Couch to 5K in 9 weeks

Apr 14, 2011 by

Last year I needed to lose weight and get fit … but how to do it ?

I searched the web and found this excellent guide on how to go from zero to running 5km (3.1 miles) in only 9 weeks… and it worked !!

I followed the training programme which initially consists of intermittent periods of running and walking and gradually progresses on to longer periods of running until … BINGO you’re running 5K.

I also did a bit more research on calorie counting and how to estimate how much each run might burn. I’ve included these stats here to help you out.

You should ease into the running program gradually. In fact, the beginners’ program outlined here is less of a running regimen than a walking and jogging program. The idea is to transform yourself from couch potato to runner, getting you running three miles (or 5K) on a regular basis in just two months.

A few minutes each week

Each session should take about 20 or 30 minutes, three times a week. That just happens to be the same amount of moderate exercise recommended by numerous studies for optimum fitness. This program will get you fit. (Runners who do more than this amount are doing it for more than fitness).

Space out these three days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to rest and recover between efforts. And don’t worry about how fast you’re going. Running faster can wait until your bones are stronger and your body is fitter. For now focus on gradually increasing the time or distance you run.

Run for time, or run for distance

There are two ways to follow this program, to measure your runs by time or by distance. Either one works just as well, choose the option that seems easiest for you to keep track of. If you go with the distance option, and you are not using a track to measure the distances, just estimate. It’s not important to have the distances absolutely exact.

Before setting out, make sure to precede each session with a five-minute warmup walk or jog. Be sure to stretch both before and after.

Week Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3
1 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
2 Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
3 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then do two repetitions of the following:
  • Jog 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Walk 200 yards (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 400 yards (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 400 yards (or three minutes)
4 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
  • Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
5 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking.
6 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
  • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
  • Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
  • Jog 1 mile (or 10 minutes)
Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2-1/4 miles (or 25 minutes) with no walking.
7 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes).
8 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 2.75 miles (or 28 minutes).
9 Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes). Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes). The final workout! Congratulations! Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then jog 3 miles (or 30 minutes).
Below are the approximate calorific requirements needed depending on sex and lifestyle. They are only a guide as they will depend on age and other lifestyle factors.

Energy Expenditure when running

The approximate amount of calories burned when running can be calculated as follows :-

Energy per mile = (0.63 x weight in lbs)
or (1.39 x weight in kgs)

Approximate Energy Requirements

Sedentary Moderate Heavy
Men 2,400 Cal 2,800 Cal 3,800 Cal
Women 1,900 Cal 2,100 Cal 3,000 Cal

Basal Metabolic Rates

A more exact calculation of daily energy requirements can be gained by calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and then applying a factor to it depending on your lifestyle. Again this is only an estimated guideline.

Basal Metabolic Rate (metric measurements)
Men 66 + (13.7 x Weight in kgs) + (5 x Height in cm) - (6.8 x Age in current year)
Women 655 + (9.6 x Weight in kgs) + (1.8 x Height in cm) - (4.7 x Age in current year)


Basal Metabolic Rate (imperial measurements)
Men 66 + (6.23 x Weight in lbs) + (12.7 x Height in inches) - (6.8 x Age in current year)
Women 655 + (4.35 x Weight in lbs) + (4.7 x Height in inches) - (4.7 x Age in current year)


Calorific Requirements based on BMR
Sedentary
(little or no exercise)
= BMR x 1.2
Light Activity
(light exercise/sports 1-3 days per week)
= BMR x 1.375
Moderate
(Moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days per week)
= BMR x 1.55
Very Active
(hard exercise/sports 6-7 days per week)
= BMR x 1.725
Extra Active
(v. hard exercise/sports
+ physical job or 2x traning)
= BMR x 1.9

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