“Oh I could never do that!” “Are you crazy?” Those are just two of the more memorable responses I heard when suggesting Couch-to-5K to my successful weight loss patients.
I’m here to tell you that not only did those very same people complete a couch-to-5K program (the Ridgewood Running Company features a great, local program), they have both participated in several organized 5K runs. The woman who assured me she could never do that even took 1st place in her age bracket in her 2nd 5K event.
They did it and so can you! Here are 3 key points you need to know:
1. Basic Facts
- A 5K is a five-kilometer distance – 3.1 miles for us non-metric speakers.
- Couch-to-5K (often abbreviated as C25K) is a 9-week training plan designed to get non-runners (couch potatoes) to run/jog the 3.1-mile distance.
- It assumes a person can walk comfortably for 30 minutes.
- It starts with a gentle combination of walking and jogging and works up to all running.
- Each workout takes only 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week.
- It lets you measure your workouts by time or distance, you're not competing.
- The program has an app that will tell you when to walk, when to run and how long until the next interval.
2. Training Plan Overview Week-by-Week
- Each workout begins with a 5-minute warm-up walk.
- For the first 2 weeks, each workout lasts only 20 minutes and includes alternating walking and jogging for short periods of 1 to 2 minutes.
- The third week features longer (but still manageable) chunks of jogging and walking.
- During the fourth week, mileage for each session increases to 2 miles (21 minutes). For most former couch potatoes, the accomplishment of running 6 miles in a week provides motivation to stick with the plan.
- During weeks five and six, runners reduce dependency on walking. In fact, the third workout of these two weeks is exclusively jogging.
- In the last three weeks, the C25K plan eliminates the walking segments altogether, and new runners find themselves building up their jaunts from 2.5 miles (about 25 minutes) in week seven to 3 miles (30 minutes) by the end of the ninth week.
3. Important Tips
- Good running shoes are a must. Go to a running shoe store and ask them to please fit you in a good/appropriate pair of sneakers. Many stores can do a gait analysis and give you options that are best for how your foot strikes the ground.
- Go Slow! Yes, I said slow. The goal of your first 5K is to finish without injury. We can talk about personal bests in a future blog!
- “No pain, no gain” does NOT apply. It is normal for knees and hips to feel a little sore. It's not normal for agonizing pain to shoot from your toes, hips, shins, back or knees.
- If you don't do it, it won't work. You can't skip five workouts and expect to hit the 5k right on time. There is a lot of flexibility in this schedule. Use it, but don't abuse it.