Whether you are about to start or midway through your Couch 2 5k journey, here are my tips to ensure your success!
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, in fact it is the only runners I coach in person now as all my other coaching has moved online. As I’ve completed the programme myself and coached it numerous times, here are my secrets for anyone who wants to increases their changes of success on it!
Please share this post with others as you never know who you’ll help. Also let me know what you think, have I missed any? what tips would you give to those doing 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 somewhere you can see regularly so it stays 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 your social media that you are doing it, it’ll 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 call All things Running, you can join here to share your highs and lows and get support.
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 likely need to get out and run alone. Obviously make sure it is safe and someone knows where you are going.
5. Stay away from the treadmill
Simple put, running outdoors will improve your running way more than the treadmill. They do have a place in running but if you can, try and stay away from it, is my advice!
Important one, 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, some of the programmes jump very quickly so repeat some weeks or making your own week up that is in between the prescribed timings may work in your favour.
It also worth noting that somebody completing the programme in 12 weeks instead of 9 is still completing the programme, compare this to someone that drops out half way through!
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 so welcoming of walkers (and C25k’ers), you’ll have nothing to worry about.
8. Get a coach
Strictly speaking this tip 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. I would really make sure you embed yourself into 5k before stepping up to 10k or half marathon. If you are looking for a running coaching, look no further, I help runners of all abilities who want to progress, as a personal trainer too I can help with all aspects of running, health, fitness, and weight loss goals. Get in touch by emailing me at Jon@jonevanscaoching.com with the subject line “CALL” and I’ll be in touch to arrange a complementary call to discuss options and whether we are a good fit to work together.
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 and helps minimise injury, assists with recovery and supports better running technique work.
10. Monitor progress
Start monitoring your progress, initially this could be how far you get, simply 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 before worrying about times. When you are ready to start looking at times, start with looking 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 GPS watch, I love Garmin but other brands exist!
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!
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, and the smells!
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