Modified Couch to 5K?
November 10, 2011 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by this question, I've decided to finally go for the Couch to 5k. I'm currently reading through the excellent threads on here, but I have a couple of specific questions.

I've recently moved to the UK (Brighton, specifically) for grad school. Up until now I've just been settling in, studying, etc. But I'm getting reeeeallly out of shape. I have never been big on structured exercise: in Chicago I mostly rode my bike in the summer and did lots of walking to work in the early spring and late fall, plus a weekly community yoga class. Lately, I'm finding that I actually miss even the small amount of physicality I used to take for granted, and I need a healthy way to blow off steam. (Yoga in my tiny room isn't doing it.)

So, I'm ready for the C25K! Before I start, I wanted to throw some questions out there:

1) Is it possible to modify this program for just walking, without running or jogging? Brisk walking is the most strain I can put on my legs, one of which has a titanium rod running from my hip to my ankle. I've had the rod for several years, and I'm very used to it. Fast walking is okay (and is approved by my doctor), plus I really enjoy it. I've checked around, but can't find many resources for modifying the program for walking.

2) Having never walked very far or cycled in cold months, I have very little idea what to wear for winter here. I'm getting some ideas from a couple previous threads, but as a grad student I have almost no money to spend on fancy cold-weather running gear. So far, I have good walking shoes that I was fitted for back in Chicago, a good sports bra, and a really great Marmot jacket for the wettest days, but that's all. I also have mostly cotton yoga pants, but I hear that cotton is not good for this type of exercise. Any tips on where I could find decent, inexpensive layering stuff in Brighton? Would TK Maxx or M&S be good places to start? There's also a Sweatshop nearby, which I plan to check out. What materials/ types of layers should I look for in terms of dealing with UK winters?

3) Finally: Any Brightonians have tips on good places to walk? I live right across from the sea, so I was planning to start along there. But I wanted to get up into the Downs, and maybe even work up to walking to campus from my residence hall (about 5 miles/8k). I'm also up for hills and scenic routes through the city.

I'm really excited about getting started, and I want to do things properly so that I don't have a miserable time and get discouraged. Any tips or advice are extremely welcome--thanks!!
posted by swingbraid to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
1) Opinions on this vary. I don't really know. I know that it's reported that many "graduates" of couch 2 5k do 12-14 minutes miles, 12 minutes to a mile is 5mph, faster than a walk for most people, but 14 is within walking speed for me at least. I don't know what your fitness level is, but I just started c 2 5k and I can walk 14 minute miles for 5k no problem... I suspect that might be true of a lot of people? Which is fine but all it means is that you won't need 9 weeks to get to the point where you can walk 5k, so you may need to set your sights at a longer distance?

2) I have never experienced real cold (live in austin, tx) but the general advice for jogging is to dress like its' 20 degrees warmer (in Farenheit). So if it's about freezing, dress like you might for a mildly brisk day - long sleeves maybe, but no coat.

3) no idea, sorry!
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:01 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Speed walking was once an Olympic event, with technique you can probably leave a lot of joggers in the dust. The whole idea is to phase in and increase in increments. Just keep at it.
posted by sammyo at 4:04 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Uhh, if you want to walk, why don't you just walk? You can't modify the program for walking because it's a running program--modifying it for walking essentially amounts to just walking slightly farther every day.

I suppose you could walk more briskly at the "run" parts, but you may find you could just go out and walk without needing the ringamorale of C25K. The reason it exists is to force a slow-ramp up into running to allow potential runners' tendons and ligaments to adjust to the impact and strain running puts on them. If you're not running, then that kind of caution isn't really needed unless you're recovering from serious surgery or dealing with serious health conditions. And if that's the case, you should really be consulting with your doctor and/or physical therapist for recommendations on exercise programs.
posted by Anonymous at 4:13 PM on November 10, 2011

Best answer: I use the C25K app on my ipod touch. It's GREAT, as it runs in the background and gives you prompts while listening to whatever you're playing. I'm not fit enough yet to run, so I do the power walk during the running times. It works fine for me, I just walk at a much faster pace and then slow down to a regular walk during the walk times. I figure that when I work up to power walking the entire time, I will be fit enough to start over and run when I'm supposed to.

Don't have answers for the other two.
posted by raisingsand at 6:10 PM on November 10, 2011

Best answer: Primark will have tons of inexpensive sportswear that you can layer and remove as you get too hot. One idea instead of modifying couch to 5k, is to go for brisk walks along the beach, the pebbles on Brighton beach will provide that bit of resistance that will make you work harder.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:14 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I started running (with a group) last May, following a C25K-type programme with an instructor from our gym. I was unable to run even 100 yards for a bus, but am now running 8km once a week and 5km twice a week, with a 10km coming up in a few weeks. I don't know if C25K can be adapted for walking though, but good on you for giving it a go.

For good-quality cheap running gear, have a look at Aldi or Lidl. I got all my winter running gear from Lidl at £8.99 each for long-sleeved tops and running pants. Also check out Sports Direct, which has some great bargains. Make sure you get something reflective to wear in the dark.
posted by essexjan at 1:24 AM on November 11, 2011

Best answer: I'd think that it would work with walking.

The thing to bear in mind with the "running" segments, is that you aren't sprinting or anything, when I did it, I just slightly accelerated to a very slow jog, but it's better than nothing.

I've only lived in Brighton for 6 months, and I've not explored too much so can't really make any recommendations. I often see people running between the pier and the marina along the top though, but that depends if you want to be running on concrete.

Drop me a mefi message if you'd like to meetup for a drink or something with me and my wife sometime though?
posted by chrispy108 at 3:31 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Prevention Magazine is really big on progressive-intensity walking plans. Here's a link to a download of their beginning 8-week plan; they also have more advanced plans for training to walk a half marathon or marathon. (You have to register with their site to download training plans, unfortunately).

I don't have any UK-specific advice on clothing, but I've gotten literally a ton of mileage out of some low-cost quick-dry long-sleeve tops and tights from Wal*Mart (I think they're Champion brand, which is pretty bottom-end for workout wear, but they've held up well). I think you should be fine just checking out whatever the UK equivalent is that sells low-end sportswear. I prefer tights over wider-legged pants in part because they stay drier around the ankles on wet days or if I'm on a trail where you might brush up against vegetation.
posted by drlith at 4:00 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for taking the time to answer everyone. There are some great suggestions here--it's hard to mark a "best" one.
posted by swingbraid at 10:49 AM on November 11, 2011

Best answer: I did the c25K IN BRIGHTON! Back then I couldn't run ten yards and now I run about 18k a week. I moved away a few months ago.

I used to live right in the North Laine and used to walk round The Level and up through Hanover to Queens Park at first, if I fancied a steep walk. Then I gradually got fitter and started to run along the top of Madeira Drive (ie the east of the Palace Pier) and back along the promenade. They are both extremely flat and good for joggers.

Alternatively, go up to Devils Dyke and walk/jog towards Dicthling Beacon. This is right at the top of the Downs and so is pretty flat too. Great views across the country Northwards and towards the sea Southwards too.

Ahhhh. I feel so nostalgic now!
posted by tonylord at 4:08 AM on November 12, 2011

« Older Shiftin'.   |   Help the guy who trips over his own tongue... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.