Couch to 5K: The Ultimate Guide for New Runners

A person running couch to 5k

I don’t dictate to my clients what they should do exercise wise. I just strive to help them find something they enjoy (or in some limited circumstances, what they dislike the most!!).

About 50% of my clients like to run and jog. Some do ultra-marathons, regular marathons, half marathons and 10k runs. Some also run while doing triathlons.

By far the most popular form of running though is the trusty 5k.

If you have not run before or are restarting after a break, Couch to 5k is a great way to get going as it slowly builds you up to a 5k, and is great fun as well.

The Basics of Couch to 5K:

  • Duration: Typically 9 weeks.
  • Frequency: 3 runs per week.
  • Structure: Alternating between walking and running, increasing the running intervals each week.

The Couch to 5K Running Plan:

Remember: Before starting any exercise plan, consult with a healthcare professional.

Week 1:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3: Warm up with a brisk 5-minute walk. Alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.

Week 2:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3: Begin with a 5-minute warm-up walk. Alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking for 20 minutes.

Week 3:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3: After your warm-up, run for 90 seconds, walk for 90 seconds, run for 3 minutes, then walk for 3 minutes. Repeat this sequence once more.

Week 4:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3: Post warm-up, run for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, run for 5 minutes, walk for 2.5 minutes, run for 3 minutes, walk for 90 seconds, and end with a 5-minute run.

Week 5:

  • Day 1: Warm up, then alternate 5 minutes of running with 3 minutes of walking. Repeat this three times.
  • Day 2: Warm up, run for 8 minutes, walk for 5 minutes, then run for 8 minutes again.
  • Day 3: Warm up and go for a big 20-minute run (no walking)!

Week 6:

  • Day 1: Warm up, run for 5 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, run for 8 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, then run for 5 minutes.
  • Day 2: Warm up, run for 10 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, run for another 10 minutes.
  • Day 3: Warm up followed by a 25-minute run.

Week 7:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3: Warm up and take on a continuous 25-minute run.

Week 8:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3: After your warm-up, embark on a 28-minute run.

Week 9:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3: The final stretch! Warm up and then enjoy a full 30-minute run.

By the end of the 9 weeks, you should be comfortably running for 30 minutes. Depending on your pace, this should get you close to, if not beyond, the 5K mark.

You Can Now Run a 5k, So Now What!? Maybe Parkrun is for you?

A number of my clients over the years have done Parkrun and they love it.

Across the the UK, every Saturday morning Parkrun, a community-driven initiative, welcomes participants of all ages and abilities to come together and complete a 5-kilometre run, jog, or walk in their local park.

Born in 2004 in London’s Bushy Park, whether you’re striving for a personal best or just hoping to soak up the congenial atmosphere, Parkrun provides the backdrop for countless personal stories and memories, all set within the UK’s beautiful green spaces.

I can help you…

I am a Weight Loss Coach, successfully helping people just like you to lose weight and keep it off:

I am Strength and Nutrition Coach for sports events and athletes – helping people like you to get fitter, stronger and faster: