What is Couch to 5K? A running plan for absolute beginners to get you up to 5k in just 9 weeks

Discussion in '5k and Couch to 5k' started by Redbadger, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. Redbadger

    Redbadger Regular Member Staff Member

    Taking up running can seem like a scary prospect, especially if you feel out of shape or unfit.

    Couch to 5K will help you gradually work up towards running 5K in just 9 weeks.

    What is Couch to 5K?
    Couch to 5K is a running plan for absolute beginners. It was developed by a new runner, Josh Clark, who wanted to help his fifty-something mum get off the couch and start running, too.

    The plan involves 3 runs a week, with a day of rest inbetween, and a different schedule for each of the 9 weeks.

    How does Couch to 5K work?
    Probably the biggest challenge a new runner faces is not knowing how or where to start.

    Often when trying to get into exercise, we can overdo it, feel defeated and give up when we're just getting started.

    Couch to 5K works because it starts with a mix of running and walking to gradually build up your fitness and stamina.

    Week 1 involves running for just a minute at a time, creating realistic expectations and making the challenge feel achievable right from the start.

    Who is Couch to 5K for?
    Couch to 5K is for everyone. Whether you've never run before or if you just want to get more active, Couch to 5K is a free and easy way of getting fitter and healthier.

    If you have any health concerns about beginning an exercise regime like Couch to 5K, make an appointment to see your GP and discuss it with them first.

    What are the benefits?
    There are plenty of benefits from getting into running. For starters, it's an easy way of improving your physical health.

    Running requires little equipment, but a good pair of running shoes that suit your foot type may help improve comfort.

    Running regularly will improve the health of your heart and lungs. It can also help you lose weight, especially if combined with a healthy diet.

    There's evidence it may help increase bone density in some people, which can help protect against bone diseases like osteoporosis.

    There are also mental benefits of running. Taking on the challenge of Couch to 5K can help boost your confidence and self-belief, as you prove to yourself that you can set yourself a target and achieve a goal.

    Running regularly can also be a great stress reliever and has even been shown to combat depression.

    So what's the plan?
    The plan involves 3 runs a week, with a day of rest in between, and a different schedule for each of the 9 weeks: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k-plan.aspx

    Week one
    For your three runs in week one, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then alternate one minute of running and one-and-a-half minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.

    Week two
    For your three runs in week two, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then alternate one-and-a-half minutes of running with two minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.

    Week three
    For your three runs in week three, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then two repetitions of one-and-a-half minutes of running, one-and-a-half minutes of walking, three minutes of running and three minutes of walking.

    Week four
    For your three runs in week four, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then three minutes of running, one-and-a-half minutes of walking, five minutes of running, two-and-a-half minutes of walking, three minutes of running, one-and-a-half minutes of walking and five minutes of running.

    Week five
    There are three different runs this week:

    Run one: a brisk five-minute walk, then five minutes of running, three minutes of walking, five minutes of running, three minutes of walking and five minutes of running.

    Run two: a brisk five-minute walk, then eight minutes of running, five minutes of walking and eight minutes of running.

    Run three: a brisk five-minute walk, then 20 minutes of running, with no walking.

    Week six
    There are three different runs this week:

    Run one: a brisk five-minute walk, then five minutes of running, three minutes of walking, eight minutes of running, three minutes of walking and five minutes of running.

    Run two: a brisk five-minute walk, then 10 minutes of running, three minutes of walking and 10 minutes of running.

    Run three: a brisk five-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running with no walking.

    Week seven
    For your three runs in week seven, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running.

    Week eight
    For your three runs in week eight, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then 28 minutes of running.

    Week nine
    For your three runs in week nine, you will begin with a brisk five-minute walk, then 30 minutes of running.

    Tips on progression
    The programme is designed for beginners to gradually build up their running ability so they can eventually run 5km without stopping.

    The pace of the nine-week running plan has been tried and tested by thousands of new runners.

    You can, however, repeat any one of the weeks until you feel physically ready to move on to the next.

    Structure is important for motivation, so try to allocate specific days of the week for your runs and stick to them.

    Rest days
    Rest days are critical. Having one between each week's runs will reduce your chance of injury and also make you a stronger, better runner.

    Resting allows your joints to recover from what is a high-impact exercise, and your running muscles to repair and strengthen.

    Alternatively, you could do Strength and Flex on your rest days. This is a five-week plan designed to improve your strength and flexibility, which will help your running.

    Aches and pains
    Some new runners starting the programme experience calf pain or sore shins (sometimes known as shin splints).

    Such aches can be caused by running on hard surfaces or by running in shoes that do not have enough foot and ankle support.

    Always do the five-minute warm-up walks as instructed before each run, and check that your running shoes are offering good support.

    For more information on preventing and treating injuries, read our page on sports injuries.

    You will have good runs and bad runs – accept it, and don't spend too much time analysing the how and why. Even a bad run is good for you.
     
    Fresh Start, Imanurse and Tennersee like this.
  2. Tennersee

    Tennersee Member

    It's a great way to get started and you can repeat a week if you don't feel up to pushing yourself on to the next one or you're not feeling up to it; and 9 weeks isn't as long as you think. :smile:
     
  3. Fresh Start

    Fresh Start Member

    Thanks for posting this - it will come in handy in the new year. :smile:
     
    Redbadger likes this.
  4. sandra6

    sandra6 New Member

    I've tried a few variations of couch to 5k - my fave was zombie run. Check it out, it's really motivating!
    But I can't get past week 6, I can't run further than 2 miles and I can't run for more than 20 minutes - which is pretty much how long it takes me to run 2 miles.
    I'm not sure where I'm going wrong.
     
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