Couch to 5K – an update (Guest Post)

A photo of Cheryl, a white woman with a lime green scarf and a dark sweater and cute, short spiky hair.

Thanks for all the encouragement on my couch to 5K journey! I’ve been keeping at it these last few weeks, although sometimes the intense heat in Toronto has been challenging. There were a few days when I decided it was too hot to run, and other days when I managed to get a run in while there was cloud cover or when it cooled down right before or after a rain shower.

Today I wanted to share some more thoughts I’ve had on running since I last blogged, specifically on the question of when to run. This is another thing that I’ve found a bit more difficult than expected. Technically, going for a run outdoors is something I can do any time. But in reality it’s a bit more complicated than that. Runs have to fit around my other obligations and basic life necessities – like working, eating and sleeping. Running too soon after a meal has proven to not work well for me, so after eating I need to wait for an hour or more if I want to be comfortable. I also prefer to run when it’s light out, for my own feeling of safety, and I try to avoid the hottest parts of Toronto summer days.  That’s a lot to consider and plan around!

I know that early morning runs are a great option for some folks, and I’m all for that if that works for you. But getting up early to run before work is something that I just can’t make myself do, so that’s off the table for me. (Morning can be hard already, as that’s a time of day when I regularly experience a lot of anxiety and/or morning depression). I know it would be a series of failed attempts, and that wouldn’t do anything to help me feel good or achieve my goals.

Given all that, here’s what I’ve found works best so far – running in the late afternoon, after work and before dinner. To help with this, on run days I try to leave work a bit earlier than usual, which has also been great for my work/life balance. Weekends are a bit easier, although it depends on how many other activities I’ve packed into the days, as I tend to try to fit a lot in. I aim to do one run each weekend and two during the week, and I usually manage to do at least two out of three, and sometimes all three. So my 8 week program may take more like 10-12 weeks, and I’m ok with that.

At this point I’ve completed week 5, day 2 of the training program, and the next day will be a 20 minute run with no walk breaks. The longest run without a break so far in the program has been 8 minutes, so I’m nervous and excited to see how running 20 minutes non-stop feels. And I’m also open to giving myself a walk break if I need one, because here’s an important thing I realized: I want this program to fit me, rather than trying to make myself fit the program. I’ll let you know how it goes!

About me: Feminist, bisexual, LGBTQ health researcher, book lover, drummer, introvert.

2 thoughts on “Couch to 5K – an update (Guest Post)

  1. My experience was similar; I am a morning person, but not a morning runner. I found that running before lunch was my favorite, but on occasions when I ran in the evening, I actually felt stronger. One thing you might want to try, though, is a weekend morning run from time to time. Most organized 5ks tend to be in the morning, and I needed to get used to doing that before heading out for my planned event.I need to eat, but not too soon before running, so it can mean an early morning wake up, breakfast, then an hour or two wait (including some warm-up exercises while the time passed until I could run comfortably helped me, too) before running. Good luck, and have fun with it!

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