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Tips for completing the Couch to 5km Program designed to get anyone running

Tips for completing the Couch to 5km Program designed to get anyone running


The couch to 5km is a running program to get people from the couch to comfortably running 5km or 30 minutes continuously in 9 weeks. The program has been followed by thousands of people all over the world since it was developed in 1996. It has been a massive success during this time. The program is gradual, taking you through the process at a pace that you can tolerate. The program is designed so that you are never left feeling completely exhausted as you run or at the end of each session. When most individuals begin running with no direction or structure they can start too fast and sometimes sustain an injury. You should be able to walk for 1 hour before doing the C25K program.

Before you start running it is important that you invest in a good pair of running shoes with adequate support and cushioning. Running socks that are cotton free and seamless are also advisable to prevent blisters.

Static stretching before running has been shown to be ineffective in preventing injury. Instead your warm up should consist of some dynamic stretching such as walking lunges, squats, butt kicks and leg swings. Following this, walk briskly for five minutes, then speed up to a comfortable jogging or running pace. Prior to the run make sure you have eaten an hour or two before so you have enough energy, without overdoing it. Ensure that you are also fully hydrated.

Throughout the C25K you are likely to be busy with work or possibly ill. If you are feeling under the weather, do not attempt running. Just try to repeat the week you have missed and keep going from there.

Couch to 5K

The C25K requires you to run 3 days per week. Try to choose what days you are going to run and do not run on consecutive days, as this will increase injury risk by not allowing your muscles to fully recover. On the other days, you could choose a lower impact type of cross training such as swimming or cycling.

Don’t focus on the speed at which you are running. As a general rule, you should always run at a pace at which you can hold a conversation. If you don’t have a GPS watch to track your speed, use this as a measure and focus on time spent running rather than distance. Running faster will come as your bones get stronger and your body fitter.

Pay attention to your running technique. A good running technique will make your runs feel less tiring, reduce injury risk and overall be more enjoyable. Aim to land on your mid-foot rather than heel, and check that your foot lands under your hips rather than in front of you. This in combination with taking shorter strides will reduce overall impact on your joints.

Recovery after a run is almost as important as the run itself. Running makes your legs stronger but also tight. Once finished, try continue walking for 5 minutes as you cool down. Sustained stretches of all major muscle groups of the legs and lower back while still warm will help prevent post run muscle soreness and increased tightness.

If you have been experiencing running related niggles and suspect your running technique may be contributing to this, contact us here. Physiotherapist David Richards specialises in running assessment and can help give tips and training to improve running form.


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