

Prior to this week, things have been increasingly at a fairly slow and steady rate. The program starts you off at a very modest pace (60 seconds running, 60 seconds walking – for a total of 20 minutes), but then slowly cranks up the time. Prior to this week, we were running 90 seconds, walking 90 seconds, running 3 minutes, walking 3 minutes. All told, not too bad.

Yesterday’s schedule though, was pretty rough: Run for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, run for 5 minutes, walk for 90 seconds – repeated twice. When I saw those numbers, I got a little nervous, wondering if I’d be able to make it that long without stopping.

On our run, I noticed a few things. I feel like my recovery time has definitely gotten better. During the walking periods, I’m not 100% out of breath the entire time, and feel like I get back to a normal breathing pattern by the time we start up running again.

I also noticed that midway through, after a long period of running (3-5 minutes)… when we resumed running again, it felt oddly natural. It was as though my body was prepared to be in a state of jogging again. It didn’t come across like a chore or task, but felt like simply resuming my pace.

Liz and I had a pretty set pattern that we used to run, but with the introductions of these longer times… we now vary our route, depending on the traffic lights. We definitely have been trying to keep moving as much as possible… which results in a random route. For someone who likes his ruts and routines, this has been an interesting shift. I’m no longer trying to gauge things by where we are or what percentage of our “lap” we’ve completed, and I’m now forced to just concentrate on keeping in motion.

Similarly with time, I’m focusing less on the exact amount of time left. When we started with the 3 minute mark, I asked Liz to let me know through hand gestures when we were down to 2 minutes, 1 minute, etc. I found it helpful to know how much time was left on the clock.

Now though? I prefer not to know. Hearing that I’ve got 3 minutes left would probably make me feel worse, not better. So I’ve tried to largely ignore time, and focused more on keeping one foot moving in front of the other.

I’m proud to say that we both made our run yesterday, and didn’t have to do any kind of time-out. I was worried, but pleasantly surprised at how well we both did (me in particular, since I was never much of a runner ever). I got a small stitch in my side during the last 5 minute block, and it was pretty tough during the final 2.5 minutes or so… but I was able to keep going the entire time.

Killer thing of it is, is that… having done it once now without stopping, I know it’s possible. So there should be no excuse at all for me to stop in the future.

Week 4’s schedule is definitely a daunting one. And when I look ahead, I can’t believe there’s going to be a point in time where I’m expected to be running 20+ minutes nonstop.

Oh man, I just looked again at the upcoming few weeks. We’re at the halfway point now, and it’s going to go very interesting from here on out.

Wish us luck.

[CC Photo via 2create]

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