Category Archives: c25k

Learning Curve

It took me two sub-successful runs to realize that I had two options:

A. Keep trying to maintain that 9:00-9:45mm pace and burn out before end.


B.  SLOW THE *F* DOWN and complete the workout as planned.

I will admit, the last two workouts have been a bit demoralizing.  I had been progressing nicely and really enjoying it.  Like many, I’m highly motivated by success and pretty quickly demotivated by anything I perceive as failure.

As my Couch-to-5k runs have gotten more difficult, I’ve looked forward to them a lot less.   Yesterday morning, as I dressed to head out, I felt nervous.  Good thing my shoes glow in the dark.  That’s gotta help, right?

The source of my power.

Part of my struggle in the last week has been finding the right pace and mental state on the treadmill.  The weather was lovely and clear so I headed out to my favorite run spot, Lake Merritt.

So much duck poop. So much.

I knew it was very possible that I would need to walk at some point during my planned 2.5 miles but I still looked forward to getting outside and seeing if it went more successfully than my last two runs.




The average pace includes my 5 minute walking warm-up so I’m guessing my average running pace was somewhere between 10:15-10:30.  Thanks to Kelly Clarkson, I finished strong.  Stronger, in fact.  (Ha ha ha.  That’s a song.  I punned.)  And I’m not ashamed to admit that as I was finishing the last half mile, feeling great and successful, there might have been a couple happy tears.


Turns out, I was not at ALL disappointed that my sustained pace is slower than my interval pace from a couple weeks ago.  I was just thrilled to finish.

I will own you. In, like, 2 weeks.



Many people abandon the Couch-to-5k in weeks 6 and 7.  I completely understand why.

It gets hard!

The hardest part of the last week has been accepting the reality of what my body is capable of doing.  As inspired as I may be by marathon recaps, speedy paces and my own growing strength, I still have limits.  While the progression of the Couch-to-5k keeps me in check distance-wise, I’ve realized that I also have to check my pace expectations.  And maybe my growth expectations.

Today’s workout was a 5 minute warmup walk and then 2.5 miles without walking.  My last, similar, workout was not successful, in that I did not complete the stated distance without walking.  I made it about a mile, had to walk for a moment to lower my heart rate and resumed running.

This morning, I made the decision that I would run at a considerably slower pace (5.5 or 11mm) in an attempt to complete my stated distance.  While treadmill running used to be my only option, I find it pretty difficult now.  I can’t fluidly adjust my pace to recover or push myself when I feel inspired.  It’s a great challenge to maintain a steady pace but it certainly has become a challenge.  My run today reflected that it was a good choice and I am still struggling to keep my heart rate down over longer distances.  Since I’ve fallen in love with Draw Something, I shall use my, well….phenomenal artistic abilities to bring the run to life.

Mile 1 - Happy! Comfy!

Easy breathing.  Strong legs.  Whenever I would start to feel a bit uncomfy, I would check in with various parts of my body.  When I verified that they all felt strong, I reminded myself that I can do this!

Mile 2.25. HATING LIFE.

Around the end of my second mile of running, I was really dying.  Like last time, I used every strategy I could think of to get my heart rate down without stopping but my mind won out.  Again, I checked my heart rate and it was through the roof.  I took 0.15 miles to recover and resumed, determined to finish the workout as close to intended as possible.

Miles 2.25-2.75. Baby, I'm a firework.

It was not ideal but yet another reminder that this is a process.  The more I can do to set myself up for success, the sooner I will reach my goals.



Today, I had a bummer of a run.

I realize that my previous C25K post said W6/D3 but it was actually Day 2.   Today, I attempted Week 6/Day 3 – 2.25 consecutive miles.

With the Oakland Marathon underway, I opted to avoid the affected neighborhoods and did this workout on the treadmill.  Learning from the mistakes I made in my previous workout, I started at my “conservative” pace: 6.0.

I felt a bit tired at the start but figured it would just take a few minutes for my legs to loosen up.  I settled into my music, observed my breathing, and attempted to check out mentally.  This was successful for about 3/4 of a mile.

Towards the end of the first mile, the bargaining began.  My mind was begging my other mind to stop.  The part of me that wanted to keep going tried every mental trick in the book but right at the first mile mark, I stopped.  I was so disappointed as I have not stopped to walk during any of my C25K workouts (with the exception of two seconds on a steep hill.)

As I regained my breath, part of me was tempted to just stop completely and try again tomorrow.  NOPE.  That would turn a struggle into a failure and I thankfully decided that wasn’t an option.  I gave myself about a quarter mile to calm down and resumed running at 5.8.  I felt alright and pushed through the next mile.  When I finished, I checked my heart rate and it was 185.  That is very high for me – no wonder I was so miserable!

I was quite disappointed but it only took me a few minutes to recognize that I couldn’t have even come close to doing this a few weeks ago.  I am a new runner.  I am learning to do something new and hard and not every time is going to be easy or even successful in the way that I intend.

Everyone has the inevitable bummer workout.  How do you handle yours?

In It.

Thoughts during Couch-to-5k Week 6/Day 2:

Mile One – In It:

” I’m tired.  This is going to suck.  Maybe I should have taken another rest day since everything is tasting weird and I couldn’t remember my phone number yesterday…”

” Hey ShaunaBeth (no one calls me ShaunaBeth except me in my head when I’m working out)  – instead of listening to music and trying to distract yourself until it’s over, why not choose to be *in it* today?  FEEL your body.  Acknowledge the physical sensations you perceive and if you don’t like them, try to change them!  Release your breath.  Stay in your legs.  Okay, doing this.”

” This feels alright!  Legs strong, if a little wonky, breath fairly relaxed….”

” Feeling a little tightness in my chest and shortness of breath.  That’s okay.  You’re a voice teacher.  You spend all day thinking about and watching people breathe.  Time to take a couple of low breaths, release your abdomen, let your diaphragm descend and lower that heart rate….”

” Oh HAI large black lady with a mohawk who just upped her walk to a jog – YOU DO IT, GIRL!”

” I wish the mohawk lady would smile back at me so we could share an inspirational moment.”

” Ooh – that distracted me for about 0.12 miles!  Run again, lady!”

” I’m still running and I feel good!”

” Is there some advantage to running really fast and holding on to the treadmill?  Is that cheating?”

” Starting at 6.0 was a good, conservative choice!  Well done, ShaunaBeth!  Why not kick it up to 6.2?  Okay, ShaunaBeth, I will!”

” Well that was a lovely and successful first mile.  Now I shall take my prescribed 1/4 mile recover walk.”

Mile Two – CHAOS:

” Wow, it feels SO MUCH BETTER to run with music.  I LOVE YOU BRITNEY SPEARS.”

” I am a badass runner!  This feels amazing!  I have athlete legs!”

” This feels great so great, I shall push it up to 6.5!  This will end well!”

” Wait, I’ve gone HOW FAR in this mile?!”

” Slow down.  Slow it down.  Slow down immediately.”

” That is not slow enough.  Stop running.  Immediately cease to run.  Stop the running.”




” Okay, I can breathe.  This is okay.  It’s 5.7 on the treadmill but who cares.  Breathe, ShaunaBeth, you overzealous bad choice maker.”

” Back up to 6.1.  Half a mile left.  Doable.  Hard.  This is hard.  What’s mohawk lady doing?  Why does Bad Romance sound so slow today?”

” All these people walking at 0.5 and talking on their cell phones are the worst.”

” Push it to 6.2 and finish strong!  DO IT FOR THE MOHAWK LADY.”

” 0.10 left.  GOT THIS!”


It Has To End Sometime Or I Will Kill Earth: A Photo Essay

My workout today was HARD.

For Week 6/Day 1, the running segments are 1/2 mile, 3/4 mile, and 1/2 mile with a 1/4 mile recovery walk between each.  Not so bad, especially after 2 consecutive miles, last week.  So, I decided to make it bad.

Just the f*cking beginning.

Really, Oakland? Is this *necessary*?

Keep on keepin' on.

Sure, it's all fun and games from the top. These hills need to DIE NOW.

It was brutal.  During the last running segment, I hit a big hill and could barely get one leg in front of the other.  I screamed at myself not to stop.  I reminded my tired, tired, tired self that I have not stopped to walk once in 5 weeks.  At the very top of the hill, I admittedly took a couple of steps that could be defined as “walking” but I immediately pushed myself back into a super slow jog.  I reached the crest and miraculously picked up the pace.  Thank you, Britney.

Kilometers are longer than miles because numbers are constant?

I was really happy with this pace considering how challenging the route was.  I remember trying to run up the gentle incline at the top of my street a couple years ago and feeling like I was being waterboarded.  Today wasn’t nearly that bad but I was beyond tired when I got home.

I hate ground that is higher than the other ground.

Spent some time stretching out with Merlin’s assistance.

Cat ('stache) stretch?

And then I went to Dailey Method.  Because I’m a lunatic.


Okay, runners.  What’s your hill strategy?  Slow down so you can maintain your pace?  Power through them to feel like a monster?  Yell at your self and Britney Spears?

The Dreaded W5D3

So the 30 Day Challenge is technically over.  I have lots of thoughts and feelings to share about the last month and I promise that a post about it is forthcoming.  In the meantime, I just returned from a run and couldn’t WAIT to write about it.

There are many, many threads devoted to the “dreaded” Week 5/Day 3 workout in the Couch-to-5k program.  In the first four weeks, the workout doesn’t change within the week.  In week 5, there are three different workouts.  The third is a 5 minute warmup walk followed by either 20 minutes or 2 miles of running – depending on whether you’re going by time or mileage.  In Week 4, I switched to mileage.  It’s easier for my pea brain to compute,  it’s less annoying to stare at on the treadmill, and I consider it a reward for running faster than a 10 minute mile.

People tend to psych themselves out about W5D3 because the furthest you’ve run on the plan (without a walking recovery) is 3/4 of a mile or 8 minutes.  Jumping up to two consecutive miles is intimidating!  Even with all my fun and successful workouts, I’ve had some hesitation as the two mile workout approached.

So.  All week in Oakland has looked like this:

I'm in a glass case of emotion.

I’ve been looking forward to doing this particular workout at Lake Merritt, the 5k lake in Oakland that I dream of dominating.  When I woke up this morning and saw that it was clear, I scarfed down a Lara bar, took a quick nervous picture, and headed out the door.

Got this, right? Right? ........Right?

Lola is concerned.

I arrived at the lake as the farmers market was setting up.  Woooo parking spots galore!  I set up a workout in Run Keeper that had half mile intervals.  I wanted to have a sense of where I was in the run to avoid that feeling of “this is never going to end ever so I better just stop right this second.”

It was cold.

As soon as my warmup walk was over and I began to run, I noticed a few things:

* It was really cold.  I was very glad that I purchased a new techie tee yesterday and wasn’t wearing a tank or a bulky sweatshirt out of necessity.

*  My tummy felt funky.

*  I was running too fast.

In the past, if I had felt any GI sensation, I would have stopped.  Today I just said, “f*ck it” and kept going.  I also couldn’t control weather and gave that another “f*ck it, keep going.”  What I could control was my pace.  I kept reminding myself that I had much further to go and I needed to slow down.  That was probably the biggest challenge of the run – constantly monitoring my own pace and body.  There were many points where I was quite tired.  My heart rate never got out of control but throughout the run, breathing felt less easy than usual due to the cold.  Knowing that I just had to make it to the next interval turned out to be quite helpful.

I can think of at least 10 times where the old me would have stopped to walk.  Instead I shuffled along, sometimes very slowly, until I regained my breath and was able to pick the pace back up.


I did it!  At no point did I stop to walk and will you take a look at those splits?  So consistent!  Woooooo!  It’s cute how I thought I would push it for the last quarter mile.  That obviously didn’t happen but I was so tired at that point that the fact that I stayed anywhere near my pace was miraculous.  Despite being tired, my body felt great.  Absolutely no knee sensation whatsoever.  I’m so relieved that my new shoes were a good purchase.  Funfetti be praised.


The Challenge in Numbers


New shoes.


Full-form pushups.


Average pace per mile.


Dailey Method Classes.


Miles around Lake Merritt.


Yoga practices.


Couch-to-5K sessions.


Days without looking at the scale.


Blog posts.

30 Consecutive days of surprises, unprecedented strength, and pride.




On Tuesday, I had a great run that met my goals.

Tuesday went so well, in fact, that I felt pretty nervous about today.  The running segments get substantially longer in week 5.  I hoped that I would be able to maintain my sub-10mm pace but honestly wasn’t convinced.  I was worried that I would get too tired, too winded.  I was even more worried that I wouldn’t challenge myself, would give up, and would feel like I wasn’t changing.

I am silly and blew today’s run out of the water.

0.25 mile warmup walk: 3.5/17mm

0.5 mile: 6.0/10mm

0.25 mile: 6.1/9:50mm

0.5 mile recovery: 3.5

0.5 mile: 6:2/9:41mm

0.25 mile: 6.5/9:15mm.   SERIOUSLY.

The c25k plan for W5D2 calls for two 0.75mile running segments.  For an additional challenge, I bumped up my speed on the last quarter mile both times, increasing distance continually.  Negative splits again.  Booyah.

It was GREAT.  Made even greater by my……NEW SHOES!!!!


These are Asics Gel-Noosa Tri-6’s.  They are technically triathalon shoes but based on all my research, they fit my specifications for a lightweight, neutral shoe.  I absolutely LOVE the way they look so I promised myself that if they arrived and didn’t feel right, I would send them back.  I was a bit nervous to do my first run in them.  I had some different feelings in both my knees and shin during the first 10 minutes and then they felt really comfy.  I feel great now and couldn’t be more pleased with my (slightly early) reward purchase.

After my run, I returned home for a brief yoga practice.  I prefer the full-body positive benefits of yoga to static stretching after running.  Today I used Suzanne Deason’s Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss, my go-to DVD.

When will they integrate Rock Band with yoga?

Happy (tired) me.

Pretty dang good Day 29.

Day 27

First, I want to *truly* thank those who read my last post: Weight.

I’m very grateful for the encouragement.  It was quite difficult to write  – it took me over two hours and I’m still not sure I articulated even half of my feelings on the subject!  I loved hearing that some of you were moved by it and that it spoke to your own experiences.  It feels great to share that story from the beginning of the next, and much more positive, chapter.

Today I annihilated W5D1 of the Couch-to-5k.  I moved from the time option to the distance option, which I greatly prefer.  It was pouring rain and I had to do the run on the treadmill so I set it to a 1.0 incline, to account for the wind resistance and uneven terrain found outside.

My workout went thusly :

5 minute warmup walk: 3.8/15:47mm

0.50 mile: 6.0/10mm

0.25 mile recovery: 3.8

0.50 mile: 6.1/9:50mm

0.25 mile recovery: 3.8

0.40 mile: 6.2/9:41mm

0.10mile: 7.0/8:34mm

5 minute cool down: 3.8-3.0


My breathing felt great.  I felt super strong!  ‘Edge of Glory’ came on at the beginning of the last running segment.

Thank you, Crazy Lady.

And then I went to Dailey Method.  Because I am crazy.  Like Gaga.




Killed It.