Couch to 5K abbreviated
May 3, 2012 12:08 PM   Subscribe

How to best prep for a 5K when I don't have time to complete Couch to 5K...

I'm running a 5K on June 17, so I won't be able to complete the Couch to 5K program. I started it but then finals got in the way (I only did the first 2 sessions of week 1). Now that finals are over, I'm planning on starting this up again (my first run will be tomorrow).

1) Since I don't have time to complete couch to 5K, where's the best place to skip a few steps? Should I do it at the beginning, and train on a slightly steeper gradient? Or just do follow the full steps and not quite finish it before the 5K?

2) I'm in moderate shape and a little overweight, and know I can't run a 5K right now (though I could walk it lol). Actually, I might be able to manage it at a light jog. But I'm also doing this to lose weight and get in shape, so what's the best advice for that?

3) I work at a strenuous job in the food and bev industry, and my schedule is quite variable, but it is getting pretty intense right now and will be so through June. I often get so exhausted that I don't feel up to exercising the day after work. How can I motivate myself to do so anyway? Part of this is that I worry I'm overextending myself or that I'll be completely exhausted at my next work shift. I figure some of this will be abated with the semester being over and being able to get better sleep and nutrition, but is there anything I'm overlooking here, or that could help?
posted by DoubleLune to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
1. Just track this training program. Today is May 3 . . . you do have 6 weeks.

2. To lose weight and get in shape, a few things. First, aim for slow, gradual weight loss. Don't over-exercise or fast. Aim to eat healthy -- i.e. drop the processed food, soda drinks, etc, in favor of whole foods -- and keep calories in a sensible range. Joining Health Month is amazingly helpful at achieving goals like these. And remember you aren't going to be at goal in 6 weeks -- this is just the beginning of a change in lifestyle for you.

3. Work out in the mornings. After a good night's sleep. Exercising is actually energizing if you don't overdo it and don't stint yourself on sleep.
posted by bearwife at 12:16 PM on May 3, 2012

You'll be fine. 99% of the population could go out and complete a 5k with no training. Just do what you can.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:27 PM on May 3, 2012

When I did C25K I started at week 4 and was fine. It depends on your initial fitness level.
Don't push yourself too soon, though. If you feel like cutting a 5min run down to 4min, then go ahead. I used a heart-rate monitor when I did my runs and slowed down when it got too high or when my breathing was labored. Your body will catch up to the program soon enough.
posted by rocket88 at 12:29 PM on May 3, 2012

I've just finished week 5 and could now comfortably run a 5K. You have about 6 weeks so just start from scratch and follow the plan. I think the last run of week six is a 20 minute straight run which is a good point to do a 5K. You could probably skip the first week if you've done it recently, it's not very challenging. Losing weight and getting in shape? Highly recommend lo-carbing, push ups and sit ups. The 100 push up challenge and 200 sit up challenge are good programs to follow. Motivation? Just do it, it's half an hour out of your day, it feels lousy before but great after. In six weeks you'll notice huge changes and won't look back.
posted by veryape at 12:35 PM on May 3, 2012

99% of the population could go out and complete a 5k with no training.

That really raises the question, what is your goal for this 5K? The median result is usually 29-30 minutes, or a 9+ minute mile. But there are certainly plenty of people who are doing 13 or 15 minute miles, which almost anyone in reasonable shape can do with no training.
posted by smackfu at 12:38 PM on May 3, 2012

1) I ran my first 5K basically on a whim. I signed up for a race that was happening about 6 weeks from the date I signed up. I basically trained by locating a point 1.5 miles from my house and getting there and back as quickly as possible -- I would run until I was too tired to run anymore, then I would walk until I caught my breath a bit, then I would start running again. I finished the 5K race in under 30 minutes and didn't have to walk at all. At the time I was probably 23 or 24 years old and I was pretty overweight. (And if you do have to stop and walk for a few minutes, you'll still finish the race and walking is NOT the end of the world. You see trail racers walk up steep hills on purpose, all the time.)

2) My advice for losing weight and getting into shape is to eat mostly fibrous vegetables and lean protein, with some healthy fats (nuts, olive oil, avocado, fatty fish), some legumes if you tolerate them well, and some whole grains (as in grains that are still actually whole and individual grains, not foods that are made out of ground-up grains), and to not eat too many foods that don't fit the above-mentioned criteria. Additionally, you should strive to exercise probably 5 or 6 days out of every week. Ideally, you should get a minimum of 90 minutes of aerobic exercise per week as well as 2-4 strength training sessions. I have been doing this for the past 3-4 years and have successfully maintained a 60-pound weight loss for that length of time.

3) At first, promise yourself a reward contingent on actually getting out of bed and exercising. (As in, "If I get up early and exercise, I will... buy a shiny bauble for myself/ read a book in the park today/ something-or-other.") Once you get used to exercising (probably after about a month of consistently working out), the balance will switch and working out will actually usually be a fun thing that you look forward to rather than a dreaded chore. (If it doesn't, look for an exercise activity that you actually like to do. Life's too short to do exercise you don't like, and there's an exercise for everyone.) You'll also have more energy for your job when you're in better physical condition. There are a few supplements that aren't stimulants but might help with your energy levels anyway. I'd suggest taking a quality multivitamin and a tablespoon of fish oil (not cod liver oil, but fish oil) every day. (The high dose of fish oil also helps burn fat.) I personally find that a greens supplement also helps increase my energy level (for economic reasons, I am a big fan of Trader Joe's Super Green Drink),
posted by kataclysm at 12:40 PM on May 3, 2012

Have you run a race (of any length) before? If not, then regardless of what training program you use, be sure to get a sense of your pace as you get close to the race date. You can do this by running on a treadmill, on a measured track with a watch, or with a GPS. Then, when you run the race, be sure to stick to your pace. Don't get caught up in the excitement, unconsciously follow the crowd, or catch yourself thinking "I'll follow that 11 year old / 70 year old, surely I can keep up with him." All of those are good ways to end up running faster than you trained for.

But I'm also doing this to lose weight and get in shape, so what's the best advice for that?

Realize that there will be a few days where you feel crummy or sore, but that after a few weeks that shouldn't be a problem unless you're overtraining. So prepare yourself for a few bad days, but know that it will pass and you'll much better for having overcome that early hurdle.
posted by jedicus at 12:41 PM on May 3, 2012

I would just do as much of Couch to 5k as you can and walk some of it on race day. I just did that last week, in fact, because an injury forced me to sit out a month or so that I needed to get all the way back to 5k.
posted by something something at 1:02 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Start on week 3. This will put you at the start of week 9 for you 5k which, coincidentally, is how long you run during week 9.
posted by one_bean at 2:29 PM on May 3, 2012

I agree, you can skip the first couple of weeks without straining too much. I find that they're too easy for me and I lose interest in the program. I also find they make me put off restarting if I think I have to go back to the beginning. I recommend starting at week three or four and only drop back if you can't cope.
posted by jonathanstrange at 10:00 PM on May 3, 2012

Just a side-note from personal experience:

1) make sure you get proper running shoes that suit your running style. This will reduce the chance of injury. A dedicated running store should be able to assess your style and recommend appropriate shoes.

2) be very wary of any pain in your knees when running; do not try to run through it (knee injuries are very common and can put you out of action for a long time). If you experience pain, stop and change your running plan appropriately.
posted by oclipa at 12:04 AM on May 4, 2012

Thanks all... I think I'll start at week 3. I'm doing the 5K with my boyfriend, so I'd like to keep pace with him. We're doing it for fun, so I think he'd lower his pace if need be, but I'd like to run the whole thing. It's the Color Me Rad run, so not really a competitive vibe :)

Regarding this: make sure you get proper running shoes that suit your running style
I have a really hard time with shoes in general. My sneakers are a pretty good fit, but not 100%. The last time I went to a running store they spent a lot of time but we weren't able to find a pair that fit right (I like the minimalist kind). Are there other good places to get running shoes (also hopefully where they're a tad cheaper, I'm a college student after all....)?
posted by DoubleLune at 7:47 AM on May 4, 2012

Don't scrimp on running shoes.
posted by tarvuz at 8:21 AM on May 4, 2012

Have him run slightly behind you, not vice versa or side-by-side. That way you set the pace.
posted by smackfu at 8:24 AM on May 4, 2012

OK, started with week 3. Went pretty ok except I did have brief knee pain. If I wear my current shoes to a running store, will they give me honest advice as to whether they're the right fit?
posted by DoubleLune at 9:41 AM on May 4, 2012

If I wear my current shoes to a running store, will they give me honest advice as to whether they're the right fit?

If it's a reputable running store they will. Look for a place that's staffed with people who are themselves runners. The main thing they will look at are the wear patterns on the shoe and your gait, either running around or on a treadmill. This will tell them whether you strike with your forefoot, midfoot, or heel and whether you over or underpronate (i.e. whether you put most of the force on the inside or outside of your foot). That's the basic information used to select a running shoe. They'll probably also ask how far you're running on a weekly basis.

Given how long you've got before the race, I wouldn't think switching to a radically different shoe would be a good idea (e.g. Vibram FiveFingers). But if you like a minimal shoe, one of the intermediate Nike Free models might not be too much of a stretch.
posted by jedicus at 9:50 AM on May 4, 2012

Went to the running store today and they were really knowledgeable and helpful... apparently I'm more pronated on one side, which was causing the knee pain and slight numbing in a toe. Picked up a new pair of running shoes to help correct that (also the most comfortable pair of sneakers I've ever put on) and she showed me a stretch to loosen up the hip. AskMe to the rescue, preventing knee injuries!
posted by DoubleLune at 7:44 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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