Mar 3, 2013

My First 5K - Week 1

Elizabeth, For The Win
Fourteen peeps entered the ring for the virgin 5K training.  One person made the cut, congratulations to Liz!  Her story tugged the right strings:

I would very much love to have you coach me for a first ever 5K. First, let me tell you something about myself. I am a stay at home mom of 2 kids under 5, currently pursuing a masters degree in Information Systems. I spend most of my day sitting in front of the computer. 

2 years ago, my husband started having some mysterious chronic pain and numbness in  his legs and knees and I had to devote all my spare time to driving him around to doctors, therapy and taking care of him.  He was in such a condition that he could not even help with simple things like lawn mowing and taking out trash.  So, I gave in to emotional eating and lost all interest in physical activities.  He is slowly recovering now and I am tired of feeling tired all the time. 

I have to be honest and say that I have a problem when doing something.  I start off with a lot of enthusiasm but then give up after sometime. I am hoping that with the continued support and guidance, I will be able to stick to the 5K challenge and finish it. I am more than willing to put the extra effort and time needed for this endeavor.  I am very serious about taking back control of my body.  I love to be in the outdoors and walking. 

A common theme for people that e-mailed me wanting to run their first 5K is they have been good about starting on a training plan, but had trouble sicking to it, eventually withering after a few weeks.  Others said they were good at holding to commitments for others, but found it more difficult to stay committed to personal fitness goals.  The Color Run is popular, several readers have that on the radar this year.

I asked Liz to hone in on her goals for our upcoming 10-week plan.  In her words: 

I have college classes this quarter on Thursdays and next quarter on Fridays, so I want to avoid these two days as they will be the busiest for me. 

My main aim is to lose some excess weight...35 pounds to be exact.  I am hoping that by training for 5K, I will get into the habit of working out regularly and will continue to do so even after the 10 weeks.

We have been eating healthy at home since January.  Mostly fruits, vegetables and fish with oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice.  We also eat chicken once or twice a week and rarely ever eat red meat.  Being from India, I make a lot of food from scratch and we also make a lot of curries. I am usually conscious about what I eat, but sometimes I couldn't resist a good tasty curry and overeat...thus making a waste of all the other times I am able to control myself.

Curry is my kryptonite too, daughter and I go hog wild on it every Saturday at high noon.

Our five goals for the next 10 weeks are:
  1. Get in shape to complete a 5 kilometer race.
  2. Uncover that hidden energy so you'll no longer be tired of feeling tired.  
  3. Burn a few pounds.
  4. Continue on your path of healthy eats.
  5. Make fitness a habit. 
Training starts next Saturday, March 9.  I'll put up a quick post each weekend on how training went the prior week, along with the workout plan for the next week.  We'll tune the plan as often as needed to ensure she's comfortable and headed the direction.

I am not a certified trainer.  Just a random clown that's been running for 20 years and has absorbed practical experience and books on food and fitness.  Talk to your doctor if you have any medical concerns before starting a new workout routine. 

The most important part here is we want Liz to stay free of injury and enjoy this journey.  There may be times where it isn't all that fun and you'll want to quit.  Just know that part is normal, stay with it and rest days are mixed in to relax and recover.

I'd like Liz to do the following this week before her first run next Saturday:
  • Decide if you'll be running outside, inside on the treadmill or a combo.
  • Purchase a quality pair of running shoes.  If you have a local running store in town, stop by and have them fit a shoe to your foot.  Each of us needs a different model of shoe, depending on how our feet strike the ground.  Plan to spend about $60 on a decent set.
  • Your runs will be more comfortable and sweat evaporates pronto if you wear running-specific clothes.  Target has a good selection of synthetic workout duds at reasonable prices.  If you'll be running outside, grab some running pants, mid-layer long sleeve shirt and a nylon running jacket.  For the treadmill, you'll want synthetic shorts and short sleeves.  Extras are athletic socks, sports bra, thin hat and gloves, and a digital watch to track time if you wish.  E-mail me the outside winter temps you'll run in and I'll help you with how to layer.
  • Map courses around your neighborhood.  You'll want to plan out a 2, 3, 4 and 5 mile loop.  Gadget geeks use a GPS watch (expensive), I usually just measure the distance with a free app like  Or you can drive the 'hood and use your car's odometer to measure.
  • Keep a notebook or spreadsheet handy to track your mileage.  This will help us measure actual against goal, and let us slowly ramp up the miles.
  • Decide what time of day you'll be able to run, and plan your meals accordingly.  I usually feel best when running at least an hour after scarfing something light (banana, granola bar, similar).
  • See if you can find a friend to run with.  Makes the time go faster and easier to get out there in the cold when not alone.
5K Plan - Week 1
It will take us some time to figure out a plan that works best.  We'll start below and adjust if she attempts it and tells me I'm a terrible human being.  The training needs to work with her life, so switch rest days as needed to fit your schedule. 

Saturday, March 9 - 2 miles, alternate walking one block, jogging one block. 

Sunday - Same as above, reverse the route.

Monday - Rest, take the day off if you are sore or casual walk 2 miles if the legs feel fine.

Tuesday - If you feel good, do 3 miles, alternating walking and jogging every other block.

Wednesday - 2 miles, alternate walking one block, jogging one block.  Try to finish at least one minute faster than the same route on Saturday.

Thursday - Rest, study nerdy IT stuff (it's okay, I'm an IT dork).

Friday - Sweaty smorgasbord, pick an activity of your choosing that gets your heart pumping for 30 minutes.  Run, bike, elliptical, unicycle or group fitness class.  Key here is you need to work hard.  If using a machine like an elliptical, set the level high enough that your heart and breathing are thumping and it's difficult to hold a conversation.

Gently stretch for 5 minutes at the end of each workout.  Hold your stretches, don't bounce.  Reload on cold water, I like a hot tea an hour after to perk up after the burn (unless it's late in the day, caffeine).

Log each workout, noting distance, elapsed time and comments on how you felt.  At the end of the week, total up your mileage.  We are shooting for about 10 miles plus a smorgasbord workout this first week.

You Got This
Liz, thanks for sharing your goals and being open to remote training and blogging about it.  I think many readers will relate with wanting to form healthy habits and checking a 5K off the list.  We are cheering, you got this!  

Next update will be the weekend of the 16th, hopefully she doesn't want to throat-punch me after week one of pain.  Readers, drop a comment to high five Liz, and holler if you think something in our plan needs tweaked. 



  1. Welcome aboard, Liz! You can do it!!

    1. Thanks Curls. Any tips/Links on what kind of clothes to look for in target? I have zero knowledge have never worn any active/sports wear before.

    2. Much of what works best is a matter of preference. Especially since you're a beginner, go to the store and start grabbing lots of different styles to try on. See what feels right, imagine yourself running in the outfit - will it work? Comfort and movement are important.

      Long pants, capri pants, shorts, etc. For these colder, winter months, I love a long pant, polyester/spandex blend in a boot cut style with a slender fit. They're comfortable, wash well and keep me warm. Mine are from Old Navy (but Target very likely carries something similar): For shorts, I'm keen on Nike. As a matter of fact, they're the only pairs I own: They're a little on the pricey side, but I've owned many of mine for close to 10-yrs and they still look great!

      Sports bras are important, but oh so personal for each woman. This is going to sound ridiculous, but I often jump up and down in front of the dressing room mirror when trying on a new one. You know, just to make sure that the fit is secure and conducive to running. :) It's never failed me. If the fit isn't right in the dressing room, it most certainly won't be right when you run. I own a couple of these and love 'em:

      I'm less picky about shirts. Dri-FIT technology is wonderful. But any polyester/spandex blends are good to wick away the sweat. I also pile on a polyester/spandex blend running jacket for the winter months.

      Socks. I'm picky about these. "No show" socks are all the rage, but I prefer ones with a little extra fabric right above the heel (to prevent blisters). These aren't an exact match to the ones I like, but they're close: I just bought these at a post-Christmas sale at Old Navy and they rock:

    3. Wow, the copy 'n' pasted links really messed up the spacing on my comment above. Hope you can read through the choppiness!

    4. Thank you so much Curls. I am able to access all the links.

    5. If you have a phone there is an app called Endomondo that is about $5. it also has a freebee. I started last Sept. with the freebee and moved up to the $5 version about Dec. 2012. It will track your run with several things; mileage, steps, time, and several others, I use just those three so I haven't studied any of the other items. It also has a GPS and will show you a map of where you have been that you can either post on Face book or send in an email. I use it on an iPhone but I think it works on other platforms.
      I am up to about 6 months of use now and I really enjoy it. I walk 3-5 miles per day usually about 1 hr to about 1:20 min. Bad knees from Jr. High basketball, skiing, and running after three boys. Now I am just grateful to be able to walk everyday/or ride my bike which is getting a lot more use here in Florida. I use Endomondo to track my rides also and am up to about 7 miles when I ride.

      Good luck

    6. Thanks Kathleen. Got the app on my droid.

  2. Anonymous3/04/2013

    Any female runner will tell ya that a sports bra is not an "extra". ;) beard has great advice but from a female runner: invest in a good sports bra to reduce bouncing pain and decrease chances for premature sagging!

    1. Ha, ha, ha...very good point! Beard take note.

    2. Anonymous3/04/2013

      :-) Thanks for the advice. Going shopping tomorrow. - Liz

    3. Ha, this bro' knew he'd get worked over on the bra.

  3. Best of luck, Liz! I never thought I would be a runner...I started with Couch to 5k and now I'm training for a half marathon! You can do this!

    1. Thanks you. I am kinda scared right now...Liz

  4. Anonymous3/04/2013

    Good luck Liz! You can do it.

    Walking....if you've got two little kids, pushing one in a stroller is great exercise for your easy/recovery days.

    Beard - I've got lots of gently used running shirts (Men's medium). If Liz finishes your week one, seems like we should send her a little incentive reward. Can't have any of my SCRC or BCBC shirts but there are plenty of others. I'm sure Liz would be proud to wear a shirt from some random race in Des Moines. Think about it.

    1. That's a good idea, maybe a hanging SCRC towel and a gently used dri-fit that's suffered four days of Roundman?

  5. Virtual High 5!

    Something to consider if you haven't gone shopping yet, I like to run in athletic capri pants, occasionally my inner thigh chafes in shorts and the longer leg solves that problem for me. You can do it!


    1. Runner's lube is helpful with chafing, I slather it in the summer on sweaty runs to keep parts from getting raw.

  6. We are here for your success Liz! Start out easy...go shopping. Yes, Beard you should be a trainer, I love that approach. Haha.

  7. Anonymous3/05/2013

    Hi Beard! Silent reader here, breaking the silence now. Say, this whole running think has my interest. Do you think there are runners and non runner types? Are there some who just couldn't or shouldn't hit the pavement? Seriously considering this.

    1. Sure, some people can't run due to knee or hip problems. If you wear the right shoes, running generally won't cause knee problems. Although it will quickly expose any knee, hip or foot problems you were born with.

      I'd guess the majority of people simply don't enjoy running, so they coin themselves non-runners. It does kinda suck for awhile until you get in shape. Even when fit, it's never really that easy compared to, say, riding a bike.

      Find a friend to trot with, set a weekly mileage goal (start with 10 miles per week), then try alternating walking and jogging. After a few weeks, you'll start to enjoy it.

    2. Anonymous3/05/2013

      So all these years I have been calling myself a non runner may really be because I don't like, say, things that might hurt or be hard to stick with?! Say it ain't so! Hmm, much self reflection ahead. Could this lame horse hit the track after all?

    3. Busted, get the horse outta the barn!

  8. Yay for Liz! You can do this! I'm cheering for ya from the sidelines over here. I agree with the commenters up there about a good sports bra. The ladies have got to be secure, otherwise a cheapo sports bra is your direct ticket to sag city. I spent $50 on mine (my ladies need lots of support) a few years ago and it's still going strong.

    Good luck and I'm excited to keep track of your progress. :)

    1. I near you, gotta protect my cash and prizes on the chilly days with a snug pair of windies.


Thanks for the note, check back for my response!