The Question: Okay, so I am a 29 year old fat woman who wants to run her first 5k before she turns 30. That 5K is on January 2nd.
So here's the details. My highest weight ever was 325 (5'8"), and I am currently around 278. I am doing 3 full body strength training workouts each week, and then doing my runs alternating 3 days a week, with one day of rest. I also walk at least another 2-4 miles a day during my work breaks. I am also eating at a caloric deficit using My Fitness Pal, and getting plenty of protein.
So here's my question. I have completed the couch to 5K program in that I can successfully jog for 3.11 miles without needing to walk or stop. My problem is that I am very, very, very slow at it. My current best time is around 53 minutes. I would love to get at least somewhat faster by the time I do the 5k.
What kinds of things can I do to get faster at this in the 8 weeks before the race? In the end, being able to complete the race jogging/running without stopping is my goal (Something I've never done in my life), but I'd love to be able to really do my best.
A good approach is to do something called undulating periodization. It's typically a method used for resistance training and because its endurance training (running for distance) you wont be periodizing in it's normal sense. However, you can undulate the distance you run and the speed at which you run it. "Undulating" means that you vary those variables (duration, distance and intensity) from session to session .
Think of your training as peaks and valleys of a mountain range. some peaks are high and some are moderately high, while valleys may be very low or moderately low. However, these peaks and valleys aren't perfectly one after another, often varying from one to the next.
For example, one workout, you can run for 1.5 miles at a moderate intensity (somewhat difficult, but not too bad). The next time you can run 3 miles at a low intensity (very easy pace). Next run .5 miles at a higher intensity (you really push your limits of shuffling, but not to the point of being sick or injured. Just faster than you would for a longer duration). Next bump, the distance to 3.25 miles at a moderate pace. etc. (This is just an example).
By undulating the distance, duration you run, and the intensity you run them at, you can start to train different facets that contribute to running performance such as different energy systems, aerobic capacity (ability for your body to keep up with energy demands), V02 max (how much oxygen cells can take in and use). Plus, you provide yourself with a novel stimulus (which drives adaptation and growth) each time, yet learn how to run more efficiently (i.e. just get better at running or shuffling).
Running for different distances such as above and below 3 miles, gives you an opportunity to sometimes push your limits and sometimes back off and recover.