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Technically it should be “Loveseat to 5K”

Wow, I finished a half-marathon once!

I used to exercise because I knew it was the only thing keeping the world from exploding. I would dash onto the trail immediately after work so I would have enough day light to complete my runs. I would lift weights as I watched Good Morning America. I did Pilates so much I found myself able to roll backwards and then leap up off the mat. I did this for months and months after I got my horrible, awful, no-good headache. I did it because I knew if I didn’t the universe would collapse and we would all die, because it was only the force of me exercising five times a week that was preventing total world annihilation.

But after about 8 months of the pain and the pathetic push-ups, I stopped. The running shoes stayed in the closet and my Pilates mat stayed in the corner and my weights just stayed put, period. And the world did not explode. The universe did not end. This was a very bad thing to discover. I needed to believe exercise was non-negotiable, but when it wasn’t, I started negotiating. I began to do what I wanted to do instead of what I needed to do. This usually involved ice cream and prime time television.

I’ve been feeling a lot better now and I’ve been walking regularly, but I am no where near as fit as I used to be. I have known I need to work on working out more, but I’ve lacked the spark I had during my running years to make it happen. Even my behavioral psychologist at the headache clinic has been on me about it, listing all the benefits of regular aerobic exercise, and making me giggle inside my head that someone is giving me weight-loss tips.

Then Kelly emailed me. You might remember Kelly from page 8 of my book, where she appears as Karen, my abs-crunching college roommate. I didn’t know how to contact her for permission, so I changed her name in the book to protect her identity (though I doubt anyone would be embarrassed to appear as the health conscious roommate in a weight-loss memoir). Kelly would work out in our dorm room and I would watch while I ate Twinkies. Like everybody and my father, Kelly is on Facebook, which is where we found each other again and decided that we’d enter the Midsummer Night’s Run, a 5K race held in Lexington, KY on August 15, 2009. Kelly’s wanted to run it for years and I need a clearly defined and measurable fitness goal to work towards, so we have submitted our money and are registered.

The race is 10 weeks away, which gives me enough time to complete the Couch to 5K running program. Developed by the Cool Running web site, Couch to 5K gets you from the couch to a 5K in nine weeks, though in my case it should be “Loveseat to 5K” because I don’t own a full couch. Many people have raved about this program, but I never got to try it because I’d already started running regularly before I’d heard about. Now I can test it for quality assurance!

I downloaded some podcasts linked from this Couch to 5K resource page, loaded up my MP3 player, and completed the first run on Saturday. To my surprise, I didn’t have to scrape my lung off the pavement like dog doody! It was actually…easy. I am not as out of shape as I thought I was! Woot! I was tempted to push harder and longer, but the program specifically tells you not to do that, so I was a good little girl and eased off. I’ve got 10 weeks to go and there’s no sense in burning out or injuring myself.

It felt surprisingly good to run again, making me feel more connected to the planet and to my body and myself. When I was at my most fit, I knew that I could get up and run a 5K whenever I wanted to. Just knowing that made me feel, well, kinda’ badass, oddly enough. Yet I know that at this moment I would not be able to run a 5K, though I could walk one. I’m looking forward to getting back to that level of fitness, and to keeping the world from exploding.

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45 Comments

Kimmi • June 8, 2009 at 10:10 am

Amazing for you! It’s always nice to find out that your body isn’t as weak as you really think it is. Sometimes it holds some pretty serious surprizes! Good luck with your training! Looking forward to seeing those finish line photos!

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Lori • June 8, 2009 at 10:20 am

Great job for getting back into it! The world doesn’t end if you stop exercising, so sometimes it is hard to find and keep that spark of motivation to keep doing it.

You will find it faster to get back in running form, because your muscles won’t have lost all that memory.

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Tara • June 8, 2009 at 10:50 am

Yay! That’s so exciting that not only are you running again, but you’re doing it because you feel so much better!

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PolishPlankton • June 8, 2009 at 10:54 am

I just finished C25K. Although I am still obese (barely), I can run a 5K. Despite the fact that you hadn’t done the program until now, I was inspired to try it based on an earlier PastaQueen blog entry.

So thank you. I hope you keep us posted on your progress.

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Meg • June 8, 2009 at 11:02 am

I’ve been researching running plans myself, as I’ve recently decided to stop “working out” and start “training” with my runs. I’m a little worried the Couch to 5k would be too easy for me right now…but their next step up is out of my range, sadness…so I’m thinking of starting somewhere in the middle of the C25K plan…

I’m looking forward to your assessment of the plan ^_^

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Caroline • June 8, 2009 at 11:04 am

Funny, I just decided to start this very program and set today as my start date. I’ll be panting right along side you.

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Jess • June 8, 2009 at 11:13 am

Good to know you’re back and exercising again! I loved the C25k program, and I kinda miss it now that I’m “just” running.

There’s also other podrunner podcasts for longer lengths but it’s not the same to me!

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Tina • June 8, 2009 at 11:14 am

Good for you. I also am contemplating starting Couch25k, but apparently I’m unable to run for 60 seconds, so I created my own lame@ss pre-requisite: 30 second jog/walk intervals. Anyone who sees me wogging must think I can’t decide whether to run or walk.

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Chavonne • June 8, 2009 at 11:30 am

This is great! I did the Couch-to-5K training once (when I believed big people could run…why I don’t now, I’m not sure) and loved it! I can’t wait to hear your progress!

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BB • June 8, 2009 at 11:50 am

Of course you’re in better shape then you think….what about all the walking you did in Europe? Ah ha, you have been exercising and forgot!

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Farmwife • June 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I like the C25K podcasts that Suzy has up at

http://www.kissmyblackass.org/?page_id=86

I don’t like all the music, but it’s a lot more upbeat than some of them :)

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Lirpa • June 8, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Good luck with the training! Exciting stuff! I love working towards a tangible goal like a race. A couple years ago i trained with Team in Training for the Disney Half Marathon. As I turned off towards the finish line whilst others were heading the other way for another 13.1 (for the Full Marathon) i thanked the Lord i only signed up to do the half. Since then i’ve done a 5k, but nothing longer. I am mostly a walker now. Then, a couple weeks ago, i strained my left calf muscle. It hurts, a lot. Now i’m frustrated daily that i can’t do what i want to do, and i can actually feel my butt getting bigger as i sit on the couch waiting for my leg to heal. BUT, the good news is that this leg injury has taught me to not take my health, especially my healthy legs, for granted. I vow to you and all the other wonderful readers here that once my leg is back in shape i will exercise regularly and never choose couch over a walk again!

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Megan • June 8, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Great for you! You will love it – it was a great program. I had never run a day in my life before doing the program and it worked!!! LOVE that program – highly support!

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gknee • June 8, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Loved C25K. It got me going again. I am 50 and I’ve been doing this on again off again fitness thing since PQ was in diapers! I’m just happy to be running a couple of days a week for the past 2 years- slow and steady with a rare “sprint”. At least I can still do it, not everyone can.

for me, the biggest motivator for finishing C25K was getting to hear my own music again. The podcast really helps but the music is the suckiest!!

Go Jennette- I’m rooting for u!

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wyn • June 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Great! I’m looking forward to reading your posts about training for this 5K. It’s a different training and race from your half-marathon. Not necessarily easier while you’re at it because the expectation is that you will be far faster and no breaks during the 5K. It just happens to end earlier. Good luck with your training!

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victoria • June 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Yay! I’m so excited for you (and Kelly).

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Rachel • June 8, 2009 at 1:31 pm

We, who are about to explode, thank you! :) Kick butt on the 5K!

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andrea. • June 8, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Good for you! I’m currently making my way through the C25K as well … I like it because each week I look at the line-up for the coming week and think, “Oh, there’s no way I’m going to be able to do that…” and then of course, I do. I LOVE that feeling!

I also thought it was interesting that you mentioned feeling more connected to the planet, because that’s been such an unexpected (but welcome!) side effect for me too. I run outside and it’s really given me a new appreciation for my city and my neighbourhood and really the whole beautiful outdoors in general. Yay for that!

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Braveheart • June 8, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Jenette thank you so much. I have been lurking around on your blog for ages and last week I bought your book. I read it all weekend and am so grateful to you for your candid yet inspiring account of your weight loss.

This blog entry was so well timed. I have a 5k run in July so I may have to adapt the training programme a bit, but you have given me the kick up the back side that I needed.

I wish you nothing but the best for your 5k challenge. I’ll send you some good vibes while I’m out pounding the pavements in Regent’s Park tonight!

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Sarah • June 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm

I started on C25K in December, but stopped part way through due to lack of motivation (plus – winter and treadmill all by myself).

However, I started a 10K walk/run program last month, and we’re already up to running 3 minutes and walking 2 minutes. Found it online:

http://completerunning.com/dawn-on-the-run/wp-content/trainingplans/13weeks.html

We run 3 times a week, 2 as a group, and 1 by ourselves. Everyone seems to find that running as a group is much easier than running by yourself – so finding a group of people to do it with can really pay off.

I make my own playlists for my own run, by just sorting my music list by duration, and then picking fast songs for the run segment, and slower songs for the walk segment.

Enjoy! I’m having a great time with it – it feels good to move, and to be able to do this.

Sarah

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psychsarah • June 8, 2009 at 3:43 pm

As is often the case, your posts really had me nodding today! I haven’t been running in a while either, but my friend roped me into coaching a learn to run clinic with her, so I’m getting back on the horse, so to speak. Good luck with your training, and making exercise non-negotiable again-the struggle never ends eh?

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Krissie • June 8, 2009 at 3:54 pm

My husband ran in the Midsummer Night’s Run last year and loved it. I had fun standing around smelling the carnival food. But it is a very cool downtown course, and my plan is to run it this year too. I’m repeating Week 1 again because of some foot issues, so it may end up as a walk/run race, but I’ll do what I can.

And I don’t know if you have an iPhone/touch, but the C25k app is awesome. It will just play the run/walk tones over your music. It keeps me from being obsessive.

And at the end of the Lexington course? You’re very close to the best pizza in town. Like a block away. And the tables are outside so it’s okay to be sweaty. Let me know if you want details.

Good luck!

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Lynn Haraldson-Bering • June 8, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Welcome back, badass :) Oh, and the world (and me) says thank you for saving it from implosion. Yay! I’m so glad you’re feeling better.

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Liska • June 8, 2009 at 4:52 pm

I am doing a 10k on 5th July but as I am not fit enough at the moment I will have to walk some of it. It is a charity run/walk so that is fine. Thank you for giving me some much needed inspiration to train. x

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Amy • June 8, 2009 at 5:05 pm

I think my SIL is training for a 5k and my brother surprised me by getting ready for a triathlon! That might make me competitive enough to join him someday.

I signed up for a 50k cycling event instead… I sure hope I make it! At least it’s listed as a ‘ride’ and not a ‘race.’

Getting out and about in the neighborhood is fun. We did a lot of walking with our pup this wkd and I like patronizing the local establishments and avoiding the car at the same time.

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Robin • June 8, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Way to go! I like the 5K. Not too long, not too short. 10K? Well that’s another story :)

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Cynthia • June 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Congrats getting back up off the loveseat, LOL! You are doing the right thing and will feel better for it! Well, if not immediately, once you get used to moving again!

You know, on days I don’t want to move, I think about folks who might be wheelchair or bed bound and would give anything to move. And then moving my ass and knowing I am ABLE to move it, looks ever so much more attractive.

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herewegoagain • June 8, 2009 at 9:55 pm

I ran my first 5k last month, using the c25k program to prepare for it. It was the best thing I’ve ever done. It was hard and it took determination, but I did it and I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of myself. The best thing for me was it turned me into a runner. I was injured the week of the race, ran through the pain, and have been paying for it ever since. I really haven’t been able to run. However, the silver lining is twofold – 1) I actually have MISSED running – which is amazing and weird for me and 2) I now know I can do it again because I’ve done it once before! Congrats on making the commitment to yourself and good luck as your train for it!

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Thealogian • June 8, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Oh, my goodness, I’m totally doing the Mid-Summer’s Night Run in Lexington this year too–with my brother. Okay, I’m probably walking most of it–and its 10 weeks away? Oh, no. If you wanna do a reader round up, I could help make arrangements. (I live in Lexington).

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K. • June 8, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I am right there with you…let myself go after my 85lbs loss, then lost my mum so all unravelled…ate everything under the sun, lost fitness level and gain a few lbs back. But i am back on track, slowly working my way up there again, and surprisingly, not as unfit as i thought i was…the body does remember…and I think deep down, we are just changed people after the type of serious life change we undertook, can never go back…keep up the great work!

K.

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Deb • June 8, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Being able to run a 5K whenever you feel like it IS totally badass.

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candice • June 8, 2009 at 11:28 pm

I feel you, I set a pr in November in the Trail of 2 Cities half marathon, and today is the first day I really have worked out since Vetran’s Day:{ In fact after losing 17 pounds last year, I have gained 7 back, arrg! I just got inspired by new music, and that is usually the ticket. My next race is the Father’s Day race, last year I placed 2nd overall in the 2 mile walk, I just want to finish strong this time. Good news is that our bodies remember, unfortunately so do fat cells, and that will be on our sides.

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Mom Taxi Julie • June 9, 2009 at 1:58 am

YEAH!! So glad to see you getting back to the running trail!

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catherine • June 9, 2009 at 8:00 am

Two things: Firstly, woot woot on you getting your life back! Secondly, the adjectives you used for your headache reminded me of the kid’s book: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I loved that book as a kid and it is a pretty apt description for what you have been going through!

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Butterfly • June 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

You are amazing! I could never run during a headache. You are my new champion.

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Carrie • June 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

I have always wanted to be a runner but never really know where to start. I am still very much obese (260 lbs.) but after reading this yesterday I went to the C25K site and downloaded the info and podcast and started the program last night. I loved it!

My 10 week program is probably going to take more like 20 weeks but I am looking forward finally being able to say I can actually run a significant distance!

Good luck on your 5K and thanks for the info.

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Quix • June 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Yay! I never did Couch to 5k but I probably should have instead of going to quick and injuring myself. Good luck, and thanks again for being my inspiration to start running last year. I’ll think of you while I pound the pavement in my half marathon in a week and a half (yikes).

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Crys • June 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I’m reading your book for the first time and LOVING it. I could have written this, right down to the gallbladder removal! I had mine taken out at 26 and used it as a catalyst to start my weight loss journey, only I’m not very far yet… Thanks for writing with a candor and wit as only someone whose been there can! – Crys

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Kate • June 9, 2009 at 9:10 pm

@Meg – You could try starting at the beginning of Couch to 5k, but doing the intervals with more intensity – jog as slowly as you can during the ‘walk’ intervals, and pick up the pace a little during the ‘jog’ intervals.

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AndrewE • June 10, 2009 at 3:45 am

I started with C25K last year and I just completed my first marathon a week or so ago. C25K rocks!

Stick to the program and you’ll be fine. Listen to the man when he says don’t skip ahead. Great advice that!

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Allison • June 10, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Good luck, Jennette! I started it a couple of weeks ago after reading about it on Life of L’s blog. I’ve lost my MP3 and so stopped after week 2, but if you’ve already got a race picked out, you’re halfway there. Looking forward to hearing updates.

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GazelleGirl • June 11, 2009 at 2:40 am

OMG! I totally started C25K this week! I had to rest 2 days but am ready to head out for my 2nd week 1 outing tomorrow morning. A coinkidink? I think not. You are one of my great motivators, Miss Pasta, even though I don’t “really” know you. I am shooting for a 5 k around that same time. I will keep you in mind. FYI: I am currently 300+ so NO EXCUSES PEOPLE!!

:) Amy in NorCal

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Donna • June 11, 2009 at 7:14 am

Great news! You go, girl!

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Kimberly • June 17, 2009 at 9:24 am

I did the Couch to 5k program, though I kinda crapped out around week 7. Since then I’ve run a few 5ks, but I always have to walk a bit. Maybe I should retry weeks 7-10!

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Barb • June 18, 2009 at 2:06 am

Due to your encouragement, I have started the couch to 5K. I am turning 40 next week and I haven’t been jogging since high school. Today I went to a local gym that has a wonderful indoor track and started my journey. I felt pretty good after I was done and tonight, I’m feeling my legs and butt. Thanks for your encouragement.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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