a peek inside the fishbowl

01 Sep, 2010

Off the couch. Almost 5K.

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Yaktivism

As some of you know I’ve spent the summer slogging away using an interval training app on my iPhone called C25K (which stands for Couch to 5K). I haven’t written much about it here, other than this post, but I wanted to write an update because I’m into my eighth week and frankly, I’m so amazed that I’m here that I wanted to share it with someone.

I’m still calling it slogging (FINOLA!) because honestly, I’m still so slow it’s embarrassing. I see REAL runners leaping along sidewalks like cheetahs on the savanna, a symphony of limbs and muscle. I’m the geriatric/injured/lame zebra with the jiggly rear end. The one that you KNOW is going to fall prey to some larger animal, or drop dead next to the waterhole, whichever comes first.

There is no grace in me whatsoever, let’s just make that clear. :)

My initial goal was to be able to jog for 12 minutes. This hearkens back to trauma caused by Canada Fitness, a government-sanctioned annual phys ed challenge which happened during my elementary school days. One event was the so-called Endurance Run, 12 minutes of running circles around the goalposts on the soccer field. I could never do it. But now I can! I’m up to 25 minutes of “running” – which I am pretty happy about.

I am still wearing my crappy old highschool gym shorts but am happy to report that I’m slowly looking the part. I finally got a new pair of running shoes. I picked them up at Bushtukah on Richmond Road. The fellow there was really helpful and I’m glad I went, even though he made me JOG in the middle of the store. Gack.

I also bought a pair of $12.00 super socks. I never thought I’d see the day.

In my first post about slogging I wrote about immediate weight loss. And there was some, initially, but I’ve gained it back. (I like to think that it’s muscle, but I can’t really tell, although I am fairly certain THIS zebra is moderately less jiggly than before.)

Things I’ve learned thus far:

  • Running in the heat is a bad idea for someone with breathing issues. I tried to do Day 1 of Week 8 last night, my first 28 minute slog (up from 25). I had 6:30 to go and my body just stopped. Stopped. I was hurting in ways I knew wasn’t very good. I had to give myself permission to fail this time. It was hard, and I was disappointed in myself. But as I was lying in bed – feeling utterly destroyed – Emma reminded me that I can “try again next time.” (Where have I heard that before??)
  • If I’m really hurting, and I stop, leaning forward with my hands on my knees is just going to make me feel like I’m going to throw up.
  • If I’m really hurting, and I stop to sit down at the side of the curb, sweat will suddenly pour out of me (TMI?), therefore sounding the BUFFET ALARM for all local mosquitoes. I swear, they follow me.
  • Dancing along while slogging in the heat (especially when the assigned interval has an extra 3 minutes tacked on the end) is a big mistake. Energy conservation is a must, even if the music is good. Same goes for jumping up to swat overhanging branches.


The body is a funny thing, isn’t it? I am not at the point of the elusive “runner’s high” but my body and my mind go through peaks and valleys while I’m out. The first two minutes are hard but the middle part is easier … a soothing rhythm that takes over if you can push through those two minutes. The last two minutes are really hard too, usually the longest two minutes of my life. The seconds go







I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I itch to go out now. And this coming from the person who always hated to run. It feels good. Surprise!

I am really liking the C25K program. Interval training really works (mostly because it’s gratifying to get better at something, even though it is in tiny tiny increments) and it keeps me going. For those who want to try it, know that it doesn’t have to apply to running. You can power walk it too, alternating slow and fast.

I feel like I’m on my way to something good here. Question is, what should I do in the winter?


20 Responses to "Off the couch. Almost 5K."

1 | kaitlin

September 1st, 2010 at 8:18 am


cross-country skiing? friends of ours swear by it and go out four, five times a week. it’s scary, how much they love it, but i kinda want to try it this year.

i’m in the same boat: this summer was all ultimate frisbee, biking and occasionally jogging/slogging. but with winter approaching, i’m looking for new, less weather-dependent ideas.

2 | Audrey

September 1st, 2010 at 8:26 am


Your are an inspiration! I started couch to 5k mid way through the summer. I am just starting week 4. It’s not been easy for me but I am going to keep at it. I’m thinking there is no way I’ll make it to 5 mins…..but look at you! Maybe I can!

3 | charlene

September 1st, 2010 at 8:31 am


Great job! I started a modified C25K (actually slower than C25K if you can believe it!) in March and I can now run 5km without stopping.

I too am slooooooooooooooow. And I don’t care. I’m 43 frickin’ years old and I have NEVER been able to do 5km in my life. I can now so I am awesome. Some people can walk faster than I can run. It matters not. I am a runner and so are you.

Only piece of advice I’d give you (beyond:spend good money on shoes and socks) is to pick a running “event” and enter it. We did the try a tri in May and it is such a rush to finish something you never thought you’d have any business entering. Next up? The Army 5km in September. Having a goal to work towards is very motivating.

Keep running and ignore the cheetahs.

4 | Vivian

September 1st, 2010 at 8:31 am


In winter? Winter running!

When I used to run, I found winter running to be more enjoyable than summer running.You can’t overheat as easily. The key for winter running is to dress as though it’s 10 degrees warmer, and dress in layers.

A wicking t-shirt, under a winter-weight wicking ‘base layer’ sort of fleece (they have them at MEC), a polar fleece and a shell jacket for the top. Wicking pants/tights and polar fleece pants for the bottoms and that was good for as low as -25C. (Lower than that and really, that’s too hardcore for me). Layers are important since you’ll want to be able to remove stuff when you get too hot!

It helped that when I ran, we lived downtown so running on the canal seemed like a quintessential ‘Ottawa’ thing to do.

My current work out is p90x. It’s kicking my butt and I’m on week 4. It’s good, but it takes about an hour a day, 6 days a week.

5 | The Moffman

September 1st, 2010 at 8:52 am


Awesome work! I miss running and the electrifying highs that come with it once you’re in the groove. I keep trying to get back into it, but have failed several times this summer. Maybe the cooler weather will be the push I need… if it ever gets here. I’ve got a lot of training to do before my full marathon that I’m planning to run to celebrate my 40th birthday in 2013!!

6 | sassymonkey

September 1st, 2010 at 8:53 am


The Canadian Fitness test was evil. Absolutely evil. It didn’t reward effort, just ability.

I started C25K a few weeks ago. I love the program. I fell off the wagon but am planning to get back on it just as soon as it cools down a tad.

7 | Michael Gauthier

September 1st, 2010 at 9:31 am


Well done Andrea! Running was in danger of falling off the bottom of my bucket list un-done, so I started the C25K myself about two weeks ago. NEVER ran in my life (all 60 years of it!), so it is certainly a challenge. I am hoping to get it done before the snow files, but I may be slogging around here well into the winter. Keep at it! Mike G

8 | Ginger

September 1st, 2010 at 11:42 am


I am so excited and proud for you! Summer completely derailed me and has made me feel pretty low. I got stuck with the week 7 25 minute runs and finally had to just take a break from it all. My morale was so low.

But, I feel renewed energy and I really do want to run a 5K. Fall and Winter is the best time for running around here…summers are just too hot in my opinion. So there are lots of opportunities coming up. I am going to start back with C25K and find a way to make it through this time!

9 | Binki

September 1st, 2010 at 3:42 pm


You may be slow but you are running. Running 25 minutes puts you in the top percentile of fit humans in our society. Remember that. You are a role model. You are amazing. The cheetahs who run past you think you are amazing. They think of you as one of them – a runner. The ex-runners think you are amazing. They yearn to be running again. The non-runners think you’re amazing. They wish they were you.

You look forward to running? Congratulations. You have the runner’s high. It will get better every day. Some days will be better than anything you have ever experienced. But listen to your body. If you ache, take a break. And running 5k and 10k events is plenty amazing. Don’t run a marathon too early and break your body. The most amazing runners I have ever met have run about 30 min per day, 3-5 times a week, and have done so for several years. They are in fantastic shape and have no injuries due to running long distances. They are my heroes.

Don’t run during a heat wave. It’s not fun. Go for a nice brisk walk. That’s enough. Cooler weather is coming, then comes Fall…the absolute best time to run. imho.

Keep going. You’re amazing. And if you do it right, you could be running 40 years from now.

10 | vicky

September 1st, 2010 at 3:52 pm


Way to go. I remember the 12 minute run FONDLY. (cough). Thanks for the memory. (cough).
Keep up the good work.

11 | Betsy Mae

September 1st, 2010 at 8:33 pm


andrea!!!!! good for you! you know how i feel about running…i want to do it but i’m afraid to try it. pls feel free to blog about it as often as you wish. i need a kick in the pants.

and binki??? wow, your comment? talk about uplifting and motivational!

12 | Norma-ann

September 2nd, 2010 at 12:34 pm


Oh. My. Gawd.

“I’m the geriatric/injured/lame zebra with the jiggly rear end. The one that you KNOW is going to fall prey to some larger animal, or drop dead next to the waterhole, whichever comes first.”

Thank-you for that.
That was the funniest thing I have ever read ~in my life~.

my sides…

I think I will download that app. because I am also a g.i.l. zebra (i have the scar down my knee to prove it) and I have never been able to enjoy/see the point of running. I have been all over my bike, hitting the trails lately (up to 17 km’s so far!!! wee!), but I may need to mix things up a bit. I’m also just a sucker for a good app.

Maybe I can run…or slog…after all.

13 | Finola

September 3rd, 2010 at 11:51 am


ANDREA! Way to go!
I must echo Binki because if you can run 25 minutes, you have no further excuses for not calling yourself a runner :)

14 | Sara

September 3rd, 2010 at 2:04 pm


Wow!!! I finished week 1 today. Gasp, puff.

15 | andrea

September 3rd, 2010 at 3:46 pm


Sara – Congrats! I’ve been there and I know how you are feeling. Keep going!

Everyone else – thank you for your kind words. My batteries are charged and ready to go. :)

16 | Alina

September 4th, 2010 at 8:44 am


Good job Andrea!
I made my husband download the app on his iPhone and we just finished week 1. He is able to run more than 15 minutes without stoping (but he runs with me now) and I was never able to run for more than 2 minutes without gasping for air. Now I feel so awesome working towards a goal and enjoying the experience with my husband, even if I can’t talk/breathe/think properly while I run :).

17 | Chantal

September 6th, 2010 at 9:00 pm


Yay for you! I did the couch to 5K before I got pregnant. I ran all winter long (became preggy in March) and I really enjoyed winter running. The cold never bothered me, once I got going. I even did the Running Room New Years eve run. LOVED it! And the year I did it the temp was -30. So much fun!

I am starting up the C25K again this week and looking forward to getting back into the meditating aspect of running. BTW I was the slowest runner. The fastest I ever ran the 5K was 38 minutes. I usually did it in 40. That is super slow. I was just starting to improve my speed when I got pregnant.

18 | Running out loud >> a peek inside the fishbowl

September 20th, 2010 at 10:05 pm


[…] completed the entire 9-week Couch-to-5K program today. […]

19 | The 100 club (a.k.a. my S.A.D plan) >> a peek inside the fishbowl

October 27th, 2011 at 9:37 am


[…] Although I completed the Couch-to-5K program last summer (and I struggled) I really do prefer to walk. Fast. I think it might be better for me, and it’s less punishing […]

20 | A bit about those lunch tweets - and some food for thought >> a peek inside the fishbowl

August 8th, 2012 at 8:52 am


[…] Family Advent Calendar. And come to think of it, so did the Moments of Bliss, the Sugar Fast, Couch-to-5K, the Trust Experiment, and even the cookies we baked in the car a couple of weeks ago. I […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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