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Published on September 29, 2014

Couch Potato to 5K

Couch Potato to 5K

Get Off the Couch and Start Running

I am not a runner. I tried to become one a few times. I took P.E. classes, played high school football and even tried to force myself to regularly run a mile around the streets near my home in the early-morning Arizona warmth. But it never took. For me, running never made that leap from something I had to do to something I wanted to do.

About six months ago, that changed.

Early this year I was going through a particularly anxious time in my life, and I needed a good way to manage the stress. I knew exercise would help, so I started looking at my options. Since the only thing I hated more than running was going to the gym, I decided to give it another shot.

I heard about a program for beginning runners called Couch Potato to 5K, and I thought, “Finally! An exercise program that describes me perfectly!” I did a little online research and decided to download a coaching app for my smartphone to help me manage the clock.

You see, the whole idea behind the Couch Potato to 5K program is that you mix walking with jogging and slowly work your way to longer runs, emphasis on the slowly. On those first days, I spent 90 seconds walking for every 60 seconds running. And, to be honest, what I was doing couldn’t even be called running. It was more of a hurried shuffle.

Couch Potato to 5K

But after a few days and weeks and months, I was able to run 5 km - 3.1 miles - without stopping, and I actually enjoyed it! It felt great to have a goal for each run, great to achieve that goal and great to see my progress.

After I ran a 5K, I started working on a 10K. About a month ago, I finished that, and now I’m training for a half marathon. Me! The non-runner! Getting up in the morning, putting on my shoes, stretching, warming up - I love all of it now. And not only did it help with the stress, I lost nearly 40 pounds.

Never in my life did I think that I - an overweight, middle-aged, non-athlete - would enjoy running, but I do. Maybe I need to rethink the label. Maybe I am a runner after all.

Eric Harper is the manager of Marketing Communications at PIH Health.

Before you begin any exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor. For more information about any of the Couch Potato to 5K programs, a Google search will steer you in the right direction. The iPhone app I used to manage the clock is called C25K from Zen Labs, but there are several options.


The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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