First steps to running

Couch To 5K is possibly the most well known beginners running programme available. In 9 weeks, even if you've done little more since school than try to run for a bus, you can be running for 5km or 30 minutes, three times a week. Originally started by coolrunning.com, the programme's success centres around gently building your stamina in the first few weeks before even thinking of making you run the whole session. Some people find the pace is still too much, so we advise new runners to repeat weeks if they are unable to complete them. If it takes 19 weeks instead of 9, that's still 19 weeks off the sofa.

There are so many ways to manage your Couch To 5K (C25K) sessions. If you want to run with other people you may find your local running club offers guided sessions through the programme. But if a running club sounds a bit intimidating, look for a Run Together group near you. Run Together is an initiative from England Athletics connecting you with small, regular running groups for different abilities. Note that some of these groups charge a small fee if lead by a full-time running coach, but many are free and run by friendly volunteer leaders. If, like many, you want to take your first running steps alone at night where nobody can see you, there are many ways to be guided through the programme and most are free. You could just use a stopwatch, but a great way to do it is with the smartphone app from the NHS Live Well programme, or their Couch To 5K podcast, narrated by Laura, which can be downloaded from the website or are available on Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes).

But then what? How do you keep off the sofa?

  • Walk before you can run

    Jumping in at the deep-end is not for everyone, so before you start running, consider walking.

  • First steps to running

    Couch To 5K is possibly the most well known beginners running programme available. In 9 weeks, those of us who've done little more since school than try [often unsuccessfully] to run for a train, can be running for 5km or 30 minutes, three times a week.

  • Keeping off the sofa

    Completing the couch to 5k programme is a major achievement for any new runner, but what should you do next?