Couch

The NHS Couch to 5K programme

Couch to 5K is one of the best known programmes out there for getting people running. Many people who now run on a regular basis probably started out with a couch to 5k programme. There  are quite a few out there, and I’ve tried a couple of them. However, the one that I would recommend personally is the NHS one. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly it seems to have had the most success out of the various ones I’ve seen people try. Secondly, it’s free! You can download the podcasts for nothing and listen to them. Thirdly, it breaks it down into really manageable runs and you can see the progress as you go along. Finally, Laura, the lady who  talks you through the runs inn the podcast has done the programme herself and is really encouraging. Other programmes have left me feeling a bit like I wasn’t trying hard enough.

How does Couch to 5K work?

Couch to 5K is an nine week programme which is designed to get you from couch potato to runner. By the end of it you should be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. It gradually builds you up at a pace that is easy to manage, but also big enough for you to be able to see noticeable improvements in your overall fitness and ability. By the end of the nine weeks you should be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping. For some people this will be 5km, for other people it won’t be. My fastest 5km is 34 minutes and that was at peak fitness when I was considerably thinner than I am now.

As you run you will listen to the lovely Laura guide you around and she will coax you along. She tells you when to walk, and when to run. You literally follow her instructions. It really is that simple!

What do you do each week?

Week one

  • Five minute warm up walk
  • Run for 60 seconds
  • Walk for 90 seconds
  • Repeat 8 times
  • Brisk five minute cool down walk
Week two

  • Five minute warm up walk
  • 90 seconds of running
  • 2 minutes of walking
  • Repeat 6 times
  • Five minute cool down walk
Week three

  • Five minute warm up walk
  • Run for 90 seconds
  • Walk for 90 seconds
  • Run for 3 minutes
  • Walk for three minutes
  • Repeat once more
  • Five minute cool down walk
Week four

  • Five minute warm up walk
  • 3 minutes of running
  • 90 seconds of walking
  • 5 minutes of running
  • 2.5 minutes of walking
  • 3 minutes of running
  • 90 seconds of walking
  • 5 minutes of running
  • 5 minute cool down walk
Week fiveThere are three different runs this week:

Run one:

  • 5 minute walk up walk
  • 5 minutes running
  • 3 minutes walking
  • Repeat three times
  • 5 minute cool down walk

Run two:

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 8 minutes of running
  • 5 minutes of walking
  • 8 minutes of running
  • 5 minute cool down walk

Run three:

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 20 minute run without stopoing
  • 5 minute cool down walk
Week sixThere are three different runs again this week:

Run one:

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 5 minutes of running
  • 3 minutes of walking
  • 8 minutes of running
  • 3 minutes of running
  • 5 minute cool down walk

Run two:

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 10 minutes of running
  • 3 minutes of walking
  • 10 minutes of running
  • 5 minute cool down walk

Run three:

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 25 minutes of running non stop with no breaks
  • 5 minute cool down walk
Week seven

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 25 minutes running without a break
  • 5 minute cool down walk
Week eight

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 28 minutes running without stopping or taking a break
  • 5 minute cool down walk
Week nine

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 30 minutes running without stopping
  • 5 minute cool down walk

Once you have completed these then you have finished the couch to 5K programme. You should feel a lot fitter, a lot more confident and you may have noticed an improvement in things like your mental health. You might have lost some weight, but if you haven’t it doesn’t matter.

Don’t feel disheartened if you struggle and have to repeat a week. I needed to repeat week one twice. I know plenty of people who took two or three attempts to complete the first long run without stopping. Sheer determination got me through that one first time, but then I found the first run in week six really hard and needed to repeat that one! Everybody is different, and as long as you are trying then you are doing brilliantly!

 

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