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A Smoker's Road To 5K

Monday, December 2, 2013
I've started running a few years ago but haven't really been serious about it. Mainly it's been a mix of trail running here and there during my hikes at Palisades Interstate Park with the occasional road jog in the morning if I have the motivation but don't have the time to head to the park. I enjoy it but I have been having problems with consistency, especially during the winter months so I decided to get a treadmill off of Craigslist to eliminate excuses over the winter.

I want to focus on improving distance and duration. The longest continuous stretch I've run on the trail was about 1 mile. That's not a lot but compared to the 1/2 block I managed to run when I first started it made me feel good. I decided to do the Couch to 5k beginner running program. I'll be tracking my progress in a series of weekly posts.

One of the issues I have with running is that I smoke. During the C25K program I'm going to try to quit or at the very least reduce my smoking dramatically.

Overview

The Couch to 5K program alternates between walking and running, slowly building you up to running 5k (3.1 miles) over the course of about 2 months with 3 sessions each week.

I'm not really going from the couch but I only recently started running regularly again. I was just running as much as I could, then walking until my heart rate came back down and then repeated until I did as much time as I planned. Following a regular program seemed like I good idea so I'm giving this a shot.

Equipment

I'm using an Android app on my phone to guide me through the program. The official C25K app seems to be from Active Network and costs $1.99. I'm using the C25K Free app from Zen Labs because it's free and also says it's official. I've had some issues with the app but it seems to work well enough.

One of the things I like about the app is it doesn't force me into a schedule such as running every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It has all the days of the program and checks off the ones I've completed. Every other day I'll do one of the scheduled workouts unless I'm still feeling sore or tired in which case I'll wait 3 days.

The C25K Free app even allows me to go back. My goal is to follow the program exactly but I think it's a nice to have the option to extend the program if necessary. Although I'm going to push myself something may happen where I can't and it's better to slow down and go back then it is to give up completely. One thing I learned when I used to be able to play online poker is that it takes as much (sometimes more) discipline to take a step back when you need to but in the long run it keeps you moving forward farther.

Other important bits are my heart rate monitor watch, running shoes, treadmill and water bottle.

Smoking

One issue I have with running is I started smoking again after a few years being quit. :( I'm not smoking a lot (less than 1/2 pack a day) but smoking and running aren't great I'm having a hard time quitting this time. Days that I run or go for a long hike help me cut down. As I run more I'm hoping to smoke less and hopefully be quit before I complete this program.

Treadmill vs Road Running

When I'm done with the couch to 5k program I don't expect to be able to run a 5k race. Running on a treadmill is easier, or at least different than running on a road, trail or track. 

Running on a road is boring, running on a treadmill is even more so. When I complete this program I'm probably going to repeat it, starting somewhere in the middle, but doing it outdoors.

Updates

The original plan was to post one long article when I was done but it was getting too long. I'm actually half way through the program so the first 4 weeks will come quickly. Part of the reason I wanted to keep it as one post was influenced by my P90X fail. If I don't complete it then I could keep it to myself but that defeats one of the purposes of posting everything on here... Making it public to help keep up my motivation.

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