Erin C. is a mother of two and teacher to many. I already knew she was made of awesome because, HELLO, she delivered one of her own kids. At home. On the stairs. I have watched on Facebook each week as her C25K workouts were posted and have been impressed by her dedication! Not only did she successfully graduate from the program, she rocked her first 5K on the fourth of July! Way to go, Erin!
Let’s talk about my running history, shall we? Don’t worry–it’s brief. For the first 25 years of my life, I lived by the philosophy that I would run only when chased. I was that girl who walked an easy 15 minute mile in gym class, pausing to pick daisies along the way. I just didn’t want to run and I never thought I would.
Until I had a baby and when that baby was old enough to be called a toddler, I was still carrying around ten extra pounds. I didn’t have the time or money to join a gym, so I laced up a pair of shoes and I ran. Or, more aptly, I plodded around the neighborhood, running when I could, walking when I couldn’t. To my surprise, I found that I kind of liked running and kept running even after quickly dropping the ten pounds. In fact, I kind of liked it enough that I kept running until I was 24 weeks pregnant with baby #2 and Braxton-Hicks got the best of me. Still, I never really felt like a runner, because I never followed any sort of program and mainly just ran in 15 minute intervals, but I vowed to keep trying after my second son was born.
Except that, whoa, this kid never slept and since I only gained ten pounds while pregnant, I had nothing to lose… and let’s be real here–sitting on the couch eating nachos is way more appealing than running. So, it took me almost two years after his birth to lace up my shoes and get started again and by that point, I was pretty sure I was way too out of shape to do it. Enter my savior: the Couch to 5k program. When I first started this program, I was certain there was no way I’d be able to run for thirty minutes without stopping. It seemed so daunting, especially when I could hardly make it through the sixty second run intervals in week 1. It was tough! I was gasping for air, soaked in sweat, and felt like I was going to collapse at any minute. I figured I was kidding myself even thinking I could complete week 1.
But I kept at it. I followed the program religiously and to my surprise, it started to work. I’ll never forget week 3, day 3 when I thought I’d skipped a run because I felt so good at the end of it. When I checked, I hadn’t skipped a run, so instead, I ran through the cool down. Seriously, three weeks ago, I could hardly run for sixty seconds and here I was adding in extra run time! Of course, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. I struggled in week 4. The second 5 minute interval almost did me in, but I made it through–just barely. As the end of week 5 approached, I started to convince myself that there was no way I could run for twenty straight minutes. Maybe this program worked for other people, but it wasn’t going to work for me.
And yet, I did it! Somehow, some way, my feet kept moving for twenty straight minutes. The really awesome thing about this program is how it builds up your confidence along with your endurance. Sure, the first twenty minute run is daunting, but once you’ve overcome that hurdle, the rest seems minimal. Going up to 25 minutes is no big deal–only 5 more minutes. After that, the leap to 28 and then 30 minutes is hardly noticeable. When I went from week 8 to week 9, I don’t remember stressing at all about the increase, because what’s 2 more minutes? Amazingly, the girl who couldn’t imagine running for more than a 60 second interval was shrugging her shoulders at 30 straight minutes of running.
Not only that, but that same girl? Ran her first 5k. I couldn’t quite believe what I was doing, as I pinned on my bib number. As I started running and continued to run for 3 straight miles. There were times when I wanted to stop and walk just a little bit, but I didn’t. When I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I managed to reach deep down inside of myself, past the place where I thought I couldn’t run another step, and not just jog, but sprint across the finish line.
If you’re like me and find running to be scary, that’s okay. But don’t let it stop you from trying. I cannot say enough good things about the Couch to 5k program and would urge anyone to try it–whether you’ve never ran before or you’re trying to get started again. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but 9 weeks and a 5k later, I think I finally can call myself a runner.
You can find more from Erin at School teacher by day, Superhero by night.