Couch to 5K

 With a minimum of workout gear required, and the only gym you need right outside your front door, jogging or running can be one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get in shape.

But if you've already tried - and failed - to make running a regular habit, you'll know how hard it can be for beginners to get into the swing of things, leaving you feeling fed up and likely to call it quits.

Couch to 5K is designed to get complete novices off their sofas and on their feet.

What is Couch to 5K?

Couch to 5K (or C25K) is a programme that aims to get you comfortably running 5K. It works by gradually increasing the distance you run over the course of nine weeks, at your own speed, so that it won't be so lung-burstingly painful you're put off for life.

For example, in week one, you start with a brisk 5-minute walk, then alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of brisk walking, for 20 minutes, three times a week.

During week two, after your warm up, you alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking, and so on.

One of the most popular elements about C25K is that, apart from being ultra fuss-free, many runners notice an improvement in their stamina and strength from the get-go. As one Mumsnetter says: "It was really great, I couldn't believe how quickly I progressed from wanting to die as a beginner to running a fair distance." 

Acronyms used about Couch to 5K

C25K - Couch to 5K
MFP - My Fitness Pal app (read more)
W1R1 - Week 1, run 1
W2R3 - Week 2, run 3
MHR - Maximum heart rate

And you can keep it as simple as you like, from just measuring distance by eye to using techy podcasts and apps to keep track of how long you've been going.

If you're ever in need of encouragement or hints, do run on the spot by the Sports and exercise Talk board

What you need before you start Couch to 5K

A sports bra
For the hefty of bosom, the shock absorber gets top marks from sporty Mumsnetters, although it's no replacement for getting properly fitted.  

They don't have to be top of the range, but they do have to fit you comfortably and be made for running. 

As C25K requires you to time yourself, lots of people prefer to listen to podcasts which have audio cues laid over music to let you know when to stop and start. Here are some Mumsnetters have used: 

Music and playlists
Not sure what tunes to play keep you motivated?

  • I downloaded 101 Best Running Songs today and found having new music to listen to gave me a much-needed boost! countingdown
  • Lady Gaga is a fabulous running companion. Ditto the Beatles. But listen to whatever you fancy. Nothing too up-tempo though - you'll be running too fast to try to keep up with it. josierosie
  • My music library is such that it includes some U2, Van Morrison and REM, alongside James Taylor and Tom Jones and The Green Green Grass of Home. Midtown

App suggestions
If you want to get hi-tech about keeping track of your progress (which can be a great motivator), here are some no-cost or low-cost apps: 

Long-term benefits

Once you've hit your stride and can comfortably run 5K, all you need to do to maintain your fitness is to keep going. Maybe join a running club, or enter a race to raise money for your favourite charity.

As this Mumsnetter puts it: "I did the C25K in three months last year. I'm still running, and the fitter I get, the more I enjoy it. I'm doing a 10K in a few weeks and I'm feeling strong - the fittest I've ever been. Keep at it, no matter how long it takes... it's all good!"


Disclaimer: The information on our diet and fitness pages is only intended as an informal guide and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. Mumsnet would urge you to consult your GP before you begin any diet if you're concerned about your weight, have existing health conditions and/or are taking medication.

Image: Shutterstock

Last updated: 5 months ago