The Truth About Couch to 5K

July 5, 2016   22 Comments

This is my dog, Milo, but it could have been me a year ago – resting on my couch.

The Truth About Couch to 5K

I love my couch a wee bit too much and my dog? He is the king of sleeping on the couch. He alternates between sleeping and chasing after squirrels.

A year ago, I decided to do the famous C25K app on my iPhone (it also works on Android) and worked for about 3 months until I could run an entire 5 K – 3.1 miles.

I had never been a runner before because I had decided that I hated running. The decision to do the C25K app came about because I wanted to write about it as so many people (millions!) had used it.

Was I convinced it was going to work for me? Ahhh, no.

I can tell you that it hurt and I hated it when I started but I kept going because I wanted to see if I could do it. Also, it only took 30 minutes three times per week so I found I could fit it in.

Here I am with my best friend in October 2015 after I started training in July at the start of my first 5 K.

Yes, I am looking good!! Since then, I have ran three more and have had some ups and downs. Here are a few ups:

  1. I have more energy than I have had in years. I can walk for hours and my legs don’t hurt (like when you go on vacation and tour museums). I feel far more AWAKE.
  2. My legs are toned and I like the way I look in shorts. Yeah, baby.
  3. I hurt less in my back and shoulders. I believe the running is good for my whole body.

And a few downs:

  1. The first mile is absolutely terrible EVERY TIME I RUN. I spend the entire 12 minutes (I am very slow) wishing that it was over.
  2. After my second 5K, I ended up in getting a CT Scan because I had a migraine for 5 days. I jarred the muscles in my head and neck and it was horrible.
  3. I haven’t gotten progressively better. I have had to go back into C25K and build myself back up to 3.1 miles because life gets so busy.

During the winter, I ran on a treadmill at my local Planet Fitness – the most boring activity I can think of. The good news is that I found some of my friends there so at least that was fun.

The best thing is that I haven’t quit. I just pick it up after things get crazy and keep trying because I love the way it makes me feel AFTER I FINISH the workout.

Running is like a drug of energy, relaxation, and confidence. I play loud, loud music with women singing about power, love, and defiance so when I finish the run – I feel ready to take on the world.

Usually, I walk through the door and take on the socks on the floor but that doesn’t matter. I am ready for the socks.

I want to encourage you to keep trying to find the exercise that gives you a lift. I have spent a year now doing this and it has been a life changer for an entire year!

Other posts you might like:

Couch to 5K

Millions Have Moved From This Couch to Become 5K Distance Runners

Isn’t that couch cute? I would love to sit on it for a while....

I Finished a 5K

This 46 Year Old Mother of Two Ran Her First 5K on Sunday

This is a photo of my best friend, Laura, and I before we ran a 5K on Sunday. It was my first 5K....

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 22 )

Cute dog!

I was all for getting myself a fit-bit, and then found out that 10,000 steps equals five miles! I know myself well enough to realize that at age 66 I'd much rather spend exercise time in the pool. I just know I would not reach 5 miles each day and would be so discouraged.

Good for you, Lisa. You do inspire us!

I love the Couch to 5K app. I first used it three years ago - like you, I wasn't a runner AT ALL. Since then, I graduated up to their 5K-10K app and then to their half-marathon prep app, From those modest beginnings, I've since done 3 half marathons. The apps do a great job of taking you up the latter, and there's no shame in repeating a week or going back down to the previous app. Having the half-marathons out of my system, I'm back to Couch to 5K to build up resistance. It a great platform for getting you to distances you never thought possible!

Hi! I love your blog! Even if most of the stuff you talk about isn't available in Québec city ;-) Anyway, I started a C5K program about 2 years ago and when it ended, I got into the C10k. At the beginning of the winter, I was running 9,7km in 60min! (Sorry, not sure if my English is right, since my main language is french...)I love the feeling I have when I run, just me, my head and the music! Can you share your playlist? I'm always searching for new songs.

Great story. I didn't use an app (no smart phone), but I can totally relate. My experience: Progress isn't linear. Start WAY more slowly than you think is necessary to avoid injury. The first mile is a suckeroo. Always. Music gives my running a rhythm and gives me energy and is a huge factor that's hard to describe. I felt the "runner's high" maybe...once? Having a buddy makes it easier to leave my cat and my couch. Being outside is another intangible but has a huge effect on my psyche. Some days are still rough. Days off are good. Stress changes every ability I have. Running/cycling is a huge stress reliever.

I have used the c25k program also. I ran my first mile (nonstop ) as an adult at age 58. Four years later I'm still running but at a slower pace. It was never my intention to be a fast runner, just a RUNNER. There are few in my age category when I run a 5k so even at my slow speed I often get a medal. My only regret is not starting running when I was 20.

Thanks for sharing. I would highly recommend checking out Jeff Galloway. He has an approach that's a walk/run method and its' great. I just finished my first 1/2 marathon at almost 55 and am training for 2 more halls and The Houston Marathon in January. Like you, I have yet to experience the running high, but do feel better. I have found having music in my ears helps drown out the other voices in my head!! To our health!

2013 C25k - hated exercise, hit weight loss plateau and had to try something plus my daughter challenged me!

2016 numerous 5/10k's and halfs AND 5 marathons to date including Boston 2x. Weight loss total 125lbs 😊

I thought I was the only one that hated the first bit. I love running and the C25k program. I'm back doing it and training for another 5k. But I always want that first half to be over. I do prefer interval running rather than the full 30 minutes of just running. I'd like to eventually run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute and repeat. I heard that the time is better especially in longer races, but I don't know if that's true.

I'm so inspired by everyone's comments. I used to run when I was a teen for fun and exercise. The last couple of years I have wanted to start running again, but because of a bladder situation and a bad knee I just haven't been able to. Next month I'm getting knee surgery finally. When I'm all healed up I'm going to buy some depends, Lol or something similar and I'm going to run again. I'm going to be 60 this year and I really want to be healthy for the next part of my life.


You look AWESOME! Congrats on your running successes! I'm on week 5 of the C25K :) I have run off and on (mostly off) for the past few years. This is the first time I have loved it. My secret? I just telling myself, and anyone who will listen, that I love to run! You have inspired me to keep going!

I, too, find it discouraging that when life happens and I miss a week I have to go backward a couple of weeks in the program. However, I used to go back on purpose and repeat those weeks at a faster pace. I hope to once again get to the point where I am backtracking on purpose.

I will be doing a 5K with the other employees of our school district in about a month, and I bought myself a shirt that says, "Slow runners make fast runners look good. You're welcome." Also, I bought one that says, "I run to burn off the crazy!" which is my crazy way of saying what you said about running being a drug of energy, relaxation, and confidence.

Loud, motivating music has helped me push through as well. I'd love to see your playlist! Pretty, pretty please?!

I run on a treadmill at home for several reasons: (1) I need to lose a lot of weight, and no one can see me jiggle, (2) I've had my treadmill for over 10 years, and I'm not putting out money for a gym membership, and (3) I'm a big, fat chicken, and I don't have to worry about creepers and stalkers in my living room! In spite of all of these wonderful benefits, I have been feeling a bit lonely on my treadmill lately, so this post is perfectly timed! Thanks!

I hope to look as amazing as you do in a year or so! I sincerely appreciate this post; I feel like it was just for me (however, I have already admitted I am crazy, haha!).

@ Shallin: I love your shirt and I love your persistence at working to get fit. I, too, would like to see Lisa's play list. I have worked out at home on a treadmill and with free weights for over 20 years. As you are discovering, you feel so much better when you work out. I only walk at 4.3 mph but I do various pre-programmed workouts up to 9% grade so it keeps it interesting. And, unlike swimming, treadmill workouts keep your bones healthier. At 64, I need to consider that, too. I am sending positive energy for success to everyone who is just getting started on their path to good physical, mental, and emotional healthy.

Lisa--I recently did a similar program and echo pretty much everything you say in this post! I am fairly slow too and since my 5K, I run about 2.5 miles three times a week. For me, that's enough to feel like a good workout and be very tired and sweaty--but not too much to get injured (because my knees haven't always liked running in the past). My trick for staying motivated is podcasts. When I switched from music to podcasts, it changed everything. I actually look forward to my runs now. You should try it!

I hate the first 10 minutes of any exercise, even dancing. Once I'm past that, I like it a lot more. I have learned to leave my audiobook on my mp3 at an exciting moment so I want to get through the next few minutes when I start it again.

Due to ongoing knee issues I find it very difficult to jog or run. Walking, now that I can do forever ^_^ I attend comic book conventions and by the end of the first day I am easily in the 12K steps region. At work I take the stairs and walk (we're all on one floor now so walking over to see someone is easier than an email). At home, I use the elliptical while watching the news. I get an hour in before I even realize the news are over. I have lots of friends who did the C25K app or just on their own and I envy them for their good knees that lets them do this.

I know this question has nothing to do with your running experience, but what is the breed of your dog? It is so stinking cute! It sort of looks like a Westie to me. I'm partial because our family has a Westie and she is definitely our third kid!

@Sue - he is a mixed breed - terrier and ? We got him from a shelter in Tennessee so we don't know exactly what he is. We think he is a Norwich terrier. He is my third kid and so easy to take care of compared to my actual kids. Thanks for the question!

Lisa which app is the best?

@Melissa - I went with the one created by this group:

and it was great. I think there are a number of good ones.

Ruth, don't let that discourage you. I, too, have bladder issues. On one of my first runs by the time I got back to my car my sweats were soaked all the way down (thank goodness they were black) and it was dark. But, I've found watching when I choose to hydrate, going before a run and using poise pads helps tremendously. It's always worst the first mile, but once that's over I'm good.

As for the knees, that's another story. :( I'm barely 40 with a knee surgery under my belt. I've had 5 doctors tell me I HAVE to stop running, my knees are shot and no one will do a knee replacement at my age. I took their advice for about 3 years and I'm fed up. You don't have to run fast, just do like Gard3ngirl says and start slow. I used to run a sub-9 minute mile. Now I'm lucky if I get a 15 minute mile, but I'm still doing it!

@Vivian Thanks so much for the positive energy and encouragement! Way to take care of your health! I think "walking" at 4.3 mph is very impressive! I'm short, but at about 4.0 mph, I can't decide whether to walk or jog, so I go back and forth, haha! 4.3 mph, particularly at an incline, would be what I'd call jogging :) You are an inspiration to me, and your encouraging words made my day. Thanks so much.

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