Thursday, May 6, 2010

20 Minutes of Hell… A C25K Love Story

There are runners, and there are non-runners and somewhere in that monumental chasm that exists between the two, are those few of us who are attempting to bridge the gap.

We are not runners, but we are staggering and stumbling along the best we can. We are those people you see when you’re driving along the street, and you think “Oh lord, she shouldn’t be trying to do that” or “I’d better call 9-1-1; he’s not going to make it much farther.”

As I’ve noted here before, I’m using C25K (Couch to 5K) to get my run on. There are a lot of flaws in the program–which is why I’m hard at work developing a JSC25K (Jack Sh*t Couch to 5K) program–but I give it a lot of credit for getting me on the road to being a runner.

I haven’t done the research because… well, due to highly technical reasons (I’m lazy), but I suspect that Week Five, Day Three is the jumping off point for a lot of people who attempt C25K.

It asks you to run 20 minutes, thank you very much.

20 minutes.

I know you marathoners and half-marathoners are chuckling at that, but to us half- half- half- half- half- half-marathoners, twenty minutes sounds like a death sentence.

My running buddy MrsFatsss wrote a very eloquent post about her experience battling the 20-minute barrier. I was going to do something similar, but when I went back to my office and looked at my notes from immediately after completing the session, I found that it was nothing but a string of obscenities and vehement pleas for somebody to “kill me, just kill me.”

Had you told me six weeks ago that I’d be running for twenty minutes at a time, I’d have laughed in your face. Now I’m learning to love the challenge of the open road, the thrill of that last thirty seconds of running, the satisfaction of a hard task completed.

And here’s the craziest thing of all…

I was walking into my gym the other morning and there was a table set up to sign people up for an upcoming 5K race.

No, I didn’t sign up… but I did actually think about signing up for a moment, which marks a huge leap in my running narrative. Up until now, 5K race sign-ups were completely invisible to me, simply weren’t showing up on my radar. I imagine they must have been taking place, but I never actually saw it happening.

I suppose it’s like when you buy a certain kind of automobile and then suddenly start seeing that same make all over town.

I didn’t sign up for that race, but I suspect there’s a 5K somewhere in my future.



  1. Well that's quite a mental makeover, isn't it? You really HAVE gone from couch to 5K!

    I'm impressed!

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  2. I only run if someone's chasing me with a knife!!

    well, that's always been my mentality. I suppose I could revise that now that i'm actually trying to incorporate exercise into my life. Of course the idea of being 400lbs and running down the street would invoke such self critism that i just may fall and die from self consciousness.

    But i do jogging in my house from my wii. That's a start, right? ;)

  3. Congrats on completing the 20-minute run! I know when I saw it coming up on my C25K program a few months ago, I was terrified and kind of convinced I wouldn't be able to do it (but I did, and now I'm a converted jogger--I'm to slow to call it running).

    It's so amazing to see what we're all capable of. Keep it up! :)

  4. Amazing. I too would NEVER have EVER (EVER!) thought of running a 5K. I still don't think I could do it (at this time atleast) but someday I think I will be able too.

    Oh, and Friday is my W5D3 20 minute run - I have given thought to preparing my will (I don't think it is going to go well.)

    As much as I dislike running during C25K. . . like you said, before starting the program, I would have never been able to run at all.

    Here's to the idea of us possibly (maybe) someday running a 5K.



  5. Jack, GREAT post! I will be sharing this with my Couch to 5K running group. We will be tackling Week 5 Day 3 run this Saturday.

    Let me tell before I did C25K I hated running, now I cannot get enough of it. Glad to see that the 5K race was calling your name. You've got to do a race. There's nothing like the race environment... there's so much anticipation and excitement in the air.

    Keep up the great work!


  6. This post is well timed for me. I am not and have never been a runner. I never thought I could and never thought I SHOULD (thanks to bad feet). But a few months back before I broke my arm I started some intervals of jogging on the treadmill and they felt great. Big surprise. And then I keep seeing bloggers writing about C25K and it makes me wonder. Should I, could I? I have never set a goal like that for myself. Maybe (when my arm is healed) it is time.

  7. There will be a 5k somewhere. I started running 5ks 3 years ago and my time... umm... well, it was well over 35 minutes. Yesterday, my friend - I ran it in 26:23. CRAZY, yes. But you can do it too!!!!

  8. I am sooo looking forward to JSC25K! I hope you weren't joking about that. And to be honest I think there is only 1 marathon in a whole year where I live. But if I reach that point and sign up for that one marathon I will know I am set for life.

    I hope you'll run your first 5K soon cos I wanna read all about it. Yeah I'm selfish like that :p

  9. You're already a runner you just haven't discovered it yet because when you think runner you are thinking of the Kenyans who always seem to cross the finish line first at televised races. What makes this post so funny is that eventually you'll call that staggering thing you're doing "running." And it will be a very good thing.

  10. Jack seriously I say this very seriously I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO SIGN UP FOR YOU FIRST RUN! I'm so excited and can't wait for the recap, seriously Jack hurry up and sign up already would you :-).
    Great post Jack, I really enjoyed reading it.

  11. You are a runner Jack! YES! And you could totally do that 5K!

    There is one really big problem with C25K. It assumes that running for 30 mins straight is the Holy Grail, and the only worthy goal for a budding runner.

    Wrong. The best way to run, especially for Newbies and/or Clydesdales and/or older folks, is with walk breaks. Right from the beginning. Throughout the entire run.

    How do I know? I ran my first half marathon without stopping, except at the water stations, just long enough to grab a cup of water. During the run, I saw a group of older ladies who kept starting and stopping. Of course, I felt sorry for them -- too bad, they can't run the whole thing.

    Well, guess who beat me.

    When I did my second half marathon a few months later, I did the Galloway method, with walk breaks. Not only was my time much faster than the first half, I felt a million times better at the end of the race, and did not have to take the rest of the week to recover.

    This is the way human beings were meant to run IMHO.

    The really great thing about walk breaks is you can run for MUCH longer every time you do run with about the same amount of effort -- and isn't 1 hour of running with breaks a better calorie burner than 30 minutes with no breaks? I'm just guessing. Maybe I'm wrong, but still....

    Walk breaks are your friend! My advice is Galloway + C25K= JSC25K: the PERFECT running program!

  12. So glad you didn't link to the post about my ass, Jack.

  13. I've done 3 5K's this year. I ran VERy little of them, walked most of it. Loved it too- till I crossed the finish line dead last, every single time. :) You should do it- I think you'll be pleasantly thrilled at how awesome you do. Bet you dont' come in last either!

  14. you're awesome! right now these are just words to me.. I can never imagine RUNNING a 5K, but I am signing up to walk one with WW this June. Someday.. I'd love to be able to say I ran one. Maybe a good goal. I should put THAT on a notecard.

  15. welcome to the world of the psycho-freak-nut jobs with the love/hate relationship with running!
    But can you run 25 minutes without stopping? Coming soon to a C25K near you!

  16. I have run a treadmill 5k four times now. This last time I actually did the whole thing without stopping for a mini-break in the middle, which was a huge accomplishment. But my biggest hangup? I GET SO FREAKING BORED. Seriously, after the 15 minute mark my workout ADD kicks in and I start scoping out other exercise machines. Suddenly everything looks more interesting than jogging. Running outside is about a zillion times harder. I'm lucky if I can make it to the end of my block (0.25 miles) before I feel like I am going to die. This whole running gig is a mystery to me. I look forward to gleaning some tips from you...I could use them.

  17. Nice job, Jack! Your body is an amazing and trainable thing. That is a great milestone!

  18. your doing awesome. and I say.. SIGN UP FOR THAT 5k! you'll be amazed what you can do.

  19. I'm proud to say that since my C25K graduation, I've run many 5K distances and even a 10K distance all in the name of "fun"...but no races yet.

    I say this only to confirm that 20 minutes was a mystery for me too and running was something only idiots did...just more rational for enjoying a couch bound life.

    Way to do yourself proud.

  20. Sign up! Run in your boxers! Put your blog address on your back. You might even get on the news :)

  21. I love reading about your C25K adventures! I know you will be able to tackle that 20 minutes, no problem! I also like Lyn's suggestion above! Too funny!

  22. This is AWESOME!!! I am really proud of you AND your running buddy.

    I never used to like running. I sprinted in high school. An 800 dash was like a marathon to me.

    It took a few years but I've learned to really enjoy it!

  23. Good job! You will get there eventually! Progress has to start somewhere! :)


  24. Is it crazy that I had to work out how far a half- half- half- half- half- half-marathon would be?

    About 0.4 miles.

    I dare you to run the 5K.

  25. good for you jack... it's a great thing to even try to be a runner... and i bet you any amount of money you'd do just fine in a 5k... stop being so CHICKEN!! BAWK BAWK!! lol

  26. because I'm insane, I'm doing a c2HM (couch to half marathon) in 15 weeks. I have NO illusions of running all 13 miles, I just want to not need immediate medical attention at any point in the race. That's my goal. And finish before they put everything away.
    I'm NOT a runner. I hate running. But it's measurable, it's free, it's on MY time, and did I mention it's free?
    Congrats on sticking to the program - I think you SHOULD sign up for the 5K - you don't have to run even 20 minutes in it - you just have to finish.
    You could do it!!

  27. I used to be a half half half half half marathoner and I built up! 20 minutes is AWESOME! You will get there :)

  28. Just Do It.

    6 years ago, I woke up one morning and said to myself..."I wonder if I can run?" So I put on an old pair of running shoes I had and headed out the door. I ran until I felt like i was going to DIE! It felt like forever. Then I turned around and ran back. As soon as I got home, I got in my car and drove to where I ran to and back so I could measure how far I went..cause dammit, it FELT like a marathon distance. It was 4.4 Kilometers. Wow. 4.4 Kilometers. A few months later, I heard there was a Marathon weekend. I signed up for the 1/2 marathon. I certainly was not breaking any records for speed. And I can't say that I really LOVED running..more like, tolerated it for the benefits. The weekend of that first half marathon, I showed up on the Friday to pick up my race kit..and while I was there, I decided I would do the marathon instead. It was the most excrutiatingly painful thing I have ever done in my entire life. I cried durning the run. I talked to myself outloud like a total lunatic. I talked to other people in hopes they would have a secret trick to make the pain go away. Child birth seemed far from painful compared to how I felt for the last, oh...say, 20 kilometers of the marathon. But I finished it. It took about 5 hours, but I finished it. My friend drove me home after. I could not get out of the car. She had to carry me to bed while I cried and screamed in pain.
    I am about to run my 5th marathon in a few weeks. I know it is going to hurt. But there is no food, no treat, no gift that could replace the feeling of crossing that line. Be it the marathon line, the half marathon line, or even a 5 Kilometer line. No other person can give you a sense of accomplishment. You have to go out there and get it yourself. We both know you can do it. So, Just Do It! You will not regret it! (Well, maybe a little WHILE you are still running, but afterwards, no regrets, I promise!)

  29. ewwww.....after I hit post I realized how redonkulously long that post was...sorry!

  30. I have to admit that I've seen people *running* and they look so awkward and in so much pain that I think they might be better off choosing something else but I definitely admire them for gutting it out even when they look like they're running at 1 MPH...

    Good luck with your training.

  31. Have to say, you create the JSC25K and I'd follow would definltey have me laughing in between gasps for breath!

  32. Great post. I didn't "get it" (the running thing) until I started C25K last spring. And guess what? By August/September, I had run several 5K races in under a 10-min. mile, lost 15 lbs. & had that "new lease on life" feeling. Sign up for the 5K... I swear, you won't regret it :-)

    And yes, I'm working toward some 10Ks by end of this summer... and maybe a 15K in 2011... cuz, um, after that, well shucks -- I'm practically at a half-marathon by then, right? HA!

  33. You should totally sign up! There is nothing like a race. You will be amazed at what the adrenaline at a race helps your body do. Can't wait for your first 5K!!

  34. Dude, you should just sign up. Nobody said you have to run the whole time. There are always plenty of walkers at these things and you'll be all, "Hey, look! I'm running and not just walking! I'm totally gonna beat you walkers to the finish, yeah!" and then a little blue-haired 95 year old in a pink tracksuit will blow by you and humble you, but you will still finish in a time much faster than you anticipated and you will be SO GLAD you listened to your readers and just signed up and ran/walked the damn race!

  35. Awesome progress, do a race, really they are awesome, 5k races feel easier to me than a 5k training run, I go faster, I think its the energy around you and the adrenaline pumping. It's really fun and it makes all that hard work feel awesome!

  36. Running a 5K for the first time is like having sex for the first time. You get a bib, a pair of good running shoes, and a headband, and then you... well, I don't exactly remember to be honest.

    Anyway, the point is that running a race does have a unique energy that running on your own doesn't. I still don't consider myself a runner by any stretch of the imagination but the two I have run have been a great time and I set personal records at both. It just may be worth a shot.

  37. I'm sure someone has already pointed this out...but to us C25Krs (ok, that means ME!), we'll take ALL the mileage we can get.... I consider myself a half-half-half marathon runner (1/2 of 1/2 of 1/2 a marathon .5*.5*.5*26=3.25 miles)... Not to be compared to those wussie "half- half- half- half- half- half-marathoners" (not even a 1/2 mile!)

  38. be like Nike and just do it. coz, i know you can!! put in a extra day if you need to, but you probably don't. just making @ss-uptions. :-D

    I'm cheering for you Mr. Sh*t!

  39. LOL... Everytime I run, I think the same thing. Someone is probably watching me run by thinking to themselves, "why is that poor woman running." It's funny you're thinking that too! But man, not woman.

  40. I am so glad you are running, but at the same time it is painful to hear how horrible you (sometimes) find it. A death sentence? Kill me now? Running should be a JOY. First time I ever ran I felt like it was a religious experience. I didn't care that it hurt, that it was difficult, I just LOVED it. Running is for me the purest joy in the world, even when I'm hurting and really pushing myself.

    Please try and ENJOY! Go slow, or do only what you want. Don't make it so unpleasant. Crank up the tunes and let your body feel how much it loves it. It should make you happy, not miserable.

  41. Say it after me: "I am a runner."

    The only difference between the "runners" and the "non-runners" is that the former believes that he/she is a runner and can run while the latter does not.

    Nobody cares about your finish time (except for you and maybe Boston qualification). All that matters is that you give it your all, you give it your best.

    You ARE a runner Jack. It's not bridging the physical gap. It's bridging the mental.

    By the way, even though you might feel like you're ready to keel over after 20 minutes, I bet you ten dollars that you still have 50% more left to give. Try it. Let me know how it goes :)

    Keep rocking, Mr. Runner.

  42. can't wait to see the post where you do jack.

  43. SIGN up!!! Your a runner now!!! Congrats :)

  44. I just finished my first and longest race last weekend. I ran 12k in 1:16 minutes - didn't set any land speed records - but had a great time and I still have a great sense of accomplishment 4 days later. I was a great ego boost for all the hard work that I have put in over the last 12 months. It was much easier running with people then by yourself on the same old road I have been running for months now. Last year I was pushing 300lbs and this morning I weighed in 212 lbs. For me the mental part of running was the hardest - my body was in alright shape, but I had to overcome my mind telling me to give up, stop, what the hell are you doing - your not a runner. I'm looking forward to bigger better things now with my new found relationship. Good Luck buddy - You can do it! It is well worth the effort and time!

  45. Is that a little kiss (x) at the end? Man, how girly!
    What's this running doing to you? ☺

    Could you please have Anita drive along side you while you're running and get this on video? I really need to see this!


  46. Awesome post. My sisters and I are in Week Three of C25K. Can't even imagine doing week 5 yet but I signed up for the Komen 5K run/walk which is only two days away. I must be crazy. Good luck!

  47. I like how my coach trains me. He instills in me that it's all in the mind. That if there's nothing wrong with my body, I can do what I set my mind to. BUT keep in mind, he never pushes me to do anything I can't do. He just wants to remind me daily that running is mostly about the mind and not the body.

    Twenty minutes of running is not terribly. Especially if you've been following that plan and have been exercising for a while now. Do an easy run if you can't go fast. Running is supposed to be fun. No pressure. Just run for twenty minutes. Enjoy every minute, every step as it comes.

    (I say all this assuming that you've been physically fit for a while. Because for people with no physical activity whatsoever, will have a hard time even with jogging.)

    Let us know how it goes!

  48. I'm not sure where you are, but if you're anywhere close to Kansas City, we have the best 5k race around- the Hospital Hill 5k, 10k, and half marathon. Finisher medals and flip-flops for all with post race beer and barbeque. It's AWESOME.

    And there's no feeling like completing a race.

  49. Hahahaha. I'm getting ready for W5D2 tomorrow. I'm already dreading the 20 minute torture run on Sunday but at least I "think" I may be able to do it. I guess I have already won half the battle there?!? What do you have when you don't at least try? Absolutely nothing!!

  50. SOUNDS AWESOME! Keep rockin and rollin!

  51. I must be crazy (and tremendously lazy), but I feel like I should do a 5k soon, just to keep my big butt moving. Since November of last year, I have been in 4 cycling races (as a 300+ guy) just to keep me somewhat motivated to train. I am thinking of doing the same for a 5k. Even if I have to walk it or shuffle it, it is likely going to get me training more than if I didn't sign up for one at all. Amirite???

  52. We ran all the freaking time in the Army - and then ran some more.
    Two miles a day - timed.
    And road-marched and carried ruck-sacks.... wearing freaking boots.

    A 5k is 3. something miles...

  53. I plan on starting the C25K as soon as I get more comfy at my gym.

    I too just might run a 5k one day, never thought I'd hear myself say that.

  54. I know this sounds completely & totally ridiculous but I just spent two hours reading your blog. I laughed my butt off at nearly every blog, was inspired by most of whatever you had to say... thank you sooooooooooooo much!!!!!!!!!!!! and congrats on your weight loss. I'm JUST starting out *blah* but I'm definitely motivated to keep going!!!!

  55. I just did this run today. Thank you for knowing exactly how I felt. I haven't blogged about it yet. I'm still in shock.

    If you're a runner, then I'm a runner. Let's go!

  56. Nice work. I have this 14.5km race looming in my head. Can I do it? Shall I just quit and not do it cause it scares me that I won't. I think that I just might do it know. I'll even invite you if you want to come along.

    (go sign up for it...i can totally do it)

  57. I started with C25K and it was terribly hard for me. I redid week 7 for 3 weeks because I just couldn't get it. But in the end i finished it, signed up for that terribly slow 5K I did and just kept going.

    And I still think the first 20min is brutal!

  58. Very cool, Jack. You'll be a true runner before you know it.

    And actually, because I don't run, ever, whenever I see runners on the road, no matter how well they're doing, I think, Good for them! I just like my knees, I guess, so I stick to stuff like Spinning.



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