Skip to Content

Couch to 5K (3.1) miles

I took my first steps to running using this program.

Actually, my first run was early in the morning wearing khaki shorts and a t-shirt on a cold day in February, 2005. That wasn’t very smart, but I was desperate for sleep. I knew from long ago days of track and basketball that if I could run myself out, I could sleep without dreams.

It worked and I promptly started running at a weight I was not comfortable. I hurt my foot, stopped for 5 months, then found this program to try again.

And the rest, is an amazing history to being a lifelong runner and dropping 65lbs.

This is the Couch to 5K running program and it works. Keep in mind that it does NOT say, “couch to breaking speed records 5K”. It does exactly what it promises in 9 weeks. HOWEVER, it assumes a LOT of common sense.

Couch to 5K Tips

  • Good running shoes are a MUST. Don’t use those high top basketball shoes or those trendy cross fitters. Get some real shoes. They do not have to cost a fortune, but you will save a fortune in ortho, x-rays, and physical therapy if you start off with good shoes first. Go to a running shoe store, don’t worry about how you might not look like a fit runner (yet), and tell them to please fit you in good running shoes.
  • No pain, no gain: Not for beginners. The body will gently tell you if something is not right. If you don’t listen, the body will use a little more urgency. If you still ignore it, you could be sidelined for months or wind up in traction. It is normal for knees to feel a little sore. It’s normal for under-used muscles to feel sore. It is NOT normal for screaming agonizing pain to shoot from your toes, hips, shins, back, or knees. Experienced runners know when to stop and when to keep going. Beginners, we have to earn that right to know what our bodies are capable of doing.
  • If you don’t do it, it won’t work. You can’t skip 5 workouts and expect to hit the 5K right on time. There is a lot of flexibility in this schedule. Use it, but don’t abuse it.

Build Flexibility into the Couch to 5K program.

For your life, it might not be 5K in 9 weeks. It might be 5K in 13 weeks. And in the grand scheme of many weeks of your life that you have spent wondering if you can be a runner, an extra few weeks of good training is so worth it.

The article suggests picking a race 9 weeks from this point and then starting the program. This is where I disagree.

For people who are brand new to running, and many to any strenuous exercise, 9 weeks is too far in advance to think about  a definite schedule to running a 30 min 5K.

I would suggest looking at least 12 weeks out from start. That will give you plenty of extra time to re-train a week, up some time on the weekend, create some cushion for bad weeks/illness/life getting in the way.

Some disagree, saying the structured 9 weeks will keep people on track. And that is true. My response is this: anybody is going to have the mental discipline to stick to 9 weeks should have the discipline for much longer.

Prevent Injuries with Couch to 5K

Giving yourself a little room will cut down on quitting. If you are on week 5 and you get sick and miss some workouts, you will have the extra weeks to build back.

What you will NOT do is cram 2 weeks of training into the next week, which is almost textbook maneuver for injury.

You will NOT feel defeated and quit halfway through because you might not be ready for  the “pick a 5K” that you’ve told everybody, God, your mother, and any friend on Facebook about.

I know there are many people who breezed through the 9 weeks right on schedule. I know many more who did not finish because they got stuck halfway through and didn’t want to miss the goal race they originally planned.

Give yourself some time. The most successful people that I have found are those who did not pick a race until about half-way through the plan. They attempted the first 4 weeks, then picked a race.

Don’t Look for Speed

Go slow. Yes. slow. Turtles should pass you.

Why? Ever see a turtle wearing a knee brace? Ever see a turtle with bottles of ibuprofen? Of course I’m kidding, but rarely will you see a slower runner crying from pain on the side of the road.

Most injuries are “overuse”, not “underuse”. If you can walk comfortably for 30 minutes, start off taking some easy running steps to get the heart rate up.

Do not go full force, Forest Gump, airplane arms, speed of light.

Go speed of chocolate fudge pudding. Your knees will thank you. And then you can eat the chocolate fudge pudding.

Here is the schedule and link to the notes. READ THE NOTES BEFORE YOU START!

Week Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
2 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
3 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
4 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
5 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking.
6 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2-1/4 miles (or 25 minutes) with no walking.
7 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes).
8 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes).
9 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes). The final workout! Congratulations! Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes).

And there it is. That’s how I started running and raced anything from 1mile to ultra hard half-marathon trails. I’m mostly a trail-runner, but that’s a whole other subject.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. You can’t sue me for any information on this or any other blog post under Katrina Runs for Food. Use your God-given common sense and be careful. Happy trails!

Previous
Weekend Meal Prep Whole 30
Next
Sausage and Green Bean Stir Fry