The Couch to 5K program — also sometimes known as C25K — pushes you from being a sedentary couch potato to someone who can successfully run a 5K race, which is 3.1 miles long. Sometimes, you might have to complete your training on a treadmill, rather than running outside, whether due to weather conditions, lack of childcare or otherwise.
Although running outside might be preferable to some, particularly if you're trying to mimic conditions of your chosen 5K, it's perfectly acceptable to do the training runs on a treadmill. In fact, it might even help you become a better runner — but you might want to make some modifications.
Read More: Correct Way to Use a Treadmill
Each week of Couch to 5K's nine-week program has you training three days, using some form of run-walk intervals to increase your running endurance. In week one, begin with a 5-minute walk as a warm-up. Then, alternate between 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking until you've exercised to 20 minutes. Follow it up with a cool down. Repeat this workout two more times during the week, leaving at least one day of rest between each session.
As a beginner, you might have some issues with your running stride — most notably, you're probably overstriding. To help correct this on a treadmill, picture that there's a wall 6 inches from your face and, in order to not hit it, you must shorten your stride and keep your footstrike hitting directly underneath your hits.
The Couch to 5K workout for the second week starts with a 5-minute walk as a warm-up once again. After, switch between 90 seconds of running with two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minute. Then, end with a cool-down. Week two also has you running two more times, for a total of three workouts.
While running on a treadmill, you might wonder what speed at which to set the belt. That depends on your comfort level, but as a beginner, it's better to start slower and gradually increase your speed to avoid burnout or injury.
As you embark on the third week of running on a treadmill, you might find it getting a little bit easier. However, if things still seem hard, there's no shame in repeating a week of workouts and delaying progressing to the next week until you feel comfortable.
During week three, start with your usual 5-minute warm up. Follow it with two repetitions of 90 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking, and then progress to two repetitions of 3 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking.
As you close out the first month of your treadmill training program, the running intervals get a little longer. Start with a 5-minute walk, and then follow this pattern:
- Three minutes of running
- 90 seconds of walking
- 5 minutes of running
- 2.5 minutes of walking
- 3 minutes of running
- 90 seconds of walking
- 5 minutes of running
As you run, consider how loudly your foot is striking the treadmill and aim to make it a little quieter — this reduced the impact forces on your body.
Read More: Couch to 5K Diet
Feeling bored? One of the perks of doing this training on a treadmill is the ability to watch TV shows or movies while running. Although you don't want to rely on this entertainment — after all, it won't be there if you run a road race — it can be a smart way to get through a workout that you don't want to do.
In week five, training is split into three workouts:
- A 5-minute warmup, followed by 5 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking. Reverse it to do 3 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of running, then switch it back to 3 minutes of walking and 5 minutes of walking.
- Start with the 5-minute walk, and then run for 8 minutes, walk for 5 minutes and run for another 8 minutes.
- Begin with the warm-up walk and then graduate to 20 minutes of running with no walking breaks.
Week six also features three different workouts. During these running/walking sessions, you might consider raising the incline of the treadmill. A 1 percent incline more realistically mimics running outside.
- Start with a warm-up, and then run for 5 minutes and walk for 3 minutes. Next, run for 8 minutes, walk for 3 minutes and run for 5 minutes.
- After a quick walk, run for 10 minutes, walk for 3 minutes and finish up with running for another 10 minutes.
- Do a warm-up, and then for 25 minutes without taking any walking breaks.
In week seven, you return to doing just one variety of workout for all three days of the week. After doing the standard warm-up, run for 25 minutes without any walking. As you start to run for longer periods of time, you want to think about your form — your
Continue to climb in the amount of time you're running by doing 28 minutes straight without any walking breaks (after starting with a 5-minute workout). As you begin to run more, you might feel start to feel the need to hydrate. Keep a water bottle on the treadmill — after all, that holder is another one of the machine's perks.
You've made it to the end of Couch to 5K, all while training on a treadmill. In this final week of workouts, start with a quick 5-minute warm-up walk and then do 30 minutes of running. After three sessions, you're officially ready to run a 5K.