From Couch to 5k Run- literally!!!

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My first & precious finisher medal

Hello all πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoyed the story of my postpartum transformation. I have been receiving a lot of queries on how I ran my first 5k. So I thought of penning it down in detail for all of you. I have never ever run in my life! So this post should definitely give you lot of confidence πŸ˜‰

It was in April 2019 that I had got some hopes that I can regain my health back after I could chuck out my knee brace. In May 2019, I had just started my weight training. I had always wanted to run a race, get the finisher’s medal, enjoy that excitement, etc., butΒ  I never put in any serious thought into it. I had been seeing a lot of my workout group friends running 5k and thought that would be a good place to start. I was just browsing through to check if there were any upcoming races and I was happy to find one happening very close to my home on the 04th of July. That gave me exactly two months to train and since it was very close-by, I registered.

I was diagnosed with chondromalacia, a knee issue just in Jan 2019 and there was no way I could run fast as it would affect my knees. Still, I went ahead and signed up. Almost exactly a year back, I couldn’t even walk for 10 mins straight due to pelvis rotation. So, even if I could WALK and finish the 5k, it was a victory for me, marking 1-year completion of this postpartum fitness journey.

I started my training with the Couch to 5K (C25K) app. It is totally free and a great app to train with. It asked for 8 weeks of training which was perfect for me. I had only that much time left for the actual race. I had started with weight training as well which I did not want to let go. Also, I learned that weight training helps with running better as it builds up your strength and endurance. C25k asks you to run for 3 days a week. I cut it down to 2 days a week. Another 2 days I trained with weights – one day for upper body & abs; another day for the lower body.

For the first 4 weeks, I just ran on a treadmill. From 5th week I started running outdoors in a nearby park/around my house. It was much better than running on a treadmill.

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Tomato face after Sunday practice πŸ™‚

I found a 1km loop around my house and trained there as that terrain was more challenging than the park. By week 6, I could run non-stop for almost double the time than what the app asked for. That motivated me a lot. By week 7, I could run for 40 minsΒ  (4k) without any walking breaks. πŸ™‚ By Week 8, I ran 5k twice. πŸ˜€

Invest in a pair of good earphones, if possible wireless. I love my JLab earbuds. Songs kept me going. During practice I will try to focus on the song so that I do not feel the tiredness or panting. I built up my running endurance song by song. Since I was running twice a week, I chose a weekday evening and Sunday mornings for my practice runs so that my husband would be with my kid. I used to take 55 mins to finish during practice.

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The finish line πŸ™‚

On the day of the race, I had my pre-run snack and also did my stretches and was ready. In the start, everyone jogged and I was walking for warm-up. I was a little disheartened as people were going past me. But I stuck to how I practiced with my app. By the end, I noticed most of them were walking, but I could jog continuously. I was happy that I jogged almost 40 mins in total which I never thought I would do. I completed my 5k in 50 mins. It is not a great time, but I can only JOG and not RUN. My knees can’t take it yet.

Some useful tips:
1. In a week, 2 days of weight training and 2 days of running practice is ideal. Weight training helped a lot.

2. Pre-run snack: Toast with peanut butter. Complex carbs like banana also good although it didn’t suit me (made me feel like I might have a bowel movement). Post-run I included protein like egg/chicken so that it helps prevent loss of muscle mass.

3. Stretch well before and after the run. I followed Yoga with Adrienne for pre and post-run stretches. It helped a lot, particularly the pigeon pose which helped ease out any pain in my tailbone/pelvis area. Warm-up is very important. I do a brisk walk for the first 5 mins and then start my run.

4. Stay hydrated and have a consistent pace. I practiced running with a 300ml water bottle in hand since I ran in California’s scorching summer heat. Also, keep one or two candies in your fanny pack so that you can munch on it in case you feel hungry or passing out.

I hope this blog was useful and if at all you finish your first 5k after reading this, please share it on my FB page. There would be nothing better than the joy of motivating one soul for me πŸ™‚

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