With more free time to focus on health and fitness during COVID-19 and gyms closed to the public for the foreseeable future, many people have turned to alternative ways of getting fit and losing weight during lockdown.
To start with we were allowed one hour of exercise out of the house each day, so many people seized the opportunity and downloaded the free ‘Couch To 5K’ app. The exercise plan is designed for running novices, with the first run only including short bursts of one-minute runs and mostly walking. Over the course of 6-12 weeks, the runs get steadily more difficult until by the end of the plan, most people can run 5K without batting an eyelid!
It works because it’s simple and gradual – running doesn’t have to be big and scary!
How Does It Work?
If you break the app down into segments, the concept is quite straightforward.
To begin with, you select your current ability and are paired with a suitable training plan, lasting 6, 9 or 12 weeks. Each week is set out into workout/running days and rest days, beginning at a very easy pace and slowly working you up to a full 5K run. Mostly, you will start off with interval training – running for short periods then walking while you recover. Gradually the running periods get longer with less walking in between. This kind of training (stopping and starting) helps your body to become fitter and stronger, often without you realising, which is why the concept works so well.
Each run only lasts between 20-60 minutes (usually they’re 30minutes), so they are easy to fit into your day when you have the chance.
The apps are designed to challenge the amount of time that you are running instead of distance, as this is more adaptable for every individual.
What If I’ve Never Run Before?
Couch to 5K has become popular because you don’t need to be a great runner to get started. Anyone of any ability can utilise the app and achieve targets each week, giving a real sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep you pushing on.
Whether you continue to run or not once you’ve finished the challenge is up to you, but many people do develop a love of running once they’ve worked up to the last week.
Will I Lose Weight?
In order to maximise your weight-loss journey, you should have a well-balanced diet alongside regular exercise. Not only will this result in faster weight-loss, but it should leave you feeling much better on the inside. Eating the right foods will mean you are more energised, setting you up for long-term success.
If you do complete the challenge but feel like you need some encouragement from others to continue running, you can search on RunTogether, a website that allows you to locate your nearest running groups of all abilities. Running with others is a great way to stay motivated and improve your running skills as well as making new friends. Most of the time it’s completely free!
Let us know how you got on with Couch To 5K in the comments below!