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"How to Train For Your First 5k From Being a "Couch Potato""

Are you a couch potato, but really want to start running ?

This is about the couch to 5k training (or 10k for that sake). Or the walking to running. Embedded into a marathon training site.

couch to 5kWho knows, maybe getting out of that couch will eventually fulfill a dream of running a full marathon ?

I often get questions like this, :

"Your website, advice is great - but for someone like me, 40 pounds overweight ; though I can grasp what you are saying, it is useless. What I need is a "where to start guide!!!"

The true beginners challenge.

From couch to 5k..

First Up, Short Pep Talk ; How to Motivate Yourself to "Get Out There!"

couch potato to 5kJupp, some words about motivation, before we go on the the training you will need.

There are a few things you can do to make that journey a memorable one.

The first thing is to set your goal.

A goal will help you motivate yourself. Those days when you feel for anything else than to go out on a run. Those days - that is when the goal is important.

If you are really smart, you do two types of goal settings :

  • One big goal down the road - which will be your first 5k,10k or losing 10 pounds of weight. Write it on a paper. Place it on the wall. Remember it.
  • The other one is the daily goal. The daily goal is your friend. The stepping stone to get you out there to do your run.

Let me explain a few things about the daily goal :

Personally I Use Something Called the 10 Minutes Rule as My Daily Goal.

The 10 minutes rule means you must run 10 minutes before you can decide "not to run".

It goes like this : Say the goal is to run 3 times a week (or do something else for that sake!) I say to myself : I can quit running, stay inside and rest on the couch.


The only rules to this is :

  1. To go out and run at least 10 minutes.
  2. If 10 minutes has passed, it is perfectly ok to step inside and go on with the rest.

first 5kSee, what you are doing here is to actually go out there and start the work.

And once that work is started it is easier to continue. And when you tell yourself that you only have to run 10 minutes minimum, it makes it easier to start the run :)

Even as a two time Olympic athlete in the 5k - I had to find ways to motivate myself to get out there every day (and most days twice). And I found it.

Just like you will.

From Motivation, to "How to Train From Couch to 5k - Beginners Guide"

"The 9 steps on the way. To successfully run a 5k from scratch"

Since you probably start from scratch, here is the scoop for your training plan ;

For the First 4 weeks of Training, Alternate Running and Walking.

  • For equal number of minutes.
  • Even if it "feels" better to be running the whole way.

See, what you are doing here is two things :

First you are letting your "muscle tension" you build during the running, calm down during the walking rests.

Second, you can run just that little bit faster when you alternate the running with the walking.

The sum of this is less injuries and "faster" progression.

You may run 5 minutes, then walk 5 minutes.

Or run 15 minutes, then walk 15 minutes.

Or run 1 minute, walk 1 minute.

It does not matter. As long as you stick to the 50/50 plan.

Add Thirty Minutes of Run/Walk Pr Week - and One "Workout" Pr Week

Do so, up to where you "want to be training". This will "progress you" perfectly.

Say you wish to run three times a week :

The way to go around this is,

  • Start 30 minutes of run/walk the first week. And one (1) workout.
  • That is, 15 minutes walking, 15 minutes jogging total (remember the 50/50 rule)
  • For the first week this is enough!

The rest of the work should only be fast walking, swimming or the bike.

No need to injure yourself at this early stage. Over 70 % of running injuries come in the first 6 weeks of training..

  • Next week. Add 30 minutes. So 60 minutes running/walking, that you can split into two runs.
  • Third week. 90 minutes run/walk, that you can split into three runs.

As you have now reached your three goal runs a week, you can start adding the 30 minutes for the fourth week to each of the runs ;

Which means the fourth week 40 minutes - 40 minutes - 40 minutes on those three days.

You have now gotten through the first 4 weeks "healthy" and you are ready-to-go.

Once Reached 4 weeks of Running, it is Time to Start Some "Variation" in Your Training.

Alternate Hard-Easy workouts. Makes the couch to 5k faster.

The main thing is to alternate the hard workouts with the easy.

The easy workouts should be,

  • So easy that you can easily talk during them
  • No need to get on the couch again after you finish. You feel ok.

The hard workouts should be,

  • Right above the "threshold for talking"
  • Fast enough to really "feel" it, though gradually faster as you go along (progressive)

The Hard to Easy Workouts : 2 to 1 if You are Training Under 3 Times Weekly.

If you are training/want to run 3 times weekly, 2 of these should be "the hard kind" and only 1 easy.

If you run 4 sessions weekly or more, this should be about 50/50 hard to easy work. That is two hard workouts and two easy.

In this way, you get variation in your training.

Variation means better shape faster.

Alternate the Hard Workouts Into 50 % Short, 50 % Long Repetitions

Short repetitions means below 1 min in duration pr repeat. Long means above 2-3 minutes.

So say you want to run 30 minutes "hard" one day. And have two hard workouts total that week,

  • You can then run for example 30 times 1 minute.
  • and the other "hard day" that week, you can run for example 6 times 5 minute.

One long, one short. That simple.

Stick to Repetition Running - No Need to Go "Continuous"!

Better to get those repeat sessions going instead of just running all the way...

This is a major advice here. It is much better to split the runs into repeats like I have explained in #5.

You can cut the time to get in shape dramatically by doing this, instead of just running 30 minutes hard "all the way, no stopping".

Studies show this, experience show this.

Recovery Between Repeats ? Go for the Half Rule!

Take half the time you have run, and make it your recovery time.

Which means if you run 6 times 5 minute on your hard workout :

2,5 minutes of easy walking/standing still in between each 6 minute. This ensures you proper recovery between each on of the repeats.

Hit the Warm Bath After the "Hard Runs"

This is a special tip. 10 minutes in a hot bath after the hard runs.

Ten minutes, so hot that is it just on the edge of what you can "take"

This brings your muscle tension back down to "normal" again.

And helps you recover faster. And prevent injuries that are very, very common early in your training phase for your first 5k/in the couch to 5k plan.

Finally, in the Couch to 5k Training Program : Take Care of Your Body

One rest day is ok, pay attention to how you feel.

beginners 5kYour main challenge to complete, start training for a 5k/10k, will be two things :

  1. Injuries
  2. Keep the motivation going.

Both these things are easier to deal with if you "let yourself" take one day off once in a while. Because of a nagging calf muscle - or because the weather is just not very inviting outside.

Don't feel bad.

What matters is the general progress ; not one single run.

Finally, if you feel "heavy" on many of your runs - and maybe felt that it would be much easier with a few less pounds.

Then be patient.

It takes 6-8 weeks for your metabolism to get "used to" the new training. And then it happens. Almost suddenly.

Don't make the mistake of rushing into running too fast though. Running is a lifestyle sport. >>Start Walking, Get Running, Lose Weight<< is a proven plan that will help you ease into running gradually and successfully...

You feel better, run better (sleep better!) and your weight drops.

Good luck with your couch to 5k beginners plan!

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