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Couch to 5K: Week One, Day One

I am an epic failure.  I only managed the first half of Week 1 Day 1 of the Couch to 5K.  I started out feeling really upbeat and positive, proud of myself for getting out there despite the super humid conditions.

Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 1 - Before

Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 1 - Before

I had the baby all bundled in her stroller with toys attached to keep her occupied.  I had my iPod charged up and the C25K podcast playing.  I felt GOOD.  I felt POWERFUL.  I felt PROUD of myself, and I was beginning to feel the fog of a dreary morning lift.

I did the first run.  It was tough, but I did it.  The second run was a little easier, and slightly down hill, so I felt even better.  Here I go, I thought.  I am going to DO THIS!  The third run was super hard.  I could barely getting my breathing back under control, and I most certainly could NOT carry on a conversation, which the podcast insisted I should be able to do.  It was slightly up hill, so I gave myself a pass.  Besides, I thought, I only have two more runs to go.

Yeah.  There are EIGHT runs.  Not five.  Which the podcast reminded me of.  I thought I might be in trouble.  But no, I decided.  I was halfway.  That is HUGE.  I just have to keep going.

The fourth run… was awful.  Horrible.  My chest hurt.  My stomach felt awful.  I struggled and pushed and struggled and pushed.  I was determined to go the whole sixty seconds… but I stopped at about fifty seconds.  I double over, certain for the moment that I was going to throw up.  I started crying, nauseous on the side of the road in my neighborhood with my ever more concerned daughter looking on from the stroller.  I got dizzy and felt like I was going to fall, and no matter what I did I couldn’t catch my breath.  I felt scared.  God, what if I pass out on the side of the road and my daughter is alone?

I didn’t pass out.  I sat in the middle of the street, desperately trying to control my breathing.  Finally, after about five minutes, I could feel my breathing returning to normal and my vision cleared.  Oh, I didn’t mention it was fuzzy?  Yeah, that was cool too.

I made it home, about a five minute walk, looking much worse for wear.

Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 1 - Half-ter

Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 1 - Half-ter

I don’t know what I did wrong.  Everyone talked about how easy the first week is, about how anyone can do it.  But I can’t do it.  Am I really that weak/out of shape/fat?

I brought water and drank it in small sips.  I had a sandwich and veggies for lunch about 45 minutes before I ran.  I was dressed for the weather.  It’s not hot, although it’s VERY humid from the rain all night/morning.  I was breathing as deeply as I could.  What did I do wrong?

Now I feel totally discouraged, like I should give up the running thing altogether.  I know several people who exercise FAR less regularly than I do who’ve done this with zero issue, so now I am back to wondering if I just can’t run.  Help?  Support?

Anybody?  Bueller?

UPDATE: You know what?  I am so NOT a failure.  Did I finish?  Nope.  Did I get out there and try until I thought I might die?  YES YES YES!  That is not a failure.  I am just going to keep pushing, keep repeating this run every other day until I can ROCK it. And, as several friends pointed out, I get extra points for pushing a stroller and running in my HILLY neighborhood.  So once I get this down, I am going to be amazing!


18 Responses

  1. Heather – the reason I have stuggled so much with running in the past is my breathing as well. For some reason, running gets my heart rate and breathing out of control like no other exercise, and I’ve been exercising steadily for at least 3 years now. I have found that I cannot eat before I run, it gives me a horrible cramp in my side. Also, I’ve found it helps me to control my breathing to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. Perhaps you should add a week to your training regimen and start with just running 30-45 seconds alternating with walking for 1:30. Then try the first week over again next week….just a thought to help you build up more gradually.

  2. This is probably not going to sound very helpful, but… just keep trying. If you can’t do the 60 seconds each time, cut each one in half. Do 30 seconds until you are ROCKING those 30 seconds. Then bump it up. My understanding is that it’s about consistency and moving up slowly.

    When I first did the program, there were a couple of weeks that I only barely made it through. So I did those weeks again. And by the end of the second week, it was easier. Like I said, I know this all sounds like bs, but…. you CAN do this. You WILL get better, as your body starts to get used to it. Just keep at it.

  3. Also, I forgot to add that running outside is A LOT tougher than running on the treadmill, which is where I have to do most of my running. So you need to take that into account also!

  4. You were pushing a stroller, too, weren’t you? That will definitely add to your difficulty level!
    I agree with everyone – cut back the running times – there are no rules that say you HAVE to start with 60 second runs.
    DON’T compare yourself to others – you are YOU, and you will do it YOUR way! 🙂

  5. See I can’t compare b/c I was on the treadmill at home, I didn’t have the hills to contend with (and I had a fan blowing on me!) but I can say it wasn’t easy, but I did it. And the breathing was my worst part. And today starts week two with 90 second runs? yikes!
    My advice would be to try it again. Even if you only do half, maybe next week you could do a little more? Just let your body tell you what you are able to do…I think just attempting this means you weren’t a fail at all!

  6. Hey heather,
    can you explain the couch to 5K concept? Is it a certain plan you follow?

    I think you’re doing just great. You’re so determined and I remember last time you started this you did it, so I’m sure you can do it again! Go Mama!

  7. Day One is either a killer or a lot easier than people expected. You will do fine. Just keep working at it. Running isn’t always the easiest way to get in shape.

  8. Okay, first of all I’m glad you edited to add that you are not a failure. Because you’re not and I refuse to even dignify that horseshit.

    Second, here are the things that helped me:
    1. Slow down. Seriously. Sloooow Dooooown. My jog is barely faster than my walk. Worry about speed later. Adrenaline probably got you going fast. Sloooow down.

    2. I jog with a water bottle and take a sip at every walking interval. When I do tapes at home I drink water too. I swear it’s the only thing that gets me through the shred.

    3. Did I mention to slow down?

    4. Don’t give up, just change it up. Either shorten the intervals, or do every other interval, or just keep on trucking through as many as you can. Just don’t give up. Make the schedule your own.

    5. Slow down.

    And keep me posted. You CAN do this. You CAN.

  9. Yeah. I was going to say s-l-ooooooo-w—d-oooooooo-w-n. But MrsFatass already said it. Go girl. do it babe.

  10. you KNOW I was about to say


    then I got to the end of your post and saw that youd totally reached that conclusion yourself.

    its a new day
    a new week
    you have this and CAN DO IT!

  11. Ummm, did you not know that you are already awesome?

  12. Whew! I am soooo, sooo glad for that update at the end. You are not a failure. When I was supposedly “failing” on runs, I discovered that my pace was actually too fast. Slow it down? Maybe even a run/walk on the days your legs feel like concrete blocks? I know all about that.

  13. Heather, I echo what a lot of people said here. First of all you are not a failure. Second of all, running in the humidity is HARD work, even for seasoned runners. Don’t be afraid to slow down. The whole thing about C25K is to increase your aerobic capacity slowly. It is not about distance or speed. It is about learning to run, slowly and safely. If you have to repeat days until you feel good about moving on, do that. You’re still doing more than most people ever try to do.

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