Get from couch to 5k in 4 weeks with a simple training plan

I find it somewhat patronising that the accepted vernacular is now “couch to 5k” – implying that anyone that’s looking to get started in running is currently a lazy, couch-ridden slob watching trash-TV and eating takeaway food every night.

Jump straight to the training plan

In reality, most people looking to get started with running are semi-active and possibly even take part in other sports or activities, but are yet to really get into running. And for good reason. Running is hard. It can be easy to give up if you have no set goals or are pushing yourself too hard too soon and suffering injuries or pains. And that is the general purpose of plans such as the couch to 5k – to ease you in, progressively upping the difficulty, all the while hitting mini-milestones that make you feel good as you accomplish each of them.

A 5k target is a very worthwhile milestone for a running beginner or jogger. At just over 3 miles, it should take a beginner runner approximately 30 minutes, so a beginners plan such as the one we have put together below, is a graduated increase to try and get you to that target of 30 minutes on your feet.

Tips for getting up and running

Below you can find our training schedule to get you up to 5k in 4 weeks. There are a few requisites that we think you should know about before getting started with this plan:

A decent set of trainers: While you don’t need to shell out a fortune for state of the art lightweight running shoes, you will want to get some proper running trainers. Regular leisure or fashion trainers don’t have sufficient cushioning to protect your feet and joints from the constant stress of running or jogging and if you find that you are in pain following a run then you are more likely to give up. You can check out mens running trainers under £50 at Amazon by clicking here and women’s road running trainers under £50 by clicking here.

Warm up and warm down: You should start and end each run with a brisk 5-minute walk. It’s important to get your muscles warm before exerting them to avoid injury. yes I know you know this, yes I know it’s boring and you want to get started running but it is important so it would be remiss of us not to mention it.

Get a good pace: You will need to run fast enough that you are giving your body a workout, but not so fast that you blow up after a couple of minutes and have to sit down to rest. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a conversational pace, that is, run at a speed so that you could hold a short, curt conversation without wheezing or gasping for breath. Another way to measure your pace is with a GPS watch. If you are just getting started then they are not vital for beginners, but if you are getting more serious about running then this is an essential bit of kit. Remember, we are aiming for approximately 10-minute miles. The vast majority of GPS watches have a pace setting so you can keep an eye on your current speed. We will be doing a full review of our favourite GPS running watches in the near future, but for now, you can check out the best that Amazon has to offer by clicking here.

Find a running friend: Speaking of holding a conversation, why not try and find a running friend to accompany you. Ideally, you would both be starting out as I know from personal experience that it can be a bit humbling running with someone much more experienced than you – and you can end up feeling guilty for holding them back, or over-exert yourself trying to keep up. But having a running partner is a good idea in general – it keeps you motivated to keep going and it can stop you giving up if the weather isn’t great or you’re feeling a bit tired after work, as each of you won’t want to let the other person down.

The simple couch to 5k training plan

We have set a timeframe of 4 weeks for our plan and I think is perfectly achievable for anyone that is semi-active. If you are significantly overweight or more sedentary than the average person then you may want to take it a little slower than this, perhaps repeating each week for a total of 8 weeks. And that’s absolutely fine of course – everyone starts somewhere and the hardest challenge is to just get started. Good luck, and please let us know how you get on in the comments or if you found this guide and plan helpful.

If you’d like to download a PDF version of this plan to print out then you can do so by clicking here.

Simple couch to 5k training schedule

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