Running in the 'Meda: Couch to 5k

Running in the 'Meda: Couch to 5k

Marty Beene

Everywhere you look these days, you see the phrase "couch to 5k." For the uninitiated, it's a way to describe a training program for people who currently don't or barely exercise, especially in terms of running.

A 5k, which is a little confusing to anyone who regularly uses the metric system because of the missing "m" (i.e., 5km), is 3.1 miles long in 'Murican distance. The attraction of it is that most people can walk a 5k in an hour or so, and can run one in less than 40 minutes, even if they're running at about the slowest possible running pace. Therefore, it's a great introduction to running events.

The tricky part of taking on a couch-to-5k program is figuring out how long it will take you to build up enough endurance to run the whole distance (assuming that is the goal, which it usually is for this type of program). For some people, six or eight weeks is enough, while 12 or more might be needed for others.

What I usually do for clients who are interested in starting a running program and want to participate in a specific 5k race that they know about is to work backwards from the race date to the present week. For that week, I start them with a week of walking only, then gradually add in a few one-minute bouts of running in each workout. Each successive week I increase the running times by a minute or so until the workouts are including a couple of stretches of 15 minutes of continuous running. Once people can do that, they can probably finish a 5k, assuming that they will walk for a half minute or so in the middle when they grab a cup of water.

Still, I always caution these beginners to listen to their bodies. It could be that whatever the number of weeks between now and the 5k might not be enough for them to build up the endurance to accomplish this feat. And that's OK. If that turns out to be the case, I recommend that they still participate in the event, but simply include more walking with the running. Then they can find another 5k race to shoot for a few weeks after the one they were originally trying for.

In other news, IT'S HERE! My strength class for anyone over 40 is starting this coming Monday, August 10. The details for the class, including time, place, and cost are right here in this flyer. E-mail me at the link below if you have questions. If you're interested, but the timing doesn't work for you, let me know what time would work better, and I may start a second class at that time. Whether you're interested or not, please forward this info along to your friends and family who might be interested. See you on Monday!

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups. He can be reached at