Since elementary school, I’ve hated running. There was a brief period in high school when I didn’t mind running laps, but I’ve definitely never considered myself a runner and have usually considered the activity anathema. I didn’t like the way it made me feel, and it simply didn’t appeal to me.

Turning forty, with the awareness of mortality that often comes with it, changes a person’s mind in unpredictable ways.

I just finished the first week of the widely-known and generally well-regarded Couch-to-5K training program. Happily, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, I kind of liked it.

Week 1, Day 1: Runner’s High

The very first thing I thought when I started the first “jog” portion at 5:00 Monday morning was “This feels great.” I walked and ran (in strict alternation, thanks to the iPhone app telling me what to do and when to do it) and never felt exhausted or uncomfortable. And I got my first good look at the Shining Sea Bikeway, at least the first half-mile or so of it.

“That was easy,” I thought.

The Day After

I’ve begun enough exercise programs to know that the first workout is never the hard one; it’s the second one you have to watch out for. On Tuesday my calves and shins were cursing me. Luckily, I had a conference call, an hour-long drone of corporate mumbling gave me the opportunity for a good stretch.

Week 1, Day 2: Back For More

Day two was harder, but the muscular soreness wasn’t at all a deal breaker. In fact, I ended up going a little bit faster and a little bit farther, but that’s mostly because the I couldn’t hear the trainer prompts and ended up running through one of the “walk” segments. And I missed the halfway point, so instead of turning around at the little wooden bridge I got all the way to the beach before realizing I had gone too far and was going to have a long walk home. So, so-so.

Week 1, Day 3: In The Books

2.59 miles. 1.59 walking (14:07 per mile), 1.00 running (8:03 per mile)

Now that I had the volume on the app figured out and remember how many bridges to cross (two), I could focus on the run itself.  I felt good about my pace today; I traded a slightly slower walk for a slightly faster run.

About that Trainer App

The official trainer app is a great companion to this program, primarily because it allows me to take my mind off the clock.  My favorite part, though, is the GPS integration. I like that it calculates your speed based on your location, and I like the route map it provides at the end.

I would like it better if it gave me the option not to count the 5-minute warm up and cool down walks as part of the total distance. The audio problems I experienced are clearly common enough that the developers commit a whole menu screen to troubleshooting it. (For the record: trainer voices are connected to ringer volume, which is separate from music volume. If you have the ringer too low, you’ll never hear the trainer over the music.) But these are minor quibbles; this app was well worth the $2.00.

Now to see if I can keep up the schedule for eight more weeks!