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Fitness App Review: Couch to 5K

If you’ve been following me on social media, you know that I have been getting my run on. Like Donkey Kong.

There are a couple of different apps I’ve been using to train while running. One of my favorites is Couch to 5K. It’s great for people just starting to run, and is also good for interval training. This week, I’ve used it a couple of times to work on my speed and form.

So what is Couch to 5K?
Couch to 5K is an app that helps you train for 5Ks, 10Ks, mile fun runs, and 10 milers. It has a voice that talks to you as you progress through each interval, and tells you your pace at each mile. You can skip intervals, which I’ve done from time to time when I’ve done a warm-up different from the 5-minute walk. Each week, the intervals change. They get progressively harder, and the run intervals become longer. When I was first getting back into running, I yearned for those walking intervals!

For the regular 5K training program, it features nine weeks of training, with three runs for each week. I’m currently running the free version, so I don’t have as many fancy features as I possibly could, but the free version has been working out great for me over the last year.

I really like this app because it practically runs in the background, so I can listen to my jams and get in the zone, but still hear my coach when the music quiet downs with her, “begin run interval.” That’s really important, since I get easily distracted while running. This evening, for example, I spent one block trying to figure out why this man was acting crazy on the sidewalk. From what I could tell, this woman threw him out of her car, said something, and kept on driving. I slowed down, wondered aloud, and realized, HEY! KEEP IT MOVING! Fortunately, the coach on Couch to 5K told me that it was time to start my next running interval, and I picked up the pace from an almost walk to a jog.

Other times this week, I’ve jogged the walk intervals, and sprinted or run the running intervals. It’s tuckered me out a few times, but it helped me practice focusing and running faster. Additionally, I’ve run my Couch to 5K app simultaneously with my Map My Run app so that I can challenge myself to run further during each training session. It’s been working, too, as I have started running further, and for faster split times. Woohoo!

Sligo Creek trail run
From my run this evening.
Photo by my roommate Sean.

Another thing for which I’ve used the slower intervals is working on my form. I started reading more about the proper form, and I’ve tried to focus on making the corrections during the walk intervals by exaggerating these movements and practicing them until they feel comfortable. My stride has been almost non-existent, and I realized that I was wasting a lot of energy by taking these small steps, as I have not been able to cover as much distance as I know I can. My hamstrings and knees have been kind of jacked up over the last week or so, which hasn’t helped, so I gave myself a rest day (a real rest day) to rest my knees and get some good stretching in. It really paid off today, and I was able to have much better form and run a greater distance without stopping.

Some other time, I will share with you other apps I use for training purposes. For now, I hope you check out this app (if you haven’t already), and let me know your thoughts on it. Cheers!

Which apps do you use for training? Do you have a favorite runner-focused app? How do you stay focused while running?

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