Keeping off the sofa

Completing the couch to 5k programme is a major achievement for any new runner, but what should you do next? Some sites and app developers have created plans to get you to 10k, but this may be a little more than you feel up to right now. The NHS site has some more podcasts for C25K graduates, but you may be looking for something a bit more social.

A search on Google for 5k runs will very quickly bring up parkrun. This free weekly timed 5k run is open to all and operates in many locations in the UK and other countries. At 9am (9.30am in Scotland and across the island of Ireland) each Saturday morning, young and old, of all abilities, meet in parks, common land and even a number of National Trust properties, to walk, jog or run 5km. All you need to join in, is to register once on-line and print out your personal barcode. Then get your barcode and finish token scanned after each run, so you can follow your progress on the parkrun website.

New runners are often concerned they will be last and somehow look foolish. However, nobody will think badly of you if you do come in last; they are impressed that you've made it this far! In fact, parkrun now encourage walkers to join them, so even if you run just a few steps you'll be fine. If you are really concerned, you can take a look at the result tables for your local parkrun to see how fast (or slow) people generally go. Officially a volunteer is always last over the line so your name won't appear at the bottom of the results table anyway (unless you volunteer as the tail walker).

At parkrun you will find all sorts of people and you may make new friends and feel part of a local community. For some it is just a place to go and test yourself over a known distance. For others it takes them on country or worldwide tours of the thousands of parkruns across the world. You may decide that something like parkrun is the level you want to stay at, but as you talk with other parkrunners you'll undoubtedly hear about 10k, half-marathon, marathon and even ultra-marathon races that they are doing. If this is now for you, it is time to consider how you can steadily improve your running to step up to new challenges.

  • 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?