Dear Kevin, Dave, Don, Sue, and Josh:

I don't know whose brainchild the Couch-to-5K running program was, but it's your names in the company info and byline at, so to all of you, from the bottom of my feet all the way up through my heart, thank you.

I'm sure you'll be kind enough to share my thanks with the others who came up with this program and watched it grow over the years. Please count me as one of your success stories!

For anyone out there who believes they can't exercise -- that their bodies aren't adequate -- give the Couch to 5K program a look. If you know you hate to run, well, OK, there's some other activity for you to love. But if you don't know whether you like to run, or you remember running around and loving that when you were a kid -- give it a try, because trust me. You can do day 1. You can run for 30 seconds. Yes, you can.

The beauty of this schedule is that once you complete the first day, you can be confident you can do the second day. So when you see you can do the first day, go get some good shoes on your feet and don't worry what those shoes cost, because they're cheaper than knee surgery. I'm just saying. Don't try this in your flat canvas sneakers. Then take a big draw on your water bottle, put a big smile on your face, and GO. Listen. If I can do this in my lifelong slow and wildly curvy body, you can too. It feels so wonderful to draw deeper breaths . . . to know my heart is stronger . . . to trust my legs to carry me. Not just on the runs, but all day long.

What have I loved about Couch to 5K? It didn't promise me anything it couldn't deliver. It didn't promise me weight loss or that I would become fast. It told me that if I stuck to it, I'd be able to run 3 miles. A few things, yes, I had to learn on my own. I had to learn that it was okay that it took me six months, not six weeks, to finish the training. I had to learn that it was okay to run a lot slower than the suggested times. I had to learn both to accept my body and push my body.

I learned not to say, "I don't think I can," and instead say, "I don't know if I can but I'll go for it." I learned to say, "It doesn't matter whether I feel like running," because once I'm running I feel so great I don't want to do anything else.

That's a lot of learning. Thanks for that, Cool Running. Thank you for testing this training schedule; thank you for keeping it simple; thank you for keeping it non-commercial. Thank you for not changing it. (And believe me, I know -- my first attempt was 3 years ago before a foot injury. I was so glad when I came back to see the schedule was the same as I remembered -- the tone just as encouraging, as welcoming.)

So many of us fear exercise because we remember being the fat one, the slow one in gym class. Thank you for telling us that not only can we do this, but that by God you want us out there running with you.

If I could, I would run over and give you a big high five, Josh Clark and Cool Running. As it is, I wish for you from my virtual space all the best continued success with your virtual space. May your site provide you and your families not only security but happiness in your everyday work.

See you on the trail,
Ann Elizabeth

Running Links
Cool Running
Couch to 5K program - the direct link
C25K - a companion site with podcasts timed for the runs and lots of links to tools and training
Runner's World - once you're hooked, go get your fix.

(Cross-posted from A Sunny Hello.)