Posted in Health

Old, Fat People (OFP) Running Plan – 0 to 5k

Download the spreadsheet – OFP Zero to 5K – 30 Second Running Plan

b&w running shoesI used to be an athlete…. thin, fit, kinda fast. When I was “out of shape,” I would start one of those “10 week to a 5K” programs, kinda bitch about how hard it was, knock it out, and get back to running.

Not any more.

Those ubiquitous “X Weeks to 5k” programs are mostly very similar and are all way too hard and kill both my body and my will to live. After the umpteenth time of feeling like a total failure because my middle-aged, fluffy body can no longer pretend to be 25, or even 35, I decided to invent my own running plan.

Welcome to “The Zero to 5k Plan for Old, Fat People.”

Hint: You don’t actually have to be old, or fat to follow the plan, but you should be people. I don’t think the plan would work very well for, say, iguanas.

I’m currently on week 6 of my plan and things are going very well. The plan is based around short intervals, which lets me keep up both my speed and form and provides the benefits of interval training. I walk as slowly as I need to recover, but I run briskly when I’m running. Brisk for me may not be brisk for you, so you need to judge your pace for yourself.

Before I started the plan, I

  • could easily walk 2-3 miles
  • didn’t have any injuries
  • checked with both my doctor and my physical therapist before starting.

You should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you are Old, Fat, and/or Out of Shape.

color running shoe

The plan should be easy enough for most people to follow. Some key points about my routine:

  • I run three times a week.
  • If it hurts, stop doing it. To be clear, if you are tired, or if your lungs kinda hurt, or you feel like your whole body is about to shake apart because, hey, you are old and fat, that doesn’t count. Suck it up. Getting in shape actually isn’t usually all that comfortable. But, if you have a consistent pain in your leg, foot, ankle, back, etc. that doesn’t go away, or if your body feels out of balance, or if something just doesn’t feel right, then STOP RUNNING and FIGURE OUT THE PROBLEM. I can’t tell you how many runners just gotta “run through the pain” for months on end and end up trashing their knees or worse. Despite the fact that I used to run track and I’ve run off and on for years, I am currently going to a physical therapist to improve my form and strengthen all those pesky minor muscles my body used to use for stability. Newsflash, holding down the couch doesn’t require a lot of activation in your gluteus minimus. It has made a HUGE difference in my comfort and form while running.
  • I run on both paved and unpaved trails through the woods (great for mental health). The
    Running here makes all the difference in the world to my motivation. (Actual picture I took after an actual run.)

    unpaved trails are smooth and mostly covered with mulch. Running on twisty, rocky trails with lots of tree roots is a terrible idea for old, fat people. We fall down a lot on those trails. You should pick a place, or a couple of places, you like to run and go there. I personally hate running on roads, so a drive to a park is totally worth it. If you need to run in your neighborhood or on the treadmill at the gym to get it done, do that. I just encourage you to think outside the box.

  • I walk about a mile as a warm-up, and I walk about a mile as a cool down. I started doing a total of about 2.25 miles. I’m doing between 3 and and 3.5 miles total at 6 weeks.
  • I don’t stretch before I run, but I do stretch or do yoga later or the next day. This will help prevent injuries.
  • My actual pace varies depending on how I feel that day. Some days I run a lot faster than others, and I have decided that’s OK. I just need to do the best I can and let it go.
  • My goal is to walk and run a total of 5 miles. Your goal should be your goal. The only right answer is what makes you happy and doesn’t kill you in the process.
  • I have skipped a week here and there because of time or illness and then started right back where I was without any problem. Your mileage may vary.
  • I have made a conscious decision not to care that I don’t cut the svelte figure I used to in running tights and a jog bra. You shouldn’t care, either.
  • My calculations in the spreadsheet are based on a running pace of about 6 mph, AKA a 10 minute mile. When I’m running short intervals, that’s about what I’m running as confirmed on a treadmill. You may want to adjust the spreadsheet if your pace is different. Also, I’m not sure if I can sustain that pace at longer distances, but I will post updates about my progress and any changes I have to make.
  • If you need longer breaks or shorter running periods, make the change on the spreadsheet.I’ve stuck some formulas in there to make adjustments easier. Let me know in the comment section if you have problems with the spreadsheet. Just remember:
    • Don’t add more than 10% to your total distance each week.
    • If you have a bad day, remember any exercise is better than none and tomorrow is another day.
    • Start as slowly and progress as slowly as you need to. If you need it, repeating days and weeks is a sign of you being smart, not a sign of weakness. Smart people live a lot longer than stupid people, or so I keep telling my son.
    • Who cares if you it takes you a year to run a 5 k instead of 4 months or 10 weeks? All that matters is that you are making progress towards your goal.
  • Download the spreadsheet – OFP Zero to 5K – 30 Second Running Plan