Couch-to-5K

New to running? Read more on how-to get started here!

If you are anything like me, then you try running for a few minutes, huff and puff, can’t catch your breath, and slow to a walk. That’s my story. I have big dreams of being a runner, if only I could run longer than three minutes at a time!

Have you heard of the Couch-to-5K program? Thousands of new runners have followed this 9-week program, going from couch potato to running three miles by the end! It is based on the premise that you must ease into your running gradually, and the schedule does just that. You perform three workouts a week for nine weeks. You will alternate timed segments of walking with jogging, and will gradually add more jogging the farther into it you get! View the schedule here! And (thanks Mark!) you can download the podcasts here! They are also available on iTunes if you search podcasts and running!

I figure there is no better motivation than someone who has actually tried it herself, so without further ado, I introduce my favorite Couch to 5K graduate -my friend Megan!!

What made you decide to try running? Why this program?

There were a few different things that inspired me to try running. First off, the summer of 2007, (I started C25K in January of 2008) my dad, husband, & sister all did a 5K over the 4th of July in my hometown. I used my little ones as an excuse for not doing it myself, but the reality was, I was so out of shape that I though the ambulance might have to pick my up if I attempted it (joking…kind of).

Also, in the summer of 2007, my cousin & good friend, Melissa (your very own over here at Shrinking Jeans!) took the plunge and committed herself to doing a 1/2 marathon in Steamboat Springs raising money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She ended up fracturing her arm and moving during the training process but she still DID IT. She did have to walk the majority, but does that really matter? 13.1 miles is still 13.1 miles. Looking back, I know that she helped me realize that I would have to just do it. I may not be the fastest, and I may have to walk it, but I should definitely just get off the damn couch and give it a try.

I spent the rest of that summer fat (220 pounds) & miserable. In October after my baby turned 2, I knew I could no longer use her as an excuse. Something had to change, my joints ached when I got up in the morning and I had no energy to play with my kids–I was only 27 years old! I shouldn’t feel that way! I was so sick of myself being miserable that I started doing Weight Watchers (something I had some success with after baby #2) and doing Turbo Jam DVDs that a good friend lent to me. The same friend had lost 50 pounds doing them and had since begun running. She definitely provided me with some inspiration!

By January I had lost about 30 pounds and I felt so much better. That is when I decided to try running. I talked to my friend about how she had done it and she recommended C25K. After a little research and joining a C25K group on Spark People. I decided to give it a shot. I immediately loved it. It felt so empowering to be able to RUN. Even if it was only for 60 seconds at a time. ;-) I downloaded the podcasts onto my mp3 player (they are free) and the instruction provided me with great motivation and feedback (the music could be better though).

I would love to say I whipped through the program in no time, but the reality is, I had to repeat a few weeks. In July of 2008, I ran that 4th of July 5K with my family 50 pounds lighter than the summer before. My time was 33 minutes some odd seconds. I definitely wasn’t the fastest, not even close. I even had to stop and walk once (I wasn’t used to those dang hills!) I did it though! Running for 30 minutes is something I NEVER thought I would be able to do. It may sound silly, but being able to accomplish this has given my more confidence in every aspect of my life.

What was your favorite part? Least?

My favorite? Gosh! I love the way running makes me feel physically & mentally. It is such an easy thing to do- put one foot in front of the other and ENDURE. There is no complicated movements that a clumsy person like me can flub up. C25K makes it so easy. In 9 weeks it takes you from running 60 second intervals to running a full 30 minutes straight. Believe me. ANYONE CAN DO IT. I’m just not sure that I have ever encountered a better way for a beginner to build their stamina that this program.

Least favorite thing–Definitely the music on the podcasts. It is like bad elevator music or something. Once I got to the weeks that I would run for extended periods, I just listened to my own music & kept track of the time on my own.

Would you recommend this program for me and the other members of Shrinking Jeans who aspire to run?

There is no doubt about it. I DARE YOU. If you just DO IT, I think you will really fall in love with running and the way it makes you feel. Believe me, I was anti-exercise just 1 1/2 short years ago, I should know!

What are your running goals for the future?

I would love to do a longer distance like a 10K or a 1/2 marathon the summer of 2009. Other than that, I would also like to improve my speed a bit for the 5K distance.

Thanks Megan! You are such an inspiration!


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  • http://www.crookedeyebrow.com crookedeyebrow

    I cannot wait to get started. I have had the program on my fridge for weeks, waiting for all illness in our house to be gone.

    The treadmill is getting cleared off tonight and I want to start this weekend.

    This just encourages me more!

  • http://www.crookedeyebrow.com crookedeyebrow

    I cannot wait to get started. I have had the program on my fridge for weeks, waiting for all illness in our house to be gone.

    The treadmill is getting cleared off tonight and I want to start this weekend.

    This just encourages me more!

  • Mark

    Melissa here is the link to Robert’s C25K podcaststhat match the web program to music with instructions on the podcast:
    http://www.ullreys.com/robert/Podcasts/podcasts/podcasts.html

    They also can be found on iTunes, in the Podcast section. Do a search on Podcasts for Running.

  • Mark

    Melissa here is the link to Robert’s C25K podcaststhat match the web program to music with instructions on the podcast:
    http://www.ullreys.com/robert/Podcasts/podcasts/podcasts.html

    They also can be found on iTunes, in the Podcast section. Do a search on Podcasts for Running.

  • http://www.4andcounting.blogspot.com nicole

    Way to go on the running! It is surprising how good it can feel to do something as simple as run, when you have never done it before.

    I’m going to read more here. I’m so inspired by other people improving their lives.

  • http://www.4andcounting.blogspot.com nicole

    Way to go on the running! It is surprising how good it can feel to do something as simple as run, when you have never done it before.

    I’m going to read more here. I’m so inspired by other people improving their lives.

  • http://www.all-k-names.blogspot.com Kelli

    I heard of this about a month ago and just started yesterday isnt that funny. GREAT thin minds think alike

  • http://www.all-k-names.blogspot.com Kelli

    I heard of this about a month ago and just started yesterday isnt that funny. GREAT thin minds think alike

  • http://www.larakretler.com larak

    I’ve had terrific success with the Couch to 5K program not just once but multiple times (if you take a long period off from running, you do need to backtrack and start over again to some degree). I’m currently working my way back up to 3 miles again and it’s going well. The program definitely works if you keep at it! I love looking at my 5K medals and race numbers/bibs from past events I’ve run, they are a constant source of inspiration to me and I hope to decrease my times and do more races this spring and summer.

  • http://www.larakretler.com Lara Kretler

    I’ve had terrific success with the Couch to 5K program not just once but multiple times (if you take a long period off from running, you do need to backtrack and start over again to some degree). I’m currently working my way back up to 3 miles again and it’s going well. The program definitely works if you keep at it! I love looking at my 5K medals and race numbers/bibs from past events I’ve run, they are a constant source of inspiration to me and I hope to decrease my times and do more races this spring and summer.

  • http://www.momgenerations.com Sharon – MomGenerations

    I’ve never been a runner, and I still don’t describe myself as a runner, but on January 1 of this year I wrote down my resolution to complete a sprint triathlon during 2009. I know how to swim fairly well, so that doesn’t scare me (too much!!). I’m OK on a bicycle, although I do need endurance and practice. But the running part scares the daylights out of me. I’ve watched my daughters and sons compete in sports all their lives… and I’ve always had the desire to DO SOMETHING. So, on January 2, I went out to run just to see how far I could go. When I actually RAN about a half mile, I was thrilled. I ran 3 times that week, but didn’t measure the runs… I just ran until I could accomplish 30 minutes. Well… I have been diligent with my 3-4 times a week, trying to run FARTHER each time. I do find that I begin slowly, but after 15 or so minutes, I feel wonderful and faster. Today, I visited Beth at her Folding Laundry blog and linked over to here. I was so inspired by Megan that I made a promise to myself that I would run today for 40 minutes straight. It’s still pretty cold in Rhode Island, but I was running so fast that I had to take off a couple of layers (while still running!). I ran and ran… thinking of Megan. I live near lots of hills, and I kept making myself run up them, too. When I finally arrived back home, I looked at my watch. 52 minutes! Straight! I felt so happy. My daughter then went with me to measure my run. 4.6 miles! I almost couldn’t believe it! I firmly believe in the factor of encouragement, and it is stories like Megan’s that truly help people achieve goals and to strive for more. And I will add one more thing… I am 56 years old, and even though this may sound trite… if I can do it, anyone can do it. Grab an inspiration and GO!!

  • http://www.momgenerations.com Sharon – MomGenerations

    I’ve never been a runner, and I still don’t describe myself as a runner, but on January 1 of this year I wrote down my resolution to complete a sprint triathlon during 2009. I know how to swim fairly well, so that doesn’t scare me (too much!!). I’m OK on a bicycle, although I do need endurance and practice. But the running part scares the daylights out of me. I’ve watched my daughters and sons compete in sports all their lives… and I’ve always had the desire to DO SOMETHING. So, on January 2, I went out to run just to see how far I could go. When I actually RAN about a half mile, I was thrilled. I ran 3 times that week, but didn’t measure the runs… I just ran until I could accomplish 30 minutes. Well… I have been diligent with my 3-4 times a week, trying to run FARTHER each time. I do find that I begin slowly, but after 15 or so minutes, I feel wonderful and faster. Today, I visited Beth at her Folding Laundry blog and linked over to here. I was so inspired by Megan that I made a promise to myself that I would run today for 40 minutes straight. It’s still pretty cold in Rhode Island, but I was running so fast that I had to take off a couple of layers (while still running!). I ran and ran… thinking of Megan. I live near lots of hills, and I kept making myself run up them, too. When I finally arrived back home, I looked at my watch. 52 minutes! Straight! I felt so happy. My daughter then went with me to measure my run. 4.6 miles! I almost couldn’t believe it! I firmly believe in the factor of encouragement, and it is stories like Megan’s that truly help people achieve goals and to strive for more. And I will add one more thing… I am 56 years old, and even though this may sound trite… if I can do it, anyone can do it. Grab an inspiration and GO!!

  • http://www.diaryofahungrymom.blogspot.com Kasey

    I’ve done the program and it is great!!! I signed up for an actual 5k race and made plans to do it with a friend and then followed the program to get ready for it and it was more fun doing it with a friend.

    It was nice to only have to do it 3 days a week and it really does build you up without killing you! I would for sure recommend it!

  • http://www.diaryofahungrymom.blogspot.com Kasey

    I’ve done the program and it is great!!! I signed up for an actual 5k race and made plans to do it with a friend and then followed the program to get ready for it and it was more fun doing it with a friend.

    It was nice to only have to do it 3 days a week and it really does build you up without killing you! I would for sure recommend it!

  • http://lifewiththerostens.blogspot.com Megan

    Sharon-

    I think that your story is so inspiring. I know that I will be thinking of you and all you have accomplished during my next run. Also- I think you have already EARNED the right to call yourself a runner. You go girl!

    Truly, anyone CAN be fit & healthy. All you have to do is decide that you are WORTH it and stop making excuses for why you aren’t. I think that is what I was doing all those years when I wouldn’t take 30 minutes for myself because I was ‘too busy’ taking care of my kids. What was I teaching them? That they aren’t worth the time to be healthy & happy? My daughter now spends 2 hours in childwatch at the YMCA 3x per week and I think I am a better mommy for it. Guess what? She even LIKES it there.

  • http://lifewiththerostens.blogspot.com Megan

    Sharon-

    I think that your story is so inspiring. I know that I will be thinking of you and all you have accomplished during my next run. Also- I think you have already EARNED the right to call yourself a runner. You go girl!

    Truly, anyone CAN be fit & healthy. All you have to do is decide that you are WORTH it and stop making excuses for why you aren’t. I think that is what I was doing all those years when I wouldn’t take 30 minutes for myself because I was ‘too busy’ taking care of my kids. What was I teaching them? That they aren’t worth the time to be healthy & happy? My daughter now spends 2 hours in childwatch at the YMCA 3x per week and I think I am a better mommy for it. Guess what? She even LIKES it there.

  • http://enosfamilyboise.blogspot.com/ Steph

    WOW!! WOW!! Did I say.. WOW! This is such an inspiration!! Way to go Girl!
    I just received a postcard in the mail from the CCFA (Crohn’s Foundation) saying that they are hosting a 5K Crohn’s Run here in Boise. I really want to do this, and think that this could be the perfect program! Anyone wanna join me? It’s in Boise, ID on June 27 :)

  • http://enosfamilyboise.blogspot.com/ Steph

    WOW!! WOW!! Did I say.. WOW! This is such an inspiration!! Way to go Girl!
    I just received a postcard in the mail from the CCFA (Crohn’s Foundation) saying that they are hosting a 5K Crohn’s Run here in Boise. I really want to do this, and think that this could be the perfect program! Anyone wanna join me? It’s in Boise, ID on June 27 :)

  • http://www.imadramamama.wordpress.com Thea @ I’m a Drama Mama

    I swear…someone is trying to tell me something.

    Last night, when I was coming up with my fitness goals, I decided this would be the year I ran a 5K. I found a program that starts even slower than C25K, but I think it’ll work for me.

    This morning, one of my Facebook pals said they were doing C25K. Then, in the mail, there was a flyer for a local 5K in April. Then, I see this post.

    Now I just need to decide if I’m going to do the super slow program or the C25K. The idea of podcasts is intriguing…

  • http://www.imadramamama.wordpress.com Thea @ I’m a Drama Mama

    I swear…someone is trying to tell me something.

    Last night, when I was coming up with my fitness goals, I decided this would be the year I ran a 5K. I found a program that starts even slower than C25K, but I think it’ll work for me.

    This morning, one of my Facebook pals said they were doing C25K. Then, in the mail, there was a flyer for a local 5K in April. Then, I see this post.

    Now I just need to decide if I’m going to do the super slow program or the C25K. The idea of podcasts is intriguing…

  • http://www.storyoffynn.blogspot.com Corinne

    I’m finishing up week 3 of this program tonight! I love it so far, it’s such a great way to ease into running. I’m glad to know there’s so many others out there doing it, and have had positive results!

  • http://www.storyoffynn.blogspot.com Corinne

    I’m finishing up week 3 of this program tonight! I love it so far, it’s such a great way to ease into running. I’m glad to know there’s so many others out there doing it, and have had positive results!

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  • Jen

    I loved this article! (and not just because Megan mentions me in her interview, teehee!) I’ve known a ton of people who never thought they could be runners until they started Couch to 5K. Anyone can do it. Look at it this way – Bob & Jillian have 300+ pound people running intervals on Biggest Loser.

    The key is starting out slowly and not doing too much at once. C25K allows you to do that. And if at anytime you feel you just “aren’t quite ready” to step it up to the next level, you can just repeat a week.

    Do the program, sign up for and run your first 5K. Don’t be surprised if you get teary-eyed when you see the finish line! I did.. I was the chubby girl who cried on Mile Day in gym class and now I can run a half-marathon! You can too.

  • Jen

    I loved this article! (and not just because Megan mentions me in her interview, teehee!) I’ve known a ton of people who never thought they could be runners until they started Couch to 5K. Anyone can do it. Look at it this way – Bob & Jillian have 300+ pound people running intervals on Biggest Loser.

    The key is starting out slowly and not doing too much at once. C25K allows you to do that. And if at anytime you feel you just “aren’t quite ready” to step it up to the next level, you can just repeat a week.

    Do the program, sign up for and run your first 5K. Don’t be surprised if you get teary-eyed when you see the finish line! I did.. I was the chubby girl who cried on Mile Day in gym class and now I can run a half-marathon! You can too.

  • Ev

    It is a wonderful program I ran my first 5K 6 weeks into the program !!

  • Jessica

    I just did W1D1 this a.m. and feel great. I think my friends and I are going to start a local “Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants” and see where it gets us. Our goal is a 5k at the end of Sept.

  • janburlison

    i go to the gym 5 days a weel cam i do the couch to 5 k or do can i only do it 3 times a week?

  • Emily

    I just started the program and am really enjoying it. If you have an iPhone, there is a C25K app that costs $2.99. It's great…you can use your own music and there are voice prompts that tell you when to walk or run. Give it a try!

  • shrinkingjeans

    Really?? Awesome!

  • Emily

    I just started the program and am really enjoying it. If you have an iPhone, there is a C25K app that costs $2.99. It's great…you can use your own music and there are voice prompts that tell you when to walk or run. Give it a try!

  • shrinkingjeans

    Really?? Awesome!

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  • Lacie9

    My hubby and I have talked about doing this program together. He has done two 1/2 marathons….me, I don't run. I have a feeling that you'll find me on a ditch along side the road. Dead from either a heart attack or asthma attack. But I want to get in shape really bad…so seriously considering trying it. I should probably let someone know when I start so they can send out the search committee!

  • shrinkingjeans

    I think you will find it a great program to use!! And if running turns out
    not to be your thing, you can always walk, or walk/run events! Trust me, I
    know! ;p –Melissa

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  • Alaina

    I definitely would recommend this app to anyone. I’m on week 6-7 and I’ve lost around 20 pounds doing this program and eating well. After I complete all the weeks, I plan to get the app Couch to 10K and have heard good reviews on that. This is such a great program and it’s such an inspiration to hear of everyone trying it and getting good results out of it. :)))

    -Alaina :)

  • carr_jeanne

    I just started this week. I’ve never been a fitness fanatic, but I’ve always done at least something. For the past year I’ve been nursing a back injury. It’s taken a lot out of me physically and emotionally, and now I’m ready to get back in the game. I’ve never been a runner, but I’m going to try it. This year is all about challenging myself and this feels like a really good way. Today is day 2……. here I go!

    • Anonymous

      Congratulations!! Good luck, you can do it! :)

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

  • carr_jeanne

    I just started this week. I’ve never been a fitness fanatic, but I’ve always done at least something. For the past year I’ve been nursing a back injury. It’s taken a lot out of me physically and emotionally, and now I’m ready to get back in the game. I’ve never been a runner, but I’m going to try it. This year is all about challenging myself and this feels like a really good way. Today is day 2……. here I go!

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  • Luc<3

    reading this story has seriously motivated me and i can’t wait to get started! and hopefully i’ll have my own success story! thanks so much for sharing!

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  • http://twitter.com/OurTypicalLife Beth

    Thanks for sharing your story. I currently weigh a *little* more than you when you started (ok, a lot more) and am sick of the way my body looks and feels. As soon as I get the kids settled for dinner, I am getting on the treadmill for week 1 day 1 of C25K.

    • http://www.whereverimaywander.com Lissa_ShrinkingJeans

      Good for you, Beth!! I’m starting this weekend, too.

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  • Bethany Turner

    I’m going for it! 5k here I come! Thanks, ladies!

    • shrinkingjeans

      You can do it!!!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Join us on the ‘hood to discuss health, fitness, or to complain about how tight your jeans are!

  • http://www.5ktrainingschedules.com/ Giftsforrunners

    The Robert Ullrey C25K podcasts are not available on his site or iTunes either so if you do want to get hold of them you can get them from this website…
    http://www.5ktrainingschedules.com/couch-to-5k/robert-ullrey-couch-to-5k-podcasts.html 

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  • Amanda

    I feel so incredibly encouraged! I found this program on Pinterest last night. I’ve been going through a devastating divorce and it has taken it’s toll on my health. I’m 24 years-old and 225 pounds. I’ve lost 15 pounds already by using Weight Watchers and lots of walking/hiking. But I’ve been at this plateau for a while. I didn’t think that at my weight I could run. But seeing someone like you who is so similar to my weight and age, be able to do this, really inspires me!

    I’ve dowloaded the $1.99 app from Couch to 5K, it’s a great app, and I am starting this program now. I CAN do this, I WILL do this!

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • kiptondavis

    point.

  • Mary

    Did you know that the creator of c25k did a bridge to 10k program for graduates of the c25k program? You should give it a go! I’m doing c25k right now and then training for a half. I’m excited, and this program has made me love running again.

    • Lisa

      Yippee! What race are you doing?

  • Dianne

    My sister and I decided we wanted to start running some 5K charity events although neither of us had ran before. She lives 2.5 hours away from me but we text each other all the time. We found this program and thought it looked like the best one and now we are in our week 4. We are doing good and we make sure the other one knows we have done our run for the day. I’m anxious for the day we can actually participate in a 5K run!

    • shrinkingjeans

      That’s great, Dianne!! I wish you and your sister the best of luck, and be sure to check back in and let us know how your race goes!!

      Christy Mensi
      Founder/Editor
      The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans
      http://shrinkingjeans.net
      Shrinking Kitchen
      http://shrinkingkitchen.com
      @shrinkingjeans
      @reallifeadv

      Check out our newest addition, the Shrinking Kitchen.
      Eat. Shrink. Drink.

  • Nubierunner

    Thank you so much for your story. I recently had a lightbulb moment where I decided I would become a runner. Previously I thought all runners were crazy, masochistic people. I have two interval runs under my belt and so far, i am happy with my discision. Thank you for helping to inspire me and others.

    • Lisa

      Welcome! I hope you will visit our Runner’s Corner posts. I love supporting our newbie runners!!!

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  • JEJ

    I am currently in Week 5 of my training. It feels so good to be able to walk up stairs and not feel like I am going to pass out!! My normal walk pace has picked up also. I am down 13 lbs (I am using “Lose It App” as well) Good luck to all!!! We can do it!

  • fitandfab220

    INSPIRED! I am on week 5 of C25K, and I am facing my longest run yet (mintue wise). My brain has been psyching me out all day over it, and your story has inspired me to keep going! THANK YOU!

  • http://twitter.com/jessi91473 Jessi A.B.

    Started today. Quit smoking 3 weeks ago, could only run 30 sec at a time but i’m willing to repeat week 1 until I can run the full 1 min.

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  • Guest

    I’m so excited to be doing this! I’m not quite coming from the couch so I’ve combined weeks 1 and 2 into one four day week. I just finished day 3, and I feel awesome! I’ve also noticed that I’ve been feeling better in general this week. My body is definitely appreciating the exercise. Good luck to everyone, and don’t give up!

  • Jodi Clougherty

    I started the C25K program about 7 weeks ago. My husband and I joined a gym over Thanksgiving week and we got 2 free personal training sessions for joining. The trainer I had was an avid runner so he challenged me to start this C25K program. I use it on my iPhone. I never was a runner but I am on week 7 which is running/jogging for 25 minutes. I never dreamed I would be able to do this! It is a great program and I highly reccommend it!

  • New Runner

    I started the Couch to 5K program a couple of weeks ago. I too tried Robert U’s podcast and while I like his voice, I didn’t enjoy his music selection. So I found another set of C25K audio files through the UK government’s health department (National Health Services). A nice British audio coach and a more mainstream music selection. There are LOTS of other audio options listed on this page :-)
    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/64709-c25k-podcast-list