I really hate running. I've always hated running. Every time I decide to give running a try (again), I think about how much I'd rather be biking, lifting heavy things, or doing anything else (except squats). However, when I do go running, I use the free C25k app to try and guide me toward longer and better runs.
As you can probably guess from its name, C25k (iOS, Android) is designed to get you from your couch (not that in shape) to a 5K run (decently in shape) over an eight-week period. The app does no good if you can't make the regular commitment to run for around a half an hour three times a week. However, since it's trying to build you up to a 5K, you're gradually introduced to the concept of running longer and longer distances — partly for your health, and partly so you don't quit the first day when you realise just how tough it is to run for 30 minutes without stopping.
What I like most about C25k is that its free version works perfectly for the basics during your run. You'll get a timer right in the center of your smartphone that counts down the set time for your workout, and you'll receive audio updates — ideally, through the headphones or earbuds you use when jogging — to tell you when to alternate between running and walking. Remember, you're learning how to run a 5K: you're going to mix light and regular exercise at first to build up to a full, rest-free run.
You can upgrade the app for $US5 ($6) (on iOS) or $US3 ($4) (on Android) to unlock its "pro" features, which include distance-tracking, calorie-tracking, and the elimination of advertising within the app. If you find yourself getting bit with the running bug, it's a worthwhile buy. That said, I didn't really care that much about distance or calories when I started out; I just wanted to make sure I had a handy guide in my ear telling me when to walk and when to run, and C25k is perfect for that.
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