Don’t get me started talking about Couch to 5K apps. I will rage and spew hatred for all the crappy apps out there. It will be an hour-long rant about how the MOST important thing about a Couch to 5K app are the audio cues.
So, if you want to learn to start running and want an app to help you with that process, DO NOT SEARCH FOR COUCH TO 5K ON THE APP STORE!!! You will find SO many apps and they are ALL garbage. All of them, except 5K Runner.
With a Couch to 5K program, you learn to run by doing intervals. There are times when you run and times when you walk. This app will tell you when to run and tell you when to walk. It will also play your workout music in the background and gently break in to tell you when to run and walk.
All Couch to 5K apps say that they will tell you when to run and when to walk, but 5K Runner actually DOES it. It never misses an audio cue. You see, with those crappy programs, they will gladly tell you when to run, but then some bug happens and they forget to tell you to start walking, so you end up running WAY longer than you should. Or maybe they only work with the audio cues if you keep the screen on the entire run. Some of them only have trouble if your headphones accidentally get pulled out when you dropped your phone. Others break down when your halfway mark audio cue coincides with a cue to run or walk.
I have tested 5K Runner in every possible way to make it break and it has never once missed a cue. Without fail, it has ALWAYS told me when to run and when to walk. It has ALWAYS told me that I’ve reached the halfway mark. It has always given me a little extra incentive when I am in the middle of that last running interval of the day (I REALLY need that one).
5K Runner just WORKS the way it’s supposed to.
That’s how low a bar I set for this program and every other program I tested failed. They all missed an audio cue of some sort and left me walking too long or running too long (that was the worst).
I do have ONE caveat, however. DO NOT LOOK AHEAD! Don’t look at the workout for next time. ESPECIALLY don’t look at the workout next week. It will scare you to think that the next time you run, you’ll have to run for FIVE minutes straight with only three minutes walking for a break. That happened to me. I just finished the W4D2 Run. Before I started, I was so terrified of that run this morning that I tried to avoid it because I had looked ahead.
The funny thing is, by the time you get there, you CAN do it. It might sound impossible, like running for five minutes with only three minutes to recover, but you WILL be able to do it when it comes time for that run. Don’t look ahead, just plug in your headphones and do what the nice lady tells you to do.
That is ONE thing that I wish I could change. I wish I could record audio cues for myself. I would have the people I love record the “Motivate Me” sections. I would MUCH rather hear my husband tell me, “You can do this, we’re almost done.” Or my mom saying, “I’m proud of you for doing your workout today.” Even if it were just me, I wish I could record my own voice saying, “Keeping going, Laura. I know you can do this.”
I really like that you can just turn off the voices altogether and just have beeps telling you when to run and walk. I love that you can choose whether it tells you that you’re halfway done or whether you want motivation. Those settings will really come in handy after I have been using this app for several years, but I’m sick of the audio cues.
Finally, there are the badges. When you do workouts, you earn badges, which feels really good to have one pop up every week or two. Of course, all the motivational cues and badges in the world won’t work if the app crashes or forgets to tell you that you can walk now after a hard run. I love the badges, but they don’t mean anything to me if I am angry at the program for making me run too much.
I’m going to be BRUTALLY honest here. Up until now, my favorite option for Couch to 5K was the 5K app for Zombies, Run! I have been VERY positive about that app because I do love it so much, but even that program has betrayed me. Once it left me running, running, running, and the doctor never came back to tell me to walk. I didn’t hear from her again until she said, “Ok, Runner Five, it’s now time to run.” By then, I couldn’t breathe. I was very mad at the app for that, despite my love for it. THAT’S how important audio cues are when we are learning to run. And I said that I wouldn’t go on an hour-long rant about just that…