Couch to 5K—Tips for Starting Out

8:21 AM

If you have never run before, the idea of a 5K run – which is equivalent to 3.1 miles – might seem daunting. When you break down your training and understand how to begin running in a safe and effective manner, it can be a fun and exciting challenge. Remember, you should always consult with your primary care physician before beginning any exercise program.

Over the next six months, GBMC's COMP team, along with fitness experts and fellow weight loss patients who are now experienced race participants, will provide you with tips and tricks to get you ready to complete a 5K just in time for our Father’s Day 5K, which benefits our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for premature babies. This progression program is meant to be used as a guide for beginner runners but it can be easily adjusted to fit your ability level if you are intermediate or advanced.

Keep these tips in mind when preparing to begin a running regimen:

Proper shoes should be fitted to your feet. Different running shoes provide a variety of features, so it is important to select a pair that fit your activity level. Visit a local running or fitness supply store to have your feet analyzed by an expert.

Always warm up before a walk or run. Beginning any endurance exercise with cold muscles can lead to injuries, so be sure to engage in a basic warm up of jumping jacks, jogging in place or squats. You should also stretch all major muscle groups to help reduce the risk of injury and aid in the recovery process.

Always stretch after your run. Stretching after a workout helps to prevent injury, create long and lean muscles and keep you from being too sore in the days that follow your exercise session.

Hydrate before and after a run to replace liquids lost through sweat and evaporation.

If this is your first time running, start slow and go at your own pace. Small increases in exertion and distance are key to building a strong running foundation.

Month 1 Training - Weeks 1 & 2


  • After warming up, start out at a brisk walk for an interval of three minutes. 
  • Jog for thirty seconds.
  • Slow to a walk for thirty seconds to let your heart rate come down.
  • Resume your brisk walk for another three minutes. 
  • Repeat eight cycles of brisk walking and running, with a slow walk in between, for a total of 32 minutes of exercise. Do this three times a week for your first two weeks.
  • Stretch after your walk-run session to help improve circulation and recovery times.


Month 1 Training - Weeks 3 & 4


  • After warming up, walk briskly for two minutes.
  • Jog for one minute. 
  • Reduce your tempo to a slower walk for one minute. 
  • Repeat this cycle eight times for a total of 32 minutes of exercise. Do this at least three times a week.
  • Stretch after your walk-run session to help improve circulation and recovery times.


Read the original article in GBMC's blog Living Healthy, Living Well here:

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