Couch to 5K Plan

5k Plan

Your New Year’s resolution to lose weight started off well. You passed on the worst (yet tastiest) food and went for a run during halftime of the football game. Then January 2nd rolled around and it all went downhill.

Here we are on the cusp of summer and your beach body is going to remain safely hidden beneath jeans and an oversized shirt. Is there hope?

My friend, you just need a plan. Some direction is all the motivation many people need. With a solid goal in mind, this is one of those things that really is a simple recipe to follow.

Below is the same 5K plan I started with on my way to becoming an Ironman triathlete and marathon age group winner in just three years.

Getting Started

You’re going to need a few things to get you off the couch and on your feet. A trip to a reputable running store is the first stop. Skip the discount stores – you need someone that can help you discover if you overpronate or underpronate and what your natural running gait looks like. Starting off in the wrong shoes will leave you injured and then you’ll be giving up in just a few weeks.

It’s not unusual to pay $100 – $150 for a good pair of running shoes at a retail store. When you’re getting started, it’s a fair price to get the expertise of someone that knows what they’re doing. Ideally, they’re going to put you on a treadmill and analyze your running style, not just have you walk around the store to see if you like them. Once you’ve dialed in the right shoe, feel free to get your next pair from an online retailer and get a better price.

You’re also going to need some running clothes. This can be as simple as your favorite pair of gym shorts and a dry fit t-shirt. Just skip cotton to keep your clothing breathable and avoid chafing in uncomfortable places. If you find you just can’t run without chafing, Bodyglide or udder cream will be your best friend.

The last thing you need is time: 30 minutes a day, three times a week. I found that early morning was the best time for me when I got started. Now, I typically do lunchtime runs or head out just before dinner. Find a time that works for you. If it’s convenient to your schedule, you’re much more likely to stick to it.

The Plan

Our goal is to run for 30 minutes without stopping, which will be pretty close to a 5K (5 kilometers, 3.1 miles) for most people. Your running time should be an easy jog at this point. If you’re feeling good on the third run of the week, try running a little harder to challenge yourself.

You can use an app like Strava or Map My Run to track your workouts and progress. If you have a Fitbit or other type of activity tracking watch, it’ll make it even more fun. I like Map My Run to plan out a route on their map before I head out and I use a Garmin Forerunner GPS watch to track my workouts.

Week 1 – Walk 1 minute, run 1 minute for 30 minutes. (15 reps)

Week 2 – Walk 1 minute, run 2 minutes for 30 minutes (10 reps)

Week 3 – Walk 1 minute, run 3 minutes for 32 minutes (8 reps)

Week 4 – Walk 1 minute, run 5 minutes for 30 minutes (5 reps)

Week 5 – Walk 1 minute, run 7 minutes for 32 minutes (4 reps)

Week 6 – Walk 1 minute, run 10 minutes for 33 minutes (3 reps)

Week 7 – Walk 1 minute, run 15 minutes for 32 minutes (2 reps)

Week 8 – Run 30 minutes without stopping!

Now that you can run for 30 minutes without stopping, you can try adding a couple of minutes to your run once a week and running all or part of your run harder. Before you know it, you’ll start melting pounds and feeling better. To stay motivated, sign up to run a local 5K race this summer. Just remember to have fun with it!

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  1. How to Respond When Your New Year's Resolution Fails - February 8, 2017

    […] some light jogging on the days you have more time (check out our article on Couch to 5K for tips on starting in a sustainable way). It’ll take a few months, but you’ll be out […]

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