What is the Couch to 5k?

Couch to 5k is a program which gets you running for a total of 30 minutes non-stop, in 9 weeks. This should mean you’re running for 5k (or 3.10686 miles).

How many runs do you do per week?
The program suggests you do 3 per week with at least 1 days rest in-between each run. You don’t have to stick to this though. You could do 2 a week if you wanted.

I can’t run! Will it be too difficult?
Even though I’ve run since I was a teenager, I still couldn’t do all the runs in week 1, run 1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just do what you can. You will improve week-on-week, trust me.

Are there any negatives about the app?
One thing is missing: stretching. It doesn’t tell you to stretch before or after each of your runs. This is SO important! I spend 5 minutes before a run doing squats, plus the walk which is at the start of each run. I spend 10 minutes after each run stretching my hamstrings, calves and thighs.

If you don’t stretch (in particular, afterwards) you are setting yourself up to fail. 10 minutes afterwards is so much better than months off because of an injury.

I also don’t like how I can’t have the same person talking each time. I get an error occasionally saying I need 100GB… odd. I go through each person until I find one that works.

How do I start?
You download the ‘couch to 5k’ app to your phone. You can choose from a few different speakers who talk to you during your run. You are told when to walk, run and stop and you can listen to your music in-between.

Can I repeat a run/week?
Yes! I’ve done this. I was on week 5, run 2, but I got a cold so I didn’t exercise for over a week. When I got back on track, I started back on week 4, run 2 and continued from this point.

What do I need?
– Sensible and comfy clothes and trainers
– A phone with headphones

I’m self-conscious about running. What can I do?
Run in the dark! Seriously. It’s what I do. Just remember to:
– watch out for cars backing out of drives
– take a torch so you can see where you’re going and so drivers can see you
– put your hood up or get a hat

I’m never going to be able to run for 30 minutes. Why should I bother?
The program doesn’t start you off with something unachievable. You work up to it over 9 weeks. That’s 9 weeks of 3 runs, so 27 (or even longer if you do 2 or 1 runs a week). It’s amazing how the human body can adapt and improve in this time. Yes you’ll have days when you have to walk when you should be running. But you’ll also have days when you feel you could run off into the sunset like Forest Gump. Even if you struggle, you can repeat a run or even repeat a week to give yourself more time. No body is judging you (apart from yourself) so do whatever you feel comfortable with.

Can I listen to music?
Yes you can. When the speaker speaks, the app turns your music down automatically so you can hear them talk, and back up again once done!

How do I know when I’m half way and to turn back?
You’ll hear a big bell sound which only rings once. The time of your run includes walks at the start and end so you know you won’t need to add this on top of your total time.