App Saturday: C25K 5K Trainer, A Running App for Beginners

I hate running. This is something that has and always will be true. However, after deciding I need to take care of my physical and mental health, the one choice I kept circling back to was, "I need to start working out." My schedule doesn't always sync with my friends, so I typically go to the gym alone. And without anyone to spot me on weights or go with me to a class, the best solo workout for me is running around the indoor track. Zen Labs' C25K app guides users who are complete beginners with an eight-week course that can be used for running outdoors, indoors, or on a treadmill three times a week. In fact, the C25K stands for Couch To 5K, and the app aims to have its users reach a goal of being able to complete a 5K marathon at the end of the eight weeks. As someone who hates running, I really like using the C25K app. It's started a huge change for me. I've gone from just hating the thought of going on a run to hating it while I'm running.

Related: The Ultimate Fitness-Tracking Guide: 12 Best Apple Watch Workout Tips

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C25K 5K Trainer (Free)

What It Does

An interactive and motivational fitness app, C25K aims to bring a beginner runner to a 5K's marathon finish line in 8 weeks. C25K lays out a training program for eight weeks with sessions three times a week. Each session starts with a 5-minute warm-up followed by 30 minutes of alternating walking and jogging with an increasing time devoted to jogging the further you progress in the program. After creating an account to read and post to the app's forums, you can read about other users starting the course or posting their progress. There's a lot of encouragement and tips on how to get the most out of this app being thrown around on the forums; so even if you don't want to contribute, it's a good idea to read some posts for troubleshooting or to reassure yourself that yes, a couch potato can eventually run for 30 minutes straight. 

Why We Love It

Even though I hate running, I made up my mind to integrate it into my workout routine. And the C25K app provides the structure I need to stick to a regimen and gives me results. After the first session of week 1, which is alternating walking and jogging, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and thought, "That wasn't so bad." I can connect my Apple Music library to the app and play my music during the routine. I have my choice of a buzz, ring, or voice to tell me when to start jogging or walking so I don't have to look at my phone and can focus on the track ahead of me. C25K can also be used with the Apple Watch or even the iPad if you're doing the course on a treadmill. I can also lock the app so it stays running while I run, and no accidental taps will stop the app.

Go Your Own Pace

Part of why I hate running is I'm really, really bad at it. I'll be re-doing the week 1 sessions before moving on to week 2. If you feel like you need to stay at a certain week's level before going to the next one, just reset the data for the session you're repeating. You'll lose the original data on C25K, but if you feel like you need to go slower than what the pre-set eight weeks are pushing for, then you should. Browse the forums and there are other users discussing their choice to do the same, while staying focused on the goal to eventually be able to run for 30 minutes straight.

Upgrade for More Features

The premium version of this app will measure your distance and approximate calories burned, which may not work if you're using a treadmill. Also the paid version is ad free and enables you to post your progress directly to social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter. Both the free and premium versions of C25K have the option to pay to subscribe to a curated music library to play while you run. The special thing about this music library is it will match whatever beat-per-minute (BPM, referring to your heartbeat) that you choose, so the music will sync to your desired heart rate. 

Stay Focused

As someone who can't say how much I hate running enough times, C25K has made running tolerable. I use this app because of the straightforward structure and clear goal of being able to run for 30 minutes. I tap to start my session and keep going until it's over. So if you want to add running to your fitness goals, try C25K by Zen Labs. Just like the app's name, I'm moving from being a couch potato to a 5K runner. Or as I tell everyone, from a couch potato to a fit potato.

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Hallei is a 2018 graduate of Maharishi University of Management with a BFA in Creative & Professional Writing. She's currently working on a novel about people using witchcraft to clean their houses.