Free nine week Couch to 5K programme

Running 5K without stopping is a great goal to have. It only requires a pair of trainers. It can be done anywhere and is something that you can easily fit around your daily routine.

So why not use this time to get into running?* Running is a fantastic activity that helps you keep a healthy body and healthy mind. Follow our free programme and it will take you from couch to 5K in just nine weeks. It is designed so that you will complete each session twice a week or optimally three times to enhance progression.

You will receive clear feedback as to how much you are improving your fitness, as you’ll be able to run further every week.

*Please ensure you’re following government advice and social distance yourself from other people when running and only do so once a day as part of exercise.

Couch to 5K nine week programme

Couch to 5K programme

Follow this nine week running plan and you will be able to run 5K without stopping.

Tips on progression

This programme is designed for beginners so they can eventually run 5K without stopping.

This 9 week programme has been tried and tested by many staff and students across campus as part of the Couch to 5K programme hosted by Get Out, Get Active. Our spring Couch to 5K programme has just finished. Read of how participants got on.

Each session has been carefully planned by a team of qualified run leaders. This programme builds up the amount of running you do very slowly so your body can acclimatise.

If you are struggling with advancing from one week to the next, you can repeat any one of the weeks until you feel physically ready to move on to the next week.

Structure is importance for motivation. Try and allocate specific days of the week for your runs and stick to them. For example, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Free apps to use to track your runs


Strava will use the GPS signal on your phone (or fitness tracker if you have one that does that) to accurately log the route and speed of your runs. You can also plan a route on a map on the Strava website, then send it to the app to follow while you run.

It’s a very popular app so chances are some of your friends and family are on it too. Once you’ve downloaded the app and have connected with your friends, you can send each other kudos and support their running journey.


MapMyRun is a tracking app that is very handy when it comes to route planning. Open the app wherever you are in the world and you can load local routes that other runners have created and follow one on your phone during your run. You can also create your own routes.

Rest days

Rest days are vital. Having one between each week’s runs will reduce your chance of injury as you allow your body to recover from what is a high-impact exercise.

Aches and pains

Some people who are new to running may experience calf pain or sore shins. These aches can be caused by running on hard surfaces or by running in shoes that do not have enough foot and ankle support. Be sure to also check that your running shoes are offering you good support.

Always make sure you do the 5-minute warm up walks and some dynamic stretches to warm your muscles before beginning to run and the 5 minute cool down walk and static stretches after your run.

Ellie, one of the GOGA run leaders, who delivers the couch to 5K programme leads you through the warm up and cool down you should do before and after every run.

Stay in contact

We’d love you to let us know how you’re getting on with the programme and to share your progress with other Couch to 5K participants. Please join our virtual Couch to 5K Facebook group. Run leaders are ready and waiting to chat and answer any questions you have.

Also you can get in touch with leaders Kate Petty, or Greg Hull, who will be more than happy to help you.

Best of luck with the programme!