Schedule Appointment

Couch to 5K: Training to Crossing the Finish Line

knee problems

By Xavier Thompson MS, ATC         

Pumpkin spice lattes, football games, cooler weather. Fall is a busy time of year with lots of hustle and bustle and lots of opportunities to be active -5Ks come to mind. There are Zombie 5Ks ahead of Halloween, Turkey Trot 5Ks to celebrate Thanksgiving and plenty of other 5Ks that raise awareness about various causes. If you’ve decided to take on this physical challenge for yourself, while there is a lot of work to be done, you’ve taken the first step and made the commitment  to try something new. Before starting any new exercise program, be sure to speak with your physician and find out if a 5K appropriate for you. If you’re new to 5Ks or new to running in general, I suggest that sign up for a race that is at least 12 weeks from now. Actually registering for a race will give you a deadline and a goal to think of while training.

If you have never been a consistent runner before this, investing in a proper pair of running shoes is an important first step. A running store is a great place to start, as they can point you to the right type of shoes for your feet in various price ranges. Buying the right pair of shoes can go a long way towards injury prevention.

This is a weekly plan designed to take you from the couch to your first 5k in twelve weeks. You may attempt to adapt the plan to make it harder or easier depending on your experience and fitness level. Keep in mind, if you wish to increase the difficulty level, remember that the weekly changes in distance are designed to help minimize injury risk. My suggestion is that if you are finding your prescribed running times to be too easy, then run your intervals at a faster pace. If you are finding the program too challenging, decrease your running times and/or increase your rest as necessary. Above all, when completing to this program, listen to your body!

Throughout this program, you will have three days of running per week. The schedule is written as Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but fit it in on the days you can attempting to take at least one day off in between each workout. Your workout times will be split between running intervals and recovery time that you will spend walking. For example, the first day you will run for 30 seconds immediately followed by 2 minutes of walking for 20 total minutes (this will add up to 4 minutes of running). I suggest adding in walking or some type of low intensity cross training (such as the bike, elliptical machine, core work, strength training, yoga, etc.) at least two other days per week. Begin and follow each workout with five to ten minutes of walking followed by stretching.

Week One

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 30 seconds running 45 seconds running 1 min running
Recovery 2 min walk 2 min walk 2 min walk
Workout Time 20 min 44 min 36 min
Cool down 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Two

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 1 min running 2 min running 1 min running
Recovery 1 min walk 1 min walk 1 min walk
Workout Time 20 min 15 min 22 min
Cool down 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Three

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 1 min running 2 min running 1 min running
Recovery 1 min walk 1 min walk 1 min walk
Workout Time 20 min 21 min 22 min
Cool down 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & Stretch

 

Week Four

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 2 min running 2 min running 2 min running
Recovery 1 min walk 1 min walk 1 min walk
Workout Time 21 min 21 min 18 min
Cool down 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Five

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 2 min running 4 min running 1 min running
Recovery 1 min walk 1 min walk 1 min walk
Workout Time 18 min 20 min 34 min
Cool down 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Six

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 2 min running 5 min running 2 min running
Recovery 1 min walk 1 min walk 1 min walk
Workout Time 18 min 18 min 33 min
Cooldown 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Seven

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 4 min running 3 min running 6 min running
Recovery 1 min walk 1 min walk 1 min walk
Workout Time 15 min 28 min 28 min
Cooldown 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Eight

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 3 min running 8 min running 7 min running
Recovery 1 min walk 2 min walk 1 min walk
Workout Time 36 min 20 min 24 min
Cool down 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Nine

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 6 min running 10 min running 6 min running
Recovery 2 min walk 5 min walk 2 min walk
Workout Time 32 min 45 min 24 min
Cool down 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Ten

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 9 min running 10 min running 6 min running
Recovery 3 min walk 3 min walk 1 min walk
Workout Time 36 min 39 min 28 min
Cooldown 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Eleven

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 10 min running 10 min running 15 min running
Recovery 5 min walk 3 min walk 5 min walk
Workout Time 45 min 39 min 40 min
Cooldown 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

 

Week Twelve

 

Monday Wednesday Friday
Warm-Up 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch
Running time 20 min running 15 min running 30 min running
Recovery 5 min walk 3 min walk 5 min walk
Workout Time 50 min 36 min 35 min
Cooldown 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch 5-10 min walk & stretch

Before you jump into any new kind of exercise or workouts, it’s important to understand your body and catch any strength, endurance or flexibility deficits that could lead to injury.

CLICK HERE to schedule your FREE ASSESSMENT with Loudoun Sports Therapy Center. Our expert physical therapists can evaluate your strength and endurance and help you cross the finish line injury-free!