Schedule Appointment

How to Go From Your Couch to a 5K

couch to 5K

By: Abbey Fecher, DPT

It’s the end of the year and you’re starting to think about your New Year’s Resolutions. Some common ones that come to mind might be eating healthier, getting more sleep, and exercising more. Have you noticed people sporting their exercise pants and race tee-shirts at the gym or around town? You may have noticed stickers on cars advertising that the driver has run a 5K, 10K or even marathon! What about you? Is running a race like a 5K on your list of goals for 2017? You hear about runners “high” and what great exercise it is. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself, ‘I can’t even run around the block without being out of breath much less 3.1 miles!’

Did you know there are easy programs to follow to help you get off the couch and run a 5K? You can even use your phone, ipod, tablet, smart watch to help coach you along! Running a 5K is by no means out of the realm of possibility for your 2017 resolutions. 

Why Running?

Running has a lot of great health benefits. First of all, running is a quick and efficient way to achieve the recommended minutes of exercise per week. You burn roughly 100 calories per mile regardless of how fast you are running. It’s also inexpensive; all you need is a good pair of running shoes, some comfortable exercise clothing, and a sidewalk or a road. You can go running anywhere so it is easy to fit into your busy lifestyle. Running can also boost your confidence, relieve stress, manage depression, and help you lose weight. It will also improve your lung and heart health and limit your risk of many diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

What is a couch to 5K program?

A couch to 5K program is a running/walking interval program that has been developed to help someone who does not exercise (a couch potato) to being able to run a 5K in as little as 9 weeks. Typically, it provides you with 3 workouts a week that progress from walking to running for 30 minutes over a course of 9 weeks. The workouts get progressively harder each week and decrease the amount of walking while increasing the amount of running until you’ve reached your goal.

While 3.1 miles might not seem like a lot, if you’ve never run before, or even if you are a seasoned runner who has been out of the game for a while, a 5K can feel brutal if you don’t ease into it. Having a training program to follow has a lot of great benefits!

  • It provides you with structure and structure is very important whenever you start anything new
  • It will improve your success to actually being able to run a 5K
  • It will decrease the risk of injury
  • There are many different training programs to fit your fitness level
  • There is an app for it, because well all know we can’t do anything without our phone!
  • It’s Free!

Are you ready to sign up for your first 5K and join the running world? Here are some simple rules to follow:

  1. Buy a good pair of running shoes. They can be expensive but they are a lot cheaper than a gym membership or all the doctor’s visits and co-pays you’ll have if you get injured!
  2. Throw out the concept of “No pain, no gain.” Yes, running can be uncomfortable but it shouldn’t be painful. If you experience pain please seek medical help. Physical therapy is a great place to start!
  3. If you don’t do the workouts, it won’t work! Maybe you have tried before and never reached your goal. But did you follow the program? Did you make time for 3 workouts a week? Did you make it a priority?
  4. Stay hydrated! Even in the cold you can get dehydrated.
  5. Pick a goal and register for a race! There are hundreds of 5K races in our area. Pick one with a theme or one that supports a cause that is meaningful to you. If you have a race scheduled you will be more likely to follow the training program.
  6. Find a running buddy! It is much harder to roll over in bed, reset your alarm, and go back to sleep when you have someone counting on you.
  7. Lastly, don’t get discouraged! Starting a running program is no easy task, but just remember, you can do it! It will help you make a lasting change to promote a healthy lifestyle!

This is what I want you to do. Get on your phone and go to the google play store or apple store and search couch to 5K program. Download an app, any app will do, get your running shoes on and get out the door. I hope to see you out there!

If you have any questions about fitness tips or if you need help figuring out where to start with your Couch to 5K plan, call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300. You can speak with one of our expert clinicians and start your journey to a healthier you!