App Review: Couch to 5K 14
One of the biggest challenges facing us for Mobile Nations Fitness Month is just getting our behinds up off the couch and exercising. Be it doing pushups during commercial breaks of going out for a run, getting off that couch is the first step. But what's step #2? That's what Infinite Appz's so aptly-named Couch to 5K aims to answer.
Couch to 5K provides a three-days-a-week for nine weeks program designed to get your from nothing to being able to run a full five kilometers (3.1 miles) nonstop. Sound impossible to do in just nine weeks? It's not as hard as you might think, and the simplicity of Couch to 5K will make it easier.
The app provides a evolving routine each day, starting with twenty minutes of alternating between jogging and walking on week one, day one to twenty minutes of jogging on day three of week five, finishing with a 30 minute jog set at the end of the nine week course. You're presented with a basic and linear interface that updates with the new day's course (assuming you finish the previous one) with a big countdown time in the center with a Start/Pause/Resume button below.
Hit Start and you're prompted by a disembodied male voice with a neutral American accent to begin your warm-up with a five minute countdown. Once the initial warm-up countdown concludes, Couch to 5K automatically moves to the next stage of the day's workout: "Jog Now." For the first few weeks you'll alternate between jogging and walking, with the voice offering audible prompts as you go. As you progress through the program the jog periods grow longer and the walks shorter and less frequent, until you reach the point where you're just running non-stop. Which is the goal, no?
There are a few qualms we have to register with Couch to 5K. Obviously you're not going to hear the voice prompts if your running with the phone in your pocket without headphones plugged in, and if you're wearing headphones, chances are you'll also be listening to music. The problem is appropriate running music is fast paced and typically loud and filled with voices of its own and the Couch to 5K audio coach doesn't do much to cut through the music (there's no independent volume control, as you turn down the music the app gets quieter too).
Also, as the name Couch to 5K would imply, this is an app meant to guide people with no real idea of how best to get up to that 5K level of fitness. As such, we're a little surprised by the lack of explanation for the various stages of the workout. Walk and jog are pretty self explanatory, but what should that five minute warm-up consist of? Couch to 5K offers no suggestion there.
Couch to 5K is available now in the HP App Catalog for $1.99. If you're feeling particularly audacious, you can buy its 13-week double-distance counterpart Couch to 10K for the same price.