From couch to 5k running in two months

From couch to 5k running in two months

Overcoming the hurdle

You are reading this and are probably thinking: “there’s no way it can possibly happen with me”. I dare to challenge you! It is totally possible and doable! Better yet, you do not need to be locked in any membership fees and fixed schedules. All you need is your desire to do this and your commitment to this goal.

Maybe you haven’t been active for a while. No problem! Just get started.

It’s not all or nothing… it’s step by step. And besides, life is not a sprint, it is a marathon! You will feel so many benefits along the way that will motivate you to keep going.

There are many benefits of cardiovascular training. It improves cardiovascular health, decreases the risk for heart disease, lowers your blood pressure, helps regulate blood sugar, regulates weight, aids sleep, and strengthens immune system.

For the vast majority of people cardio does not impose any risk. If you have any pre-existing conditions or have concerns about this idea, I strongly recommend consulting your doctor.

If you have a chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, back or joint pain, exercise can have important health benefits.

The hardest step is the one that you take when you first decide that you need to introduce fitness to your life. Do not let your negative beliefs stop you—there always will be excuses to postpone it.

I am a middle-aged woman, not especially young, not skinny. I make every effort to exemplify a healthy lifestyle and active approach to fitness.

When I started running – I was so embarrassed that I was going out of the house in baggy clothes at night, at the time when nobody could see me. Now running is my natural state, after completing a run the world appears to be a very pleasant and welcoming place. That is true after a normal run, and it was true after each of my seven marathons.

Running is not only my exercise and cardio training, it is my favorite and the most effective stress relief and my way to remain happy, energetic and optimistic. Running can also lead to being healthier for other activities.

Getting started with running

You can become comfortable with running 5k distance in two months.  This table summarizes a hypothetical couch to 5k plan:

Week 11 min walk, 2 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)
Week 21 min walk, 3 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)
Week 31 min walk, 4 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)
Week 41 min walk, 5 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)
Week 51 min walk, 6 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)
Week 61 min walk, 7 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)
Week 71 min walk, 8 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)
Week 81 min walk, 9 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)
Week 91 min walk, 10 minute run (35-40 mins, 3 times per week)

Warmup: Before starting your workout, I recommend starting your exercise routine from 5-6 min of easy walk, that will serve as a warmup.

Choose a comfortable run: You will then need to decide what duration of running interval you are comfortable with. Start the first training session from repeating very small running intervals and 1 min walk after it. Even if you start from 30 sec or 45 sec or 1 min run and 1 min walk, any progress is good. You’ll see how it goes and will get used doing a few repeats. After a few run-walk intervals you will gradually increase your running interval. Ideally, finishing the first session with 2-3 min run and 1 min walk would be a great accomplishment!

The pace should be easy and relaxed, enough for you to carry a conversation. Ideally you would run 35-40 minutes each session. Then stretching your lower leg muscles, the muscles of your thigh (hamstrings and quadriceps), of your butt, shoulders, neck and others would be a good finale of your  exercise.

I recommend to staying with the same running interval for the entire week, exercising 2-4 times in a week.

Every week you will try to increase the duration of running intervals (ideally up to 10  min) while keeping walk breaks at 1 min. This increase should be gradual, by a minute or minute and a half. This way you will teach your body to become comfortable with the new running interval.

Regardless of what your starting fitness level is, you will gradually progress to comfortably running a 10-minute interval without stopping or walking. When you are able to run 10 min non-stop, stay at this length of your running intervals. At the end of this program the goal will be to do 3 repeats of (10 min run +1 min walk) intervals. That will bring you close to 5K distance, possibly with a few extra minutes needed after the third running interval.

I would recommend staying with this (10+1) ratio for a while, possibly increasing their number should you want to pursue your running and increase your running distances.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento at Unsplash

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