5 Things to Know Before Starting Your Couch to 5K

1. Don’t forget to strength train

Many couch to 5K programs do not include strength training.  Strength training is crucial for the body to deal with the repetitive forces associated with running.  Studies have reported forces up to 7 times your body weight with each step taken during a run.  For a 150 lbs. person, that is 1,050 lbs. worth of force that the body has to absorb.  Without proper strength training your risk of injury increases significantly.  We recommend 30 minutes of strength training at least 2-3 days per week when training for a 5K.

2. Eat like a champion

Proper nutrition is crucial when you are training for a 5K.  A well balance diet that contains complex carbohydrates and plenty of fruits and vegetables is best.  It is also imperative to drink plenty of water while training.  On non-training days we recommend ½ ounce of water per pound of body weight.  On training days we recommend up to an ounce of water per pound of body weight.  With all of the water going in and out of your there is also a potential for lost electrolytes so make sure to replace all of those lost vitamins and minerals with vegetables or a multivitamin.  A registered dietitian can come up with a plan that is more specific for you and your goals. 

3. Run for time

New runners can quickly burn out or lose interest if their main goal is to complete mileage.  Trying to push yourself to complete a certain distance can cause boredom and cause new runners to push themselves to the point of exhaustion and injury.  A better solution to avoid boredom and decrease risk for injury is to run for time.  Start with a time goal and work your way up from there.  Distance can be something you focus on later in your training.

4. Cross train

Cross training is the action of engaging in two or more types of exercise in order to improve fitness or performance in one’s main sport.  Cross training is important when training for a 5K because it can help you maintain your fitness level, stave off boredom, and reduce impact on the body.  Choose to perform 1-2 low impact, cross training exercises per week such as cycling or swimming.

5. Pace yourself

Many couch to 5K programs are fast paced and have continuous progressions of distance and time running.  The truth is that many new runners may take way longer to develop good running technique and skills.  Sometimes there will even be a regression in your distance or time running.  It is important to remember to listen to your body to avoid injury and keep you on pace to complete that 5K.