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The 12 secrets to successfully completing ‘Couch to 5k’


I’m a huge supporter of the couch to 5k (or C25k) programmes.  It’s how I started running, I went from doing C25k to the London Marathon in a year.  It gave me great grounding and I would recommend them to anyone who wants to start running. 

I’m now fortunate enough to coach local runners on the programme and since doing so here are my secrets for anyone who has, or is about to start doing C25K.

Let me know if what you think, have I missed any? What tips would you give to those new to Couch to 5k? 

1. Get a programme

There are loads of programmes out there, all are similar, some differ in length, but you can't make a bad choice so chose anyone you like the look of.

Download the app and print the programme, put it everywhere so you can see it and keep it front of mind! 

2. Tell your friends and family you are doing it

To keep you accountable tell your friends and family you are starting on the journey.  If you feel confident enough, also post on social media that you are doing it to give you extra accountability.  You’ll be surprised how long after people will ask how your running is going. 

3. Join a group - in person or online

This could be a running group in person or one online, or both!  We have our own Facebook group - join here to get support, share your highs and lows

4. Learn to run alone

Whether you are doing C25K in a group or not, I suggest you learn to run alone.  It's great to be part of a group or have a running partner but there will be times where you'll need to get a run in yourself.  

5. Stay away from the treadmill

Simple put, running outdoors will improve your running way more than the treadmill, stay away from it is our advice!

6. Repeat weeks

Don’t be afraid to repeat weeks, it's not failing if you do.  I’d even go one stage further and say it's clever to plan to repeat weeks, something like week 4 and week 6 I works well.

7. Sign up to parkrun

It may feel like a huge leap to sign-up to parkrun, but do it! Even from the early weeks you'll be covering a fair bit of distance but certainly from half way you'll be fine.  Don't worry you 100% won’t be last, there is always a tail walker, it's their job to be last.  Parkrun is so inclusive, it's welcoming of walkers now too so you have nothing to worry about. 

8. Get a coach

Strictly speaking this tips is for once you've completed couch 2 5k, I see far too often people completing C25k and then not knowing what to do next. Completing C25K is the first step on a long learning journey on how to run. Join the 5k2PB Running Academy here.

9. Stretch - cool down

Sounds an obvious one, but so many times I see my C25k'ers finish their run and neglect stretching, if you are strapped for time, don't neglect your stretch even if it's just a couple of minutes.  It's a great habit to get into and will benefit you massively in the future.

10. Monitor progress

Start monitoring your progress, initially this could be how far you get, simple by noting a landmark you get to.  If you want to get more sophisticated try the free apps on your smart phone e.g. Strava or MapMyRun - initially I'd look at the distance only but also worth starting to look at your 1 mile or 1 km times.  

This adds an extra element of interest and will help you see tangible progress.

When you get really into it, I'd thoroughly recommend getting a Garmin GPS watch.

11. Be consistent

A boring one I'm afraid but this is the biggest difference when comparing those who succeed versus those that drop out - just be consistent, if you miss a session, try and catch up but if you can't, just get back on it on the next one.  Knock off those training sessions, the weeks go by quickly and you'll be completing the programme before you know it!

12. Enjoy

Finally enjoy it, run at a pace you are comfortable, you’ve got years to worry about time so try and enjoy every session, enjoy your surroundings, take in the sights, nature, the sounds, the smells!

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#c25k #parkrun #couchto5k #nhscouchto5k #startingrunning

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