Start A Couch To 5K
Program... Today!

The best way to start running is with a Couch to 5K Running Program which uses the well known walk/run method

A lot of folks put on a pair of running shoes, bolt out the door and just start running

Sounds reasonable enough. I started running this way as did many other runners - but take my word for it, this approach will most likely lead to problems later

- the risk of injury is greater and the chances of staying motivated would be slim to none. So, even as a raw beginner, plan your running from the start - follow a running program which takes you toward a given target

The Couch to 5K program is designed to condition your body for running – so instead of giving your body a sudden shock and going out for a 1 mile run, the c25k introduces you to running gradually, giving you time to adapt and get fitter

You might find the program a little slow-going at first - but stay with it - things will liven up mid-way through the program, so try to be patient and positive, there’s no rush..!

couch to 5k forrest runner

 Couch To 5K - Running Tips 

  • Begin the program provided you can walk comfortably for an hour – if you can’t, don’t worry, build up your walking first and then start the program
  • The target is to run 5K in 8 weeks but take longer if things get too hard for you, but repeat a week rather than miss a week. Or, If you are training toward an event and can't miss a week, try doing 50% or 75% of the run times
  • If you don't have a GPS watch to tell you how far you've ran, you can target yourself to run 30 minutes non-stop instead of a 5K target
  • Improve your diet – even as a beginner runner, what you eat can be the difference between completing your daily goal or failing at the first hurdle. So if you think your Runners Diet might need a tweak here and there, now is a good time to start... more
  • Push yourself! – remember running is hard at first, don’t just flop over without a fight… give yourself a push (but not so hard you nearly pass out!) - there’s nothing wrong with some puffing and panting and if you’ve reached your target for the day you will feel a lot better about yourself
me and my pint of guiness after the Fort William Marathon 2011
  • Promise yourself a treat. It helps to stay motivated if you treat yourself after you have achieved your goal -this could be anything you want, but make it something nice to look forward to. I usually go for a nice meal with the family (don't forget my pint of Extra Cold Guinness!)

 Couch To 5K Running Program

As you can see below the c25k is a 3 day a week program and I've designed it in such a way that the third run of the week is the longest run and the 2nd run is usually the shortest. Choose any 3 days of the week but make sure you don't run consecutive days

Start and finish each workout with a 5 minute walk. This warms up your muscles before a run and allows those tired muscles to recover after a run - good for injury prevention ;-)

Running Tips HQ: 

On non-running days consider cycling or swimming as part of your cross training - but remember to have one day of complete rest every week

Week 1
Day 1 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, x8
Day 2 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, x6
Day 3 – Run 1 min, Walk 2 min, x10

Week 2
Day 1 – Run 2 min, Walk 2 min, x7
Day 2 – Run 2 min, Walk 2 min, x6
Day 3 – Run 2 min, Walk 2 min, x8

Week 3
Day 1 – Run 3 min, Walk 2 min, x6
Day 2 - Run 3 min, Walk 2 min, x5
Day 3 - Run 3 min, Walk 2 min, x7

Week 4
Day 1 - Run 5 min, Walk 3 min, x4
Day 2 - Run 5 min, Walk 2 min, x3
Day 3 - Run 5 min, Walk 3 min, x5

Week 5
Day 1 - Run 8 min, Walk 3 min, x3
Day 2 - Run 7 min, Walk 2 min, x3
Day 3 - Run 8 min, Walk 3 min, x3

Week 6
Day 1 - Run 9 min, Walk 3 min, x3
Day 2 - Run 8 min, Walk 2 min, x3
Day 3 - Run 10 min, Walk 3 min, x3

Week 7
Day 1 - Run 15min, Wk 5min, x2
Day 2 - R 15 min, Wk 5 min, R 10min
Day 3 - R 20 min, Wk 5 min, R 15 min

Week 8
Day 1 - R 20 min, Wk 5 min, R 15 min
Day 2 - R 10 min, Wk 3 min, R 20 min
Event DayRun 5K non-stop

Note: On Day 1 repeat the Run and Walk intervals 8 times (x8) and on Day 2 repeat 6 times (x6) and so on… OK, just checking! :-)

Looking for a printable version?

So, now you know how to start running, why not begin today! Have a go at the program and see what happens. What have you got to lose?

Any struggles, read our Running For Beginners page (if you haven’t already) - here you will find lots of helpful advice and running tips to help you through it

If you've never ran a step since your school cross country days, don't worry! Look at the Couch to 5K program closely and you will see it is designed to break you in gradually, even if you are a couch potato :-)

"I've done the Couch to 5K... What Next?"

Well, the last thing you want to do is put your running shoes on top of the wardrobe and forget all about running - continue with the good work!

Now, I'm not saying go out and run 5K every time you want to go for a run. Instead do some smaller runs during the week and one long run at the weekend (your 5K) - for example, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays run 2 miles and run 3 miles on Sunday as your long run...

Then you can increase your long run gradually (1/4 mile a week?) and increase the mid-week run to 3 miles and so on...

Couch to 5K today... could be a 10K run next time!?

Just remember as a new runner keep to less than 5 runs a week, have one complete day of rest and also have the odd lighter week when you do less mileage than normal

A few weeks from now and you'll wonder why you didn't start running years ago...

So... start your Couch To 5K today!

To return from Couch to 5K back to the Home Page click here...