Illustration by Abigail Dannatt

Couch to 5K – My experience

If you want to get into running but don’t know where to start, then look no further than the NHS…

If you want to get into running but don’t know where to start, then look no further than the NHS Couch to 5K app!

For most beginners, the thought of stepping out the door and going for a run sounds a bit scary, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, I will tell you all about the Couch to 5K and give you some top tips for getting the most out of it.

What is Couch to 5K?

Photo from Couch to 5k

Couch to 5K is a free app made in partnership with the NHS and it gives you a running plan to take you from a complete beginner to running 5K in just 9 weeks. The plan involves 3 runs a week with a rest day in between and different runs for each of the 9 weeks.

Who can use Couch to 5K?

Couch to 5K is inclusive and is designed to be accessible for complete beginners. If you have been a runner before and stopped for a while, then this a great plan to get you back into regular runs.

How does Couch to 5K work?

Photo from Couch to 5k
  • The first thing you do is choose your built-in trainer! Your trainer will give you motivation throughout your run. Currently, you can choose Reece Parkinson, Yasmin Evans, Jo Whiley, Denise Lewis, Sanjeev Kohli, Sarah Millican, and Laura (the default).
  • Once you have this set up, the app gives you a plan for each run of the week. The week 1 routine involves running for a minute at a time to allow you to build confidence and find a good pace. Each week, the amount of running is gradually increased to build up your ability. All you need to do is get out the door and pop your headphones in and the trainer will do the rest!
  • Follow their instructions and you will be running 5K comfortably in no time at all.

Did Couch to 5K work for me?

Yes, it did! I went from being a complete novice to being able to run 5k without stopping in just 9 weeks. Each week the plan gets progressively more challenging but if you keep up with it, you really see an improvement quickly!

Personally, I love listening to music when I run as I feel it allows me to keep my pace. I love that the app allows you to play music whilst you are running. Also, when your trainer starts speaking, your music quietens automatically which is really great!

What can you do after completing Couch to 5K?

Completing the 9 weeks isn’t the end! Once you have completed the plan, you can choose runs from any week that you would like to do. This means that if you stop running for a while, you can pick it back up at a point you are comfortable with and build up to 5K again.

Once you’ve finished the plan, you can either keep running 5K regularly or you can find a 10K or a bigger plan online to work towards.

My top tips:

Don’t feel pressured to move up a level too soon

One of the great things about the Couch to 5K app is being able to choose your own pace. If you are struggling on a certain week, you can stay at that week for as long as you need to feel comfortable before progressing onto the next stage.

Invest in some good trainers

It may seem silly as trainers are just shoes, but they really can affect performance and comfort throughout your run. Before buying running shoes, be sure to check for reviews online to ensure they are correct for where you run (road or trail) and are comfortable for your feet shape and size.

Find the best time for you to run

For me, it is early morning as I love to start my day with a run, feel energised and get on with my day. For you, this might be in the evening or sometime during the day but finding a time that works for you and sticking to it will really help you keep the routine!

Find the best place for you to run

I found that knowing my route and running the same one regularly really helped me feel comfortable with my runs. Also, if you don’t like running outdoors, the app can be used on a treadmill or cross trainer, so don’t feel like you are missing out!

Don’t stop

Once you have got into a routine – keep going! Running is a great way to keep up your fitness and if you enjoy it as much as I did, you won’t want to stop!

I hope this post has inspired you to take on the Couch to 5K. Good luck! For more student related content, be sure to follow us @uolstudentlife on social media.

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