Sat 23 May, 2015

Beginners’ Guide to… Couch to 5K

Silhouette of athletic girl running down the road to a sunset

What is Couch to 5K?

Running is growing into one of the most popular pastimes for fitness fans, but it is also one of the most intimidating exercises to begin. Though there are huge advantages to running, including improving cardiovascular health, toning muscles and weight loss, you can also be suspectible to injury, and it is often considered as a more advanced exercise for the ultra-fit. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Couch to 5K programme is made for anyone who is a scared of taking the leap to becoming a runner. The message of the Couch to 5K programme is that anyone – no matter how unfit or anxious – can start running. Not only that, but they will be able to run a swift 5K in 8 weeks with no problems at all!

What You Need:

The great part of Couch to 5K is that you don’t need lots of equipment to begin. Professional runners will invest a bit more into aerodynamic shorts, but all you really need to start is comfy, breathable running clothes, a water bottle and a music player so you can listen to the Couch to 5K programme. That’s it!

There are many Couch to 5K programmes out there, the most popular is created by the NHS. It is available in a series of podcasts, which also provide tips for running stance and a voice that will help you pace yourself. However, the music provided can be a little cheesy. If you want to listen to your own playlist, there are a variety of podcasts out there which will provide the Couch to 5K instructions that will play over the top of your own music. C25KFree is a free app which helps track your progress.

What Happens:

Couch to 5K is an eight week programme which staggers and slowly increases the amount you run and builds your endurance by using walking intervals. It also include five minute warm up and cool down walking times.

For the first run you take, the longest you will jog for is 60 seconds. This is how easy it is to begin when doing Couch to 5K.

Each Couch to 5K session only lasts 30-40 minutes, and you will need to do three runs a week to keep up with the programme.


Pace Yourself – you are teaching yourself to run long distance. Don’t sprint as soon as the music kicks in, and remember you have another 20 minutes of the programme to go, so don’t use all of your energy on the first 60 seconds.

Give yourself rest days – no matter how happy and energetic you feel, remember to give yourself rest days, particularly if you are new to running. This is a great way to avoid injury and build your fitness slowly but surely, and hit that 5k goal after 8 weeks!

Thinking of trying Couch to 5K?

Simply Gym has treadmills and personal trainers who can guide you through the programme and give you the support and tips you need!

Good luck!