Week 1-3 of Couch to 5K – My Experience

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I wanted to try something new during this lockdown / social distancing period and I thought doing the Couch to 5K was somewhat constructive. To give a bit of background on my general fitness, fefore lockdown, I went to the gym about five or so times a week so I wasn’t a couch potato to begin with, but I am absolutely terrible at running outside.

I can run on the treadmill just fine, and I box and do fitness classes and lift weights, but after running outside for five minutes I start to wheeze and feel sick and dizzy. As soon as my breathing starts to get heavier I think “okay, that’s it I’m done. Time to go home”.

At the moment I can’t go to the gym so I wanted to do more outside running for cardio. I thought the Couch to 5K app would be good to do, to almost “start from the bottom” again and work my way up.

I just finished Week 3 yesterday, so I’ll post weekly updates but this is just an overview of my thoughts of Week 1 – 3. I was going to do it weekly but a) I wasn’t initially sure if I would stick at it for this long and b) I just thought of the idea to document it here this week.

The Couch to 5K app I use is was created by Public Health England and is available for free through iTunes or Google Play. You go out for three runs each week and then progress to the next week’s plan. Each plan consists of running and walking at timed intervals. The plan is eventually to build up stamina to run continuously for 30 minutes or 5k.

Couch to 5K Week 1

Couch to 5K Week 1

This consisted of a five minutes brisk walk, and then one minute of running followed by one and a half minutes of walking, repeated eight times (so twenty minutes total exercise). All in all running for eight minutes and walking for twelve. There is a five minute cool down at the end so the entire session amounts to thirty minutes. This was to be repeated three times a week.

I found week one relatively easy to be honest and the time flew by. I think with running I get a mental block where I think “I have to run for how long?” Breaking it up into little chunks makes it seem more manageable and I find it easy to motivate myself by saying it’s just 30 minutes.

One thing I do and recommend is to switch up the coaches for each run during that week. Say for Week 1 Run 1 have Laura, and then Week 1 Run 2 have Jo Whiley. Each coach only records each week once, so if you have the same coach throughout the week it gets a bit repetitive. Also, they each give little tips and bits of advice, so it’s good to switch it up to learn something new.

Couch to 5K Week 2

Couch to 5K Week 2

Again, Week 2 of Couch to 5K started with a brisk five minute warm up walk. Then in with two minutes of walking and 90 seconds of running, this repeats for a total of 20 minutes (the running part is repeated five times).

Week 2 felt longer and I’m not sure why. I didn’t really enjoy it and I’m not sure if it’s because it was warm that week and I didn’t drink enough water, but I felt a bit headachy and dizzy during my runs. I found the running part manageable, but I just felt lousy during the runs and afterwards. I usually go for a run at lunch time when it’s warmest out so perhaps that wasn’t the best idea.

I did get some helpful tips from the coaches with regards to breathing techniques though, and I made it through the week. In the end, you never regret actually going for a run (or any type of exercise) do you? You just regret not doing it!

Couch to 5K Week 3

Couch to 5K Week 3

I’ve got to admit, when I saw what they wanted me to do in Week 3, I was a bit concerned and surprised. Weeks 1 and 2 consisted of one minute of running, or one and a half minutes of running. In Week 3 they wanted me to run for 3 minutes. *@£% is what I thought when I opened the app. Week 3 is a little different, you start with a 90 second run followed by a 90 second walk, and then a three minute run followed by a three minute walk. You repeat that twice.

I found this week went quicker than the previous weeks. Although the run was longer, the overall interval session is a few minutes shorter which made a huge difference. Or maybe I’m improving my stamina without really realising? Despite my initial reservations with regards to the huge jump in run time, I found it manageable because it’s only two repetitions of three minutes.

So far, I’m finding the run / walk interval format really helpful, and also the tips given with regards to technique and pacing. The progression so far has been manageable.

Tomorrow I lace up my trainers to start Week 4! I’ll report back next week.

Are you a regular runner? Or would you consider using an app like Couch to 5K?


Sarah. Almost 30. Craft beer drinker. South London resider. I like photography, boxing and visiting all of London's markets.

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