Get Running With "Couch to 5K" App C25K: A Lazy Man's Apology

The story of an idle man, an assertive lady, and their moderately paced love affair.

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Toward the end of Jon Stewart’s tenure at The Daily Show, I was making sure to tune in. Sometimes the Q&As — as Stewart himself admitted — could be lackluster, so I would often skip ‘em. Anyhow, in a chat with Tom Cruise, Stewart said he and his wife were training with a “Couch to 5K” app. I hadn’t heard of it before, so I decided to check it out. And I’m glad that I did.

I wouldn’t say I hate working out. I’ve always sort of being doing something, here and there — “sort of” being the operative phrase. I don’t mind lifting weights and I like playing basketball, but it’s hard for me to consistently go to the gym. Because gyms are the worst. I used to run a decent amount in high school — probably the last time I was in good shape — so running, itself, didn’t seem like the absolute pits. I downloaded the C25K and got to work.

A quick word: There are various “couch potato to 5K” apps out there, but this is the one I use. It’s free (there’s a premium version, which probably doesn’t have as many annoying pop-ups as mine does) and it’s doing the trick.

Zen Labs Fitness

Here’s how it breaks down: You do what it tells you to do three days a week and after eight weeks, your ass should be ready to run a 5K. I’ve sped up the process a bit by running more than three times a week, and I’m entering my “sixth week.” The app combines walking for a period of time with running and then walking again, and there’s a computerized lady there to tell you via your headphones what to do. As things progress, there’s more running than walking until there isn’t any walking at all. For example, today it’ll have me do the following: A 5-minute warm-up walk, run for 5 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, run for 8 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, run for 5 minutes and then cool down. It might not sound like a lot, but it’s a lot. Running is difficult.

The Zen Labs tech behind it is solid enough and you can jam to your tunes in between the Lady (capitalized now because she owns my life) tells you what’s what. It boggles the mind to think that I couldn’t just do this myself but — like my girlfriend, who is currently being yelled at by some guy during an EDM laser show at SoulCycle — I need somebody there to push me. This “somebody,” of course, is more akin to Theodore Twombly’s muse in Her, which is a bit freaky. But for whatever reason, I wasn’t previously running eight whole minutes without a countdown clock and voice waiting to tell me everything will be okay when it ends. Our relationship is going great, even if it’s a bit one-sided.

I did purchase new running shoes and got one of those meathead armband things for my phone, but there’s no expensive gym fee or the just-neutered-dog indignity of using an elliptical. For now, it’s me and the Lady. Until the inevitable break-up over pizza and beer.

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