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Frugal Find: Couch to 5K app

   Posted On: October 11, 2013  |    Posted In: Saving  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

Over the past few weeks I’ve started to hear rumblings of a genius new way to get in shape, shed the extra pounds and just feel healthier. It isn’t CrossFit. It isn’t juicing. It isn’t the Paleo diet. Brace yourself for this.

It’s running!

Dad Running
Picture used without my Dad’s consent…

I’ve never been much of a runner, unless it’s in pursuit of a soccer ball/basketball, but for some reason so many people in my life find joy in running marathons (or half marathons or 5Ks). My Dad has run 15 marathons, my little sister ran her first marathon at 18, a friend of mine recently completed an ultra marathon (31 miles) and another is chronicling her journey to kick type 2 diabetes by…running (and doing other healthy things).

Basically, everyone is awesome and I can barely finish a mile without wanting to curl up in the fetal position on a New York City sidewalk, while pigeons eye me as a potential food source.

A few bloggers and folks on Twitter have mentioned using the Couch to 5K app (or C25K). The app, as it oh so kindly says,  makes you go from “couch potato to 5K runner.”  If you run using the app’s program three times a week then you should be able to complete a 5K by week eight.

I’m ashamed that I’ve let my body get so out of shape. Sure, I walk a lot in New York, but I also sit at a desk job for nine hours a day. At 24, I’m really not loving the dull aches and pains in my back from all the sitting. About three weeks ago, I decided to be proactive and downloaded C25K, the free version. Then I forgot about my new desire to get fit until yesterday.

Yesterday I woke up and decided today was the day, put on some running gear, putzed around for a while delaying the inevitable, and finally sucked it up and went outside to run.

As I stepped onto the sidewalk, I pressed start on my Couch to 5K app and a pleasant voice told me to “begin my warm up now.” I programmed the app to stream some songs from an iTunes playlist and started my brisk warm up while channeling my inner old-people-at-the-mall-power-walking.

Yeah, you go ahead and judge my workout song.

Five minutes later the pleasant, and vaguely British, voice was back and told me to “please begin running” and for 60 whole seconds I felt great. She promptly then told me to please resume walking and my heart rate happily came down during those glorious 90 seconds. And on we went in this routine. 60 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of walking.

Around minute 18 things started to get painful. The voice of my high school varsity soccer couch came roaring into my mind for motivation. I needed him screaming in my ear to not be a baby, suck it up and power through even though the side walk was looking like a great spot to curl up and whimper. So what if there was a suspicious yellow puddle nearby?

I managed to keep plodding along, cursing myself for not just staying in shape in the first place, and finally got to minute 25 when the friendly voice told me to start a cool down.

Even though I reaffirmed that I had indeed become a couch potato, the app is a great and FREE tool to start the process towards a healthy lifestyle. I appreciate how it alternates back to walking right about the time my heart was going to explode, and I can tell it will gradually trick me into being a runner.

Now, it’s time to see if I actually keep up with it for eight weeks…

Do you have any favorite fitness apps (for free).

P.S. This week was awesome because 1) I got quoted in FORBES and 2) My first post on DailyFinance went mini-viral!


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33 responses to “Frugal Find: Couch to 5K app

  1. I also just got into running about 5 weeks ago. I started with that app but switched to the ru nning room modules since I didn’t like the intervals in c25k (3 min recovery was too much long). I prefere the RR gradual increase and it’s one I had success with yrs ago.

    Good luck with it all! And if you’re on a treadmill and will be running outside too, 1-2% incline will mimic outdoor running a little better.

    1. I do run outside (because it’s FREE!). Good to know about a treadmill if I ever happen to be in a gym. I haven’t had a 3 min recovery on C25K yet. Just 90 seconds. But then again I’ve only used it once. I’ll have to check out the running room modules too.

  2. I’ve heard about the program but never tried it out myself. The few times I’ve gotten into running though I’ve loved it. I found it to be much more enjoyable when I just focused on the run and didn’t worry about how fast I was going or really even how far I was running.

    On another note, congrats on the blogging successes! You’ve got something really good going. Keep it up.

    1. Thanks, Matt!

      What I liked most about C25K is that it helped me pace. If I stick with it and can just go running for the enjoyment of it, then I probably wouldn’t want to worry about distance or speed either.

  3. Hey Erin! that is completely awesome that you have been able to start running. I run quite a few 5ks throughout the summer (because they’re free for me 🙂 ) and haven’t really done regular running. I want to train for a half marathon and see where it gets me. Good luck with your training!!! 🙂

    1. Perhaps I can put a half marathon on my list after a few successful 5Ks! Good luck with training for a half marathon. It’s a great accomplishment.

  4. It’s so cool programs like that exist for free! I wish (or maybe they do) have one for 1/2 marathon training. I still haven’t pressed the green button to run a 1/2 yet but I’m pretty sure it’s in my future somewhere. Good luck…it WILL get easier!

    1. If they don’t have one for a 1/2 perhaps you could develop one…! Side hustle thought! One day, I’d love to do either a half marathon or the half triathlon.

  5. I have never been a runner and was told by a number of friends about this app, so I tried it. I LOVED the fact that it was free more than anything, but it actually also worked. I was determined to get through the 9 weeks and the only way to do that was to run. I feel like it was a great “gift” I gave myself to diversify my workouts.

  6. Nothing wrong with the song selection. It’s actually a really easy way to trick yourself into a certain pace because you will unconsciously try to keep a cadence that matches the beat. I actually need to start running again, otherwise February is going to bring a very painful day.

    1. Good luck in that marathon in February. My workout is one of the only times I’ll listen to hip hop or techno music. Does certainly help keep up the pace.

  7. I’m currently doing the 5k 101 program (I downloaded their podcasts). The first week already has me running for 2 minutes and resting for 3. I’m not a huge running fan, so I may have to switch to C25K to do this more gradually.

    Congrats on the Forbes mention, btw!

  8. Great to hear this is an app! I’m guessing the static we site itself still exists?

    This was just beginning to be a program back in 2003 when I started running. It might help to look at their chart to see how you’ll be progressing in the long term.

    As much as I don’t like running with electronics, it’s definitely easier to just have a voice telling you to start and stop than to keep checking your watch.

    Good luck!

    1. I usually need electronics for the musical distractions. Not at the point of just enjoying the fresh air and beautiful views.

      I’ll have to check out their progression chart to see what’s ahead.

  9. Haha I love the opening paragraph to this article! I think it’s so funny all the different diets and crap people do when they could just go run and eat healthy. It’s all about motivation 🙂

    I actually hate running but that’s I why play bball/soccer b/c there is so much running involved but you barely notice it during the context of a game.

    1. If intramural sports weren’t so expensive in NYC, I’d happily sign up for a team! Not many of my friends want to just go play a pick up game.

      I agree, not sure why folks would rather give up great food to get skinny instead of just exercising. I love food too much!

  10. I love that these things exist for free. The program seems sensible and if it gets couch potatoes running, I can’t see how its a bad thing.

    Congrats on your awesome week!

  11. I’ve heard a lot about the couch to 5K “movement” recently and had no idea it was an app. I like using the Nike app. It tracks you on GPS to tell you how far you went and how fast you ran, pretty neat and even people who aren’t tech savvy (me!) can use it.

    1. Once I get back in shape I’ll probably switch to the Nike app. I like the idea of knowing the distance and pacing.

    1. Nah, not bad at all. Plenty of folks don’t.

      He owns more than one pair of American flag running shorts…

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