Our Experts, Your Health

Couch to 5K in 3 steps

The 5k race season is starting. You might be hearing about all the fun runs and thinking ‘this is my year to get in the game.’ If you’re thinking about running your first 5K, the distance can seem daunting and you might not know where to start.  Here are a few things to help you break it down into smaller steps and make it more manageable.

First, before you start any physical activity program you should check with your primary care physician and get clearance.

Have a plan 

Find something that is going to help motivate you.  Search for local running groups or get co-workers, friends, or family members to join you.  You should give yourself 6 to 10 weeks to train, so find a 5k to run that will give you plenty of time and register for the event right away. Having a goal by registering for an event is a great way to get you started and helps with motivation.  Having other people involved can help keep you accountable.

Once you are registered, you need to have a training plan to follow.  There are many free resources available online, and for you smart phone users there are even apps to help you run your first 5k.  Here are a couple good resources for training plans.


The next step is making sure you have the right equipment.  The most important item is a good pair of running shoes, but what kind of shoes should you get?  The best option is to go to your local specialty running store and have them help you. Some stores will perform a free running gait analysis and help you find the right pair of shoes for you. Depending on if you will train indoors or outdoors you will also need some weather appropriate clothing (shorts, pants, gloves, hats, jacket, etc.).


Start small:  Starting a running program can seem overwhelming.  The easiest way to train is to think of it in time and not miles.  You do not have to “run/jog” for all of your training.  Having a plan to build slowly into running is the best option.  For example if your training plan tells you to run for 20 minutes you can start out running or jogging as little as 30 seconds, then walking 30 seconds and repeating for your allotted time.  Over time you can gradually increase your running time and reduce your walking time. Eventually you will be able to run/jog for the entire 20 minutes and longer. Hang in there! You will gradually build endurance.

Physical activity is extremely important to a healthy lifestyle. Planning for a race is an excellent motivator and a fun way to make exercise a social event. Good luck and we’ll see you at the finish line!

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