Today I ran for 20 minutes… in a row. This may be a paltry amount to you runners out there, but a couple months ago running for even 5 minutes seemed impossible. It all started in January when I signed up to run the Run For the Wild 5K at the Bronx Zoo, an event to raise money for the adorable penguins. As I submit my entry I thought, “Wait a minute. I. Don’t. Run.” I knew I was going to need a little help.
Before baby number two I had started to work my way through a Couch to 5K podcast. Systematically it seemed similar to what else was out there, and it was free. The music was painful, though, like it was some new-age Midi made in the guy’s basement with an erratic rhythm impossible to run to. I knew that wasn’t going to work this time. Then I realized there must be an app for that. After looking at a few, I settled on the C25K app ($2.99) by Bluefin Software.
My choice was based entirely on the design of the interface. There are some ugly Couch to 5K apps out there, and figured I’d be starting at the screen a lot so might as well pick a pretty one. The C25K app has some nice features. Most important is music. My music. Unfortunately you have to manually choose a selection of songs from your iPod instead of having it pull from everything, but the flipside of that is that you can choose the best workout songs. The song information and album cover are on screen as you run, and you can flip between songs without interrupting your workout.
There are other features worth noting. The app tracks your progress so you don’t have to go digging for the next day. There’s a journal where you can track how you felt, how far you went, and other information. It will even graph your progress. You can share it on Twitter and Facebook, too.
I’ve gone from 90-second intervals to today’s 20-minute run in just a couple weeks (it starts slow, which I appreciated). The biggest motivator for me is the giant interval countdown clock. Unlike trying to time it yourself or listening to a podcast, I find this exact measure of what’s been accomplished and what’s to come essential for staying on track. When that doesn’t work, I cycle through some other psychological motivators and distrations:
- Every day before my run, my husband says, “You can do it.” The words echo in my head and I believe him.
- I do math problems in my head. I calculate my pace, my distance at the end of the next interval, elapsed time, and whatever else I can distract my brain with. This is GeekMom, remember?
- I’ve only seen one season of The Biggest Loser, but it’s enough to want Jillian Michaels standing on the edge of my treadmill screaming at me. I imagine what she’d scream and go with that. The app has different settings for voice prompts. Dear programmers, if you’re reading this, please give me a mean screaming option.
- I download songs I wouldn’t normally listen to, but that have great beats for running. Then I focus on the lyrics. Did you know Taio Cruz can rhyme ‘dance’ with ‘plans’ and ‘brands’? He gonna light it up like it’s dynamite.
The Run for the Wild 5K is just a couple more weeks away. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to run the whole thing, but I’m going to try. If you’d like to contribute, you can visit my page. If 100 GeekMom readers each gave only $1, why that would be enough to give a small penguin a bath in money.