The Running Life

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What Is The Couch To 5k Running Program?

When your typical day includes sitting at work for 8 hours and then sitting for 4 more hours at home in the evening while you watch TV or surf the web, taking up running can seem overwhelming, even impossible. Fortunately, there is a program designed to take couch potatoes off the couch and to the finish line of a 5K (3.1 mile) race in 8 weeks. It’s called the Couch to 5K program (also known as C25K) and it is one of the easiest ways to develop the habit of running, even if you’ve never run a step in your adult life.

How Couch to 5K Works

One of the first things you realize about CS5K is that you walk. A lot. Because your body needs time to adapt to exercise — muscles have to grow to support new movement, bones need to thicken to absorb impact, nerve endings need to stretch out so coordination can develop — you simply can’t get up and run. You’ll end up hurting yourself and in the end, discouraging yourself. Instead, with C25K, you walk almost entirely the whole first week: a five minute warmup walk followed by alternating 60 seconds of slow jogging and 90 seconds of walking.

Sounds easy enough, right? As you move into a new week, you slowly increase your walk/run intervals. Your second week will be 90 seconds of slow jogging alternating with 2 minutes of walking for 20 minutes. As the weeks continue, so does your time spent jogging. By the time week 6 rolls around, you jog for 5 minutes, walk for 3 minutes, alternating for 28 minutes. When week 8 arrives, you will be jogging for 28 minutes continuously.

The beauty of this program is that you can adapt it to your level of fitness and comfort. If you feel like you’re not ready to try the third week, then keep repeating the second week until you can do it without any feeling of pain or exhaustion. The key to this entire program is ‘slow as you go’ meaning you let your body tell you what feels comfortable.

With the Couch to 5K program it is possible to go from couch dweller to genuine jogger in two months with less pain and more fun than you ever anticipated.

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