Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored, but some affiliate links for which I get paid a tiny amount if you make a purchase are included. Always consult a physician before beginning a new exercise or running program. Nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice.  

Please forgive the click-bait headline. I really couldn’t resist.


C25K running

About the volcano that got me running:

The Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala is one of 37 volcanoes in the country—3 of which are currently active. It has been spewing ash, rock, and lava randomly since 1965. In 2010, eruptions of lava and ash were responsible for the deaths of three people.

None of that deterred me from wanting to hike to the crater situated below the summit. The volcano certainly didn’t kill me, but there were a few moments along the way that had me thinking about what a story the other journalists on the hike would have if I dropped dead on the trail.

You can read the story about the hike—and how I finished it here.

What I Know About C25K® Running / Training

This is the story of how it took that damn volcano to point out the fact that I have been on one too many luxury cruises and attended a few too many foodie press trips without weighing the consequences to my health.

I don’t consider myself a couch potato by any means, but a friend had recently used the Couch to 5K® program successfully so that app seemed like a good place to start my quest for a better level of fitness. I’m only in week two but here’s what I can tell you so far about running for my life.

The first week is not for true couch potatoes.

I don’t know any genuine sofa spuds that could survive the first workout. If you haven’t done ANY kind of exercise in a few years, start with walking. Once you can walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes, then turn to the app.

Your Apple Watch will need tweaking.

The watch app is only available with the paid version of the app, so if you like to keep up on your wrist, you will need to shell out $2.99 to get the proper version. Also, the app will not stay awake on your watch the way some workout apps do. The workaround I came up with was to adjust the wake screen settings so that a flick of the wrist re-opens the app.

On your iPhone open the Watch app. Then General settings > Wake Screen > Within 1 hour of last use.

Take a hard look at your calendar before you begin.

There’s no point in starting if you can’t keep going. Pick a time to start the program when you at least have a reasonable chance of getting through the first three weeks. After that, you’ll either love what you’ve accomplished enough to keep going despite calendar obstacles, or you won’t.


You need to find the point mentally where you are not too hard on yourself. This is hard. Accept that going in and learn to get over your small failures and celebrate the small victories. And don’t get in a hurry—this is not a race. There will be plenty of time later to increase speed. Just get through each day of C25K® running at a pace that you can manage.

And be sure to relax physically while you are running. It’s very easy to tense up your shoulders, making everything much more difficult.

C25K® running

There will be pain—but there’s a book for that.

If you take nothing else away from this article, know that the book I am about to share with you is worth buying whether you ever run a step for the rest of your life. 3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life by Joseph Weisberg is a life-altering book. Buy it. Read it. Keep it for reference for ALL your aches and pains.

Change your shoes.

Buying something new will help reinforce your desire to succeed, but old worn-out shoes of any kind will add to the pain. You don’t have to spend lots of money, even a pair of cheap running shoes is okay as long as they feel good on your feet, give you adequate support, and don’t feel like you are carrying around bricks strapped to your feet.

I started with a new pair of inexpensive running shoes, but because I run on uneven ground, these trail running shoes from Columbia are on my wishlist.

Pick a time that works for you.

I’m not an early morning person. I accomplish very little before breakfast and two cups of tea. To consider running in the morning would be crazy for me. I prefer to end my work day with a workout—then I can be a couch potato in the evening with no guilt.

The key is to think about your life. Your body clock. Will a morning run energize you or leave you feeling beat all to hell? Once you have a time that works for you, stick to it and let your body’s rhythm adapt.

Take days off.

Your body needs time to recuperate between workouts. If you feel the need to do something between running sessions, try something less weight-bearing than running. Swimming is good, as is yoga, or stretching, or even just time with some hand weights working on arm strength.

Fuel your body; don’t just feed it.

Running is punishing on your body at first. Make sure you eat adequate fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins so that your body has what it needs to rebuild and gain strength.

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

Before, during, and after your workout if necessary.

Listen to something fun.

I alternate between listening to my Italian language program and an upbeat playlist that makes me smile and occupies my mind. It is amazing how much more punishment I can take if my brain is distracted. I use Amazon Music, which is not supported in-app, so I simply start the music app first, then leave the C25K® Running app open on my phone.

Share your goals and accomplishments with someone who will celebrate with you.

I have been sharing my quest and some of my workouts on social media. It is amazing how much it means when someone reaches out and encourages me. Share your story with me—I’m happy to be your cheerleader.

Have a vision in your mind of the new and improved you doing something.

For me, the vision alternates between hiking up that damn volcano and simply running gracefully along the shore of the lake where I live. Those two visions keep me going. What’s your vision? Leave us a comment below or catch us on social media.

Be sure to check out some of Gary's beautiful photos from our trip to Guatemala.

#TravelTruth about the Pacaya Volcano hike.

Thinking of taking the kids to Guatemala?