Couch to 5K with Updatey

Posted by Amy Wallace Amy Wallace on .

Ever had a goal like getting into the habit of meditating or doing more exercise? In this blog post, we’ll see how you can use Updatey to plan and stay on top of something like learning to run a 5K.

Updatey was created to be a project management tool to help people stay on top of projects at work. But it can also be great for a variety of personal projects. If you’re trying to learn a new habit or want to stay focused on long-term goals, then the Updatey timeline is perfect for keeping the end point in mind.

If you’ve never really run before, the idea of running solidly for 5 kilometres, or 30 minutes, can seem remarkably daunting. For those veteran runners out there, it sounds like a walk in the park but when you’re on Week 1 of your first Couch to 5K program, it’s far from easy to see that you’ll one day love running as much as other people.

Willpower is an elusive creature

Research shows that your chances of successfully achieving a goal or integrating a habit can be increased by different techniques, such as just focusing on getting started or more importantly, focusing on the result rather than the individual actions themselves.

In Maximum Willpower, Kelly McGonigal explains that willpower is a difficult thing to balance. Use it too much and it will become depleted, but don’t make use of it enough, and just like a muscle, it will become weak.

Progress towards your goal can itself be a double-edged sword. Acknowledging progress is of course the best way to measure your success but it can set you back if you lose sight of your goal and celebrate your progress too early.

Progress can be motivating, and even inspire future self-control, but only if you view your actions as evidence that you are committed to your goal. In other words, you need to look at what you have done and conclude that you must really care about your goal, so much so that you want to do even more to reach it. This perspective is easy to adopt; it’s just not our usual mindset. More typically, we look for the reason to stop.

Maximum Willpower, Kelly McGonigal, p.90

Following a Couch to 5K program means 9 weeks of 30-minute workouts three times a week. This sounds perfectly manageable in theory but as soon as you have to get your running shoes on and step out of the door, that can seem like a much heavier demand on your time and energy.

The benefits of running for both physical and mental health are well documented but it can still be difficult to focus on that long-term goal. Your chances of succeeding at building a habit (and enjoyment) of running are increased if you can keep your willpower levels high.

This means being able to see the finishing line even when you have no evidence of your eventual success.  

So how would Updatey help with this?

There are plenty of apps out there to help you while you’re out running, track the calories burnt and the route taken. They’re great for tracking your data, keeping the details of your run and progress but they don’t necessarily keep you focused on the overall progress you’re making.

Updatey’s timeline view is perfect for getting the whole picture of your progress towards your goals. Each time you achieve on step towards your goal, you’ll be able to see that reflected in your journey towards success.

In this screenshot, you can see that I’ve added a milestone for each of the 9 weeks of the program.

Project Management Planning Timeline Milestones Couch to 5K

This means that completing one milestone is equivalent to finishing one week’s worth of workouts. To keep track of each of the three weekly workouts themselves, I’ve added them as tasks within each milestone. So Week 1 looks like this:

Project Management Planning Milestones Couch to 5K

If you wanted to add each workout as a milestone, you could do that, too. For the 9-week program, that would mean having 27 milestones on your timeline. This would give you both an advantage and a disadvantage.

Having so many milestones could mean that you get discouraged by the large number of workouts yet to accomplish but it could also give you a boost because you would be able to build up a collection of green, completed milestones very quickly.

Updatey is flexible enough to change according to how you want to plan out your goal of running 5K and gives you the advantage of being able to monitor your progress on a week-by-week basis while always having your goal in mind.

Breaking it down

When you start a Couch to 5K program, or any other project to build a habit, it might seem disheartening that you have no milestones completed. But knowing the milestones you have coming up and being able to see you progress on the timeline can be a powerful incentive to stay on track, even at the beginning.

If you’ve thought through exactly how you’re going to achieve your goal, in this case, the ability to run 5K in one go, you’re more likely to be able to achieve that goal. It's like David Allen’s advice for working on a project:

If you only tracked Next Actions, then once you finished the action, without a trusted placeholder for the final outcome, you would have to keep track of that desired result in your head.

If you take the time to think through the various steps for your project, breaking it down into the smallest steps possible, you’ll be able to beat procrastination and help yourself get closer to your habit. You won't have to worry about planning what to do next when you're exhausted or unmotivated, because you'll already have done all the hard work and won't have to carry it all in your head.

So in this example, if you have the instructions for the three weekly workouts already inserted into your Updatey project, then it's easy to check up on what you have to do next and see how the workouts will change week to week. This is what the Week 7 Milestone box looks like:

Couch to 5K Planning Organization Week 7 Running Walking Jogging

Aiming for the Finish Line

Running a whole 5K sounds daunting but a combination of breaking things down into the smaller steps and visualising the end-goal and how great it will feel can help you on your way to successfully completing your goal.

This is exactly what Updatey can help you with. The milestones and tasks are the steps, broken down in your initial organization of your goal and the timeline as a whole can be a reminder of the end-result and your progress throughout.

And then there’s the added incentive of Updatey’s colourful visual clues. When you start a milestone, such as a certain week of the Coach to 5K program, you get an arrow icon. When that milestone’s completed, you get a very satisfying green check mark to show you’ve achieved a whole week of running! Even tasks turn green as you mark them completed, all to help you stay aware of your progress while encouraging you to achieve more and reach your goal.

Achieving a goal and changing your habits is about succeeding in a delicate balancing act. There’s making sure you get started, building a passion for the process and being really dedicated to the outcome. Give Updatey a try to see how it can help you stay on top of all of those aspects, and get you on track to running your first 5K.

Are you using Updatey for something other than a work-related project? We’d love to hear how you’re using Updatey, so do say hello and let us know in the comments below, or by email or Twitter.

Written by Amy Wallace, Customer Happiness at Updatey