Taking up running is a huge step for anyone, and taking the first step is always the hardest.
Starting running takes courage, determination and a whole load of motivation.
If you don’t know where to start, then the 10-week Couch to 5k plan in this guide will tell you everything you need to know.
Whether you’re starting running to get fit, improve your mental health, lose weight or to simply get outdoors more, congrats on starting your running journey!
What is Couch to 5k plan?
The Couch to 5k plan is a beginner-friendly training plan that combines walking and running.
It’s aimed at anyone who is new to running and wants to run a 5k by the end of the training plan.
Couch to 5k is often abbreviated to C25K – so you may see this term in the running community.
Josh started the plan because he himself wanted to help with his own recovery after an injury, and wanted to help newbie runners establish a running routine.
How does the Couch to 5k plan work?
The Couch to 5k plan works by combining walking and running intervals. This way it gently eases you into running over the course of the plan.
Many beginner runners think they should be able to run continuously without stopping from the get go which is simply not true.
Why is Couch to 5k plan so popular?
The Couch to 5k plan has become increasingly popular over the last few decades as it is a great way to get into running.
With 2.36 million of these downloads taking place between March 2020 and July 2021 alone!
As more and more people seek to become more active, there are no signs of the Couch to 5k program slowing down.
How long is the Couch to 5k plan?
10 weeks is generally considered the most appropriate time frame to learn how to run a 5k.
The training plan in this guide is 10 weeks long as I believe 10 weeks is the most effective plan when building up to your first 5k.
What is the best Couch to 5k app?
There are many Couch to 5k apps on the market nowadays that help you run your first 5k. You can read about these in my guide on running for beginners apps.
The app also gives you a choice of coaches and helps you track your progress.
Couch to 5k plan Q&A
A: The beauty of the Couch to 5k plan is that it is designed for complete beginners. In fact, during the first few weeks of the plan you’ll be doing more walking than running.
Q: What if I don’t feel ready to run 5k by the end of the training plan?
A: If you find you need more time by the end of the Couch to 5k plan, this is completely fine. Some people take longer to reach their 5k goal. Sometimes life gets in the way and you miss a couple of training runs.
A: Don’t worry – just pick it up again at a time that feels right for you and keep going. The most important part is that you keep going and do not lose momentum.
Q: Can I repeat a week if I don’t feel ready to move onto the next week?
A: Yes! You can choose to repeat a week if you need more time. Try and focus on the week ahead and really practice your technique before moving onto the next week.
Q: Can I skip some of the rest days and just schedule more runs?
A: The temptation when you start running is to rush through a plan or run every day because you love it. Use the designated rest days – if you progress too quickly you could risk burnout or injury.
My 10 week Couch to 5k plan
Don’t forget to download my 10 week Couch to 5k training PDF at the end of this guide.
10 tips for running Couch to 5k
It’s important when you start the Couch to 5k plan to establish a running routine that fits in with your lifestyle.
If this means getting up half an hour earlier in the morning, or setting aside some time on your lunch break to go out for a run, then try and establish a routine that works for you early on.
The temptation is to run non-stop at a fast pace (whatever that means for you) as soon as you begin your run.
Beginner running is a marathon, not a sprint (excuse the pun), so slow down and maintain a steady pace.
You should be able to comfortably hold a conversation whilst you run.
If you’re out of breath or struggling to talk, that’s a sign you need to slow down when running.
Good running form is so important when it comes to running.
When running the Couch to 5k plan, it’s good to think about why you are running and what it is about running that you enjoy.
By practice positive thinking, it will help to drown out some of that negative self-talk that you may have whirring around in your head.
Once you clear your mind of those niggly thoughts, you’ll find it much easier to run.
Running the Couch to 5k plan can be a hugely transformative journey for many runners.
When you first start running the tendency for a lot of runners is to focus on what they’re doing wrong, instead of focusing on all the things that they are doing to improve their physical and mental health.
Write down some of your thoughts and ask yourself the following questions:
By committing to a race, you will have more accountability to finish the program and stick with the plan.
Running your first race is a scary thing, but it’s also exciting! You’re bound to have pre-race nerves. This is completely natural and is a familiar feeling for a lot of runners.
You have a few options when it comes to registering for your first race.
One of the best things about running is being able to run with others.
It’s a great way to meet new people and make yourself accountable for your runs.
It also makes running a lot more fun as you get to run with a group of like-minded people who are working towards a common goal.
Your body provides you with constant feedback that can help improve your running performance while minimising biomechanical stress.
Learn to differentiate between the discomfort of effort and the pain of injury.
When you practice listening, you increase competence in persevering through the discomfort and responding to pain.
A good way to practice listening to your body is to run on your own every now and again.
This means ditching the music and anything else that you could distract you. You can think of it as mindful running!
Success on race day is all about being prepared during your training plan and before the event.
The biggest lesson learnt for me when I ran my first 5k was not to compare myself to other runners.
Run your own race and don’t let anyone else’s opinion or view on what you should be doing affect your race.
Your performance in the 5k race will not define you. If you have a bad race, there will be others to work towards.
Like many things in this world, running is a continual journey of improvement marked with success and failures. After all, failure is what makes you a stronger and more motivated runner.
Couch to 5k program PDF
Here is the week by week plan in table format so you can see each week.
Feel free to download and save locally so you can refer to it during your training.
What to do after Couch to 5k
Congratulations! You’ve finished the Couch to 5k plan and now you may be wondering what to do next.