And by it, I mean me. Yes, folks, I’ve started running the couch to 5k program.

The thing is, I used to run. Never gracefully or rapidly, but I ran. Okay, it was more of a rapid stagger, if I’m honest, but it worked. And by “worked,” I mean kept the upper limits of my weight off. Ya see, I’m a chubby bunny: always have been, always will be. And I like being chubby. I was built for comfort, not for speed, and I love having a little padding. With the hell for leather way I live my life, let’s face it: I need some cushioning.

But there’s chubby and there’s . . . chubby. Doing my Ph.D., I moved into the [ellipses] chubby range of the chubby spectrum. Again, to be honest, I can’t complain. I wrote a book that got published AND got my doctorate . . . a little buttockulous-sprawl at the same time can’t really be begrudged, considering. But now that I have a (fairly) routine schedule with some time carved out to exercise, I’ve really been hitting the gym.

I’m working out with my fabulous friend and trainer, Dawn, twice a week. I dance on Monday nights, do yoga Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Group Power Saturday mornings. I do cardio at least three times a week, and underneath all this chub is a fricking Spartan warrior.

Unfortunately, the blubber OVER the muscles of steel is just not moving. It’s tightening, and it’s shifting, but it’s not . . . going . . . anywhere. And I know damned well why it’s not. It’s because I’m not freaking running.

I’ve been assiduously avoiding running, despite knowing I really, really have to suck it up and get back into it. My problem is that I always overdo the running too early, and hurt myself (I have a dodgy ankle). So I’ve been rather loathe to put myself through all of that, just in case I jacked up my leg again. Then my friend (and my other friend, and my other friend, until pretty much everyone I know) did the couch to 5K program. All of the people who completed the program swore by it, but I was skeptical. I usually hurt myself doing my own variation of an incremental, staged running routine that didn’t seem that much different from the couch to 5k. So I kept avoiding it, insisting that if I just kept lifting more, I’d shed the pounds. Then my friend took some pictures of me at a lecture I gave on publishing, and I could see just how very strong, and very fit I was . . . underneath virtually the exact same layer of fat that had been there since I first sat down and started writing two years ago.

So I bit the bullet. I started the couch to 5k, and I LOVE it. It’s actually really different from what I’ve done before, staggering your routine so that you start with very short running jags (only a minute) and then walking for 90 seconds, all for only 20 minutes, total. Left to my own devices, I was doing something totally different for 30 minutes, just long and hard enough to stress my ankle. But not this program! I’ve completed the first week and I adored it. It was absolutely doable, and it made me remember why I loved running. Basically, I get high. For about four hours after each of my first three running workouts, I was walking around like I was on happy pills. I can also feel what running does to my body: working really specific muscles in really specific ways that I can’t emulate with any other exercise.

So I would totally recommend this program to anyone who is thinking either of getting in shape from scratch, or who would like to add running to their established workout regime. Here’s one version of a couch to 5k that’s very similar to what I’m doing. I’m actually using a downloadable, iPhone application (C25k), because I am way too distractable to sort out the timings, especially in these complicated early weeks. But there’s all sorts of podcasts, applications, and programs to choose from if you want to go the go-go-gadget route.

Whatever you choose to do, however, do it properly. Get good running shoes; do the first, few weeks of walking, especially if you haven’t been to the gym in a while; and, finally, listen to your body and remember this is about getting back into running, not about winning a race. In other words, be as plodding, slow, and cumbersome as you need to be as you get yourself back into fighting trim. This program isn’t about charging out and taking on the Kenyans; it’s about getting yourself back into running, safely and healthily.

To kick start your own motivation, in case you need it, I’m giving you two treats. The first is a reminder to stay hydrated:

The second is a playlist of my favorite running/writing songs. They inspire my muscles and my brains and I hope theyll do the same for you. That said, there should be more Dropkick Murphys on here, including a kick start with their song “Warrior’s Code” from the album of the same name, but it wouldn’t show up on iMix for some reason.

Anyway, here’s the mix. It’s hawt:

Good luck and enjoy. If you need a pep talk, drop me a comment. I give good pep talk. 😉 Coulda been a coach . . .

Posted by Nicole Peeler

Author, Professor, Lover, Fighter

10 thoughts on “IT RUNS!”

  1. I've been wondering about the couch to 5K program. I've been struggling with something of the same problem myself–toning up underneath the nice layer of cushioning.

    I just really hate running! XD

    I'll have to give it a go and see what happens.

  2. Hey Nicole, I checked this program out the other day and it totally seems do-able. I got really into going to the gym when we lived in Edmonton but since moving to Montreal, I've found it hard to get back into it. I've taken to doing lunch-time classes at my work – pilates twice a week, latin dance class once a week – and usually some other form of dance 1-2 times a week (this week, West Coast Swing and Blues) but I think I need to add some running back into my routine. The only problem is, I'm not sure I can manage 3 times a week right now. I'm tempted to wait until I finish my intensive French class in 4 weeks, but then there's only 4 weeks until we go away, and, and… I worry that if I don't start soon I'll lose the motivation. Do you think the program would work ok more spread out?

  3. I know I should run, but I can't shake the mentality that if someone makes me run somewhere, ass-kicking better ensue when I get there. Too long working corrections, probably. Whenever I run, adrenaline kicks in with the few steps because I'm used to responding to body alarms.

    Or, if I have somewhere to go, since I'm the Amazon Goddess of Doom, some large, well-oiled men should be carrying me. *g*

    It's so cool that you got your PhD. Go YOU. My student loan still beats me like it's my pimp. Sigh.

    Anyway, sounds like good things in your space of the world. Love the website, btw. 🙂

  4. I actually saw the end of the Boston Marathon a couple of years ago and there were some Kenyan runners there. I was blown away by what efficient machines they had made of their bodies. Then I went to Legal Seafood and stuffed my face with a giant mutant lobster.

    I'm gonna start this program in the morning. You have inspired me to get the jiggle out of my wiggle.

  5. Karisca: Me too! But it's the only thing that does it for me, unfortunately. And I feel great AFTER even though I want to shoot myself during. 😉

    Hey Louisa! Nice to see you here. And I think there are probably many ways to do this program, I'd google it. BUT it's super short exercises (from 20-40 minutes total, w/cooldown/warmup depending on the week). And another reason I really wanted to start running besides the weight was that you can run anywhere. I'm traveling like a Beduin this summer and I want to know I can exercise even if I don't have a gym. So if you can just carve out 30 minutes for the first two weeks, then 40, in the mornings on a trail or just around your block, it's all you need!

    Saranna: LOL Yeah, the couch to 5k does state not to kick anyone's ass at the end, BUT I suppose that is just another type of cardio workout? 😉 And I agree about the men carrying us about . . . although if they're oily they can't always get a firm grip, which is both sad and possibly dangerous. 😉

    And thanks re: the phd and the site!

    Laurie: Mmmmmmmmmm Legal Seafood. *drools* You had me at mutant lobster. And don't take out ALL the jiggle. Some jiggle is good, especially when it's in your wiggle. 😉

  6. YAY! If you have big boobs there was a HUGE discussion about the perfect sports bra on my facebook, regarding this post. I am a little frightened of the bra suggested, as it looks like some sort of medieval torture device, but it is apparently very effective.

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