Tech & Fitness: Train Yourself to Run Using Couch to 5K

We've never thought of ourselves as runners, but thanks to the interval training program offered by Couch to 5K and designed specifically for running newbs (that's the "Couch" in the title), we're not only hitting the pavement regularly, we've seen ourselves transformed into fans and advocates of the program that got us there. Learn more about the program and see some tips and accessories below.

We're fitness fans at Unplggd and love to find great programs and hacks to help us get healthy. And we can't sing the praises of the Couch to 5K enough. It's designed to take you from your couch to being able to complete a 5K run at the end of nine weeks, and being in the midst of it, we can tell you it really works.

The program is about twenty minutes, three times a week. Each of the three days is the same, with alternating periods of jogging and walking. Each subsequent week extends the periods of running and walking by about 30 seconds; at the start of each week, you often feel like you might collapse, but by the third day you feel like Rocky Balboa.

If it sounds simple, it is. You can use as much or as little tech to help you get going on the program. Here are our recommendations:

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  • You can use an app to accompany as you run, and there are lots of paid and free versions for every OS. We use this one ($2.99) and have found it useful with the iPhone because the phone vibrates at each interval, as well as barking out an audio cue; there's also an option to play music, and a visual countdown, which can be very useful.
  • If you want to go the completely free route (though still using a gadget), there are a plethora of podcasts designed by fans of the program, with their own music choices and timed prompts. Check out a comprehensive list here.
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  • Having an armband to hold our listening device helps us stay well-paced, since there aren't a lot of cords flapping around. iPhone users, try the Tuneband ($16.99); Android and Blackberry users, please share your product recommendations in the comments below.

Of course, there's lots of fun running tech like the Nike Plus and GPS route trackers, but cues to run and a pavement or treadmill to do it on are really all you need for the Couch to 5K program.

Have you done Couch to 5K? Do you have any tips to share? What are your favorite Cto5K apps, gadgets, podcasts? Let us know in the comments.

(Image: Flickr member Daniele Sartori licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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