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Exercise

Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

How to Go From the Couch to a 5K in Eight Weeks

Looking for your next challenge? Tie up those running shoes and start our couch to 5K training plan!

How to Go From the Couch to a 5K in Eight Weeks


Tired of the same workout routine and looking for your next challenge? Tie up those running shoes and start our couch to 5K training plan!

"But what is a 5K?" you ask.

The 5K is a 3.1 mile race enjoyed by beginners and veterans alike. The run may seem like one or a few too miles too many, especially for beginners, but it is quite approachable. (Yes, even for those so-called "couch potatoes!")

The Couch to 5K run training plan is a great way to acquire those recommended 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. It can be completed virtually anywhere and on your own time, with no gym memberships or schedule class times required!

Find out how to train for a 5K as a beginner or as someone ready to jump back into a running regimen. (Also find a bonus couch to 5K training plan to print and follow!)

Couch to 5K Training Plan

The Couch to 5K training plan is 8 weeks, helping to get the aerobic system and body built for steady running.

The 5K plan mostly includes run and walk intervals, in which you will namely alternate between running and walking breaks. It also designates rest days to allow the body to recover properly and promotes cross-training as well.

Before jumping into the 8-week plan, reflect on your purpose for starting. Also, identify a reward you want to work towards such as new headphones or a scheduled massage. Continuously checking in with your "why" and incentive can help propel and sustain motivation.

With each planned workout listed below, warm-up and cool-down with 5 minutes of walking or another preferred method. Also remember to fuel with good nutrition, stay hydrated, and stretch.

Week 1:

• Monday: Run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes X6
• Tuesday: Rest
• Wednesday: Run 1 minute, walk 1 minute X8
• Thursday: Rest
• Friday: Rest
• Saturday: Run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute X4
• Sunday: Rest

Week 2:

• Monday: Run 2 minutes, walk 3 minutes X4
• Tuesday: Rest
• Wednesday: Run 1 minutes, walk 1 minute X10
• Thursday: Rest
• Friday: Rest
• Saturday: Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute X4
• Sunday: Rest

Week 3:

• Monday: Run 4 minutes, walk 3 minutes X4
• Tuesday: Rest
• Wednesday: Run 1 minute, walk 1 minute X12
• Thursday: Rest
• Friday: Rest
• Saturday: Run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes X3
• Sunday: Rest

Week 4:

• Monday: Run 7 minutes, walk 3 minutes X2
• Tuesday: Rest
• Wednesday: Run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes X4
• Thursday: Rest
• Friday: Rest
• Saturday: Run 8 minutes, walk 3 minutes X3
• Sunday: Rest

Week 5:

• Monday: Run 12 minutes, walk 2 minutes X2
• Tuesday: Rest
• Wednesday: Run 8 minutes, walk 5 minutes X3
• Thursday: Rest
• Friday: Rest
• Saturday: Run 12 minutes, walk 2 minutes X2
• Sunday: Rest

Week 6:

• Monday: Run 15 minutes, walk 5 minutes X2
• Tuesday: Rest
• Wednesday: Run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes X8
• Thursday: Rest
• Friday: Rest
• Saturday: Walk 5 minutes, run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes
• Sunday: Rest

Week 7:

• Monday: Run 10 minutes, walk 2 minutes X3
• Tuesday: Rest
• Wednesday: Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute X12
• Thursday: Rest day
• Friday: Rest day
• Saturday: Walk 5 minutes, run 25 minutes, walk 5 minutes
• Sunday: Rest day

Week 8:

• Monday: Run 15 minutes, walk 2 minutes X2
• Tuesday: Rest
• Wednesday: Run 12 minutes, walk 2 minutes X3
• Thursday: Rest day
• Friday: Rest day
• Saturday: Race day! (You got this!)
• Sunday: Reflect on your journey and be proud of what you accomplished!

*Use this day to rest or cross-train (more on that below) depending on how you feel.

Training for a 5K Beginner Tips

Starting a 5K program may seem overwhelming, especially as a beginner. However, these tips to start a running routine will have you running comfortably to the finish line!

Pace Yourself

Excited and motivated, you may want to sprint towards that finish line. While being ambitious is great, it is important to allow the body time to adapt to the new stimulus to prevent the risk of injury and burnout.

Especially when first starting out, run at a comfortable pace then begin to challenge yourself. This may include running first at a 12:00 minute per mile the first five minutes then 10:00 minute miles the latter half.

Great ways to set and know your pace including a fitness tracker with a running function. Running on a treadmill is also helpful to plug-in and run the desired pace.

Invest in Running Shoes

A good pair of running shoes, along with socks and other running gear, are essential for a good running regimen.

Experts at running stores can assist in determining the proper shoe for your foot type. They also take into consideration necessary support, cushion, and durability.

Cross Train

In addition to the running intervals, incorporate cross-training on run rest days. Doing so helps to muscles' range of motions and accelerate running progress.

Include cross-training at one to times a week with some of the following:

• Biking
• Hiking
• Swimming
• Walking
• Weight training*

*Include a strength training plan as well to build and strengthen muscles. Strong muscles can help you run faster and for longer distances, all while supporting a healthy metabolism.

Rest & Recover

Rest days are equally as important as consistency and effort during workouts. Resting the body gives it the chance to heal and adapt to the physical movements.

Especially at the beginning stages, run only a couple to a few days each week. Allow yourself to adjust as tolerated but rest as needed.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on August 16, 2016. Updated on August 16, 2021.

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