Couch to 5k – Getting Fit!

Thanks to a bit of inspiration and nudging, I’m grappling a long-outstanding goal that has been in my personal Milestone Planner (*cough* nominated by Lifehacker as one of the top 5 goal tracking services) plan for a while: Get Fit. It’s far too vague a goal, which is probably why I haven’t made any progress towards it in the last couple of years, so I’ve made it specific: Couch to 5k by the end of August.
London Photocillin Walk  1136

The plan involves three runs per week, with a day of rest in between, with a different schedule for each of the nine weeks.

A number of friends have put themselves through the C25k program recently (you know who you are!). There are a bunch of Couch to 5k resources on this NHS page and the original program page is here. The NHS page includes a series of podcasts that you can download to your favourite mp3 player. The basic program consists of a 5 minute walk as a warm up and warm down, with patterns of alternating running for x minutes and walking for y minutes. The ratio/duration of walking versus running changes as the weeks go by, until eventually you run the full 5k. I like the design thinking behind the program, developed by Josh Clark, who describes the design goals of the program, which actually come from software design:

  • Eliminate pain.
    If it hurts to do it, people will give up.
  • Welcome newcomers.
    Friendly language and reasonable expectations are crucial in early experiences with a program.
  • Deliver early victories.
    If you feel like you’re kicking ass from the start, you’ll be eager to continue. Otherwise, you’ll decide that you suck, the program sucks, or both. See #1 above.
  • Make it easy and rewarding.
    We are creatures of inertia; we need carrots to get moving.
  • Not everyone wants to be a power user.
    Some people will be content to master the basics and stop there; others will want to continue to develop and explore. The program should accommodate both paths.

Based on a Twitter recommendation from Martin Walker, I’ve put Benjohn Barnes’ Get Running app onto my iPod touch – there had to be some technology involved! The app is guiding me through the program with the very soothing voice of a Northern lass letting me know how much longer I’ve got left to run, while my favourite tunes play in the background. Once I’ve got up to the full 5k, I’ll switch back to my usual diet of podcasts.

Today, I finally completed my first run, now I just need to keep it, so feel free to nag me!

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