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The C25K: A Beginners Running Program

Updated on December 7, 2011

So what is the Couch 2 5K?

The Couch to 5 Kilometers challenge more commonly abbreviated as C25K is an exercise programme designed for beginners looking to ease their way into a 9 week running fitness test, with the ultimate goal being able to succesfully complete a 5 kilometer run.

Interested in taking the challenge? keep on reading!

Why should you take this challenge?

The C25K challenge has been designed with the beginner in mind. Every week of the programme is a small progressive grasp on the final goal which is an achievement within itself.

Stay motivated, you're changing your lifestyle to become a much fitter and healthier person, even after a few weeks you will see a noticeable change in yourself. You'll feel more energetic, stronger and fitter than ever before.

It's not just muscular benefits you can gain through this challenge though, you are working your internal organs as well which will prevent any diseases we need not to mention.

No experience, doesn't matter!

Maybe you've got some sporting experience or perhaps you hold a gym membership but have never been particularly interested in running, I'll start from scratch and assume you really have not left the couch!

Emphasis within this programme really does focus on training from the perspective of the beginner - today is the day to change!

Where should I start?

Running is certainly not expensive however it is always great to get a decent pair of running trainers to protect your body from the high-impact nature of this challenge. Got trainers? Great. Throw on some loose comfortable clothes you feel you can run in and prepare to embark on the C25K.

Do you have the energy for the challenge?

It's vital you have a sufficient amount of energy for every running session. Nutrition is an important aspect of exercise.

I have another Hub which could help you understand how important nutrition for runners really is, feel free to take a look:

Anyway, large meals before a running session need to be avoided and give yourself a few hours to digest the food so the blood is ready for your muscles.

Light snacks are appropriate, such as a banana half hour before a session to support your energy levels.

The art of running

Running is in fact a skill that we can do well or badly. If you've never ran before you're probably asking how to do it properly and naturally - i'll explain some tips now.

As you're easing yourself into running you need to start with walking briskly, when you feel like your walking pace is uncomfortable it's time to change form into a jog. To do this you just need to allow your body to fall forward (stay in control though), you will naturally start picking those legs up quicker to maintain momentum.

Once you feel comfortable with a jogging pace, increase your speed by gradually picking your feet up off the ground faster and faster until you can really feel those legs really pumping! With the increase in pace there needs to be more emphasis on how we run. Here are some tips:

  • Land on your foot and then push through with your toes
  • Don't pull your knees up
  • Focus on lifting the feet up off the ground each step
  • Relax your upper body
  • Swing your arms from your shoulder joint
  • Have good posture and try running with a tall straight back
  • Always look forward, not down
  • Most of all, BREATHE deeply and in a rhythm!
  • The heavier you breathe is a sign of your hard work!

Warming up before exercising and cooling down after is very important!

The starting day of the 9 week course asks you to run for 60 seconds straight, and then walk to recover for 90 seconds, for a total of 20 minutes. The worst thing you can do is just leave your home and instantly start running.

Start with walking for a few minutes then increase the intensity to a brisk walk for a few minutes, then once again increase to a slightly faster pace until you feel comfortable you can jog or run.

At the end of a session a cool down is equally important - just how I mentioned the process to warming up above, reverse it and repeat it again - but this time because you've been running hard and fast already start with slowing down gradually every few couple until you're walking slowly again. Once you've finished that slow walk to recuperate yourself think about adding in some stretches for the muscles that feel worked.

It's time to start running

Here's a link to one of the best 9 week programme websites, it's packed full of information to get you started.

You will notice there are variants to the 9 week program, for example they show treadmill versions of the test - do whatever you feel is appropriate as any run is better than no run!

It's finally time to get started, this is a big commitment to an active lifestyle, and I'm sure it's one you will not regret. This challenge will be asking a lot from you and it's likely you'll receive some form of a setback, or have a bad training day, this is completely normal! Just try pick yourself back up and try the same session again, if you take 9 weeks or 18 weeks to complete the challenge what really matters is the fact you've put the effort in and that's something to be proud of.

Have you ever been running?

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