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Couch To 5k – Free Running Exercise Program For Couch Potatoes

by Ed on August 4, 2010

Josh Clark invented a running program called Couch to 5k. While, I realize that this program has existed since 1996, it maybe new to you as it is to me. His training system aims to take the couch potato and slowly(and painlessly) get him/her prepared to run a 5k race.  The first couple weeks are a mixture of running and walking.

The training is 9 weeks for about 20 minutes a session every other day.

While, preparing this post I realized how popular this program is. There are facebook groups, fan sites, pod casts, even a iphone and Android app dedicated to Josh Clark’s program.   Jump to the bottom to view couch to 5k resources.

The Program:

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).


My personal experience

I’ve come to the realization that everything I learned in public school, I need to relearn.  Running is no exception.  I developed a hate for running in high school.  In HS gym class running was primarily about running as fast as you can for as far as you can.  I felt terrible after each session.

Today, I am into my second week of this program an I am enjoying each run.  It is hard work, and my first week I had to work through two quarter sized blisters on my heels (due to lousy running shoes).  I feel good for the entire day though.  Running in the morning gets the blood pumping and energizes me for the day.

Anyone else care to join in on the fun?

Couch to 5k Resources

If you are looking for some additional motivation here are a few great success stories from around the web:

  1. Couch to 5k Review @ Before the Parade Passes By
  2. Couch to 5k @ Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
  3. My Experience with the Couch to 5k plan @ 400m to go

Best Android and iPhone apps for Couch to 5k:

iPhone

  1. Get Running – Couch to 5k (*Highest Rated)
  2. C25K
  3. Couch 2 5k – Felt Tip (*Posters Choice)
  4. 5k Runner – (*Free)

Android

  1. C25k Pro on Amazon (Free Today 10-5-2011)
  2. C25k Pro
  3. C25k Free
*Some of these links are affiliate links were I would receive a small percentage of any purchases for referring a new buyer.

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Run The Line August 4, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Good schedule. From what other people have told me, the hardest part of Couch to 5k is the first few run/walks. As soon as you get past that point then with a little hard work it is all plain sailing!

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Jimmy @ Run, Jimmy, Run August 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Timely post for me, Ed. I was recently bitten by the running bug as well and after going out and acting like I knew what I was doing (basically running too fast and too far), I managed to injure my foot in three different places. Nothing serious thankfully, but I am going to have to lay low for the next few weeks while I heal.

That being said, as soon as my foot feels up to it, I can’t wait to start the C25K program…and run regularly without any additional injuries.

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Mia August 5, 2010 at 5:14 am

The first workout is the hardest, after that it gets easier. What I like the most is the feeling that you have after you’ve finished your exercises routine. It’s great!

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ed August 9, 2010 at 9:30 am

Thanks. The first week was the hardest. It was in the first week that I was sore and had blisters. On one occasion, it started to rain. I really thought about turning around and quiting. I powered on and now the soreness and blisters have gone. At somepoint soon, I’m going to have to get concerned about proper running form.

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Chris August 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I’ve been really focused on a very competitive business for the last few years and my midsection is taking over!!

My doctor gave me a physical at the end of last year and he had two things to say “lose weight” and “exercise”.

I’m sure anyone who’s a few pounds over gets the same advice but for me it was crucial as it was standing between me and some better health. Plus I was in a bind for risky exercise so I took it as a rock and a hard place.

I started with light walking, at least 1hr a day, not counting a walk to the corner for a coffee or any of that, 1hr of just walking. I then changed the route to being more uphill at the end, and that’s where it’s been stuck!

Looking at Josh Clark’s guide gives me lots of inspiration, even if peeking at the end of it freaks me right out! Hahaha!

Regardless, thanks for the re-post, it certainly is new and interesting to me. Cheers!

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Janet January 10, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Another strategy: get a dog. :) I run and walk on my own anyway, but with a new puppy, I can’t skip a day. She needs her exercise, and I get a workout by wearing her out.

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Audrey February 10, 2011 at 6:18 am

How are you going with couch to 5k? My hubby (an athletics coach) and myself ( a veterinarian) have created a similar program for people and their dogs called pooch to 5k. That way you can share your new found healthy lifestyle with your four legged best friend!!

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Finally Fast March 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Despite it’s popularity I’ve somehow never come across this program until now. It looks simple enough. Though it looks like your preparation didn’t come as painlessly as advertised. I’m curious to know how this worked out for you. Did you really get to the end having not had any cramps or sore legs after a workout? I’ll have to give it a go myself and see!

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Cliff March 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm

My wife and I are on the 3rd week — So far its been a struggle — I ran track in college and am 43 yrs old — We are doing it every other day no 2 day weekends– I think starting next week we will go to mon/wen/fri due to a naging calf cramp that is popping up — We have done well and so far finished every workout — Its been tough, I gained 30 lbs since the days of college and its a chore to finish these– when does it get to the point where we get to feel like we can run some ?

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