I created an account just so I could answer this (and hey, any excuse to keep in the wedding scene, right? ).
I’m currently in Week 6 of the C25k program, and my experience has been that it the ONLY excerise/training program that I’ve ever stuck with this long. For the most part, I’ve loved it. I love saying I’m training for a 5k (my first will hopefully be Oct. 9), and I am motivated to take on other healthy habits on a more regular basis.
After 4 weeks in the program, I realized I had begun to notice a definite difference in my outlook, mental clarity, mood, and even … HALLELUJAH!!! … my fitness level. After every run I felt accomplished, and motivated to keep going, even when it was hard. Weeks 1 and 2 weren’t extremely difficult for me, but I did get winded after a minute of running. I had to learn to pace myself.
Weeks 3 and 4 stepped up the pace and I saw myself run for 3 minutes without trouble. I was amazed!
I have to say though, week 5 almost made me snap, and week 6 has been even harder for some reason. Even on days I manage to run the full time for the interval, I’m not getting the distance in, which is discouraging. I feel like I need to repeat this week for a few more weeks until I can run more than 10 minutes straight without feeling like I’m going to die or be sick. But I press on … even though there are no more intervals after this evening. From here on out, it’s 25-30 minutes STRAIGHT. I know I can do 20. After all, I did it this past Sunday for the first time in my life. I don’t know how, and I guess that’s what makes feeling beat after only 10 minutes so discouraging after that, but there you have it. BUT I’m NOT giving up! I WILL graduate from the program! (Even if I have to walk part of the 5k I’m doing.)
If you’re looking to shape up to fit a wedding dress, I don’t recommend you do it for that. Full disclosure? After 3 weeks of running, I GAINED 2 pounds. I’m hoping that it was muscle weight, but it woke me up that as I ran more, I was eating more because I got hungry. To check my eating habits, I recently started combining the use of Livestrong.com’s MyPlate free online calorie-counting/nutrition tool to track my calorie “budget”.
In addition, the success I’ve seen doing C25k so far has given me the courage to start up a weight training routine in hopes of strengthening my muscles and improving my metabolism.
My brother commented after only a few weeks of the program that he could tell I was looking healthier, and my husband swears I’ve lost inches from my waist (and it does wonders for a girl’s ego to have her guy eyeing her backside with definite approval), while a close friend commented I’m visibly changing. I can’t say I see it, but something is working, because I’m stronger, healthier, and I just lost 1 lb. (little victories!) this week as a result of running, working out, and eating better.
For me the biggest pluses have been stress control, my mood improving (not anxious about things), and forming healthy habits that I love! I’m now reading running magazines for pleasure … not to just “lose weight”.
Helpful Tip: It’s fine to start out with the running shoes you have in the house, but I can’t tell you just HOW MUCH BETTER it is running with shoes that are right for your feet. Go get fitted for a pair at a runner’s store (they watch you walk and jog and measure your feet and study your stride to find just the perfect pair for you.) It will be the best 40 minutes and $100 you’ve spent. It also is good to get something called “The Grid” which is a foam roller that massages your muscles to prevent injury. I swear by it.
Bottom line? Do it. You won’t regret the workouts, if you stick with them. If nothing else, it will help manage the stress of wedding planning! But weight loss is not likely on the program. I’ve heard you don’t lose weight from running until you start training for a 10k. That being said, every bit counts, and you will tone up. The first time I ran for 8 minutes at a time outside, I was sore the next day in muscles I never knew I had, let alone that they were used for running!
Good luck! I hope this helped a little. And congratulations on your engagement and wedding! It’s GREAT to be The Bride!!!