Near Innsbruck, Austria

So, I started jogging.

That’s my big confession.  Not much of a confession, you say?  Ok, here’s my confession:  I can’t jog.  Not good enough for you?  Well, I can’t do push-ups either.  Not one.  Not even the girlie kind on my knees.  I don’t like to tell people that because as far as I can tell, I’m pretty much the only person in the world who can’t even do one measly push-up.

But back to the jogging.  I really can’t jog.  Even in Junior High, back when kids were still encouraged forced to exercise in school, and Ronald Reagan wanted me to be able to jog a mile around the school track, I couldn’t do it.  I wasn’t overweight.  I just wasn’t a jogger.  And I couldn’t do enough sit-ups either.  So I hated P.E. class and I hated that Presidential fitness program because it always seemed like I was the only one who couldn’t run the mile, who couldn’t complete enough sit-ups, who couldn’t do the pull-ups.  And if push-ups had been part of that program, I guarantee you that I wouldn’t have been able to do enough of those either.

That stuck with me.  Those exercises weren’t part of our daily school P.E. regimen so I never had a chance to improve or see that it was possible to get in better shape and to actually score well on those fitness tests.  Instead, I labeled myself ‘non-athletic’ and trudged through five more years of Physical Education classes, dreading fitness tests and hoping I would never be singled out.

Does it sound like I’m blaming Ronald Reagan for the fact that I’m out of shape?  Well, I’m not.  I think we need fitness programs in schools now more than ever.  I just wish I had come away from those junior high P.E. classes with confidence and knowledge of how to improve my athletic ability instead of feelings of inadequacy.  But I guess Junior High is all about feelings of inadequacy anyway.

So, back to present day.   After years and years of believing that I just can’t do it, I decided to start jogging.  Being married to a bad-ass Navy EOD Tech for 8 years, I’ve become quite familiar with the inside of a gym.  I’ve slowly overcome most of my “I just can’t do it” feelings that used to be associated with all sports and/or fitness equipment.  But jogging and push-ups are two things that I just haven’t conquered.  And yes, there is still some shame and embarrassment attached to it.

So why am I announcing this to thousands of strangers?  Accountability, for one.  If you all know that I’m working towards a goal of jogging for 30 minutes straight, perhaps I’ll be less likely to give up when the going gets tough.  But the other reason I’m sharing this is that I  know I’m not the only person in the world who can’t jog and I’m probably not the only one who can’t do one stupid push-up (I’m hoping that at least one of you will admit that and make me feel better about my shocking lack of upper-body strength).

I’m not saying that everyone should be out there jogging.  It’s a personal choice.  For me, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to be able to do.  I have no desire to turn into a competitive runner, but I would like to be able to go for a jog with my husband.  I want to be able to complete a 5K and get one of those ugly free t-shirts.  I want to burn more calories and I want a healthier heart.  Also, I want to lose some of the weight I’ve put on since moving back to the United States.  And I don’t do diets.

So I’m going to share with you the walk/jog program that I started a few weeks ago.  There are several versions of this type of program out there; they are generally 10-12 weeks in length and move you gradually from walking to jogging with the end goal being 30 minutes of nonstop jogging.  After 3 weeks of doing this, I’m really not sure if this particular program is a good fit for me, but I’ve decided I’ll just repeat week three until I feel like I’m ready to move on.  I’m not gonna lie, week three really sucked.  But I’ve decided that it’s not important how long it takes me to complete the program, as long as I eventually do finish it!

Bud Coate’s Ease into this Running Program

Before you start: get your legs ready with eight days of walking:  Walk for 20 minutes a day for the first four days, then increase to 30 minutes a day for four more days.

Each week of the program, do your run/walk workouts on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Take a rest day or an easy walk on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.

WEEK 1:  Run 2 minutes, walk 4 minutes.  Complete 5 cycles.
WEEK 2:  Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes.  Complete 5 cycles.
WEEK 3:  Run 5 minutes, walk 2 ½ minutes.  Complete 4 cycles.
WEEK 4:  Run 7 minutes, walk 3 minutes.  Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 5:  Run 8 minutes, walk 2 minutes.  Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 6:  Run 9 minutes, walk 2 minutes.  Complete 2 cycles, then run 8 minutes.
WEEK 7:  Run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute.  Complete 3 cycles.
WEEK 8:  Run 13 minutes, walk 2 minutes.  Complete 2 cycles.
WEEK 9:  Run 14 minutes, walk 1 minute.  Complete 2 cycles.
WEEK 10:  Run 30 minutes.

Note:  You may stretch out this schedule to include 2 weeks at a certain level if you feel tired after completing one.  Do not be tempted to shorten the schedule.  Remember, you are aiming for 30 minutes of uninterrupted running, not a distance.  Run as slow as you need in order to reach the goal.

From Complete Book of Running, Amby Burfoot, editor, 1997, Rodale Press

As I said, there are plenty of walk to jog programs out there.  A very popular one is the Couch-to-5K Running Program.  That program promises to have you running 3 miles in just 8 weeks.  Another is the 12-week Beginning to Run plan at Eat Better America.  Speaking from experience, I think a 12-week plan is more realistic for those of us who have never been joggers.

Regardless of which plan you choose to follow, remember that you can always repeat a week if you aren’t ready to move on.  The point of these plans is to ease yourself gradually into jogging, not push yourself too hard, become discouraged and give up!  Do you like how I’m assuming some of you will want to do this with me?  Come on, you know you want to!

Well, if you do want to give this a try, here are some tips/suggestions:

  • Get some new running shoes.  I’m serious.  Go to a running store if possible and get the right shoes for your foot.
  • Get a heart rate monitor.  I know not everyone can afford to run out and buy all this fancy new gear.  But heart rate monitors have really come down in price and I think it will help with your motivation. By using the heart rate monitor, I’ve been able to see improvements in my heart rate before I can actually feel a difference.  It has definitely encouraged me even if I haven’t seen much improvement anywhere else.
  • Run on the right surfaces.  A treadmill is actually a really good place to start.  You are in a controlled (read: air-conditioned) environment, you can keep a water bottle within arms reach, and you might even be able to watch television.  But if you don’t have access to one, or are too embarrassed to start your huffing and puffing in front of people at the gym, try running at a school track or find a flat running trail.  Just try to stay off hard surfaces such as concrete.  That means no sidewalks!  Running is hard on your joints, hard surfaces make it even worse.
  • Quit being self-conscious!  Don’t worry about what other people think.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

Now for the push-ups.  I don’t have a specific plan.  I’ve been back at the gym for about a month and am slowly building my strength up with weight training.  My goal is to do ten push-ups by the end of the year and I am confident that it won’t be a problem.  I’ll let you know when I complete my first one (I’m about halfway there).

Now let me tell you about that beautiful photo at the top of this page.  When we lived in Sicily, we had the opportunity to travel to several other countries in Europe.  That photo was taken on a weekend trip to Austria.  My husband was in Stuttgart, Germany doing some training and I flew up there to meet him for our wedding anniversary.  We drove to Innsbruck, Austria for the weekend and this photo was taken on a day trip to a place called Walderalm.  See that little road leading into the Austrian Alps?  That is where I like to imagine I am jogging when I’m on the treadmill at the gym.  And next time I visit Austria, I think I’d like to jog down that trail instead of walk.

And who wouldn’t want to run when at the end of the trail you can sit down at this table and enjoy fresh cheese from the dairy, a cold beer, and the view of snow-capped mountains all around you.

View from the Dairy

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  1. jaf

    i felt like i was reading an entry in my diary when i read this. i try to stay active but shy away from running, push ups and sit ups. i’ve always wanted to run a 5k. hearing about your goal and progress motivates me. keep us updated on your success. best of luck.

    1:55 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  2. wendy

    Good for you! FWIW, I hate running/jogging, but run a half-marathon once a year to say I can do it. (of course my legs kill the next few days b/c I don’t train for it, b/c I hate running–did I say that already? 😛 ) In the meantime, I take lots of spinning classes and recently started hiking on the weekends. I just don’t like running and can’t get past that mental block.

    1:59 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  3. radish

    This is so awesome. As someone who couldn’t jog for ten minutes, let alone do 1 push up, I wound up running 3 half marathons, and will now be returning to the sport now that my stress fracture has healed!! Congratulations on jogging and like Lisa said, remember to enjoy it. You’ll be SO excited with each new goal conquered!! I promise you, there will come a time when running will make you feel at ease and free and calm – and you’ll love it! :) Go you!

    2:03 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  4. radish

    oh and as someone who is impossibly addicted to nsis, i am fascinated with all things navy related :)

    2:06 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  5. From My Kitchen Table

    Accountability is the name of the game. It (almost) always keeps me moving forward even when I don’t think I can move forward. Best of luck with your running and keep cooking. It’s also a key to good health!

    2:09 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  6. ThisPrimalLife

    Not to be a pooper because I think it is really cool that you are challenging yourself with a new activity, but one thought: Maybe the reason you aren’t good at jogging is due tot he fact that humans aren’t designed to run long distances at a steady pace.

    I don’t subject my body to jogging and I am in great physical condition. I lift weights, I sprint, and I walk around a lot because these are the activities that humans evolved to do. Jogging is an invention of the modern world. It puts unnecessary stress on the body for the sake of unnecessary (for most all of us) aerobic training. And to top it off, its not even so great for fat loss!

    On my blog I recently wrote a post about how much I’ve always sucked at jogging and how I got into great shape through lifting weights and eating better. If your’e interested the post is called Making the Case for Lifting Weights.

    2:17 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  7. Nicole

    ThisPrimalLife: Thanks for sharing your opinion. I’m actually weight training 6 days per week in addition to working up to jogging for 30 minutes (I don’t really consider 3 miles to be long distance running). The jogging is a personal goal, and I think I stated that jogging isn’t for everyone and that it is a high impact activity that can be hard on your joints.

    2:33 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  8. Danielle

    Kudos for sharing your confession and jogging plan on your blog Nicole! I’ve been procrastinating (like, forever) on awakening my running self since we moved to the US, so I know how hard it is to start. In fact, it is probably the hardest part! Good luck with your journey – you’ve inspired me to start a plan of my own :)

    P.S. I can’t do push-ups either, although I’m sure some yoga poses (downward dog, cobra) will help strengthen your shoulder and core muscles, eventually making it easier to do the push-up.

    3:11 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  9. Maureen

    Good Luck on your running! I too could not do a push up, pull up and barely a sit up. Forget running!! Then, the unthinkable happened. I decided to run a 1/2 marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphomia Society. Just like that. Oh, and I am an overweight 55 year old! I coughed, gasped, and dragged myself through my first 3 mile run! Somehow, after 6 months of training, I actually managed to complete the 13.1 miles! I still cannot do a push up, pull up, and barely a sit up, but I did learn to run! And you will do GREAT!

    3:18 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  10. ThisPrimalLife

    @Nicole Sorry if I sounded snooty or judgmental! I didn’t mean for my comment to come across that way. I love your blog and your wonderful recipes. I wish you well in all your endeavors – running included! :)

    5:43 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  11. cheffresco

    Good luck with the running! I promise it will be totally worth it once you get into it! And those pics are amazing!

    5:49 pm  Aug 10th, 2009
  12. jaf

    after reading your post yesterday i went to the gym last night, i ran 1 1/2 miles. i kept thinking of your austria picture and the San Diego Bay which i love so much but only visit once a year. thanks for your post, it inspired me.

    12:36 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  13. Angela

    Way to go! Starting is usually the hardest.

    Treadmill Tip: Make sure the grade on the treadmill is at least 2.0. Otherwise, the slope is too hard on your knees and your body won’t like it.

    Push-Up Tip: Use your core! The more you pull your stomach in and use your abs, the easier it actually is! Also, make sure you’re alligment is correct – when elbows are bent and you’re down in the full position (nose to floor) your elbows should be stacked over your wrists.

    Motiviational Tip: KICK BUTT PLAYLISTS! Sometimes you’re tired and just don’t want to move. But, listen to a few of those sure-fire songs that you just can’t stand still to and you’ll be able to get moving in no time!

    As always, begin with the end in mind and visualize it every day. You CAN do it!

    2:39 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  14. Jennifer

    Good luck to you! I am also not a runner, it is very difficult for me and it takes me a long time to even be able to comfortably run a mile. I even dream about running. So, in order to hold myself accountable to my fitness and health goals (running goals included -recently got a hand-me down treadmill!) and dieting (also need to lose weight since returning from overseas), I started a blog. Writing about it definitely works!

    5:26 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  15. Lori

    Good Luck. Once you can do a push up even girlie style you should take a look at the 100 push up program. I did it last winter and it is pretty good about getting you to increase your push up ability.

    6:15 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  16. SallyBR

    Congratulations on starting this program!

    I picked up running more seriously at age 40, when I married (second time) – by age 46 I ran my first (and ONLY) marathon, something I would never EVER imagine being able to do!

    running is great, all you need is to give the first step outside the door, and all others are easier..

    8:42 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  17. ATigerintheKitchen

    What beautiful pictures! Of course, my strategy would be to just skip the run, not even attempt the push ups (I can’t do them either) and head straight for the beer … :)

    11:59 pm  Aug 11th, 2009
  18. Jess

    Hey Nicole!

    Good for you! I am a runner by nature and I just love seeing other people get into it as well. I’m sure you will reach your goals–and keep us updated on your progress! And thanks for the photo of Innsbruck! My brother and I traveled there the summer after I graduated from college and we just loved it…

    7:32 am  Aug 12th, 2009
  19. Andy

    Best of luck on this challenge! I love to run but keenly remember just how difficult getting started was.

    If I could give one piece of advise it would be to get off the treadmill and head outside as soon as you feel comfortable. Its so much more fun to be out and to see the sites; see your neighbors; enjoy the sun/rain/breeze; and to add variety into what is otherwise a monotonous experience. I know not everybody lives in a great location to run outside but, if you do, you might find it much more enjoyable than the treadmill.

    8:36 am  Aug 12th, 2009
  20. js

    well good luck to you my problem lies in sit ups rather than push ups and I’m working on it as well… Other than that love the website and am nicking the red velvet cupcake recipe for a friends wedding so thank you

    7:23 pm  Aug 12th, 2009
  21. Harmony

    In my yoga class we do push ups but the teacher calls them “float ups” and encourages us to really engage our abs and glutes and focus on floating up rather than just using our arms to push up (you can do this either on your knees or on your feet). I find that the feeling is much different and much easier when thinking about it that way. And needless to say, the more you practice them, the more upper body strength you’ll develop, but try one as a “float up” and see how it goes.

    6:41 pm  Aug 13th, 2009
  22. Danielle V

    Congrats on the running routine! I just transplanted to OR from San Diego and I miss the weather the most – you can do any activity outside ALL year long there! I highly recommend walking up Cowles Mountain – it is definitely a work-out with a great view! I, too, am not a runner, and in addition to walking the mile in school, I failed flexibility — still scarred from that, too! I will say, though, that my SO are on our 4th week of Couch-to-5K on our iPhones and it has surprisingly created the inklings of a running confidence I did not know I had! I highly recommend it! Good luck and thanks for your recipes!

    5:39 pm  Aug 14th, 2009
  23. TheKitchenWitch

    Oh, I’ve found the right place! I can’t do a push-up, either. OR run. In school gym class, when we took those physical fitness tests, we had to do this thing called the “arm hang”…did you have that?

    They’d have you stand on a chair, hold onto a chin-up bar, then yank the chair away and see how many seconds you could “hang” with your chin on the bar…My time was always: ONE second. It was soooo humiliating!

    Good luck with the running program!

    11:51 am  Aug 15th, 2009
  24. Rebecca

    I understand exactly how you feel! I started running because I hate going to the gym. By running, I mean walking with a bit of very slow jogging thrown in (Couch to 5K) program. It was horrible (the running, not the program)! I don’t like being red-faced or sweaty, and it seemed that no matter how much walking was a part of my running, I was always both. But I signed up for a 5K with my boyfriend and I finished the race. Since then, I’ve been running on again/off again. To encourage myself to stick to the on again part of that sequence, I’m signing up for a 5 mile race in the Fall. The most surprising part is that I can’t wait! Not that I would ever admit it to my boyfriend….

    Best of luck with your program!

    9:11 am  Aug 16th, 2009
  25. CN

    I am not athletic and I was always really bad about getting the mile done during school even though I was normal if slightly under underweight. I’ve actually done that running program and I thought it was really hard! I made it but my legs hurt sooo much.

    But then again I can do 15 pushups. I’ve always had more upper arms strength. Liked to climb trees. At one point I could do two pull ups but those are pretty much impossible. My legs have no muscle.

    1:21 pm  Aug 16th, 2009
  26. julo

    I will surely never be able to do a chin-up. I am losing hope that I’ll ever be able to do a single real push-up. But I am certain that anyone can go from being a non-jogger to a runner, given enough time!

    I was in the same boat as you, Nicole, just earlier this year. Around January I changed from my usual morning walk to a slow jog with lots of walking thrown in for that pesky breathing I tend to do. And just 8 months later, I am running 5K every morning. No joke. I didn’t follow any of those plans, but I think I ended up doing something similar on my own. Basically, I just jogged as much as I could. I started with jogging about a mile. Then when I had that down I added a quarter mile, and then another quarter mile. Just around my neighborhood, on the pavement. Then I started running on a treadmill once a week. I don’t really like treadmills because I get too obsessive over how fast I can run for how far. But my treadmill day once a week I would always see how far I could run. Pretty soon I got up to 3 miles. I couldn’t run that far on pavement, no way. But I started upping my distances and before I knew it, I was there.

    And it’s true, you will totally reach a point where you feel icky if you don’t run. That doesn’t mean it feels particularly good while you’re actually running though! Though you’ll feel great afterwards. :)

    And this is from me, a girl who dreaded running the mile in high school and could barely even do it. I HATED running, and now I love it, in less than a year. Just keep at it! You can do it! Rather than telling yourself that it’s not your thing, tell yourself that you’ll get to where you want to be if you keep at it, keep pushing yourself farther!

    Unfortunately, I’m still at a loss with the pushup. It was my goal to be able to do one by May. I’m still not there…but maybe some day.

    Thanks for posting this, by the way. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who felt this way! :)

    12:54 pm  Aug 17th, 2009
  27. Jen

    My jaw dropped slightly when I saw that first picture. The air is so crystal clear and the mountains are gorgeous. You’re right; who wouldn’t want to run if the incentive is a euphoric conclusion to a great exercise? I live in Los Angeles and the air quality is nowhere NEAR that of Australia’s. I work for a program called Chef’s Diet, and I’ve been balancing our meals with a regular workout routine. We deliver meals to your door made from fresh fruits and vegetables, lean, tender meats, the freshest seafood and complementary carbs and dairy products. If anyone is interested in a great way to balance out a good run, check out the Chefs Die give-away by visiting online to win a month of free Chefs Diet meals at

    6:08 pm  Aug 18th, 2009
  28. Kendall

    I could never do pull ups. At all. Nothing close. Jogging…I didn’t last long. Push ups…barely. But a pull up…I couldn’t budge an inch. I remember we had to do this…climb-the-pole (or rope?) exercise for something. I got a little running start, jumped onto it, clasped myself around it and said “Alright, there you go, that’s all I got.”

    I should jog. :o\

    9:15 pm  Aug 18th, 2009
  29. Gsacabinet

    Hi there
    It’s been a long while since my latest comment. I would like to tell you that I couldn’t finish the run in P.E. when I was in school too. I can’t do more than 10-time situp and my mom can’t do any!
    Your plan encourages me :)
    I hate jogging since it sometimes hurt my ankles but I”m starting one (not on the concrete where I usually perform the running).
    New shoes here I come~

    11:47 pm  Aug 18th, 2009
  30. Noey

    omg. i can completely relate to your abilty to not do the mile. in my case i am overweight, well, according to US standards. i have this habit of never finishing the workouts i start mainly because i lose focus and drive. also my bf’s made it a habit of saying “we’ll see how long this takes before you give it up,” statements. sucks right? oh well… maybe one day i’ll finish a workout regime and lose the 40lbs i’ve been dying to lose.

    on the other hand, LOVE your website. my bestfriend recommended it because i asked her “how do you do cream cheese filled muffins?” =D

    10:58 am  Aug 20th, 2009
  31. Katie

    OK, so the beginning of this post could have TOTALLY been written by me. I dreaded that dang mile run in elementary school, and the situps? Forget it. I recently started lifting weights and love the difference I can feel in my muscles, but the cardio portion of my exercise isn’t exactly stellar. It’s actually nonexistent. SO. I saw your twitter about Couch to 5K…looked into it…and this weekend, I got running shoes! I’m starting tomorrow, a little nervous, but excited. Thanks for the push I needed to get out there. Keep us updated about your progress, and I’ll do the same :)

    5:38 am  Aug 23rd, 2009
  32. David

    If the run/jog doesn’t work out, the walking will. Two miles in 20 minutes, everyday will work. As for the push-ups, you can use the edge of the bed to get started.You’ll be able to work on form, and progress upward in reps. When your confidence level builds, you can move to the floor.

    Will look forward on how you’ll do. (Small world – did EOD work as well.)

    10:56 am  Aug 23rd, 2009
  33. Nicole

    Thanks for all the comments everyone! I’ll be writing another post soon with details of my progress…I’m doing really well! I switched to Cool Running’s Couch to 5K plan because I wasn’t doing well with the back-to-back friday/saturday runs. C25K is awesome!! I just finished Week 4 and I’ve actually been able to keep up! Every time I feel like I can’t do it, I end up having a breakthrough and it turns out that I can! Haven’t been working too much on the push-ups yet but have been lifting weights several times a week and working on strengthening my legs and my core. Feeling good!

    11:28 am  Aug 23rd, 2009
  34. Shannon

    Hi! I just stumbled across your blog googling for a recipe and clicked on your pretty mountain pic to read this post…and I had to say “HI” because my husband is a Marine EOD tech!

    1:56 pm  Aug 31st, 2009
  35. Kristin

    Don’t even worry about what people think – I’m small and in pretty good shape, but can’t run a mile either :) When I see women out there who are not small and they’re working hard and actually running, I want to bow down to them. Bonus points for them!

    6:59 am  Sep 1st, 2009
  36. willy-nilly

    Well, Ronald Reagan thought Ketchup was a complete veggie too… Just found your blog due to leeks, and now have some sort of leek potato soup on the stove. I only run so the consumption of beer doesn’t catch up with me, and apparently this soup with a cup of cream and a few tablespoons of butter.

    6:24 pm  Oct 5th, 2009
  37. Jeanne

    How are you doing with your goals?

    Push-ups are my nemesis! I can’t do one either! I have started doing wall push-ups and push-ups on park benches and plan to work towards for real pushups.

    Great job with the jogging! Are you keeping up with it? You should be very proud. :) 3 years ago I couldn’t jog three miles. I completed my first marathon this past October and strongly believe that if I can do it, most anyone can.

    Keep up your hard work and I look forward to hearing about your progress.

    12:27 pm  Dec 6th, 2009
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