Reach those New Year’s resolution goals with Couch to 5K

December 31, 2020

Most want-to-be runners make the same mistake youth runners make when it comes to getting started – they go too fast too early. The following is a program that my friend the late Bob Porter and I designed in 1992 that has been very successful for many locals who’ve made the transition from walker to runner.

This program is designed to take the walker or non-jogger to a slow, continuous 30-minute jog (equal to a 5K) in just 10 weeks. Call it a trot, call it a jog, even a run! The bottom line is that you are able to complete the 3.1-mile distance without stopping. The program is designed in minutes, not miles, which most runners seem to enjoy better. The program has you working out four days per week with plenty of rest in between sessions. 

Before you begin, get a complete physical and make sure your body is cleared for this challenge. Get your legs ready with six days of walking followed by a day off before you begin. For each week of the program, try to keep your four workout days consistent such as Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday.

Following your pre-conditioning walking week, you are ready to begin. Good luck and 10 weeks from now will place you on the starting line at a local Seashore Striders March event (assuming there will be events). See you there!

Week 1 - walk 4 minutes and jog 2 minutes. Repeat five times          

Week 2 - walk 3 minutes and jog 3 minutes. Repeat five times

Week 3 - walk 3 minutes and jog 5 minutes. Repeat four times

Week 4 - walk 3 minutes and jog 7 minutes. Repeat three times

Week 5 - walk 2 minutes and jog 8 minutes. Repeat three times

Week 6 - walk 2 minutes and jog 12 minutes. Repeat two times

Week 7 - walk 1 minute and jog 16 minutes. Repeat two times

Week 8 - walk 2 minutes and jog 18 minutes. Repeat two times

*Week 9 - walk 1 minute and jog 20 minutes. Repeat two times

Week 10 - jog 30 minutes and congratulations!  

*Note:  After completion of week 9, if you feel tired and not ready for your last week, repeat the week 9 training and move on when comfortable. 

Ten Golden Rules

1. Begin at the doctor’s office with a complete checkup before you start.

2. Get proper equipment, most importantly a new pair of running shoes.

3. Keep a log that will track your progress and condition, and direct your future.

4. Never push too early. Going too fast is the most common mistake.

5. Know and listen to your body; use common sense.

6. Four feet are better than two. Train with a partner or group of runners.

7. Develop your training routine with times and locations that are best for you.

8. Eliminate aches and pains with proper warmup/cooldown stretching.

9. Head off a quick injury with three basic rules: avoid worn shoes, uneven surfaces and training too far, too fast, too soon.

10. Set no limitations for yourself and don’t underestimate your potential ability.

Winter in Fort Collins…brrr

Delaware has enjoyed some mild weather this week, but here in Colorado, where I am for the week, it has averaged 25 degrees and we got to shovel our second home driveway for the first time after Mother Nature dropped 5-6 inches. Fort Collins reminds me of a maze of bike and running trails that weave all through the town and do not cross any major streets, but rather go under or over the traffic (are you listening, Sussex County?). When it snows in Fort Collins, and it is not unusual for the town to get smacked with 18-20 inches several times a season from as early as September to as late as April, the town has golf cart mini-plows that clear all the multipurpose pathways. The running, walking, biking, hiking and outdoor recreation do not miss a beat even when Mother Nature does what she does best. 

Tips for running when it's cold 

When dressing to run in cold weather, the rule of thumb is to add 10 to 20 degrees to the outside temperature to calculate your running temperature. Keep in mind that this number is dependent upon your body size, run pace and the length of your run.

So, if you are going out for a short run, an easy-paced run or you are a smaller runner (less body mass) add 10 to 15 degrees to the outside temperature to estimate your running temperature. If you are going for a long run, doing a hard workout, or have a large body mass, add 20 degrees to the outside temp. For example, if the thermometer says it’s 40 degrees outside, your running temperature will be between 50 and 60 degrees.

But you should also take the wind chill factor into consideration. When winds are present, look at the “feels like” temperature to determine what to wear. For example, if the outside temp is 40 degrees, but the real feel is reported to be 30 degrees because of the wind chill, you’ll want to add 10 to 20 degrees to the lower temp.

When planning your run on windy, cold days, try to run into the wind on your way out and have the wind at your back on your return. It’s best to avoid running into the wind when you are wet and sweaty because you will chill very quickly.

A quick guide on what to wear:

Many members of the Seashore Striders ask me about running gear in relation to how cold it is. More runners seem to overdress than underdress, and after a few miles they are wanting to shed some layers.

Here is a great chart that was published by Runners World that I thought would be a helpful reference:

60-plus degrees – tank top and shorts

50-59 degrees – short-sleeved tech shirt and shorts

40-49 degrees – long-sleeved tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves (optional), headband to cover ears (optional)

30-39 degrees – long-sleeved tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves and headband to cover ears

20-29 degrees – two shirts layered, a long-sleeved tech shirt and a short-sleeved tech shirt or long-sleeved shirt and jacket, tights, gloves and headband or hat to cover ears

10-19 degrees - two shirts layered, tights, gloves or mittens, headband or hat, and windbreaker jacket/pants

0-9 degrees – two shirts layered, tights, windbreaker jacket/pants, mittens, headband or hat, ski mask to cover face.

When temperatures dip below freezing, be sure and pay attention to local weather information and warnings. Cold temperatures and dry air can aggravate some health conditions, so use your best judgment as to whether you should run outside or hit the treadmill instead.

Farewell to 2020

As we close out a tough and challenging 2020 and look forward to what we hope will be a much more productive and happier 2021, I close with my 1,436th column in the Cape Gazette dating back to May 1993.


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