hempstead valley therapy centre

What is couch to 5K?

“Couch to 5K” is a free program that takes people from their couch to running a 5K race/distance in 9 weeks (the original program).
Coach to 5k (1)

5K is short for 5 kilometres, or 5,000 meters or 3.1 miles.

(When people ask the question “How long does it take to complete Couch to 5K,” it really depends on which program they pick. 

It might be 6 weeks, or 12 weeks, or 9 weeks. The original Couch to 5K plan created by Cooling Running took 9 weeks).

Here’s the Couch to 5K plan in a nutshell:

The program utilises a popular type of stamina concept training called ‘interval training’ and lays out exactly what to do every day for the set number of weeks after starting.

By varying your pacing, your body is forced to adapt to different speeds, your heart and lungs have to adapt to various levels of strenuous activity (and get stronger / healthier as a consequence).

As a result, you actually burn more calories and get better prepared for a ‘race’ than compared to just training at a constant speed.

In other words, interval training is very effective and should be used by anybody who wants to improve their running/fitness abilities.

Over the weeks, Couch to 5K slowly ramps up the amount of time you spend running and cuts back the time you spend walking until you’re at the point where you can actually run a 5K without stopping.


#1) It’s simple and clear. Print out a PDF or download an iPhone app and for the next 9 weeks you simply do what it tells you:

Today, do this.             Tomorrow do that.              Repeat.

We’re all busy. Most of us lead hectic lives. And programs that tell us EXACTLY what to do allow us to follow instructions without needing to figure it out ourselves.

#2) Couch to 5K is not overwhelming. It’s a free program (or inexpensive app), and it’s very approachable.

Couch to 5K appeals to people who are overwhelmed at the idea of doing boot camp, Insanity or mustering up the courage to go to a cross-fit class.

Couch to 5K makes you think “maybe I can actually do this…” which is the most important part of all fitness journeys: starting.

#3) Everybody wants to “have run a 5K.” If you’re new to health and fitness and working on setting a good obtainable goal, “run a 5K this year” is a great place to start.

  • It’s a short enough distance that with some training you can pull it off, even if you have to walk some or all of it.
  • There are 5Ks practically every weekend, many of which raise money for charity or are themed in a fun way.
  • Many local areas have an organisation called ‘Park runs’. Google your local one.
  • It’s an amazing activity to do as a group with friends
  • Humans are wired for achievements, progress, and gratification – 5Ks are perfectly designed for that.

So in completing Couch to 5K, you train and get to see yourself progress weekly, you get to finish a race and feel a sense of accomplishment, and you go home with a medal you can hang on your wall reminding you of the proud moment.

Plus, it might help get you in shape on a more permanent basis.


Some Important things….

IF you have any medical condition, first seek the advice of an appropriate health Care Practitioner (such as a GP, Physiotherapist, or Sports therapist) prior to commencing any regular exercise regime.

With an increase in activity, you will start to notice DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), little niggles, and tightness, especially during the first 2 weeks of starting a program.

Try to adopt a simple stretching regime and be sure to warm up and cool down thoroughly to reduce the risk of injury.

Hydration is very important; if you are to the point of being thirsty, then you are not hydrating well! This should not occur quickly or frequently.

Example Training Plan- Complete each work out 3-5 times per week.

Coach to 5k example plan