Tag Archives: c25k

#C25K Week 5: Brain Training

Week 5: the one that everyone talks about. This is the first of two weeks where each workout is different, gradually ramping up the effort until the w5d3 continuous 20 minute run. For me it was going to be about concentrating on pace. Once again I took to the treadmill for day 1, 3 intervals of 5 minutes with 3 minutes RI. I went back to my planned pace on this and, for the most part, stuck to it. The only time I didn’t was briefly during the last interval when I hopped off the treadmill for a couple of seconds, nominally to catch my breath. I got straight back on and then stepped the pace up as penance – a way of making up for the lapse in focus.

I still struggle with this habit – of giving up and easing off when the end is so very nearly in sight. It’s like my brain screams “No more!” and I have to take a brief respite by hopping off the treadmill or walking during a race. Yes, I will admit again that I have yet to finish any race without walking at some point! Ultras, obviously, are forgivable but even in 5k/10k/HM I’ve stopped and walked. But it seems providence was waiting for me when I got back from the gym as I found a link to a Runner’s World article about “building mental muscle”. The article referenced Tim Noakes’ “Lore of Running” which, coincidentally, I’d been reading the night before.

The article made me reassess my approach to the next two sessions.
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#C25K Week 4: Roadblocks

Week 4 of the C25K is where it starts to ramp up with quite a sharp progression to 16 minutes total running in two sets of 3 min run, 90 sec walk, 5 min run with a 2.5 minute run between sets. Excluding the cool down, it’s the first time that the program demands more time running than walking. The step up is also quite considerable; if you recall, C25K week 3 only has 9 minutes of running so week 4 nearly doubles the time. An alternative way of breaking down the challenge is to focus on the time running in one go is only increased from 3 minutes to 5. That shouldn’t be too bad right? Right?

For me, it turned out that the real challenge was the 90 second walk recovery between the 3 minute and 5 minute runs. Having worked out a more structure pacing plan based on the FIRST plan and sticking to it through week 3, I knew what I was aiming to do: 3 minutes at 6:30 min/mi and 5 minutes at 6:45 min/mi. Best Laid Plans and all that (soon to become a subtitle of this blog, I’m sure – in fact, I might even get it inscribed on my gravestone!)

W4D1 was hard!
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C25K Week 3: Inflammation

This week, I explored the effect of what happens to the body after an overabundance of food, alcohol coupled with sleep deprivation and general fatigue.

This microcycle involves another set of intervals: 90s run, 90s walk, 3 min run, 3 min walk and repeat. Again I felt that this was a little too short – it’s only 9 minutes of actual running – so I tacked another 90s interval at the end to bring the time including warm-up to 25 minutes total (well, 24m30s) and then have a walking cool-down. Following on from last week, I set the pace for the 90s intervals at 6:15 min/mi and the 3 min run at 6:30 min/mi. That definitely made it challenging. I trained on Wednesday and Friday and in the Thursday, I cycled to work (11.5 miles either way) with a mind to introducing some cross training into my program. However, thanks to my competitive nature and Strava suggesting I could do an uphill section a little faster than before, I already had tired legs for w3d2 so I made up for it by pushing the final 90s interval at 10mph making (in theory) for 400m in 90s. Hard, but I felt great afterwards.

It all went downhill after that.
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C25K Week 2: Pace setting

This weeks sessions ended up all being done on the gym treadmill. I had hoped to do a bonus fourth session this morning but a late start and busy day got in the way of that which means no Garmin splits. The week 2 program is a step up from week 1 with the intervals going from 60 seconds to 90 and the rest going from 90 to 2 minutes, repeated for 20 minutes (although it doesn’t quite add up as the last rest period takes you to 21 minutes.) The total duration of the six 90s run intervals is 9 minutes, merely a minute longer than week 1 which is good for beginners as it helps their body to adjust. I felt it wasn’t quite enough for me and with that annoying discrepancy in the time, I ended up adding an extra 90s interval to the program and a 2.5 minute cooldown to round off the workout at 30 minutes.

Buoyed by my speed at the end of last week, during the w2d1 session, I gradually increased my pace on the treadmill to gauge how fast I could comfortably go. For the second two sessions, I pushed at a satisfactory 6:30 min/mi pace for the intervals. It will be interesting next week to see if I can keep this pace up for the 3 minute intervals. Even though I’m using C25K to help me work towards running a 5km at 7 min/mi, I’m using a faster pace for the shorter intervals, loosely derived from the pacing tables provided by the FIRST program. (You can read more about FIRST here and I do recommend their book, “Run Less, Run Faster“). As the C25K intervals increase in time, the pace will get a little slower.

Still, two weeks in and it’s all going well.

C25K Week 1: One foot in front of the other

After last weeks taster, I decided to being C25K in earnest this week, using the Cool Running Couch-to-5K program. I’ve touched on why I’m doing this before but for posterity, here the three main reasons why I’m using C25K as my training plan and I hope to expand on them in future posts.

  1. It’s a gentle introduction back to running after five months off with injury and should help to rehabilitate my broken foot
  2. I want to get to know and understand the program for myself so that I’m in a better position to help clients and other beginner runners with it
  3. Even though it’s marketed as a beginners program, I want to gauge if there is any potential benefit to a runner who is already quite capable of running 5km

Also, to reiterate, the only caveat to this program is that I will not continue if I have pain in my foot.

So week 1: I can say it went well. After discovering last week that I could push the pace on my foot, I decided to set a target pace for my intervals of 7 minutes/mile (8.6 mph). The first two runs this week were done on a treadmill at my gym and I felt fine at the set pace. The final run this morning was out on the road where I attempted to stick at the same pace. My splits after the split:
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C25K Prologue: The Road to Recovery

This morning I went out for a run, my second in the last five months. The first was a few days ago on a treadmill but today was out on the road. The plan for both runs was to do the week 1 training plan from the Couch-to-5K plan which is simply a five minute warm up at steady walking pace followed by 8 repeated intervals of 1 minute running and 90 secs walking for a total of 20 minutes. On the treadmill, I set my speed at 4.5 mph for the walking and 6 mph for the running. The temptation to go faster or for longer was great but I stuck to the plan as an exercise in discipline. Out on the road today, my intention was to run at a comfortable pace but to stick to the plan and timings.

Imagine my surprise at the end of the 25 minutes when my Garmin told me I’d run a total 2.5 miles. Not bad considering only 8 minutes of that was running. Looking at my run splits, the news gets even better:

There are two reasons this is an encouraging picture. Firstly, my fracture is obviously healed enough to withstand the force exerted on it at speed. Secondly, despite being heavier than desired and not having done any significant cardio training for the last 5 months (barring some cycling in the past few weeks), I was surprised that a 6 minute mile pace, albeit for a minute at a time, felt “comfortable”.

The third thing to come out of today’s run is wondering if the C25K program will help me achieve my goal of a sub-20 minute 5km time.

The potential risk with all this feedback is that I’ll end up pushing myself and my foot before I’m ready and set myself back a month or two. I have five weeks until my next (and hopefully final) hospital appointment and the last thing I want to do is jeopardize any healing. I intend to start running again during the week and will be doing 2 if not 3 days, sticking to the C25K plan. At least two sessions will be on the controlled environment of a treadmill and I will be limiting my speed. When I have the final all clear, I will start the C25K plan again but at a higher target pace to see how the plan can be adapted to improving speed. Discipline and patience are my friends…

I know it may not come across but I’m really pretty delighted after today’s run!

The Other 90%: Of Perception And Exertion

The Other 90%: a reference to the common saying that running is 10% physical and 90% mental.

My foot continues to be a pain, both figuratively and literally, and I have been advised to still not go running for the forseeable future (which, I hope, will be around September). This shattered my dreams that I might possibly have a mutant healing factor like Wolverine but hey ho.

After my last post in May, Karen left a comment about the first long run of the C25K program on Week 5 Day 3. The run in question is a 5 minute walking warm-up (standard for all the C25K sessions) followed by a 20 minute run. I emailed her as I was curious as to what it was particularly about that run that she found challenging. Her response was interesting.
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