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The Couch to 5K Training Plan: C25K

By Kelly Marshall BSc (Hons),Dip PT, NASM, SFS, IFS Kelly Marshall

Starting to run for the first time or after a long break can be a scary concept and feel tricky in terms of where to start. Training for running a particular distance or event is equally difficult and schedules can often be overcomplicated by fitness professionals. The NHS has created a training scheme for running that takes out the complication and confusion. It's an effective and simple to follow plan called 'C25K':

What is C25K?

The C25K is designed to get someone from a couch starting point and build them up gradually to reach a 5K running distance (or half an hour) in just nine weeks. It was developed by a novice runner who wanted to help his fifty-something mum get off the couch and start running too! The plan requires three runs a week with a day of rest in between each run and each of the nine weeks is different, providing motivation and variety.

Who is it for?

Couch to 5K is for absolutely everyone! It doesn't matter whether you have never run before or if you want to get back into being active after a break, C25K provides an easy, uncomplicated, yet systematic approach, to achieving your goals.

How do I get started?

C25K is set up so an individual starts by combining walking with running and week one starts with just running for one minute at a time. As the weeks progress the plan allows fitness and stamina to improve without overdoing it or losing motivation. The website provides FREE podcasts (downloadable sound clips) that you listen to on your ipod/mobile phone/MP3 player as you run and it guides you through each session (i.e. with a narrator saying when to walk/run together with motivating music).

Any top training tips?

  • Give some thought to how you plan to fit C25K into your day, i.e. lunch breaks, first thing in the morning or after work? Organisation is key!
  • Plan WHERE you are going to run, i.e. at a gym (if you're a member) or an interesting and safe route (as you will be wearing headphones) from your house.
  • Think about what you are going to wear as the most important aspect for running is your trainers. A quality pair of running trainers, ideally specifically suitable to your biomechanics and running technique (which can be assessed at most good quality stockists), will make all the difference in terms of running success.
  • You can repeat any one of the weeks until you feel physically ready to move on to the next podcast should you feel it's necessary.
  • Stick to your rest days as these are as crucially important as the running days and will reduce your chance of injury. This means stronger running and quicker results.
  • Be aware and accept in advance that sometimes you have a good run and sometimes a bad run and it doesn't matter. A bad run is still a run and is good for you!

You are advised to seek medical advice before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle with an aim of weight loss. This website and the content provided should not be used by persons under 18, by pregnant or nursing women, or individuals with any type of health condition, except under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional. The information contained in these articles, and elsewhere on this website, is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only, and is not intended to replace, and does not constitute legal, professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis and may not be used for such purposes. Continue...

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