Couch to 5k

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The Couch to 5k programme is something that has definitely become more and more popular, with many people talking about it and using it as part of their training programme. Perhaps it is something that you have been considering, but are unsure if to get started with it? Let us cover all the basics to give you the information on why, how and when to give it a go.

What is it?

Couch to 5K is a free running plan designed for complete beginners, aimed at gradually building you up to complete 5k in 9 weeks. (There are many adaptations since this was first created, the one we are sharing today is based on the original one, designed by Josh Clark for his 50-something year old mum)

How does it work?

The plan includes 3 runs each week, with a rest day in between each run. The times/distance of the runs are then progressively built up over a total of 9 weeks until you are running the full 5K distance.

The programme is build around a model called interval training, which is where you spend a set amount of time at one intensity, followed by a set amount of time at another intensity. Interval training is brilliant for burning calories not only during but also at a higher rate after the workout had stopped. How brilliant is that… You stop exercising but you continue to burn calories after! That in itself is most definitely a reason to get exercising right?

What are the benefits?

As with getting started with any type of exercise, there are so many benefits to making it part of your routine. Some of these include:

  • Feeling good: Taking time out to do something for you, as well as seeing and feeling the benefits will definitely result in you feeling good.
  • You do not need a lot of time: Each session will take around 30 minutes, and you only need to fit that in 3 times per week.
  • No equipment necessary: Other than ensuring that you have appropriate footwear (see below), you do not need to start investing in lots of equipment.
  • Improved stamina: This programme is not only great for your cardiovascular system but also great for everyday activities feeling easier too.
  • Increased energy: You may not feel like it now, and you may even feel like it is an effort to do the programme but as soon as you get started you will release those “feel good” hormones: Endorphins, and most definitely feel an increase in your energy levels.
  • Weight loss: It is a fact that if you eat smart and move more you WILL lose weight. You’ve got the exercise part, check out how to ensure your nutrition is on track to be 100% effective.
  • Stress-relief: This provides you with an opportunity to put all the stresses and worries of everyday life to one side and just focus on this one thing that is proven to be good for you and set to help you feel better at the end of it!
  • Risk of more zest for life and get up and go: Now there’s a side effect right there! When you put time in to achieving a goal that you have set yourself and you can see progress, the effects of that definitely transfer in to other areas of your life.

How do I get started?

Getting started couldn’t be more simple. The most fantastic thing about this programme is that it is free, so all you need to do is download the app which will give you a choice of coaches and will help to track your progress. So the hardest part of getting started will be deciding if you would prefer to be coached by Jo Whiley, Sarah Millican, Sanjeev Kohli or Michael Johnson. Not a bad decision to have to make hey!

Download the app from iTunes

Download the app from Google play

Tips for success

  • Make a plan: There is a great quote by Benjamin Franklin that says “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Whilst it may not be possible to know exactly how the whole 9 weeks will pan out, at least aim to plan for the week ahead so that you, and family or friends etc know when you be running. This allows others to support you where needed.
  • Appropriate footwear: This is so incredibly important, as this will make a huge difference on the chances of you picking up an injury. We would highly recommend Vivobarefoot due to the incredible science behind the products that they provide.
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  • Know your route: Take one other obstacle out of actually getting out on your run and know which route you will be taking. It goes without saying that if you will be running alone, make sure it is a route that is well lit and tell somebody where you will be going and at what time.
  • Don’t get disheartened: Don’t expect to love every single minute of your new programme, it is completely normal to come across some challenges or to feel at times like it is the last thing that you want to do, but push through, stay committed to the cause and tune in to your support network around you and you will come out the other side. Something that will definitely help you to keep going is to ensure that you are strongly aligned with the reason behind why you want to achieve your goal..

Don’t stop there

One thing we would stress at this time is to try to see this as a lifestyle, and not as a goal that you aim to reach and then stop once you are there. This is something that Emma has always spoken about with clients: It is so important that when you are working towards achieving something you think about how you could do this for the rest of your life and not just for that period where you are working to the goal. This is where we see yo-yo dieting come in. For example, we have a holiday coming up, (sorry, we know that is a dream for many at the moment given Coronavirus) and you give yourself a target weight/size you’d like to be by that point. You do everything you can to achieve this and take some pretty drastic changes that aren’t really sustainable but you justify it by thinking that it won’t be for too long. You then go on said holiday, completely relax on everything that you were doing before and end up putting on weight. When you return you carry this on and go back to the point at which you started in the first place, or maybe even worse. Perhaps this sounds familiar to you?

Well let’s break that cycle, and the couch to 5k is a brilliant way of doing that. We are not saying that you need to be a marathon runner as a result of this. But if you are going to commit to this programme it at least means that you are going to commit a set period 3 times per week to it. So once you have completed this you will have instilled this habit within your weekly routine, so stick to that! it doesn’t mean that you have to continue running, perhaps you could do a weights workout, some yoga, or swimming.

What are your waiting for?

So there you have it: All the information to get you started on your couch to 5k programme. Most importantly, remember to enjoy it! This doesn’t have to be grueling, and can indeed be fun. So when you first out be sure to crack a smile and tell yourself how awesome you are for getting started.

We would love to hear about your progress along the way, or if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to pop them below.

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