We have been getting a lot of questions asking whether we are again doing the free community Couch to 5k program. Unfortunately we are NOT able to offer this program in 2019.
What we CAN do is provide the program via downloadable PDF, so you can tackle it even without us at your side!
Here are three different options - pick the one that looks best suited for you. If it looks too ambitious, pick an easier level OR customize it and adjust for your abilities as the workouts go by.
Plan A Recommended for total beginners who are not currently active.
Plan B Recommended for someone who is currently active but is not a runner.
Plan C Recommended for a runner who has taken the winter off.
The dates are blank, ready for you to fill in. But before you get ambitious and make today Day 1 of You The Runner, we have a few tips for you.
Success Tip #1: Find your WHY. Is it to get in better shape? Run a 5k? Feel less winded chasing your kids? Whatever that reason is, write it down directly on the program printout. Having a constant reminder can "make or break" your commitment when it gets tough to complete the runs, whether due to tiredness, heat, or schedule conflicts.
You will also find a great level of motivation by signing up for a 5k - when cash is on the line, you'll be more likely to get the workouts in. A couple we like here in Alex are Lakes Area Endurance in June, or the Matt Kjelland Memorial, in September - but there are LOTS more out there. Pick one and bet on yourself by registering!
Success Tip #2: Really truly seriously: find someone to do it with you. You MAY be self-motivated enough to finish the program, but the shine tends to wear off in week 3 or 4, and you may let it fall by the wayside without a friend to keep you accountable.
Ask your family if they want to join you (a little one with a bike makes a great partner too), join the local running group Run Alexandria on Saturday mornings, or simply post an ask on social media and reconnect with an old friend.
Success Tip #3: Take a look at your weekly schedule and figure out EXACTLY when you have room for these workouts. The schedule is written for 3 workouts per week, such as Mon/Wed/Fri, or Tue/Thu/Sat, whatever works for you. Just leave a day between workouts, to let your body repair & recover.
Most people do best by putting a workout first thing in the morning, before work and other obligations can mess up their day's plans. As the weeks go by, it's also going to mean you're getting out the door before the heat kicks in.
However, maybe you're at home solo with kids every morning and you can't leave them to get your run in - it's perfectly fine to run over lunch, or after work, or at 8pm - the best time to work out is "whenever you will do it," so take a moment now to proactively decide EXACTLY when it will work for you, then put it on your calendar.
Success Tip #4: Make today "Day 1 of You The Walker," and prep your body for the impact of running. To reduce the chance of injury, we recommend that you first spend two weeks walking for 30 minutes, in the workout time slots you figured out above. This helps you establish the habit of working out, weeds out any hiccups in your schedule, and allows your cardiovascular system some time to ease in to regular aerobic exercise.
For bonus points, add some hopping via jump rope (it can be invisible if you don't have a rope...or the coordination), starting with as little as 20 hops for 3-4 sets, then add 10-20 hops per set as the days go by. These can be before or after your walk, or on the other days. These doses of impact give your muscles, tendons, and ligaments time to get stronger before you take off running.
Success Tip #5: Peruse the internet when you get stuck or injured or need ideas to shake things up. Resources like our blog posts or Run Alexandria (that local running group again) or Runner's World are all great spots to learn how to become a better runner, or research whether that ache in your calf is something to worry about.
Finally, remember this: Any seasoned runner will tell you running is not easy, even if you've been doing it for years - but it's incredibly satisfying to BE a runner, and that feeling of accomplishment keeps us lacing up and taking off, day after day. Join us!