Couch to 10K training – Women’s Running

Couch to 10K training

While many new runners start with the goal of running their first 5k, for those thinking further ahead or who already have a good fitness base from other sports and activities, aiming to go from couch to 10k is their focus.

A 10k run is a great milestone for runners and the perfect motivation to get you off the couch and into your running shoes. If you’ve been looking to start running, a couch to 10k goal is something that you can work towards in just a few months with the right approach to training. Here’s how.

How long does it take to go from couch to 10k?

There’s no simple answer to this because we’re all starting from a different level of fitness. While a runner may be new to running, they may have good aerobic fitness from activities such as swimming, cycling or playing netball.

However, you can expect training for your first 10k to take anywhere from 12 weeks upwards. Even those with a good amount of aerobic fitness will need to ease into running. Running is a high-impact activity and you’ll need to give your body time to adapt and get stronger before you up your mileage. Doing too much too soon could lead to injury.

Start by working towards your first 5k which will take around 8-10 weeks, and then move onto a first 10k training plan which could be as little as six weeks.

Plan your couch to 10k training

Before day one of the programme, work out when you’ll be able to train throughout the week and put them in your diary. We could all use a few extra hours in the week, buy if you can ring-fence some time for your training it will help to make sure it actually happens. Try to get into a regular routine of which days you do your runs. While you can move sessions around, it helps to make it a habit if you stick to a routine.

get kitted out

You don’t need to spend all your paycheck on the latest running kit, but there are a few key pieces that will make your training more comfortable. Investing in a pair of proper running shoes can help and it’s a good idea to get these from a specialist running shop where you can try them on before you buy. A high-impact running bra can help you feel more comfortable and confident running too. Ideally you’d also have some wicking sports clothes that won’t chafe and that stay comfy when you run, but that’s not essential to begin with.

Log your training runs

One of the brilliant things about running is that you can see your progress as you work towards your goal if you record your runs. You can measure your runs and walks with free apps such as Strava or MapMyRun, or go a step further and buy a running watch. You can also use apps to share your workouts on social media – great if you need a bit of extra encouragement to keep you going.

route planning

Keep your route planning simple. Plan your runs in straightforward out-and-back routes or loops around the block so that you feel psychologically safe and you can bail out if you start feeling pain or have overstretched yourself in a session. As you gain confidence, you can build up to more exciting routes later on.

Find your local parkrun

While your ultimate goal is to run at 10k, you’ll need to tick off running 5k along the way. This is a great milestone in training whether you do it alone or as part of an event. Find out where your local parkrun is – these are free, timed 5k runs in parks across the UK and beyond that happen every Saturday morning.

Read our tips for doing your first parkrun.

Get a checkup to go from couch to 10k

If you are truly starting from zero exercise, it might be a good idea to check in with your doctor or practice nurse for a once-over and explain what you’re planning to do. This is especially important if you have any underlying health issues. If you feel well yourself but have a family history of heart problems or high blood pressure, go for a check-up just to be safe.

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