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Thoughts on Couch to 5K Week 5 Day 3

I’m back at the Couch to 5K program. I think it was the same day my surgeon gave me clearance to start exercising again, i went out for the first session. I was told to take things slow and gradually though, so I’ve been doing most sessions twice before moving on, thus turning the 9 week program into closer to 18 weeks. But that’s all fine.

I just finished week 5 day 3. For those familiar with the program, this is the first really big day with no walking breaks. 20 min of jogging. Giving up the walking intervals is intimidating. I was doing some reading about the program, and read that this is the most common spot that folks will quit. The reason I was reading about the program was that I found it strange that this particular session happened at this point in the program, because week 6 day 1, the next scheduled session, has walking breaks back in again. Why would they do that, I wondered? Once you can do a run with no breaks, why go back?

My jogging trail. Photo by Kara Hartz

I don’t have an authoritative answer, but the most common theory I came across it one I think I agree with. I was very nervous going into the week 5 day 3 run. I was worried I wouldn’t make it all the way to the end. Because I’m taking things slow though, I figured I would just try again if I didn’t make it. At the same time, I really didn’t want to have to do it all over again, so I planned to try my best to get through. After that, I’d get my breaks back and I could go along happily. That, in a nutshell, is the theory about why they schedule it the way they do. If the walking breaks ended, and looking ahead at the rest of the program I saw that there would never be any walking breaks ever, my nervousness would have been much worse. I might have decided to stay at week 5 day 2 indefinitely, or until I felt ‘ready’ to move on. I might have quit.

It seems to be a psychological hurdle more, or at as much as, a physical one. Believing you can do it, and that it’ll be okay is one of the main challenges of week 5 day 3. Knowing you just have to get through the one time, and you’ll get walking breaks again helps with the mental battle you have to deal with. Really, the walking breaks don’t last much longer. By week 6 day 3, they are gone for good. They last just long enough to let you know you can do a jog without breaks and you’ll do fine, so when the walks are gone truly gone, you do feel ready.

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