There is a language among fitness buffs that confounds the outside world. Over the past few months, I’ve learned terms like C25k, NROLFW, SL 5X5, SS, 30DS, and that there’s something called a Fitbit. I’ll be trying out all of these things over the next few weeks and months, and will report back on all of it. I’ve already experienced the phenomenon known as C25k.
One of the coolest things I’ve done since beginning my quest to find fitness is to download and use an iPhone app called C25k Free from Zen Labs. It turned my obese, flabby ass into a runner. Yes, I consider myself a runner. I’m not a particularly good runner, but I run, and therefore I am a runner.
SO anyway, this app. The C25k stands for Couch to 5k, and it’s a training program that takes a couch potato (someone who considers strolling at a leisurely pace vigorous exercise) and turns them into someone who can complete a 5k race. Note: I said complete. Not win. Complete a 5k. There’s a difference. It’s significant.
I began using the app in mid-July 2012, about 5 weeks after I started losing weight, and about 4 weeks after I started walking regularly, albeit slowly, for exercise.
The app has you walk for 5 minutes as a warm up, then walk for another 3 minutes, and then it tells you to run (slowly) for 1 minute. One. Minute. 60 measly seconds. I almost threw up at the 40-second mark. I’m not even exaggerating here. And, just when I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest, the app let me walk again for another 3 or 5 minutes or something wonderful like that. And then I had to run again! For another 60 seconds! How DARE it?! This time, I couldn’t breathe. I could not get enough air into my lungs. I felt like I was drowning in sweat and shame. But I made it the whole 60 seconds again. And this cycle continued for a full 20 minutes, when finally, the app told me to cool down with a 5 minute walk.
That was the first week. It progresses from there to a 2 minute run, with walking, then 3 minutes, etc., until you get up to 10 minutes. Then, it jumps you straight up to a 20 minute run, and from there you progress to a full 30 minute run, which is approximately the length of a 5k. The whole program is 8 weeks long.
The app is very forgiving, in that if you feel like you can’t progress to the next level, you can always roll back to a previous session and do that again. Lots of people stay at the first week for far longer than a single week. I was able to follow the program on a prolonged schedule, without backtracking, though I really pushed myself to my physical limits on more than one occasion.
I completed my first 5k before I completed the C25k program, and my time was a respectable 31 minutes and change. I completed my second 5k later that same month, and improved upon my time by about a minute.
I’m currently using a similar training program to work my way up to a 10k, and will progress from there to a half marathon program. I tell you – I’m a runner, and it’s all that damn app’s fault.