How would you improve Couch to 5K??

Hi Everyone-

Recent graduate here (well back in February)I did it with my colleagues as part of research into creating a theatre show where the audience gets to run.... I really enjoyed the experience. the structure was really good, and the NHS podcast did help, but after a while I stopped using it, as the music really didn't suit me, and just timed my own sessions.

Which got us thinking about creating a Couch to 5k podcast for folk like us (!) who wouldn't normally dress in lycra or go to the gym, who don't really fit into a 'sports' lifestyle. Something that would hook people into getting fit without just being about running

So some things we thought of so far-

Music from up and coming local bands.

Spoken word articles about the history of running, cultural significance, biogs of people like Jesse Owens, or Katherine Switzer, warm ups, health and fitness tips and recipe ideas (with links so you can make them when you get home!)

Short stories from local writers.

Any other ideas? How would YOU improve your Couch to 5k experience?

28 Replies

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  • Don't want to be a wet blanket, but I found the Laura podcasts just fine. The running itself is entertainment, the coaching and encouragement of Laura seems to help a lot of people judging by what they say here, and I don't want my attention distracted by things I'd have to focus on. Recently I've enjoyed running without audio accompaniment!

  • Ok - so the music on the podcasts is not to everybody's tastes (should I say anybody's tastes?). One of the critical things that you are missing here though is that you have to get the beat right. I certainly couldn't imagine running to a spoken podcast. Finding the right tempo of non-copyright music with an appropriate bpm that's to everyone's tastes could prove quite a challenge, I suspect.

  • Spoken word sections would be for the early walking sessions. Though tbh, i often listen to R4 whilst running for a bit of brain food (maybe that is just me!)

    Adamb you are right about finding the right tempo, though of course it is different for everyone, as we all run at different paces.

  • I used the app so I could decide what I listened to anyway. I agree with Steve about the encouragement of Laura and the distraction of other things. I found Laura's tips a distraction early on. I also agree with Adam about the beat. I listen to a wide range of music (from Metal to Musical Theatre) and found during my journey that some things were just too hard to run to whilst other things made it easier. I found myself going a bit to fast to some songs and really slowing down to others. - not much help I suppose, sorry.

  • If there was an app that could search your music library and would choose your music that fitted a certain bpm, that would be handy.

    I would say that Laura is a must however. Her encouragement really got me through at times.

  • This app exists - I have it on my phone!! Check out RockmyRun

  • Does this app pick from your own library?

    I cant seem to see that on the website. Its all prearranged playlists.

  • that does have free and paid for playlists, yes.

    for your own music, you can have a look at cruisecontrol or pacedj or temporun.... there are plenty! do some googling and see what you find.

  • Thanks. I 'll have a look

  • I like to hear music with an uptempo beat (regardless of how cheesy and naff it may be). It helps with the general pace of running. I am not necessarily listening to or concentrating on the lyrics - (I run outside so need to be listening out for traffic over the top of my breathing) So I don't think talking or reading of stories would work for me in this instance. (Although I do listen to things like this when walking the dog).

    Perhaps a way to track your progress? I like this forum as it is a mini (!) support group who are there when there may not be local runners in the same boat as me. I like to compete against myself and see the improvements (distance, time etc) so perhaps something like the Garmin connect app..?

    I would really like to see a similar program to get graduates to the next steps - 10K and maybe a half marathon.

    I like to hear Laura telling me how far i've run - it's helpful for me as I don't like to stare at my watch all the time and I know she will chime in at certain intervals.

  • Runner 56, yes, this is definitely something we want to look at. In the early stages of Couch to 5 K it could also be possible to find tracks you own that would fit the particular interval that you run or walk for. These would be great ideas, but getting code to write this as an app (rather than a podcast)is something else altogether...

    Sarah A - yes, we used a Facebook page to do this when we all trained ourselves up. we could offer encouragement to each other, and get tune recommendations. We ran our sessions in a big country park on the edge of town with few other people about (it was mid winter) so we were then able to play music as we ran, and people could listen out for their favourites, which worked really well, and we all got new tunes we hadn't heard before :-)

  • I think you've missed the point of the c25k programme eviljoe. You wrote that you wanted to create c25k podcasts "for folk like us (!) who wouldn't normally dress in lycra or go to the gym, who don't really fit into a 'sports' lifestyle. Something that would hook people into getting fit without just being about running"

    What you described is us. We *are* the people who wouldn't normally dress on Lycra or go to the gym! We *are* the people who don't really fit into a 'sports' lifestyle! Or at least we were those people until we came to the NHS c25k programme. We only wear Lycra, use the gym or fit into a 'sports' lifestyle *because* of c25k. If you don't like the music on the podcasts then use the app. Problem solved!!

  • My thoughts exactly! Eviljoe - have you spent much time on this forum? The 'us' on this forum actually do seem to like C25K as it is and many of us are of a 'certain' age and definitely not built for lycra body suits but once we get into the running and the healthier lifestyle we wear whatever feels comfortable to run in and get very excitable about a sale at Sports Direct or Aldi! I wouldn't change a thing about it at all. I wasn't keen on the music to start with, but now I've gone back to it because it is absolutely perfect for running to!

  • Ooo errr Useit, you sound as irritated by this post as me! Seems a wee bit cheeky to use the members of this forum to do market research in order to set up a rival product. Grrrr (or am I just being over-protective of our beloved Laura?) x

  • Not irritated, just happy with how it is. Seeing how many thousands of peeps on here have embraced and benefited from the programme, I don't see a need to change it ... but I am only me, and others may disagree!

  • I agree EM and Use it . I wouldn't add or change a thing . I like it as it is . If it can get me ( the original couch potato ) to run non stop for 30 minutes ,that makes it a winner in my eyes

    If it aint broke, don't fix it ! Or in other words , mess with Laura at your peril ! :) xxx

  • You tell 'em Pops!

  • C25K and Laura have got many people running who always thought that they hated running. It is a wonderful program. I was a "wouldnt be seen dead in Lycra", now I love running, and I wear whatever is best for running in the conditions on the day.

  • Me too! When I catch my reflection in the patio doors I feel sorry for the other residents in my village who have to view me tottling around looking like balloon art huffing and puffing, but hey, I just feel so good I don't care!!!

  • There are two aspects here :

    First is the program itself. Although I have not yet completed it, I have seen more than enough evidence to persuade me that is effective and that it works for pretty much everyone regardless of age, size or shape.

    The second aspect is marketing and publicising that this program exists, that it works, and has tremendous benefits. It is this area where there is certainly scope to improve but is also more challenging. It is difficult to reach and attract a wide demographic these days without spending megabucks doing so.

  • Dunder2004 - just so you are aware members of this Forum have had permission to create posters etc which can be put up in Doctor's surgeries etc with the agreement of the C25K. Not quite sure now where you find them on this site but it was done so that we could all spread the word.

  • Thanks C4ts. Yes, I recall Iannoda posting a link to the posters not long ago.

  • As a recent grad I am still revelling in the delight of seeing 'graduate' next to my name, it seemed getting that badge meant a great deal to me, a real badge of honour that kept me running and wanting to 'keep up' with others on the forum. How about other badges for other milestones? e.g. actually getting to 5k? doing that 3x per week? and so on......it seems I am like a primary school kid and I like my stickers and gold stars after all!

  • Wouldn't change a thing. I used the app so I was also able to use my own music, so an all round win for me!

  • hmmm. I never used the podcasts :( and only used the app once or twice :( I do listen to music on my headphones.

    I did the whole thing off a printed sheet (google - c25k treadmill). I'm a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to gadgets even though I've worked as a computer tech all my life. So I wouldn't change anything.

    If there are printed sheets for the other runs (stamina, speed etc) then that would be good. These are probably already available if I just got off my bottom to look for them.

    I did find that running to music at the correct bpm was useful so a guide to how to find songs with the right tempo might be useful.

    Working on the treadmill, the thing I find most useful is having someone on the next machine running at the same tempo. I guess that's a bit like running with the crowd in Parkrun.

    As for the lycra thing? It just works. You can run in a pink Floyd t-shirt and cutoffs, but there comes a time when the chafing becomes too much. Then it's either a compression top or micro-porous tape!! and if you get chafing below the belt...

    And hi-vis is a must. I bought two very cheap and shapeless yellow t-shirts, to pull over whatever I'm wearing, so I can run outside and be seen.

  • I'm really sorry, eviljoe, but this is exactly the sort of thing that would make me avoid this type of podcast. It seems to me that you're trying to make it trendy. I agree with many of the comments below, and I would add -- what do you mean by 'local' bands? I live in Derbyshire. I've probably never heard of up and coming bands from Cornwall, Liverpool or Dundee. I don't care about blogs of Jesse Owens and I'm very sorry to admit publicly that I've never heard of Katherine Switzer. Cultural significance of running? Leave it out! Some of my friends admire my determination (and my thighs :D ) but many still mutter because I'm one of 'them' now. I don't care, mind - but I don't think running has a cultural significance here in Derbyshire.

    I'm very sorry this sounds so negative but what you're describing sounds daft to me. If you'd posted it on April 1st I would have laughed heartily and gone on my merry way. Possibly (probably) I am just too old and set in my ways to take on interactive and new ways of doing things, and if this works for other people then I wish you all the very best with it. If you can get more people into exercise then fantastic, and all the very best to you - I wish you well, and I'm just sorry I can't give you more help. I hope you can find people who can.

  • Some people describe me as a bit of a music snob - I do spend an inordinate amount of time and money buying records, going to gigs, listening to obscure radio shows and trawling the internet for new sounds and I think I would *actively dislike* the idea of running to some carefully chosen cool music.

    The generic stuff on the C25K+ podcasts (I still use the Stamina and Speed ones every week) is perfect for keeping a beat without being overtly distracting. When I'm not running with Laura, I leave the MP3 player at home - music I actively enjoy or take an interest in is far too distracting for me.

  • I run naked last night - How liberating. I think C25K is the best thing I have ever tried. I have never stuck to any kind of exercise before and would never have thought of taking up running. :)

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