Completing Couch-to-5K

Making it through the first half of C25K is a serious accomplishment. You should already find that your leg muscles are stronger and your endurance is better. Making it through the second half of the program, however, will be an even greater challenge. The walking breaks will soon be phased out entirely, which effectively takes the training wheels off and really puts you to the test.

It will be very tough, but you can make it to the end. Showing up is half the battle and the following tips should help push you to the finish.

Prepare for success – Take the time to get both mentally and physically prepared for every run. Physically prepare by properly hydrating and eating a light, healthy meal at least an hour beforehand (unless you’ve had success with running on an empty stomach). Make sure to also wear light, comfortable attire and warm up well with some dynamic stretching. Mentally prepare yourself; believe you’ll succeed, and you will.

Slow down – I’ve mentioned this before but it’s especially important with respect to the second half of the program, where there are either few or no walking breaks. Take your time. Slow down. Making the all too common mistake of pushing too hard out of the gate can completely drain your energy reserves and make the rest of your run miserable. Run at a pace slow enough that you can casually carry on a conversation. Don’t concern yourself with speed. Your only concern is making it through to the end without taking unscheduled walking breaks.

Don’t mind the clock – My grandma always said, “a watched pot never boils.” Well, it does, but it feels like it takes forever. I found that during these late-stage runs, the sooner I looked at the timer the longer the run felt. In contrast, the longer I waited to peek, the quicker time seemed to pass. Hold out as long as you can to look at how much time is left on the clock, and you might be surprised how quickly the time passes.

There’s no such thing as failure – If you find yourself unable to complete a workout, absolutely do not think you’ve failed. Everyone has bad days now and then – it’s an unavoidable part of running. Every time you get out there and put your feet on the pavement, you improve. Progress takes time for everyone, but as long as you keep getting out there, you will get stronger and gain endurance.

This isn’t a race and, not finishing in nine weeks is of no consequence. That’s the best part about Couch to 5k – you can always repeat a previous week and move forward only when you feel ready to do so.

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