How to Go From Couch to 5k in One Month


I was able to run 5k in one month despite starting slowly

A few months ago I started running for the first time in my life. Running never seemed very “sexy” to me; I didn’t find it to be a fun hobby.  That said, I took the plunge one day and just started.  I came home absolutely heaving after running maybe 100 yards, but 5 weeks later I ran a 5k in one month!

This post should give a good starting point for anyone who wants to start running.

How to Prepare for 5k in One Month: Start Slow!

I was one of those people who went “whole hog” when I started running. After a couple of days, I realized that it was not going to work out too well, so I switched gears.  My advice is to start out slowly, and progress gradually. The best thing you can do is download the Couch to 5k App and start using it.  It is the perfect runner’s companion/trainer to achieve your goal of being able to run 5k in one month!

I Started out with a small amount of time before I achieved my first 5k in one month— 30 minutes alternating run and walk comfortably for each session.

I did this for the entire first week, and gradually increased my run time to 5 minutes running/ 3 minutes walking.

From there, you can stay at 30 minutes or increase the amount of time you run gradually, every two weeks. Just don’t overdo it!

Walk/Run Plan for Your 5k in a Month

If you are a true beginner like I was, and don’t want to buy the app, you should start with a walk/run plan. Here’s a good one to start with (do each one three times a week) and start running 5k in a month:

  1. Week 1: Brisk walk for 5 minutes. Jog slowly for 1 minute, and then walk for 1 1/2 minutes. Repeat these intervals for 20 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.
  2. Week 2: Brisk walk for 5 minutes. Jog slowly for 1 1/2 minutes, and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these intervals for 21 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.
  3. Week 3: Brisk walk for 5 minutes. Jog for 1 1/2 minutes, walk for 1 1/2 minutes, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 1 1/2 minutes, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 3 minutes. Repeat these intervals for twice, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.
  4. Week 4: Brisk walk for 5 minutes. Jog slowly for 5 minutes, and then walk for 2 minutes. Repeat these intervals for 20 minutes, or until you become uncomfortable. Walk for 5 minutes to cool down.

You see the basic pattern. The idea is to gradually increase your running time until you can do 10 minutes straight. Then increase the 10 minutes to 12, and so on, each week, until you can eventually run for 30 minutes. It will happen fast, and you will feel great!

Do this 3 times a week, and make sure you just lace up your shoes, and get out the door.  The rest is easy.

The Importance of Rest if You Want to Run 5k in One Month


You will risk injuring yourself if you run hard everyday

Muscles grow and develop with rest.  You will really injure yourself if you go at this every day too soon.  If you run hard every day, you will just continually break your muscles down, and improvement will be slow and difficult — and it could lead to burnout or injury and will hinder your goal to achieve 5k in one month.

When you begin, the important thing is that you don’t run hard two days in a row. You can do a brisk walk in between harder runs and still allow your muscles to recover, though.

My First 5K in a Month


Sign up for a 5K even if you don’t think you’re ready

I had an incredible time during my first 5k in a month, 4 short weeks after I started running. I suggest you sign up for a 5K after a month or two of running, even if you don’t think you’re ready. Why? It will motivate you to keep running, so that you’re prepared to do the 5K.

Even though they call these “races”, don’t think of it like that. There are several different types of runners in these races; and lots of beginners. Don’t be afraid to walk or run/walk. Run your own race, and have fun! It’s really rewarding to finish.

Once you do your first 5K, you’ll be hooked.  I’m warning you…I’m running a triathlon in a few months!


All you need is running shorts, shirt and shoes.  I suggest not skimping on the shoes; good running shoes are really great!  Women will need a sports bra.

Once you finish your first race, reward yourself with some real running clothes — breathable fibers, with some comfortable underwear built in.  A running shirt is also good. If you live in cold weather, you’ll need some breathable clothes to put over your shorts and shirt. You may even need socks for you hands!

Again, with shoes, my advice is to go to an actual running store, where the people who work there can watch you run and tell you what kind of shoe you need. Or do your own research online and learn all about it.

Basic mechanics

If you can afford it, find a trainer to watch your gait (even just once) and make alterations.  That money will save you in chiropractic and doctor’s bills later!  It will also make you an efficient runner.


Basically, if you have anything sharp, or your joints feel injured, stop running. You could make it worse.

The runner’s best friend is ice, and rest. In fact, it’s good to ice your muscles and joints down after every run, if you can. It helps with the healing process. Aspirin or Ibuprofen are also good tools, also to help stop inflammation.

I hope this all helps!  Good luck on your first 5k!

Other Good Sites on Running:


  1. Congrats! I had already read about the couch to 5K program, and procrastinated on it since last year. Like you, running didn’t seem very appealing, but I see so many people enjoy it tremendously I’d like to give it a go. The first steps of the program seem so basic one would be tempted to go straight to the big stuff, which is certainly the shortest way to failure, unlike starting slow and building solid foundations.

    • Pauline,

      I wasn’t into it either, but if you start slow it is pretty awesome. The running led to swimming (another post)! The app works like a charm!

  2. Well done for starting Tony…running can be a daunting pursuit to take up; and the sense of physical exertion can feel so initially overwhelming that it’s also very easy to give up. I think your strategy of acclimatisation through gentle sessions of brief runs interspersed with walks is sound advice; one that can help many to overcome the inertia of taking up running and to deal effectively with the obvious initial discomfort of keeping it up in those first few weeks.

    My only additional advice to any new runner would be: get a good pair of compression shorts to limit the potential for thigh / hamstring and groin injuries and always wear a couple of pairs of socks to prevent blisters. And if you’re susceptible to joint and muscle strains like me, never skimp on the warm up.

    And of course, only stop when nobody’s looking :-)

    Good luck with the triathlon!
    Gareth Mitchell recently posted…Giving Up Cigarettes: It’s All about MindsetMy Profile

  3. Thanks for these tips! I’m just starting out on the Couch to 5K program, and it’s great to read about other people’s experiences.

    Take care!
    The Wannabe Happy Camper recently posted…Running: entirely possible for couch potatoes like meMy Profile

  4. I used that app a while ago for a client and got great results. I
    Marissa @ Thirtysixmonths recently posted…Going Back to School is not Always the AnswerMy Profile

  5. Thanks for the great advice. I am prepping for a 5k and I’m a little nervous about it. I think I have to really keep in mind the resting part because it’s very tempting to run every day.

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