A lot of the questions I get asked recently about my weight loss revolve around food and/or working out. I figure now is as good a time as any to share some of what I’ve been going through in regards to those two topics. I’ve covered my thoughts on the “food” part of this in my last post, so here comes the fitness piece…
(Disclaimer: before I go any further, I want to say that I am in no way a professional, expert, or any other form of authority on the matters of food, exercise, and weight loss. I can only relay my experiences and opinions. I know -and stress- that there are my personal opinions and experiences and realize that in all likelihood they are unique to me and me alone. Since everyone is different, everyone can and probably will have a different experience and have success using what works for their unique circumstance)
I do get a lot of questions about working out, and more specifically, what I think of the Couch to 5K program. My usual answer (again, this is only my perception here) is that whether or not I would recommend it is based on what you want to accomplish. If your intent is get fit and lose weight, than I say go ahead and rock it. That plan (along with the 4 week to a mile plan before that) managed to help get me from getting winded walking up a flight of steps to being in a much better place physically. It helped me burn a ton of calories and has improved my overall fitness exponentially. I’m grateful that it is widely available and I’m still kind of surprised that it’s just out there for everyone for free. Very cool on the part of the creators, they could be charging for it, but instead just have it out there for the greater good.
On the other hand, however, if the goal is to actually complete a 5K, I’m not sure I would recommend the plan I used, and here is why: The plan succeeds at exactly what its stated intention is, which is to get you running for 30 minutes straight without walking. Where I ran into a problem with it was that (again, this is my specific circumstance) I do not hold a 10 minute mile pace. Running for 30 minutes is awesome, but my 30 minutes would only carry me two miles and change. I was so fixated on completing the scheduled runs based on the times it never even dawned on me until about halfway through the program that I was not going to cover the 3.1 miles that make up the 5K, even when I was done the program in its entirety. I realized what pace I had to be running at and compared to where I am, let’s just say there was a pretty good sized gap there. Frankly speaking, a 10 min mile is just not where I’m at right now. So based on your fitness, my personal recommendation would be that if you are in decent shape and can hold a good running pace, go for it and C25K it up; but if you are like me and can’t run that fast, I might recommend a different plan that is based on distance and not on time. That may help you to actually accomplish the actual task of running the entire 5K. This is not to say that if you use the C25K you will be unprepared to complete a 5K, you just may not be able to run the entire thing. Case in point: I completed the C25K and I ran my first race last Sat, Feb 11th. (The Cupid’s Chase 5K in Philadelphia) It was an amazing experience, I destroyed (shaved a full 6 min off of) my previous best time for a 5K based on my practice runs, but I still was not able to run the entire thing. It was a mile and a half out, and then you turned around and came back. I ran the entire way out, and then had to alternate between running and walking for approx 2/3 of the way back. I still did a lot more running than walking, but had to walk nonetheless. I’m ok with that. I saw it coming and was prepared for it. I have enough 5K’s scheduled that my goal for this one was just to finish the race and take in the experience (and not come in dead last). For the next one my goal is to run the entire thing. On the 5K’s after that I’ll start to focus on time and other things like that.
With all that said, I am amazingly proud to say that I completed the C25K program and not only from a physical perspective. In my case, I had started so many plans and programs to get fit and lose weight and quit every time, completing it not only signified the end of the scheduled runs but also meant that I started something and saw it through to the end. Between completing the program and my first 5K race, I am left with the overwhelming feeling that I can do this…all of it. I may actually pull this all off. It’s very encouraging and a huge motivational tool that I see myself using a lot.
So there it is: my two cents on all things food and exercise related as I see them. This may help some people see things from my point of view, and then again it may just be self indulgent ramblings. Either way, they are out there. Hope it helps. I am looking forward to getting back into the gym next week and starting the new training plan. This time around with running, strength training, stretching, and cross training. This should be interesting. (And by interesting, I mean hard, completely unfamiliar and humbling). No better way to find out how it’s going to be than to just get into it. Here goes nothing.
Have a great weekend and I’ll post after my first workout on Monday.