They say you have to crawl before you can walk. For someone who is a true novice to activity, a Couch to 5K®️ program may seem daunting. There is good reason for this. Beginning an activity such as jogging or running adds unfamiliar strain to the body. This new strain can lead to injury. For someone struggling with the Couch to 5K®️ workouts, it can also lead to a sense of failure.
If you are one of those struggling, try starting smaller. The first hurdle you must overcome is just getting off the couch. Get up and go for a 10-minute walk. If you are able to do this, try to increase your pace to a power walk. Set small goals that you can easily accomplish. In the beginning, your focus should be on creating the habit of moving your body. How often will you train? Three days? Four days? Schedule those times in your calendar.
Walk (or jog) for time. Once you are power walking 10 minutes a day, three days a week, increase the time to 20 minutes each time. Don’t worry about distance yet. Do this as many weeks as needed. The most important thing is to make sure you are walking/jogging at least three days a week. A good training plan requires consistency.
Let your body rest. Your body needs time to recover after activity. Try to give yourself at least one day of rest between workouts. This is especially important when you are first starting to train, even if you are just walking. Recovery will help you become stronger and motivate you to keep training. Take it slow when increasing the time on your feet or increasing your speed. A slow jog for 10-20 seconds every few minutes is a good start when you first begin running.
Cross training helps prevent injuries. Cycling, swimming and group exercise classes are all great examples. It is also important to warm up correctly before each activity. Squats, lunges and dynamic stretching are recommended prior to walking or jogging. Afterwards, stretch the muscles that you just worked. Hold each stretch for about 20 seconds.
Bottom Line: Some training may be necessary before beginning a Couch to 5K®️ program. Work on increasing your endurance using the advice above for one to three months. Once this initial period is over, you should be able to successfully complete your first Couch to 5K®️ program.
Written by: Michelle Abbey, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern