Life after Couch to 5K

If you’ve taken on the challenge of the Couch to 5K plan and completed it, well done!

You must be feeling a great sense of achievement, not to mention being fitter and healthier.

The key now is to keep building on your success. Robin Gargrave of Central YMCA, the activity for health charity, stresses the importance of working hard to keep going: "Successful behaviour change usually takes 12 weeks, so you have to make yourself keep going," he says.

One way of staying motivated beyond the Couch to 5K plan is to find a new focus. "You have to reset your goal," says Robin. "Set a new goal that’s realistic and think about a plan for achieving that.

"So if your goal is a 10K run, that’s quite a big step up and it’ll take longer than another nine weeks. Be realistic about the time frame."

Improving your running

If you’re happy to stick with your 30-minute runs, Robin has some great tips to keep you motivated.

Running podcasts
Keep on running with the 5K+ podcast series, designed for Couch to 5K graduates. Each 5K+ podcast provides a structured run with running music and coaching to develop your running technique, speed and stamina.

Improving your running
A good technique is to consciously increase the length of your stride. You will feel more out of breath, and if that becomes uncomfortable you can drop back down to your normal number of steps. When you recover, increase your stride and speed up again. You’ll find that, over time, the gaps between having to drop down to your normal pace will gradually decrease. It’s a simple technique and you’ll get there surprisingly quickly.

Be sociable
You could join a group or club, which will give you an extra bit of stimulation and motivation – even if it’s just a Saturday morning 5K run. Find a running group near you on the Run England website.

Parkrun organises free, weekly, timed 5km runs around the country. They are open to everyone, and are safe and easy to take part in. The runs aren't competitive and provide you with a great way of being sociable and making new friends in your area. Our Couch to 5K section is full of stories of graduates who have gone on to become regular parkrunners, such as Julia Dallyn

Treat yourself
You could treat yourself to some new gear – a nice vest or a pair of shorts. If you’re keen to upgrade your trainers, you could go to a specialist running shop, where you can get expert advice on the best type of shoe for your running style.

A change of scenery
You could try a different environment – if you’ve been running in the streets, for example, try to find a green space, such as a park, to run in. You could also try varying the terrain. Look for some hills in your local area and give yourself a bit of a challenge.

Trying new sports

Now you’ve tackled running, why not think about other sports you could try? You don’t have the excuse of being unfit anymore, and you’ve proved to yourself that you can train your body to do something different.

As Robin points out, there are all kinds of fitness: "Running is very good for the muscular endurance of your legs and your cardiovascular fitness, but you could try, for instance, some resistance training for your upper body strength.

"You could join a gym or get some equipment for use at home, so that you begin to develop a much more all-round type of fitness."

You could try Strength and Flex – a five-week plan to improve your strength and flexibility, which can also benefit your running.

Page last reviewed: 15/09/2014

Next review due: 15/09/2016

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

vendredimanche said on 22 September 2014

Couch to 5k is a fabulous programme. Like many others here, I went from no exercise at all to running regularly! The benefits have been incredible: I lost 2 dress sizes through regular running and watching my diet. Friends, family - but also colleagues have been commenting on how well I look. To anyone thinking about doing it: please do!!
I am still running on the week 9 podcast I don't want to leave Laura just yet! I am about to download the stamina / speed/ stepping stone podcasts - but what about a 5k to 10k podcast? Ideally with Laura's friendly and encouraging voice and some fun music as the couch to 5k programme. Does this exist already?

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Rich P said on 20 January 2014

I completed the couch to 5k programme getting on for 2 years ago now. This was from doing absolutely no physical exercise apart from the occasional long walk since I left school 10 years ago. I decided to start running after putting on some weight and was generally feeling quite lousy. To begin with it was quite tough, but I pushed through it to completion. Having signed up for a 5k race that year also helped keep the interest there.
After completing the C25K programme I went straight into a 10k training programme as I had effectively become addicted to running. I managed to lose 10kg as a result of running and this has also lead to a healthier diet. After my 5k race in which I came 11th place (a surprise to me) I signed up for a Half-Marathon which I completed within a year of doing the C25K programme and I am now training for a Marathon.
I am so pleased to have got into running through the C25K programme and would encourage you to continue training. Find a training plan that suits your lifestyle and set new goals each time one has been completed.

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