A lot of baby steps can finish a race

It seems that everywhere I turn, I discover that another of my friends has begun the newly popular Couch-to-5k running program. Some are doing it because a friend convinced them to sign up for a 5k and they realized too late that it would require them to run. Some are doing it because they like the idea of becoming runners. Some are doing it because they want to get in shape. Some are doing it because they like the micro-scheduled, easy-to-follow plan. Some are doing it because they want a challenge.

Cool Running, an online resource for runners of all levels, wrote the plan. This program is not just a list of instructions on a piece of paper, however. An online version, available for purchase, includes plenty of extra resources and training tools. You can also download a simple PDF of the program, get an iPhone app or even link up on Facebook. It has been translated into 12 languages. The program has related podcasts, gear and resources for going beyond a 5k. It outlines a scheduled workout three times a week with very specific instructions on alternating times and distances of jogging and walking intervals.

I thought it was kind of silly at first. An avid runner myself, I laughed and wondered why someone would need a plan to run a puny 3.1 miles. But as I started seeing Facebook status updates about how much they enjoy their daily runs and how proud they are of the distances they reach, I began to see the light. My own love for running came from pushing myself in high school. I struggled, I set goals, I worked hard. I didn’t enjoy it at all. The only thing that kept me going was my goal-oriented nature and my desire to stay fit. And my basketball coach, but that was another matter.

Only when I got to college and began to run on my own did I start to actually enjoy it. My body finally quit wanting to die every time I tied up my laces and stretched my legs. The Couch-to-5k program sets small goals and encourages people to not push themselves past the goals or they will get burned out too quickly. The program creator, Josh Clark, explains this in an interview: “By starting slow, you can actually accomplish what you set out to do. You meet with success right away, and you give your body a chance to adjust to these new demands.” I wish I had started slowly and actually enjoyed the process. After learning more about it, my opinion of Couch-to-5k became entirely positive. I would recommend it to anyone trying to be more active!

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