March 19, 2014

From Couch To 5k Brief Overview

By Marek

From Couch To 5k!

How does one go from couch potato to 5k running? In a nutshell, it’s done step by step. Starting with a little step and growing it. Ask yourself, how did you start walking? Did you just stand up and walk? No, of course not, but through successive steps, you came to a point where you eventually started walking. Treat this the same!

Couch To 5k Beginners

What is your purpose? Do you want to lose weight, become more active, personal challenge, a bet with a friend? Why are you doing this? Determine this at the start, otherwise, there will be no drive behind purpose. No drive = easy to give up. From couch 5kThe objective of from couch potato to 5k is to eventually do 5 kilometres (3.1 miles). For beginners, set your mind on the distance and not a specific time. Once you accomplish the distance, then, and only then, can you start thinking about the time. Running is about enjoying every movement – take in the scenery, breathe the fresh air.

Simplified Method

Step 1 – Get off the couch!
Step 2 – Go for a walk!
Step 3 – Go for a walk and do short running stints!
Step 4 – Go for a run and do walking stints at the beginning, middle and end!
Step 5 – Go the distance, do 5k!

What do you think of this approach? Easier said than done? Not at all. Going from couch potato -> 5k is simple and does not need to be overly complicated. It is simply a matter of developing a habit. Everyone is different and everyone will adapt the strategy to their abilities, but the general principles will remain the same – and simple.

From Couch -> 5k, In More Detail

Achieve your result in 9 weeks? Well, you can easily do it in less time, you can also take more time. As already mentioned, it is all about getting into habit. For that reason, you must dedicate at least 3 days per week to this activity. From experience, I can easily say, that if you will not regularly dedicate 3 days per week, you will not do this for long. Think about it, that is only 60 – 90 minutes per week. You spend more than double that time on the couch per DAY!!!

Step 1: Get off the couch!
I know you are capable of that. Many will advise that before undertaking any physical activity, you should go consult your doctor. I will leave this up to you. For me, as long as you can breathe and walk, the next step can be undertaken without specialist consultation.

Step 2: Go for a walk!
Not to the store, or to pickup kids from school! Go for a 20 minute walk. Walk at a comfortable pace, From couch 5ktake in the sights and sounds of the surroundings and concentrate on breathing. If you find this step difficult, repeat another day, and another day until it becomes comfortable. Once comfortable, go to the next step.

Step 3: Go for a walk and do short running stints!
Never underestimate the value of a warmup and warmdown. Hence, you should always start with a minimum 5 minute walk at the start and 5 minute walk at the end.
After your 5 minute walk, do a 1 minute run – this needs only to be slightly quicker than the walk. When the stint is finished, go back to walking for a minute or two. Do a few more running stints followed by walking. Finish with at least 5 minute warmdown walk.
At the beginning, do 2-3 running stints of 1 minute. Once you are comfortable with this, extend the running stints to 2-3 minutes. Keep these sessions to 20-30 minutes each time you go out, minimum 3 times per week. Once you get to doing at least 3 running stints of 3 minutes each, go to the next step.

Step 4: Go for a run and do walking stints at the beginning, middle and end!
The 5 minute warmup and 5 minute warmdown walks remain the same, however, the running stints will now extend. After the warmup walk, start running and do walking stints of 1-2 minutes in between. By now, you should be doing running stints of at least 5 minutes. Extend your running stints and reduce the number of walking stints in the middle. Always finish with a minimum 5 minute walk. Each session should now last 30-40 minutes.

Step 5: Go the distance, do 5k!
Start with a warmup and then run. Walk in the middle of the run if you need to and always finish with a walk to warmdown. Taking small and easy steps, you have gone from couch potato to 5k! You don’t have to run the full distance, just do the distance in a comfortable manner. After all, the objective is to do a 5k. If you manage to run it all that is brilliant, however, if you walk part of it, that’s great too!

Did you enjoy the experience? Or should I say, do you want to experience the enjoyment?
Go from couch to 5k and share your experience with others!

Helpful links:

NHS Couch 5k website with podcasts:

Stu Mittleman’s ‘Slow Burn‘ – great book to read if you want to start running.