App Review – Couch to 5k

This app has been mentioned in previous posts, but as I have recently completed it I thought I would share my experiences with it.

C25K, as it is abbreviated, was created to encourage people to get running. The plan was originally designed by Josh Clark in 1996, a novice runner who wanted to help his mum get off the couch and be more active. Each session splits into varying periods of walking and running, building up over 9 weeks until the user is able to run for 30 minutes or 5 kilometres.

This was converted into an app by the NHS, with voice guidance you can use from your phone, alongside your music, if you choose to do so.

I’d not done any running since I left school over 30 years ago, but I do tend to walk a lot. I chose Jo Whiley as my coach, but there are others to choose from. Each run follows a similar format, there is a 5 minute brisk walk to start off with, then it mixes walking with running, increasing the amount of running each week until you can run for 30 minutes non stop. At the end of each run there is a further 5 minutes warm down walk. At the halfway point of each run a bell will sound, this is so you know when to turn round and head for home.

At each stage of the runs your chosen coach will tell you what to do, so change from walking to running and on the longer runs they will chime in with words of encouragement or advice. I found these really helpful, mostly as a distraction from actually thinking about running.

Don’t expect an app with all the bells and whistles, this won’t track your distance and speed, it is just designed to give you the information. It can be used alongside a tracking app, I used fitbit to actually track the distance of my runs.

As this is a “one size fits all” app some people will find it easy and others will struggle. My personal advice is if you don’t do much exercise at all start by walking for 30 minutes three times a week before you start, this will get your body used to some form of exercise. There are a couple of scary steps in the app, week three changes up from 90 seconds of running to 3 minutes and the end of week 5 is the first of the long runs. Don’t be discouraged by these, if you don’t manage to complete them simply redo the week. The aim behind the couch to 5k is to make a long term change, so there is no need to rush it and complete it in 9 weeks. It took me a little longer as I was delayed by flu and repeating runs, but I got there in the end.

The big question is can this app get you from a couch potato to someone capable of running non stop for 5k at a time? The answer yes. It  may take you longer than 9 weeks and does require a big commitment of time and energy, try to plan it into your week, so you know when you will be running.

I really rate this app, after finishing it I feel fitter, have lost weight and sleep better. I’m going to continue running and will be taking part in the occasional Parkrun in the future. I found this a great way of getting into exercising on a regular basis and actually looked forward to my running days.

Download the app for Android or iOS, put a music playlist together and give it a go, you have nothing to lose by trying.

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