You may have heard of the Couch to 5k plan if you’re new to running or looking to return to running after a long break.
The Couch to 5k plan is one of the most popular running training plans for beginners, and since its inception in 1994, thousands of runners have gone on to run 5k by completing the program.
One of the reasons the Couch to 5k plan is so popular is that it combines walking and running intervals.
Many new runners think they have to be able to run continuously before they can call themselves a runner which is simply not true.
In this guide we’ll answer all your burning questions when it comes to the Couch to 5k plan:
- What is Couch to 5k?
- Does Couch to 5k actually work?
- How long is Couch to 5k?
- What is the best Couch to 5k plan?
- Why is Couch to 5k so popular?
- Which Couch to 5k app is best?
- Am I fit enough to do Couch to 5k?
- What to do after Couch to 5k
Let’s get going!
What is Couch to 5k?
The Couch to 5k plan is a beginner-friendly training program that aims to get you running a 5k by the end of the program.
It combines periods of walking and running intervals and is effectively a form of interval training for beginners.
The program works by gradually increasing the length of the running intervals and decreasing the time spent walking so by the end of the plan you are in a position to run a 5k without stopping.
When you first start running, it’s important to build up your endurance and stamina so you can run for longer without any walking breaks.
Does Couch to 5k actually work?
Yes. The Couch to 5k plan has been used by thousands of people worldwide to help them start their running journey.
In fact, many runners credit the Couch to 5k program as the reason they started running in the first place.
Many of these runners have gone on to complete 10k runs, half marathons and even marathons.
How long is Couch to 5k?
Many Couch to 5k plans range from 9 to 12 weeks.
A 10 week Couch to 5k plan is seen as the most appropriate length of time to build up to a 5k distance.
However, the length of the plan you choose will depend on a number of factors including your fitness levels, age, gender and running experience.
For example, if you have some running experience under your belt, you may feel a 9-week plan is more appropriate for you.
What is the best Couch to 5k plan?
There are many Couch to 5k plans out there, but essentially all of these plans have one thing in common: they have walking and running intervals across a number of weeks.
My Couch to 5k plan is a beginner-friendly training plan aimed at getting you running a 5k by the end of the 10 weeks.
In this guide you’ll also find 10 tips on completing Couch to 5k.
Why is the Couch to 5k plan so popular?
The Couch to 5k plan has many benefits, making it one of the most popular training plans in the running community.
Here are some of the key benefits:
#1 It’s simple and easy to follow
One of the best things about Couch to 5k is that it tells you exactly what you need to do each week, taking the guesswork out of running.
When you start a new habit like running, the tendency is to over analyse what you need to do which can be exhausting.
The Couch to 5k plan works by breaking down each week’s runs throughout the plan so you know what you’re doing.
#2 It improves your physical and mental health
We all know the benefits of exercise for our physical and mental health.
Running is one of the easiest ways to get active and various studies have shown that if you run regularly it can significantly improve your mental health, your self confidence and quality of life.
#3 It sets achievable and realistic goals
When it comes to starting running, many runners make the mistake of believing they have to be able to run a 5k from the get go.
The Couch to 5k plan is so popular because it breaks running a 5k into achievable and realistic goals.
The scheduled walking and running intervals are there for a reason to help build up your endurance and stamina so that you feel prepared to run a 5k by the end of the plan without any breaks.
#4 It gives you a sense of achievement
Running a 5k is a goal for a lot of people who are either new to running or are running for a meaningful cause like raising money for charity.
When you finish a 5k it will give you a huge sense of achievement. After all, all those weeks of training have paid off!
Whether you complete it on your own or with friends and family, running a 5k is a big accomplishment and something that deserves to be recognised.
Which Couch to 5k app is best?
The NHS Couch to 5k app is a popular app in the running community as it provides simple step by step instructions, complete with celebrity voice overs and prompts.
You can even choose a celebrity ‘trainer’ who, once selected, guides you through each week.
Am I fit enough to start Couch to 5k?
The beauty of the Couch to 5k training plan is that it is designed for complete beginners. In fact, during the first few weeks of the plan you’ll be doing more walking than running.
What to do after Couch to 5k
Once you finish Couch to 5k you may be wondering what’s next?
Many runners go on to complete 10k races, half marathons and marathons so the world really is your oyster!
The key is to set yourself achievable and attainable goals so that you don’t feel overwhelmed straight away.
If you liked the Couch to 5k plan because of its simplicity, then my suggestion would be to continue to use a training plan when you train for your next running distance, such as a 10k.