Can you do it?
Taking up running can seem like a scary prospect, especially if you feel out of shape or unfit.
NHS 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 50-something mum get off the couch and start running, too.
The 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. 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.
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 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. You may find your local running/athletics clubs hosting these programmes, as, sometimes, it is better to train with others of a similar standard. However, if you want to undertake this programme by yourself it is equally adaptable.
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.
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 5-minute warm-up walks before each run, and check that your running shoes are offering good support.
For more information on preventing and treating injuries, read the page on sports injuries on the link below…
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.
Once you achieve your first ever 5km, do not stop there. Across the world, but sadly not yet in Spain, there is a free 5km run every Saturday morning called Park Run. Whether you are in Sydney, London, Kuala Lumpur, New York, turn up on Saturday morning and take part. It attracts everyone from celebrities, Olympians to new starters. Some walk their dogs whilst others take the children for a walk. In fact, my local Park Run in Durham, which attracts around 500 runners every Saturday is made up of mainly women, who have gone through the Couch to 5km programme.
We are trying to create a group of runners, or, would be runners in Gran Alacant of which there are 5 so far. If you want to join the group contact me on WhatsApp 0044/747 685 1356.
We are in discussions with a local athletics club about membership and training sessions. They meet at 19.30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Running in groups at set times is a good way to maintain your levels of motivation.
See website: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-running-with-couch-to-5k/ and https://www.parkrun.com
Download the app from Google Store or itunes, where you can also download the podcast
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For your 3 runs in week 7, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 25 minutes of running.
For your 3 runs in week 8, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 28 minutes of running.
For your 3 runs in week 9, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute walk, then 30 minutes of running.