Couch to 5K Plan

If you've been looking into how to start running, you might have come across the Couch to 5K plan. It's a programme to get you across the finish line of your first 5k race. The best thing about a 5k running race is that almost anyone can do it; from complete beginners to old hands. They are a great way to get involved in the fitness community and make new friends. However, there are several ways you need to prepare yourself so we've developed a list of tips and tricks to help you get started.

How to Start Running

It is essential that you don’t jump into a race without any training or experience. Even if you want to join your local charity fun run, make sure you’re prepared.

Make a simple plan that gets you to the point you want to be and stick to it. This should make the training process a stress free and enjoyable one so your 5k doesn't become a chore. If you want to follow a ready-made plan, check out our 5K training programme.

Why Couch to 5K is so popular

Couch to 5K programmes offer an excellent way for beginners to get into running. 5k runs have increased in popularity dramatically in recent years, with events held up and down the UK; from small villages to big cities. Here are just a few reasons why 5ks have become so popular:

Low cost

Most 5k runs are free to enter such as parkrun and the Vitality Run Series, which hold numerous events in a variety of locations up and down the country.

Chance to make a change

With the vast majority of these races supporting charities it gives you a chance to make a positive contribution to others lives, whilst achieving your personal fitness goals.

Get the “runner’s high”

During workouts of moderate intensity (such as 5k races) endorphins are released that help to numb or dull pains. Studies have shown that these endorphins have affects similar to opium and morphine. Beta-endorphins are even addictive, so it’s a good way to start a healthy running habit.

It's a full body workout

Running is simply amazing for a full body work out: calves, thighs, glutes, core muscles and arms. You name it and running will work it. 5k training is also great for toning as well as slimming down.

Before you get started on your running here are a few general points that you should always take on board:

  • Warm up and warm down before you start any exercise.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated throughout.
  • Wear suitable running shoes.
  • Have a plan to follow so you stay on track.
  • Consult a doctor if you are concerned about your ability do certain exercises.

5k Runs

There are an abundance of organised 5k runs that will appeal to all abilities and motivations. Here are a few of our favourites:

Race for Life

5k training plan - race for life

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life is a fundraising, non-competitive event. It’s open to all abilities and you are free to go at your own pace; walk, jog, run or anything in between. There are over 200 of them across the country with plenty of spirit, warmth and enthusiasm amongst the runners.

The Color Run

5k Training Plans - The Colour Run

The tag line for this 5k is ‘The Happiest 5k on the Planet’. You can’t go wrong with that. It has a message of healthy and positive living with a focus on improving health and wellness. Over 60% of the runners participating are first time 5k runners. A great race for an intro to 5ks as well as being fun for those a touch more advanced. Everyone is welcome at these events. Just turn up wearing white and get covered in paint and a bit of joy as you run your 5k.

Reebok Spartan Race 5k Sprint

5k training plan- spartan

All of these races are timed, judged and ranked. This one isn't just a run, it’s got obstacles along the way. Anyone can do it, but, you need to do a lot of prep work as it’s a full body workout out that even the experienced sportsman find a challenge. Super fun, hard work.

The point of a 5k is to have fun. If you enjoy doing it, it will be worthwhile and keep you on track with your fitness goals - no matter  how fast you are - and it’s a great way to introduce yourself to the rewarding world of long distance running.

5k Training Equipment

If you're planning on embarking on a couch to 5K programme, you'll want to invest in a treadmill. The JTX Slim-Line: Compact Folding Treadmill is a great choice for those getting into running, who want a compact and durable treadmill. With auto-incline excellent durability and a powerful motor, you can achieve brilliant fitness results at home. It also stores away under a bed, making it a great choice for beginners.

If you'd like to learn more about treadmills, read our treadmill buying guide.

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