Whether you’re a beginner looking for a running program that will get you off to a great start or you’re looking at getting back into the sport, the Couch-to-5k Running Plan from CoolRunning.com could be the perfect solution for you. I used it to get started after it was recommended to me by my mom, who used it to get her start and has since run 2 half-marathons and has logged over 500 running miles so far in 2012. The plan is to do exactly what it says; get you from little-to-zero activity to running a 5k in approximately 9 weeks. Signing up now for a local 5k would be a great idea. It gives you a sense of commitment that will help you stay on track.
The plan is broken down into weeks with 3 running workout days per week. You can measure your runs by distance or by time, and the plan offers information for both. It starts easy with some interval training, and gets progressively more challenging each week. The first 4.5 weeks are solely interval training, starting with short intervals followed by longer walk breaks in between. Each week, the running intervals get longer and the walking intervals get shorter. At the end of week 5, you will run your first long run (20 minutes or 2 miles) with no walk breaks. By week 7, you will be running 2.5 miles or 25 minutes non-stop on all 3 running days. Week 8 increases to 2.75 miles or 28 minutes, and by week 9 you are ready for a 5k!
Even though the plan is intended for beginners, it can seem a little intimidating. At week 5 when I saw I was going to be running 2 miles non-stop, which I hadn’t done since high school, I thought the Cool Running folks must be crazy. I got on the treadmill and decided I would do as much as I could, but take a break if I needed to. I didn’t need to take a break! You will surprise yourself with how much progress you have made in such a short amount of time.
It is important to remember that safety is most important. You need to remain injury-free in order to reach your goal, so if you need to rest, do so, and get back into it after you are feeling better. If you need to repeat a week, do it. No one is telling you that you can’t do this at your own pace. The great thing about the Couch-to-5k plan is that as you reach your goals you realize how great running makes you feel!
To learn more and see the full Couch-to-5k Running Plan visit http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml