A lot of runners started their journey using the Couch to 5K plan, me included. I love how simple it is and was so surprised how much easier it made learning to run. A few years previously, I tried to run but thought I had to just keep running. I was so wrong. The plan isn’t about speed or distance, it’s about getting you out there and helping you achieve your goal. The best bit is that it’s a run/walk plan so you’re not busting a lung each time. I became a runner and I never thought I would. I’m stronger, mentally and physically, because of this plan.

6 years ago, I was newly separated and living on my own for the first time in my 37 years on this planet. To say it was a tough time would be a massive understatement. I was in my own head too much and terrified of everything. I’d been in a mentally/emotionally abusive relationship and my self-esteem was in tatters.

I knew I needed something to focus on. I’d been chatting with a friend who was training for his first Ironman and hearing his training stories made me want to challenge myself. I wasn’t ready to challenge myself to his level but I thought running might be something to try again.

When I got home I googled “how to run” and found the NHS couch to 5K plan. Instantly I knew I could do it, I could become a runner. 


The NHS Couch to 5K Plan

I’m not a running coach or personal trainer but I have used this plan and lived to tell the tale!

The NHS also have an app for iPhone here. I used something similar and could integrate it with my music. It would ping at me when it was time to run or walk. 

Each week includes 3 runs and it’s better to spread them out over the week, for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Don’t be tempted to do them back to back as you need a rest day in between. Having set days to run helps you to build this into your normal life and create a habit. 

The rest day in between each run will allow your body to recover and heal. If you run back to back then you risk getting injured. And getting injured sucks!

It also helps your mind to keep going. If you wear yourself out then running will be harder. Your brain will decide it’s too hard and convince you to quit. Don’t listen to it! Your body can keep going for a lot longer after your brain has given up.

If you want to repeat a week before moving on then that is completely fine. Do this as much as you feel you need to but progression is key so keep pushing yourself, this is supposed to challenge you.


How To Run With Couch to 5K - Woman running in the park

Track Your Training

I find it really helped me to track my training so I designed a chart and stuck it to my fridge. After every run I would write things like, the date and time, how far I’d run, how long I’d run for, how it felt etc on it. Every day I could see it and feel proud that I was becoming a runner. It motivated me to keep going and I’m so glad I did!

I’ve added the training plan and tracker to my shop and they can be bought together here. The tracker is an editable PDF so you can either print it and write on it or update it on your computer/device. Whatever works for you!


Before and After Your Couch to 5K Run

Warm up = Before every run I want you to do a brisk walk for 5-10 minutes to make sure your muscles are nice and warm.

Cool down = After you’ve finished your run, I want you to walk for 5-10 minutes and then do some simple stretches. Have a look at these on the NHS website.


After You Ready?

Yes you are! You are more than ready. You are excited to try but probably a little bit nervous too. I know you can do this! You are about to start your journey to becoming a runner and this Couch to 5K plan is going to help you every step of the way.


Week 1

Run 1 = warm up then 1 minute of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Keep doing this for a total of 20 minutes. Cool down.

Run 2 = warm up then 1 minute of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Keep doing this for a total of 20 minutes. Cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 1 minute of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Keep doing this for a total of 20 minutes. Cool down.


Week 2

Run 1 = warm up then 1 & 1/2 minutes of running followed by 2 minutes of walking. Keep doing this for a total of 20 minutes. Cool down.

Run 2 = warm up then 1 & 1/2 minutes of running followed by 2 minutes of walking. Keep doing this for a total of 20 minutes. Cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 1 & 1/2 minutes of running followed by 2 minutes of walking. Keep doing this for a total of 20 minutes. Cool down.


Week 3

Run 1 = warm up then 1 & 1/2 minutes of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Next is 3 minutes of running followed by 3 minutes of walking. Do this twice and then cool down.

Run 2 = warm up then 1 & 1/2 minutes of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Next is 3 minutes of running followed by 3 minutes of walking. Do this twice and then cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 1 & 1/2 minutes of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Next is 3 minutes of running followed by 3 minutes of walking. Do this twice and then cool down.


Couch to 5K - 5K for beginners. Man running through a wooded area.

Week 4

Run 1 = warm up then 3 minutes of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Next is 5 minutes of running followed by 2 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Then 3 minutes of running and 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. This run ends with 5 minutes of running followed by your cool down.

Run 2 = warm up then 3 minutes of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Next is 5 minutes of running followed by 2 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Then 3 minutes of running and 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. This run ends with 5 minutes of running followed by your cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 3 minutes of running followed by 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Next is 5 minutes of running followed by 2 & 1/2 minutes of walking. Then 3 minutes of running and 1 & 1/2 minutes of walking. This run ends with 5 minutes of running followed by your cool down.


Week 5

Run 1 = warm up then 5 minutes of running followed by 3 minutes of walking. Do this twice then 5 minutes of running followed by your cool down.

Run 2 = warm up then 8 minutes of running followed by 5 minutes of walking. Do another 8 minutes of running followed by your cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 20 minutes of running. Yes, I said that correctly. You are going to do 20 minutes of running with no walking. You can do this. You’ve got this! Don’t forget to cool down after you’ve smash this.


Week 6

Run 1 = warm up then 5 minutes of running followed by 3 minutes of walking. Next is 8 minutes of running followed by 3 minutes of walking. Do another 5 minutes of running and then cool down.

Run 2 = warm up then 10 minutes of running followed by 3 minutes of walking. Next do 10 minutes of running followed by your cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 25 minutes of running with no walking. Yes you can do this. No it isn’t impossible. Remember when you did 20 minutes of running? It’s just like that but with a little extra 5 minutes on the end. After that, cool down.


Week 7

Run 1 = warm up then 25 minutes of running. Cool down.

Run 2 = warm up then 25 minutes of running. Cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 25 minutes of running. Cool down.


Couch to 5K training plan - photo of woman's calves and feet with trainers on standing on the pavement

Week 8

Run 1 = warm up then 28 minutes of running. Cool down.

Run 2 = warm up then 28 minutes of running. Cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 28 minutes of running. Cool down.


Week 9

Run 1 = warm up then 30 minutes of running followed by your cool down. Afterward, scream out loud “I just ran for 30 minutes without walking and I didn’t die!!”

Run 2 = warm up then 30 minutes of running. Cool down.

Run 3 = warm up then 30 minutes of running. Cool down.


Graduation!

Congratulations on completing the Couch to 5K plan! You have run for 30 minutes non-stop. I am so damn proud of you and wish I could give you a massive hug. 

So how was it? What was your favourite bit? What was your toughest bit? Did you learn something new about yourself? Take a photo of your completed tracker and send me a photo. Tell me everything! EVERYTHING!

It’s important to keep going with your running after Couch to 5K. You’ve built up a good habit and some strength and stamina to go with it. Why waste that?! A massive well done to you, you are awesome!

Honestly, I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment below or contact me through one of the ways on my contact page


Couch to 5K - Man running through park

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