The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Running | Couch to 5k Challenge
Couch to 5K Challenge
Couch to 5K is a running plan for absolute beginners. It was developed by a new runner, Josh Clark, who wanted to help his 50-something mum get off the couch and start running, too.
The couch to 5k training plan involves 3 runs a week, with a day of rest in between, 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.
If you’re doing couch to 5k lose inches, it really 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 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 a GP and discuss it with them first.
Couch to 5k Weight Loss
There are plenty of benefits from getting into running. For starters, it’s an easy way of improving your physical health. Running regularly will also 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 too that 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.
Couch to 5k Schedule
As previously mentioned, 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 9-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 week.
Structure is important for motivation, so try to allocate specific days of the week for your runs and stick to them.
Top Tip – Why not download the ‘One You Couch to 5K’ app, which gives you a choice of coaches and helps you track your progress.
As well as Laura, who features on the NHS Couch to 5K podcasts, you can also be coached by celebrities Jo Whiley, Sarah Millican, Sanjeev Kohli or Michael Johnson.
- Week 1
For your 3 runs in week 1, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then alternate 1 minute of running and 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.
- Week 2
For your 3 runs in week 2, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then alternate 1-and-a-half minutes of running with 2 minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.
- Week 3
For your 3 runs in week 3, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 2 repetitions of 1-and-a-half minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, 3 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking.
- Week 4
For your 3 runs in week 4, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 3 minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 2-and-a-half minutes of walking, 3 minutes of running, 1-and-a-half minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running.
- Week 5
There are 3 different runs this week:
- Run 1: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running.
- Run 2: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 8 minutes of running, 5 minutes of walking and 8 minutes of running.
Run 3: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 20 minutes of running, with no walking.
- Week 6
There are 3 different runs this week:
- Run 1: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 8 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running.
- Run 2: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 10 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking and 10 minutes of running.
- Run 3: a brisk 5-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running with no walking.
- Week 7
For your 3 runs in week 7, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running.
- Week 8
For your 3 runs in week 8, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 28 minutes of running.
- Week 9
For your 3 runs in week 9, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 30 minutes of running.
You may find it works better to create a couch to 5k printable plan that you can pin to the fridge to remind you of your goals on the days when you might be snacking a bit too much!
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 5-week plan designed to improve your strength and flexibility, which will help your running.
Couch to 5k Tips
- Download some Couch to 5K podcasts to your mobile device or computer. If downloading to a computer, you’ll then need to copy the podcast on to your mobile device.
- When will you run? The best way to ensure you stick with your running plan is to carefully work out how to fit Couch to 5K into your day.
- Plan your route. You may want to look at a map to plan your route first so you can focus on running. There are lots of great websites out there to help you with this.
- Think about safety. If you’re planning to run outdoors, bear in mind that you may be less aware of your surroundings if you’re wearing headphones. Watch out for other pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. When running in the dark, make sure you can see where you’re going and that other road users can see you. Consider running along routes with adequate lighting or wearing reflective clothing.
- What should I wear? The most essential piece of kit is a pair of running trainers.
After Couch to 5k
If you’ve taken on the challenge of the Couch to 5K (C25K) plan and completed it, well done! You must be feeling a great sense of achievement, not to mention being fitter and healthier.
Now that C25K has got you into regular running, the challenge is to not lose this life-enhancing habit. One way of staying motivated beyond C25K is to find a new focus.
- Keep on Running
Keep on running with the Couch to 5K+ podcast series, designed for C25K graduates. Each 5K+ podcast provides a structured run with music and coaching to develop your running technique, speed and stamina.
- Work on Technique
How about fine-tuning your running style? Working on your running technique will help make your runs feel less tiring and more enjoyable. It will also reduce your risk of injury.
- Join a running club
A running club is the perfect way to commit to running regularly. Most clubs have running groups for different levels, including beginners. They are also a great way to find people to run with outside of club sessions.
There are lots of couch to 5k weight loss success stories and we’d love to hear yours in the comments section below
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