Couch To 5K

Make sure you stay up to date and follow the government’s advice on being physically active outdoors during COVID-19. Click Here. 

Reasons running is good for you!

With so many people missing their usual gym session or fitness class, many people have taken to using their allowed time outdoors to start doing more walking.  With lots of runners out on the streets you’re maybe thinking you’d like to give it a try but don’t know where to start, think it looks too hard or can’t possibly be good for your joints?

There are also a lot of reasons why running is good for you

  1. Bones
    The human bones are made to accommodate the demands placed upon them. When just sitting all day long, at the office, in the car, in front of the TV, we allow our bones to grow weaker. If you run regularly, they meet resistance, which will lead to stronger bones.
  2. Heart
    Getting your heart pumping a little faster for let’s say 30 minutes every day is something your doctor, and not to forget you, will thank yourself for later. Training your heart and strengthening your cardiovascular system will lower your pulse while resting and sleeping; therefore also make you more fit to handle stress.
  3. Balance
    When running outdoors, you have to avoid and deal with curbs, dogs, stones, branches and other miscellaneous objects. These changes in direction and speed will strengthen your balance, so next time you stand in front of the door with 3 shopping bags and need to unlock your door with your key, this everyday manoeuvre will feel easier to handle.
  4. Posture
    If you run the right way, you quite automatically will lower your shoulders, use your arms to help pump energy into your running pace and tilt your pelvis a little forward. All of this will raise your head and elongate your spine.
  5. Waistline
    Running uses a lot of energy, and few other sports or activities are more efficient if you want to drop, some pounds from your waistline. Mixed in with some resistance training each week it’s a perfect way to tone up.
  6. Sunlight and fresh air
    A dose of vitamin everyday is good for bone health.  Vitamin D is a hormone that promotes calcium absorption and is essential for bone growth and formation.   Since sunlight is a primary source of Vitamin D, the hormone is sometimes dubbed as ‘the sunshine vitamin”.   Vitamin D is also a really important vitamin for our bodies and our brains. It helps our brains to release chemicals which improve our mood, like endorphins and serotonin.
  7. Endurance
    As time goes on your muscles will develop more endurance.  They’ll become more efficient at using energy and you’ll find you can go further and have more energy to do everyday tasks.

Assistant Health & Wellbeing Manager Louisa has started the challenge.  Here’s how she got on:

Day 1 Couch to 5k.

Like most of the country I left work last week and went home to my family for the period of lockdown.  The very next day I started working from home, my new normal now.  Like other parents trying to juggle  family life and kids schooling online was not easy at first.  

I would put on the news and a sense of dread ran through me. After a day or two of thinking I can’t do this I realised I needed to pick myself up and listen to all the advice I was giving everyone else.

I went online and found a free guided meditation session. I couldn’t believe I was trying this as it was not my usual way to relax.  I found it quite helpful and would recommend it to help clear your head.

Then my 21year old son said to me “Mum think of this time as an opportunity. You may have many weeks till you go back to work.  Why not use it to improve your fitness, as exercise always makes you feel better”.  Very wise words!!! 

Last Christmas I injured my back and stopped running due to the injury. Like most people, I put on weight and struggled to do as much exercise due to the pain. My back is feeling so much better now so I thought this was the right time to get back into running.

I noticed the NHS had a couch to 5k and thought I would give it a go. It was really easy,  I just googled NHS couch to 5k and clinked on the link on my phone. Got my running gear out the drawer and off I went.

I’m lucky to have some lovely and very quiet paths near me to use. The app talked me through the warm up which was a 5min brisk walk.  It even told me when I was half way.  I alternated between walking and running for the remainder of the time. Then I completed the cool down. I felt a great deal of satisfaction.

So now I need to keep this up at least three times this week. If I can do it so can you.  Why not join me!!!

Week 2

Well I made it to the end of week one and today I started week two of the programme. A lovely sunny day for a run hope it’s always that nice!

As always, the warmup was a brisk 5-minute walk then onto an alternate 90 second run and two-minute walk for a total of twenty minutes. I used the podcast on the NHS website and the voice in my ear gave me tips on running techniques and breathing techniques whilst running. The music was different from the all too familiar songs of week one and kept me motivated.

I managed the session no problem and am really starting to remember why I used to enjoy running.

Well It’s Week 3… 

The sun is shining the birds are singing in the trees. You could almost be mistaken for thinking life is normal. I was really looking forward to my runs in the sunshine this week.  When I am outside it really lifts my mood.

I was doubting myself a little this week and wondering will I manage do week 3?  Week two was harder than week one, but I’m ready to push myself so off I went.

I am really starting to enjoy the 5 min brisk walk warm up which this week was followed with a 90sec run / 90sec walk.  This was followed by 3-minute run sections which I managed better than I thought I would as I made sure I started at an easy pace.  The 3-minute walk recovery was needed though!

I keep wondering who else is doing this with me… I would love to hear how other people are getting on!!

Week 4

It’s week four of the couch to 5k already and I can’t believe that I am almost halfway in the programme. I got a real boost today when I heard of another couch to 5k runner. A big well done to Emily age 12 who got in touch to say she has been following the programme with me!

I started with my usual 5 minutes warm-up which was great preparation for what was to come. I then ran for 3minutes and had a 90-second recovery walk followed by a run for 5minutes.  After another 2 1/2 minutes of walking recovery, I did it all again.  I can really see the difference this week in how much I can do.

I listened to the podcast and today the coach discussed how to avoid getting a stitch. I am sure this will come in handy at some point!

I completed my cool down walk at the end of the session. The weather was really nice today so I was warm and sweating so had a large glass of water to re-hydrate.

Week 5

I can’t quite believe I am half way through the couch to 5k already. It was good to hear from fellow runner Myra this week. It’s nice to know someone else is on this journey with me. My best advice is to focus on each run and be proud of yourself each time you achieve another mile stone. If you find you are struggling with a week there is no reason you can’t repeat it. Slow and steady wins the race!!!

This week I have 3 different runs to complete so yesterday I went out for the first of the 3. I started with my 5 minute brisk walk followed by 5minutes of running, 3 minutes recovery walk, 5minutes running, 3 recovery walk and a final 5minute run prior to the cool down.

I definitely found this week a lot harder and really had to push myself. Whilst running the voice in my ear was saying have you noticed you are recovering more quickly as you are getting fitter my answer   was – are you kidding me. When I think about it I am running longer and have noticed I can cope with the longer run time better. Which is just as well as in run 2 of this week I will be running for up to 8 minutes at a time. Each week brings a different challenge.

As the running time is getting longer I am finding it even more important to stretch at the end of each session. Have you had a look at the stretches on the webpage. Why not give them a try I’m sure you will feel the benefit?

Week 8

It’s week 8 already and I have to admit it’s been both challenging and very rewarding so far.   When I say challenging, I went out for my second run of week 8 this morning.  In true comedy style I tried to avoid a large puddle, tripped over a stump from a bush and fell into some mud.  Even I found it funny!  I got a strange look from a gentleman walking his dog as I ran by him smiling and covered in mud.  It’s rewarding because since I started the programme I have lost a total of 9lbs!

 This week I decided to treat myself to a new pair of running shoes as a reward for my hard work.  Having reached week 8 of the programme I am running for 28mins continuously.   I am not fast, but I can see myself improving every week.  I still love my 5min warm up walk as I find it clears my head and prepares me for what is to come.  

Now that I only have one week of the programme left I am feeling quite sad as I have really enjoyed the challenge and the structure.   As guidelines now allow us to be able to exercise for longer and more frequently, I’m thinking about what goal I can set myself next to ensure I keep motivated to keep going.

How are you all doing?  What challenging moments or rewarding moments have you had?   Get in touch and let us know, I would love to hear how you have all been getting on.

Week 9

Today I started my final week of the couch to 5k and I headed out this lovely sunny morning for my first run of the week.  I am now running continuously for 30 minutes without stopping!   I can’t believe how far I have come in the last two months. I am definitely feeling fitter and healthier for completing the programme.

I found todays run hard, but I was determined to keep going till the end.  I am sure it’s going to get easier and I have got a foundation to build on now.  I have decided to stick to the 30 minutes of running over the next few weeks and am going and try to build up my speed.

I’ve really enjoyed the structure and motivation of the podcasts in this programme and I also think the desire to finish this challenge made me go out on days where I could easily have talked myself out of it.  I plan to have a month of working at my speed over 5k and then I am thinking of having a go at the 5k to 10k.

I really hope you enjoyed this challenge as much as me.  To those of you who are still working through the earlier weeks of the programme, just believe in yourself and you will do it.

Give it a go

If you fancy giving it try why not join in with some of the KA Leisure staff who are undertaking the NHS.UK Couch to 5K challenge.

The programme runs over 9 weeks and will give full support and advice on how to build up safely and gradually.  There’s even a podcast if you want support while you work!

Follow the link below to the NHS.UK website:
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/

Week 1

Try to run 3 times in the week, with at least one day’s rest between each one.

For the runs in Week 1, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then you will alternate 60 seconds of running, with 90 seconds of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.

Top tip – when you start jogging make sure the pace feels slower than you might expect it to feel.  Many people start too fast and struggle to finish the full jogging time.

Week 2

Hopefully your muscles have got used to the shock of starting to run and you’re getting an idea of how to pace the running sections of the programme.

Again, aiming for 3 runs per week, in week 2 you will begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then you will alternate 90 seconds of running, with 2 minutes of walking, for a total of 20 minutes.  Finish with a 2-3-minute walk to cool down.

Week 3

Moving into week 3 of the couch to 5k programme sees the amount of running time increase again.  You’ll be completing a total of 8 minutes running time broken into 4 different sections.

Again aiming for 3 sessions over the week:

Begin with brisk 5-minute warm-up walk followed by 2 repetitions of the following;

  • 90 seconds of running
  • 90 seconds of walking then
  • 3 minutes of running
  • 3 minutes of walking

Download podcast to your desktop (MP3, 25.6MB)

Week 4

For the runs in Week 4, you will build upon the time spent running and reducing the recovery time.  This will help you progress towards continual running at the end of the programme.

You will begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 3 minutes of running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running, 2 ½ minutes walking, 3 minutes running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running.

Download podcast to your desktop (MP3, 31.0MB)

If running isn’t for you keep watch on our Facebook page for our live broadcasts with Mind and Be Active Coordinator Louise Saint who is currently building up her couch to 5K walking programme.  Louise is getting back to fitness after double knee surgery and is building some exercises into her walks to help build back the strength and mobility around her knees.

Week 5

There are three different workouts for this week and the endurance time spent running starts to jump up.  Use the podcasts as a good way to motivate yourself.  Make sure you start slowly and if the going gets tough just slow your pace and do your best to just keep running.

The workouts are as follows:

  • Run 1: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running.
  • Run 2: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 8 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 8 minutes running.
  • Run 3: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 20 minutes running, with no walking.

Download podcast to your desktop – run 1 (MP3, 31.2MB)

Download podcast to your desktop – run 2 (MP3, 30.8MB)

Week 6

As with Week 5, there are three different runs for this week.

  • Run 1: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 8 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 5 minutes running.
  • Run 2: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 10 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 10 minutes running
  • Run 3: brisk 5-minute warm-up walk, then 25 minutes with no walking.

Download podcast to your desktop – run 1 (MP3, 34.7MB)

Download podcast to your desktop –  run 2 (MP3, 30.8MB)

Download podcast to your desktop – run 3 (MP3, 34.6MB) Download podcast to your desktop – run 3 (MP3, 30.2MB)

Week 8

For the runs in Week 8, you will begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk then 28 minutes of running.

By now, you should be getting comfortable with running continuously for a longer period of time.  It’s important that you remember to pace your run and don’t start off too fast so that you can complete the full 28mins at a steady pace. 

Download podcast to your desktop (MP3, 37.8MB)

Week 9

Aim for 3 runs during the week.

For all the runs in Week 9, begin with a brisk 5-minute warm-up walk followed by 30 minutes of running, then a cooldown walk for 3-5mins.

You’ve nearly reached the end of your programme and you’ve made some great progress. This is the week when work towards you finally reaching your goal. Well done!

Download podcast to your desktop (MP3, 39.3MB)

Believe in yourself and stick with it!!!

So many people think they can’t run.  It’s often because you have started doing too much, too fast, too soon.  However, following a structured, gradual plan your body will adjust and it will soon be something you can easily manage. The first time you reach the goal you have set, you will be surprised how you feel. Ever heard of “runners high”? Get out there and experience it for yourself.

Sometimes it will rain, your legs might ache, you feel tired, and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.  It would be easy not to bother.  If it’s really wild outside, there’s no reason why you can’t wait till the next day when hopefully the weather improves or do an indoor workout instead.  Stick to the plan as much as you can without it becoming a chore.  In the long term you’ll be glad you did.