Hello Runner Friend! If you want to start running and don’t know how to begin, you are in the right place! Keep reading for valuable and practical tips on how to run a 5k without stopping (from couch to 5k in 8 weeks).
In this post, I will talk about the running and the non-running things you can start doing right now so that you can go from couch to 5k in only 8 weeks. Also, I will share with you an amazing training program so you can get right at it.
If you have been running for a while, covering this distance might come easier to you, however, if you are reading this post, maybe you are looking for a plan, to improve your time or to get stronger, or some new things to incorporate into your training to achieve a Personal Best. Maybe you are only here because you want to recommend a good read to a friend who is starting to run and is planning to run a 5k soon. Whatever the reason is that brings you here, I welcome you.
Whether you have been running for a while or have never run this distance before, I have some great advice to incorporate into your routine for whatever your goal might be.
What is a 5k race?
A 5k (3.1 miles) is one of the most common and popular races there are out there amongst runners and non-runners. It’s also one of the fastest races.
This race is “short” in that is not a marathon, so it gives you the sensation that is an obtainable goal. To run for 3.1 miles without stopping sounds doable. I am here to tell you, that it will take some discipline and work, but that it’s an obtainable goal.
Years ago, I thought that running 5k was a very hard and tough distance. Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s definitely not an easy run, especially while trying to do a Personal Record. However, when I just want to go out and clear my mind, running a 5k — to me– at a comfortable pace, comes easy.
Running is an activity that is supposed to be easy, and that comes naturally to the human body. It’s what we have been doing for thousands of years. But when you have never run in your life, and you want to start running, it doesn’t feel that way. You feel very clumsy at first. If you don’t have a proper running form, and a plan on how to achieve it, things can go wrong very soon.
Work on the non-running things so you can run 5k without stopping
I know a lot of people who only go out for runs. They think this is the only thing they must do to get better, but they are so wrong! Running is very important, of course, but there are many other variables you must tend to in order to get better.
These are a few things you should work on:
- Resistance Training
- Cross Training
- Sleeping better & more
- Rest Days
Resistance Training: Doing weights, body weight, resistance bands, and any training that creates time under tension is mandatory to help you get stronger and avoid injuries. Preferably do some exercises that focus on the muscles that runners use the most.
Cross Training: Swimming and Cycling are one of the most popular. However, this can also be a HIIT workout, climbing, hiking, or walking.
Sleeping Better & More: It’s imperative that you rest more when you are running. It’s been said that an hour of extra sleep per hour of running. When you run, your body will get tired and you will be going to bed earlier, hopefully at least. Not resting properly can also make you skip training days, and make you injury-prone.
Food: Running and burning calories doesn’t give you a free license to eat anything you want. Your body needs quality food to help you recuperate and to give you the energy you need for those long runs. Be mindful of what you put into your body. Check out my other posts for cool recipes for runners.
Water/Electrolytes: Drinking pure water will not hydrate you. Most of the purified waters out there have been stripped down of everything bad — to make it drinkable– but also takes out the good stuff. Make sure to add a pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt for some minerals. Most electrolyte pills or powders have tons of sugar, so I try to stay clear of those.
Rest Days: Rest! You might feel like you are not making progress when you are not doing anything, however, your body will thank you. Rest days are imperative for growth. Resist the urge to go for a run or any other workout on rest days.
Mistakes most people make
- Not having a plan
- Not warming up
- Starting too fast
- Not focusing on the non-running things
- Not setting realistic expectations
- Not listening to your body
- Not running in the same conditions as the race
Not having a plan: As with everything in life, you must have a plan in order for you to accomplish your goals. The reason many new runners quit is because they just go out there to run with no plan, no purpose, and no goals, and therefore fail to improve, and eventually end up quitting or not being very good at it. You can use one of the training plans I share in this post, look for a coach, or watch some tutorials.
Not warming up: I can’t stress this enough, you must warm up to activate the muscles you are going to use during your run. Your muscles and tendons need to get warmed up before going for your run. Always start your run slow and pick up the pace later. Unless you are planning a PR, then warm up a lot before the race starts.
Starting too fast: The 5k is a “short” distance, however, it’s still not a sprint. You need to pace yourself. A lot of people will come out of the start line very fast, be mindful of your own pace. You are not competing with them.
Not focusing on the non-running things: I already talked about this previously in this post. Refer to that section.
Not setting realistic expectations: If this is your first time running a 5k –which I guess it is– chances are you are not going to make the podium. If your intention is to complete 5k without stopping, then focus on that.
Not listening to your body: If at any point you feel like something is off. Just stop. Go to a Physical Therapist or Doctor for a check-up. Don’t try to run through the pain. Your well-being is more important than running. When you feel tired, you can take a day off. It’s okay.
Not running in the same conditions as the race: If your race is at 7 am, but your training runs are in the afternoon, chances are that you don’t know how cold it is, or if your nose gets runny, or if your eyes get watery, etc… Always try to run a couple of times at the same time, same weather, same altitude, same terrain. Try the clothing and shoes you are planning to use on the race. What to wear for a 5k run in cold weather, is very different from what you wear in warm weather.
Training for a 5k
This training is from Global Triathlon Network. They also have a tutorial on YouTube, I highly recommend you watch it and get inspired by it.
The 8-week training program shown above is a great start for you to get off your couch and run your first 5k without stopping.
I recommend you program your Garmin watch and stick to the program. If you still don’t own a Garmin, check my post on the 4 Best watches for running and trail running.
Don’t forget to include some resistance training, 2 times per week is a great start. Try to do them on the days you are not running.
What happens if I miss a training session
You will not lose any fitness if you miss one day. Don’t try to compensate by running more the next time. This will not benefit you whatsoever. Just move on with your life, and keep doing your runs as you should.
If you have never run this distance before, and you are thinking “There’s no way I am running a 5k without stopping/walking”, let me tell you something: That’s exactly what I used to say to myself. For me, running a 5k is something I can do whenever I feel like clearing my head, or when I am training for a race.
At first, It was tough for me to cover this distance, however, it will be easier with time. Don’t worry, with dedication and perseverance you will get there. The important thing is that you put in the work. You will start to see results eventually, and gradually. Be patient. I promise it will get better.
Running from couch to 5k is completely doable. It’s not easy, but eventually, you will run this distance for the first time, and then you will start to get competitive with yourself. Whether your goal is to get a faster time, to finish it without walking, to walk less/run more, or to recover faster, running a 5k is a very fun race. Remember to enjoy the process and the race.