5 Ways You Can Benefit From A Structured Running Program

Anyone that wants to run a 5K can be successful if they use the Cool Running or Hal Higdon Couch to 5K program.  Each year I launch a Dream-to-Reality Couch-to-5K program to our employees.  Employees sign up, follow the program, and send me their picture after they’ve experienced the exhilaration that comes with crossing the finish line for the first time.

As much fun as running a 3.1 mile race is, stepping up your game and training for longer distances is where you’ll really start to realize your goals and find out if running competitions is something you want to make a part of your workout plan and life.

Finish Line

The finish line makes it all worth it! Flickr photo by jayeandd’s photostream

From Couch to 5K, 10K, 15K and Beyond

I worked through the steps of doing a couple of 5Ks, then a 10K, a 15K, and finally a half-marathon.  Each time I finished a race of a longer distance, I felt like I was ready for the next challenge.  I remember crossing the finish line at the Chicago Hot Chocolate 15K thinking adding four more miles would not have been impossible.  Five months later I ran my first half marathon.

If you want to be successful at competitive running, your first goal should be to avoid injury. This is where the training programs come into play.  They will take you through the training steps at a pace that allows your body to adapt and respond to the stress of running plus they provide the structure and motivation you need to be race-ready on event day.

Here are five key reasons why following a structured running program will help you reach your goals.

1.  There’s No Guesswork.  You don’t have to figure out how many days you’re going to train, how far you’re going to go (such as until you’re tired) or how much time you’ll need to train each day.  The running programs do all of the planning for you.  The only thing you have to do is run.

2.   You’re Not Relying Solely On How You Feel. – We all have good and bad days when it comes to running.  On our bad days we may quit before we do what’s needed to move us towards our goal.  On good days we tend to go farther, faster.  Overdoing it can be just as detrimental to our success as not doing enough.  Going too far or too fast before we’re ready, leads to injury and fatigue.  A structured running program sets the pace for you.

3.   Rest Days Are Built In – When you follow program that gives you the permission to ‘rest’ you’re more likely to do it.  Every runner needs to spend some time on cross training activities like strength training, stretching, or yoga.  The days that you cross train are built into the program along with rest days so there’s no need to feel guilty when you take a day off from running to get recharged.

4.  You’re Less Prone to Procrastination– You decide you want to run a 10K but don’t know exactly how many weeks ahead of race day you need to start training.  When you follow a structured running program you know exactly how many weeks in advance of the event you’ll need in order to be properly prepared.   You can print the schedule out and attach it to your fridge with a magnet, log your runs into your FitBit, download the training program app to your phone and start marking off the days leading up to the event.  You’ll avoid the “I’ll start next week” attitude that can easily put you way behind with your plan.

5.   Your Chances of Success Are Greater – Since I started offering the Couch to 5K program each year as part of our wellness programming, employees that were not runners have completed the program, ran a 5K and several have gone on to run longer races.  These are people that would not have gotten from the couch to the finish line without the help of the program.

Whatever distance you choose, there’s a program available to you for free from the web sites listed below.  These programs, developed by pros, guide you easily through the steps of race training and get you to the finish line.

Some of the most popular running web sites that have downloadable training programs are:

What’s your favorite training plan?

You might also like Eight Tips That Will Help You Achieve Your Running Goals or Running Without A Goal Is Like Reading A Book Without An Ending.

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Running Without A Goal Is Like Reading A Book Without An Ending. What’s The Point?

Pick a race.  Any race.  A 5K, mini-tri, or half Ironman.  There are hundreds to choose from at this time of year.  Now go ahead and get signed up.  It will automatically increase your motivation to run, swim, bike or all three.

It’s hard to get up everyday and hit the pavement or pool without a goal.  Signing up for an event to compete in forces you to put your money (and pride) on the line.  It’s called putting some skin in the game.  And it works!  You’ll be less likely to skip your workouts or hit the snooze and more likely to set goals to increase your distance and speed between now and race day.

Why Race?

The popularity of 5Ks, half marathons, sprint tris and half Ironman events has exploded over the past several years.  They draw amateurs, athletes and everyone in between.  Once you complete your first event, you’ll get ‘race fever’ and there will be no stopping you.

There are so many reasons to join the millions of people that participate each year in races.

1.  It’s Social – You make new friends and travel to fun places.  Here’s a picture of me and my pals – some old and some new – before the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago last November. We had a fun time in Chi Town the evening before the race and did a little shopping after the race before heading home.

my kind of town

2.  Finish Line Rush – Nothing compares to the feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.  My daughter and her friend like to do mini-tris.  They recently did one in Southern Illinois that was a 400 yard swim, 14 milk bike and a 5K run.  Here they are cheesin’ for the camera before the race.

Mini Tri A & A

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Ready To Launch Your Running Career? Here’s The Method That Works.

Fall Is The Best Time To Embark On A Running Career

Are you ready to begin your running career? Late summer and early fall is the perfect time of year to set a goal to make your dream of running a 5K a reality.

There are several programs that will help you move from the so-called couch to running a 5K race within a few weeks.  If you adapt one of these programs and stick with it you will be off and running in no time.

Your running career starts today!

Couch to 5K = Dream To Reality

I am launching the third annual Couch to 5K Program at work.  Each year it a successful program because it gives people – that have been entertaining the thought of running a 3.1 mile race – the opportunity to get from where they are now to that goal in as little as nine weeks.

The success stories with the Couch to 5K Program never end.  Each year at the end of the program I have employees send me their pictures wearing the medals they were awarded at the end of the race.  They tell me about the joy and pride they felt as they crossed the finish line, and each and every one of them tell me that they are looking for the next race to sign up for.

So what do you need to do to get off of the couch and into a 5K competition by October?  Follow the Cool Running Couch to 5K Program (outlined below).  It starts with three very doable workouts a week that alternate walking and jogging.  As the program progresses the walking decreases and the jogging increases. At the end of nine weeks you are conditioned to jog the duration of the race.

*Tip 1 – Find a 5K to sign up for to compete in before you start the program.  This will provide motivation and you will be fully prepared to participate on race day.

*Tip 2 – If you have to miss a workout, or are not able to do the full running segments, modify so that you can be successful.

Here’s the workout schedule for the next nine weeks:

Nine Week Workout Schedule Based On Cool Running’s Couch To 5K Program

Week 1

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Workout 2 – Repeat Workout 1
Workout 3 – Repeat Workout 1

Week 2

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; alternate 90 seconds of jogging and 2 minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
Workout 2 – Repeat Workout 1
Workout 3 – Repeat Workout 1

Week 3

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk, two repetitions of the following:  Jog 200 years (or 90 seconds); walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds); jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes).
Workout 2 – Repeat Workout 1
Workout 3 – Repeat Workout 1

Week 4

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then;  Jog ¼ mile (or 3 minutes); walk 1/8 miles (or 90 seconds); jog ½ mile (or 5 minutes); walk ¼ mile (or 2 ½ minutes); jog ¼ mile (or 3 minutes); walk 1/8 mile or 90 seconds; jog ½ mile or (or 5 minutes).
Workout 2 – Repeat Workout 1
Workout 3 – Repeat Workout 1

Week 5

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; jog ½ mile (or 5 minutes); walk ¼ mile (or 3 minutes); jog ½ mile (or 5 minutes); walk ¼ mile (or 3 minutes); jog ½ mile (or 5 minutes).
Workout 2 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; jog ¾ mile (or 8 minutes); walk ½ mile (or 5 minutes); jog ¾ mile (or 8 minutes).
Workout 3 – Brisk 5- minute warmup walk then; jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking.

Week 6

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute walk then; jog ½ mile (or 5 minutes); walk ¼ mile (or 3 minutes); jog ¾ mile (or 8 minutes); walk ¼ mile (or 3 minutes); jog ½ mile (or 5 minutes).
Workout 2 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; jog 1mile (or 10 minutes); walk ¼ mile (or 3 minutes); jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes).
Workout 3 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; jog 2-1/4 miles (or 22 minutes) with no walking.

Week 7

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes).
Workout 2– Repeat Workout 1
Workout 3– Repeat Workout 2

Week 8

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes).
Workout 2 – Repeat Workout 1
Workout 3 – Repeat Workout 1

Workout 9

Workout 1 – Brisk 5 minute warm-up walk then; jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes).
Workout 2 – Repeat Workout 1
Workout 3 – Repeat Workout 2

Workout 10

Run Your 5K and get your picture taken with your medal.

My Co-woker (on the left) after completing the C25K program.

Sign Up For Weekly Tips

Would you like to receive a tip each week via e-mail that will provide information about running and help motivate you to stay on track with your Couch to 5K Program?  If you would, please send me and e-mail to K_Stefaniak28@yahoo.com and just say “Sign me up for C25K tips.” You will receive one e-mail per week with a motivational tip to help you be successful with your goal.

5K Races Are Everywhere This Fall. Sign Up For One and Turn Your Dream Into Reality

Not signed up? What are you waiting for?

Are you ready to run? 

There are 5K events nearly every weekend in the fall and you don’t have to travel far to join in the fun.

If you’ve been working on your Couch to 5K program this summer, it’s time to sign up for a run and be rewarded for your hard work.

If you’ve never participated in an event, the best thing to do is sign up and let the anticipation of how you are going to perform take over.  There is nothing like knowing race day is coming to motivate you to keep up with your workouts.

Challenge Yourself With Speed Drills

If you have the distance under control, it’s time to start working on speed.  Figure out how fast you want to run your race and get to work on making sure you can be within the timeframe.  Start adding one-minute speed intervals to your workouts three weeks prior to the race to improve your overall performance.

If you’re still not totally confident that you can complete the race without occasionally walking, skip the speed intervals and focus on getting the distance under control.  Once you can accomplish the 3.2 miles with ease, you can move on to increasing your speed.

Wherever you are in your training program, it’s time to take the plunge and find a race to run. Check out the complete list of running events at Active Running.