Have you ever wondered what it would be like to start your physical fitness journey from scratch and then run a 5K? I have too! Ever since I had complete reconstructive surgery on my left knee because of a torn ACL and meniscus, I haven’t been the same. In high school, I played lacrosse, ran and biked for miles around my little beach town in Oceanside, California. I actually made the effort to work out and get sweaty every day after school.
After my reconstructive surgery in 2015, things changed. I remember going to PT every day for 2 weeks, so I could get rid of my crutches. I felt like a little baby learning how to walk for the first time. A few months after my surgery, I would try to run and my knee would immediately ache. The kind of ache that made me stop everything I was doing and walk it out. I felt defeated and fear would start to creep in. I was terrified that my ligaments would tear again and I would have to start from the beginning. It took me months of trusting my body, physical therapy and of course patience to finally get back to a “slow jog”. Over time, I have lost my rhythm due to the busyness of life and not being able to find time to do workouts. But after my trip to IRONMAN Santa Cruz 70.3, there was a fire that got ignited and my running journey began.
How I Got Inspired
Now that you know my backstory, let me tell you how I started as a couch potato and now I am training for my first 5K. It all started when I flew out to Santa Cruz for an Ironman Convention. I remember getting there early and seeing athletes from all walks of life in the pavilion hanging out together. I started to talk to athletes and many would tell me how they trained almost daily and that this was their end goal: The Ironman Santa Cruz 70.1. I was immediately inspired. I never challenged my body to its full potential and now my chance to finally do so. I wanted to start with baby steps because obviously I couldn’t just wake up tomorrow morning and do an IRONMAN 70.3 (56-mile bike ride, 1.2-mile swim, 13.1-mile run). But what I could do is train for a 5K, slowly work my way up to a 10K, and then maybe *someday* an IRONMAN relay.
I thought that setting a fitness goal would be super easy because the IRONMAN athletes and fitness models on Instagram make it look so effortless, but I found it difficult. For me, the hardest part was creating a balanced routine and sticking to it! I sat down and wrote what my goals were and how I could get there.
Goal: Run the Corvallis Turkey Trot 5K
How I Can Get There: Train 3 times a week for 8 weeks
Once I wrote my goal down, I began to act on it. So, I downloaded an app, wrote the training days down on my calendar and I even found some friends to join me on my 5K journey!
Pro tip: Setting fitness goals with friends is 100x better than just going through the motions by yourself. I like when the ladies I run with hold me accountable, which in turn makes me want to push myself harder.
How I started
I began my journey by researching ways to train for a 5K. The internet works wonders and I found a training plan that helps a beginner train for a 5K. The Couch to 5K training was developed by Josh Clark, which was originally posted on his website Cool Running. I looked up reviews and many new runners loved the program because it is simple and actually works.
I found this app that is basically the same training plan called 5K Runner: Couch Potato to 5K (go figure). The app is available for download and is jam-packed with useful tools to help beginners run a 5K. The trial allows you to use it for 4 runs, but then you have to pay either $7.99 for 3 months or $9.99 for unlimited use. But $10 is so worth it because you basically have a 5K trainer any time of the day! I also like that it syncs with my Apple Watch, so I’ll get a vibration notifying me when I need to start walking/running and when I get to my halfway point.
The program that I am doing is interval based, which is perfect for beginners - like me! The best part is, you only have to commit to the program 3 times a week, which is great even for people with a busy schedule.
I start off with a 5 minute warm up, then I immediately go to a 1-minute walk and then following that is the 1-minute run. I do this interval 8 times and then do a 5-minute cooldown. After each week, the amount of time I spend running increases, while the time for walking significantly decreases.
Interval training is the best for newbies because it forces the body to adapt to different speeds, which in turn helps with building endurance and running distance. Not to mention, it helps reduce muscle fatigue and injury!
Why I Chose a 5K
I wanted to compete in a race, but I wasn’t quite ready to do a 10K or half marathon.
The only competition I have is myself. I’ll learn how to push myself even when I start to feel exhausted.
It’s fun to train for something, especially if you do it with friends!
I’ll actually crush a fitness goal since my surgery, which is so rewarding!
There are tons of 5K’s that local charities put together! So you’re running for a great cause!
Helpful Tips For People Going Through the Couch Potato to 5K Journey
- Ask a friend or two to join you on runs. Not only is it a lot safer, but time seems to go by faster when friends are running with you.
- Have good music! This is so important because without music, running would be so boring. There are some amazing playlists on Spotify that are meant specifically for running long distance. Spotify has curated playlists with specific BPM as well.
- It’s important to have rest days! I honestly can’t stress this enough. Your muscle, tissues, nerves, and bones need rest days to rebuild.
- Eat a well-balanced nutrition and drink lots of water. This is pretty self-explanatory.
Running a 5K is something I’ve never dreamed of doing until now. The program, Couch Potato to 5K is working for me and has even helped me feel confident to run longer distances. If you are training for a race like me or have tried the Couch Potato to 5K method, I’d love to know your story down in the comments section below!