Couch to 5K: A How-To Guide

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re interested in starting running and the Couch to 5K (C25K) training program. You may be feeling a bit intimidated or nervous about walking out the door for your first run. I’ll tell you now: don’t be. Running is simple; all it takes is getting started and the rest will come naturally.


What is C25K?


Side view of determined young Asian woman listening to music with earphones, jogging at the park, against sunset

Getty Images / Moment / Oscar Wong


The Couch to 5K program was created by Josh Clark in 1996. It has grown immensely in popularity over the years but it remains true to its original purpose: to get absolute beginners from couch potatoes to running 5K in nine weeks. C25K is not a high-intensity training program, but you should expect to be running for 30 minutes straight by the end of week 6. It’s designed so that anyone can complete it with minimal risk of injury or burnout given reasonable effort and adherence to the program.


The Program


Young man jogging on the street

Getty Images / Moment / skaman306


C25K provides a good balance of difficulty so that anyone can complete it without killing themselves in training. Workouts are typically short and occur every other day on non-consecutive days of the week. You can run more frequently if you wish, but it isn’t necessary. If you’re feeling tired or sore at any point in your training, simply take a rest day or cut back on the length of your workout.


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