Follow writer, mom and everyday person Meredith Bland as she trains for her first 5K using the Couch to 5K® presented by Special K app. Read the last installment here.
At the end of last month's column, I looked ahead to this month and laughed at the idea that I would be able to run for twenty minutes straight.
Last night, I ran for 28 minutes.
It didn't come easy, though. The second half of the Couch to 5K program is very different from the first half. After week six, you lose your beloved walking intervals. For the rest of the program, it is straight running for at least twenty minutes.
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Looking forward to that walking break was what made the running more bearable, so when I moved into nonstop running, it became more of a mental game than a physical one. That's not to say that the past few weeks haven't been hard physically, but I've learned that keeping my mind right is half the battle on longer runs.
How to Get Through Long Runs
To help me get through those longer runs, I needed to feel like I wasn't stuck on the treadmill going nowhere. I needed to distract myself.
I found a YouTube channel called Treadmill TV, which has videos of runs taken from the viewpoint of the runner. I've now done virtual runs in France, the Grand Canyon and Hawaii. It's turned out to be an excellent way for me to stay motivated. It's also a great way to let off some steam when I get to curse in my head at the kid in minute 14 of the Ko'Olina Hawaii run who won't get out of the way. I hate that kid.
It's been on these longer and more challenging runs that I've been able to see how well the Couch to 5K program is set up. By including in your total distance the five minute walks before and after your runs, you realize that even if you aren't able to run the full 3.1 miles after nine weeks, you will probably get pretty close after forty minutes.
I was also able to use the chunks of time I had run before as a way to get through the longer runs. If I was struggling and knew that I still had 10 minutes left, it would kill me. But if I thought of it as two five-minute runs, it felt more doable because of all the five-minute runs I'd already done.