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From Couch Potato To Race Runner

May 10, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

From Couch Potato To Race Runner

You may not think you could ever run a marathon or even a 5K.  But more people are using a program claiming to turn couch potatoes into runners. 

Mikael Pietilla is making strides to get back into shape after taking a year off to focus on school and work.  But this isn't the first time the Brookings woman has went from being a self-proclaimed couch potato to a race runner.

"If I did any workouts, it was usually like a half hour, really easy workouts, but I never did any running before then," Pietilla said.

But in 2008, Pietilla ran into the Couch to 5K program on her iPod. It claims to get you into shape to run a 5K, or around three miles, in just two months.

"Once I started, I just fell in love with it. You couldn't keep me from running. I just wanted to get into every 5K I could," Pietilla said.

You can also find information about Couch to 5K online. Every week, the workout gets a little more difficult, starting out with 60 seconds of jogging followed by 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. By week nine, you're running for 30 minutes or three miles.

"The first day of the week it's like, 'Oh my goodness. This is so hard.' Really, it's not too bad, and the second one is a little easier. By the third one, you're thinking you can probably go on to the next week," Pietilla said.

But how do you know that you're being safe while revving up your running time? If you overdo it, you could end up hurt.

"In general, it's recommended to increase your mileage by no more than ten percent weekly," Sanford Wellness Center Manager Amy Pugliese said.

Pugliese says overuse injuries are the most common for runners. That includes tendonitis and stress fractures.

"Doing that, you might just end up setting yourself back and not being able to do that 5K or 10K or half marathon event you had planned for," Pugliese said.

As far as Pietilla, she's injury-free and has even ran into several health benefits.

"Loosing weight, getting more muscle tone and more endurance," Pietilla said.

And she hopes not to just go from couch to 5K this summer, but possibly even a marathon.

Pugliese also says if you're training for a marathon, make sure you divide your workout days into smaller and longer runs, so you don't overdo it.

Get more information about the Couch to 5K program online.

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