On Twitter recently, I’ve noticed an influx of editors lamenting their physical state. It’s true that many of us are amorphous blobs. Consider how much we move around compared to other people. Sure, there are office workers across the country filled with drones who happily sit at their desks in a sedentary lifestyle. But guess what? They go home after 8 hours. Editors often don’t, and get sucked into the black hole that spits them out at the other end without having eaten or peed for 18 hours.
So I thought I’d pass along some information about a (free) program I’ve been doing that actually fits in really well to the life of a busy editor: Couch to 5K.
This is a pretty popular program, but in case you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a guided interval training program designed to take you from never running at all to running a 5K in about 9 weeks. You walk for so many minutes, run for so many minutes, repeat, and you’re done.
The part that makes it a good fit for editors is the time needed. Each week consists of three days, and each day takes between 20 and 30 minutes. And you don’t need any special equipment, because you can run outside. I would hope that you often have at least 30 minutes to yourself in a day, whether it’s during a render or export or backup, or a true break from the edit. If not..well, maybe you should edit on a treadmill or something.
There are a lot of resources for Couch to 5K if you ask the Googles. Some people write down the intervals from this site and use a clock. There are free NHS podcasts you can listen to with cues built in. I used this app at first which overlays audio cues to walk or run on top of your own music, and now I program the intervals into the coaching option in Runkeeper since it works with Spotify better. After I finish running the intervals I’ll probably switch to Nike+ because I like the idea of celebrities congratulating me.
The idea is that each week you will slowly transition from mostly walking to mostly running. Week 1 consists of alternating intervals of about 30 seconds of running. Then it jumps to 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 8 minutes and eventually at 9 weeks, a full 30 minutes.
I’ve always been a really terrible runner. I always failed the state required mile run in elementary school. For some reason, I was born with good strength and flexibility, but no natural ability to flee from predators. Plus, my feet are screwed up, and it took a trip to the podiatrist and a year of walking on custom orthotics to make running even possible.In caveman times I would have either had to climb a tree or get eaten by a velociraptor (they co-existed in my mind.)
Running has always been this idealistic goal of mine that goes hand in hand with my desire for arbitrary goals and tangible awards (oh and also the health benefits). So, in late November I gave it a shot.
Week one wasn’t horrible, but I could barely make it through 30 full seconds of running on the first day. I was encouraged at how quickly I improved.
Then the three minute intervals came. The first time I ran for three minutes was immediately after a large Thanksgiving meal at work. I somehow made it through, but I wanted to puke.
I occasionally tried a day where I ran as long as I could, but the intervals are always what made it possible.
Then I was ill for a month and a half, which prevented me from running much since breathing is usually important in these things.
Which brings us to last week. I’ve been running outside as I ease back in and figure out where I should pick the program up, assuming that week 5 was not where I needed to be. I stopped at the gym to run on a treadmill. I forgot my earbuds so I couldn’t get the audio cues to walk and run, so I decided to just run as long as possible again to gauge my fitness.
I ran for 16 minutes.
I was pretty shocked when I was still running after 5, 10, 15 minutes. Remember, 30 seconds was agony, and I’ve never been able to run a whole mile in my life. I think I could have even kept going, but I was afraid I’d overdo it after so much absence. Of course, my pace is dreadfully slow, but this program is about stamina and just finishing, not speed. And it doesn’t appear to have been a fluke because I ran just as much a few days later, though I went back to long intervals.
So, it should be evident that this is for real. And I’ve seen people with all body types accomplish it. It’s like witchcraft mixed with science. They would be burning me right now for telling you this if we were in 1690s Salem.
Besides the health benefits of running, this program is also great for editors because it gives you a chance to get away from your desk. The mental break from editing, mixed with the increased circulation, all the yummy chemicals your brain releases when you exercise, the break for your eyes, and the fresh air if you can run outside, should help you go back to your edit with a renewed perspective.
Of course, the only downside to this is that you might be sweaty. I don’t really have a solution for that. But you do sweat a lot less toward the end of the program. Bring a change of clothes or give yourself a hobo bath in the bathroom sink if you don’t have access to a shower. You don’t want your edit suite to smell like a locker room.
If you happen to be a person with knee problems, this program can also be adapted for use on the elliptical or stationary bike. You won’t be running a 5K, but it’ll help you build endurance.
If you can’t make it through week 1 of c25k, there’s also a pre-c25k program that’s designed to bring you to that point as well. A couple other tips: drink a lot of water, since dehydration is usually what causes those side aches. Eat a banana before running, the potassium helps. Take your pace down considerably if you need to. If you barely make it through a day of the program, feel free to repeat it. I repeated several days, some of them 3 times. I felt like I wanted to be comfortable finishing, and not just dragging myself to the end. And take the time to figure out proper form when running, and proper breathing. Believe it or not, breathing is kind of important. Also important? Actually doing the rest days. So basically: eat, drink, breathe, sit. Hey, I’m doing that right now!
My current goal is to run the entire Indianapolis 500 Finish Line 5K. I’ve been doing this 5K for several years – this will be my 6th or 7th time – but I’ve always walked it. That’s a lie, I always ran the last tenth of a mile because it was the finish line area, otherwise known as the only part with spectators and glory, since it combines with the Mini Marathon. Maybe next year I’ll do the full mini. I never thought it was possible but then again, I didn’t think running for 20 minutes straight was possible.
Another great fitness routine for editors is HIIT body weight exercises because they can be done anywhere you have a bit of floor space. They’re incredibly effective and also often very short segments. I asked my good friend and fellow editor Katie Toomey to write a post on this subject, as she’s been an avid HIIT-er for over a year and can truly attest to the power of using your own weight for strength training. Also she threw me through a plate glass window once. So go read her advice.
It does seem like a ton of the editors I talk to a lot are in great shape, though. So many are cyclists, too, which is something I would like to try once I have a place to store a bike.
I have two scheduled interval days of couch to 5K remaining, then the final two weeks are solid 20-30 minute runs. Daunting, but doable. I’ll let you know how it goes.