4 Training Tips That Can Take You From Couch to 5K

4 Training Tips That Can Take You From Couch to 5K

Maybe it’s always been a “someday” goal to run a 5K, but you’ve never really put a plan together. Or you’re realizing that a couch-to-5K plan might be a fresh jumpstart when you’ve been idling for a while.

Whatever your starting point, a 5K can be a good goal to get you moving because it provides structure, accountability, and concrete scheduling, says Certified Running Coach Kourtney Thomas, CSCS.

The toughest part of that training? Getting off the couch.

“Simply starting on a plan can be the biggest hurdle,” she says. “Without a clear intention and a plan to follow, something like a 5K can remain a distance you’d like to do sometime in the future, without ever getting there.”

That’s where this guide comes in, helping you create a plan. Because even if you’re starting at zero miles, you can work your way up to a 5K.

Need a little extra motivation? Try an Openfit LIVE running class, which offers guidance and support from the Openfit community. Get started here today!

 

How Do I Go From Sitting on the Couch to a 5K?

There are four important steps to transitioning from a beginning runner to completing a 5K, Thomas says:

1. Find a 5K.

find a 5k -- couch to 5k

You’ll be more likely to go from couch to 5K if you have a clear deadline in mind. Search on Google, Active.com, or Facebook Events to find a local 5K that piques your interest.

You don’t have to register for an organized race — there are plenty of virtual 5K races you can do solo — but the excitement of a race day and being around other runners might give you more motivation, Thomas says.

Choose a race that’s a minimum of six weeks away to give yourself time to train. (If you’re starting with little to no running experience, we’d recommend allowing yourself a few more weeks.)

2. Get the right gear.

get the right gear -- couch to 5k

Part of prep is to make sure you’re set up for success. When it comes to running — or run-walk intervals — it’s all about the shoes.

Take the time to find the best running shoes for you so you can lessen your injury risk and hit the ground running on your 5K training.

3. Build your running community.

build a running community -- couch to 5k

You can absolutely train for a 5K and complete a race on your own. But having a community can be huge in terms of keeping you motivated and having fun, Thomas says.

Recruit a friend or two, join a local running group, or go virtual. Openfit Live offers running classes that give you training insights and new friends who are there to support you.

4. Choose a training program.

choose program -- couch to 5k

To stay on track, follow a 5K training plan that aligns with your current ability level and the amount of time you have before your scheduled race. A typical “couch to 5K” plan is six to 12 weeks long.

 

What Program Is Best for Getting Started With a 5K?

There are countless couch to 5K schedules available online, and it’s helpful to take a look through a few of them to compare the options.

Openfit offers a six-week training plan, which includes interval training options for experiened runners who want faster finish times.

Another popular option is C25K, a nine-week couch-to-5K plan that offers a treadmill version as well. A training plan from the National Health Service in the UK has an accompanying podcast to guide you through the training intervals.

As you compare plans, make sure they have these three elements, Thomas says:

  • Plenty of walking, especially at the beginning of the plan
  • Gradual progression
  • Rest days

 

Which Openfit Workouts Can Help Me Go From Couch to 5K?

Use Openfit Live running classes to build your endurance so you can go faster and further. And on cross-training days, Openfit offers a wide variety of classes to help you improve strength and endurance. Try Yoga52 to boost your mobility, Xtend Barre for muscular endurance, or Jen Widerstrom’s Get Moving and Start Losing to help you sculpt, sweat, and recover.

As you put your training plan together, keep in mind that how you eat is just as crucial as how you move. Take the guesswork out of nutrition with Openfit’s One Minute Meal Plan — just answer a few questions on the Openfit app, and you’ll get a customized meal plan tailored for your needs.

Before you know it, you’ll be at that 5K finish line — and maybe even setting your sights on a 10K.

Elizabeth Millard

About

Elizabeth Millard has written for Men's Health, SELF, Prevention, Runner's World, and several other health and wellness publications. Based in Northern Minnesota (yes, it's just as cold as you've heard), she's also a rock climber, obstacle course enthusiast, and registered yoga teacher. Follow her on Twitter.