So this is the new year

3 Jan

Happy 2010!

It’s this time of year that we are always inundated with commercials and ads for exercise equipment and weight loss programs. While investing in one’s health is always good, sometimes those investments don’t quite pan out. The New Year’s resolution fades away after a few weeks, and the brand new exercise equipment begins to collect dust. (That is why if you are interested in buying exercise equipment, you should check out Craigslist for bargains on used stuff!)

I am a fan of doing things for free, and a couple years ago, I decided to try running – because it’s free. There’s no gym membership or expensive equipment needed. (Actually, I found that to be not quite true. I did eventually buy a good pair of running shoes, and I highly recommend that. Go to a store that specializes in running shoes so that you can get a pair that fits properly, and be prepared to spend around $100 – it’s worth it!)

I’ve never been a runner, and while I always envied runners, I never thought I would become one. I didn’t (and still don’t) find running enjoyable. But I was at a point where I had a lot of free time, not a lot of money, wanted to lose weight, and was in real need of a self-esteem boost. Enter Couch to 5K.

Couch to 5K is a running plan for people who don’t run. By the end of nine weeks, if you follow the plan, you’re able to go from couch living to running about the equivalent of a 5K race. Now I’d actually heard about Couch to 5K a few years before, but I knew there was no way I was going to try running while constantly checking a stopwatch. I just wasn’t that motivated.

But then I heard about the Couch to 5K podcast, and that is what changed everything. A dude in California used the Couch to 5K schedule to make podcasts – 3 days a week for 9 weeks. It’s basically like a mix CD (that you download for free from iTunes – 9 total), but he talks to you at various points telling you when to start running, when to stop running, when to take breaks, and offers a few words of encouragement throughout. That way you don’t have to even look at a clock. It’s pretty convenient. The downside though is that the music is … well …. awful. It’s basically techno music. While I’m a fan of running to music with a good beat, I really really don’t like techno. However, I found having my ears assaulted with this music was worth it – because of his guidance throughout the runs. Also, in some twisted way, because the running part was not fun, it almost made sense to do it while listening to terrible music.

While I found the running process to be difficult, it was not impossible. I was able to successfully complete every run, and I did it in about 7 weeks instead of 9. I’m not Miss Fitness USA either, so if I can do it, pretty much everyone can. I highly recommend this program. And even if you really can’t run, you can at least walk to the podcast instead.

For the price of new shoes and an iPod shuffle (I bought a used one on Ebay), I began an exercise program. While there are cheaper (and free) ways to work out, I’ve found that investment in running gear to be quite worth it. Though I never did bother to officially run a 5K race, I do still run, and there’s no way I would have done it without the Couch to 5K podcast!

(Photo credit: Flickr member msmail, using Creative Commons license)
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