I'm due to run W9R3 tomorrow and wanted to share my experiences of the program. First of all - it works. When I did my research on the program, some of the durations and what seemed like significant jumps from week to week didn't make sense. Nevertheless, I made sure I followed the program to the letter and I'm very glad I did.
Prior to C25K I had a lower than average fitness level due to a desk-based job and having 2 young kids to keep me busy. I could do 40 minutes on a cross-trainer a couple of times a week, but never really felt like I was improving my fitness and whenever I tried to use the treadmill usually failed after 2 minutes. From following the program, I now know why.
I made the decision to start C25K after I turned 40 and wanted to improve my overall fitness. Having the forum as a knowledge base really helped - right at the start I decided to get gait analysis done and get some proper running trainers as it highlighted over-pronation. I'm sure two of the issues I had prior to C25K whenever I'd tried running (very sore ankle joints and shin splints) were down to using generic trainers - since I have been running in proper trainers I haven't had a problem.
The second message I took from the forums was to pace myself. It's more important to cover the distance rather than worrying about your speed. Again, this is why I think I struggled with running previously - trying to go too fast, too soon. By pacing myself (roughly 8km/hr) I managed to find a comfortable running pace to cover the distances.
I am fortunate to have a free gym at work with a treadmill, so was able to incorporate it in to my work day. The third point I'd make is that it's important to plan ahead for your runs - take your gym bag to work in advance / block time in your diary for your run. If you are running out of work hours, plan time in your day to fit in your run.
It's worth mentioning that running on a treadmill and outside are 2 very different things. Running on a treadmill is easier in my experience as you don't have wind resistance, uneven surfaces, pollen, rock hard ground and a constant gradient. I found running outside (and still do) more challenging because of this. If you are planning to do most of your running on a treadmill, make sure you increase the gradient on the treadmill to try and make it more realistic. My tactic has been to increase the gradient as each running week goes on which seems to help.
Depending on what you get out of running, I've benefited from having music with me and having some playlists just for running. Being perfectly honest, I still find running a bit boring (albeit satisfying when you finish) so it's amazing the difference music makes in keeping me going particularly on the longer runs.
I'd also recommend getting either an app for your phone or a fitness watch if you can. I've a Garmin Vivosmart HR+ which I link to Strava. It really helps keep you motivated and helps track your progress and performance.
My final point is to recognise that you are going to have bad days - days where you don't feel like it or have low energy when you are running. Trust me, it does get better and your body adapts and develops stamina. Read through the forums here and you will see it's normal to have ups and downs. Don't give up, trust me. As Michael says - YOU CAN DO THIS!
Sorry for war and peace but hopefully it may help any C25K starters who want to know more.