I took a few days off before embarking on week two, day one of the Couch to 5K; we had a bit of a snowstorm here in New York, and then I had a wedding to attend, so a lot was going on. I am not sure that I danced enough at the wedding for it to count as a workout though. If only!
The first day, the workout was 28 minutes, with 18 minutes in the meat of it: 1.5 minutes running, 2 minutes walking, repeated four times; and then 1 minute running, 1 minute walking, repeated twice. I made sure to stretch before I started, because my hips felt tight, which often happens to me when I neglect my yoga practice. I watched Seinfeld on the treadmill while I ran, which made the workout go by much more quickly than usual. I decided that next time I need to savor my run without any Kramer distractions, however hilarious they may be. Though it is easier to get through the workout while watching TV, I feel less capable of motivating myself to speed up and breathe correctly as opposed to when I just listen to music.
After a day of rest, I headed back to the YMCA for day two. Like last week, I decided to use the “lifescape” app on the treadmill screen to help pass time. I selected a New Zealand trail, which I envisioned would be like jogging through a Game of Thrones set. However, it looked surprisingly like Northeastern America, only with slightly bluer water. Germany was far cooler. Sorry, Kiwi’s.
The sets were the same as day one of this week, but this time I was surprised to find the workout much more challenging. Then I remembered what my swim coach used to say: the second day of getting back into shape is always worse than the first because you’re sore from the previous workout. This still seems to ring true with land-activity.
Back in the suburbs of Long Island, my third day consisted of running a two-mile loop around my block. It had finally warmed up a bit—it was 45 degrees when I set out—so the air felt comfortable. The program extended the sets from the first two days to take up the entire workout; 1.5 minutes running and 2 minutes walking, repeated for the duration of the 31-minute run.
The perfection of the new Queen Bee album thrummed in my ears as I went; I warmed-up with Superpower, ran to Flawless (“’cause I woke up like this—flawless”), Partition got me pumped, No Angel kept me running, and I cooled down to Pretty Hurts. (I feel ya, Yonce, my legs are killing me right now.) Mid-workout I had to brave a giant hill the size of Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. I won’t lie, I almost did not make it running the whole way up, but I motivated myself by pretending I was being chased by Orcs, and somehow made it to the top. When I finally I peaked the hill, I was wheezing the way I used to after a sprint workout in the pool, and it felt great.
During the entire duration of the run, my klutzy self only tripped on the melting ice once! Well, twice, but the second time was only witnessed by a neighborhood dog, so I’m going to say that one doesn’t count.
My lower back started to ache a bit this week, which my friends tell me is from running with weak abs. Does this mean I need abs of steel to be a better runnner?! Son of a nutcracker! How unfortunate. I don’t know if I'm ready to cut out the occasional mac-n-cheese night from my week and start doing daily crunches. The 5K Runner: 0 to 5K app suggests strength training with the program only once you feel adjusted to the workouts.
In the “Help and Tips” section of the app, they recommend new runners to not include strength training in their routines until they get to week four of the program. However, I was exercising a few times a week before starting the program, so I figured I was okay doing some strength exercises. I decided to do either yoga or a core workout on the days I wasn’t running. Hopefully I can stick with this throughout the program; but once the running gets harder I am thinking it may be easier to do the strength exercises after my run while my endorphins are still going.
Fortunately, this week I also figured out why I could not put my phone on “lock” and hear updates from the app. My stupid broken headphones were not letting all of the audio through! So last week when I mentioned that this was a drawback to the app, it was actually really just the result of my malfunctioning headphones.
Otherwise, I honestly cannot find any other problems with the program; it is well-organized, fair, and, best of all, encouraging! It calls me “awesome runner” all the time, and each week it gives me a badge when I complete the workouts. This week it awarded me the “Hidden-Athlete Badge,” and last week it was the “Determination Badge.” I don’t care if these are generic compliments my app-coach says to all the girls—it still feels glorious! Who doesn’t like a compliment?
Plus, many say positive thinking and self-encouragement are essential to running. If only we could all be like Marshall Erikson from How I Met Your Mother. While training for the NYC Marathon he looks in the mirror and says: “This is gonna be your best run yet. You’re going to accomplish ALL of your goals. YOU-ARE-A-ROBOT-SENT-FROM-THE-FUTURE-TO-WIN-THE-MARATHON.” I may not be on his level yet, but I am slowly falling in love with the fact that no matter how lame I feel during the workout— my face sweating, dropping my phone, pumping my arms—when I finish I always feel like a superstar.