Want to know how to go from couch to 10k in 8 weeks?
Step 1: Put on your running shoes.
Step 2: Put one foot in front of the other
Step 3: You’re done! That’s it! ……. or maybe there is a bit more to it.
For those of you who want to take running a bit further than this, our beginner running program is for you. It wasn’t written to make running ‘complicated’ or ‘specialised’. It is made for those who want to start running but aren’t sure of how to go about it. We know many people think the idea that humans were born to run does not apply to them. This program aims to make you believe you were born to run and get you out on the trails as soon as possible.
Before you start our couch to 10k beginner running program, be sure to read our article on the 5 steps to become a runner.
Beginner Running Program
We have set out an 8 week beginner running program to get your running career off the ground. The program includes all the basic principles needed to create a life long runner: STRENGTH. ENDURANCE. SPEED.
Below we outline each type of training session, with a calendar to keep you on track for the 8 weeks. We decided not to go into complicated things like heart rate training, as it is unnecessary for beginners. Check out article on the 80:20 method of training if you want to learn more about heart rate training and rate of perceived exertion (RPE).
First we out line the 4 main types of training:
1. Long Distance Low Intensity Runs (Slow Run)
These low intensity runs will make up 80% of your running training. They should be run at “Conversational Pace”. That is, a pace where you can maintain a conversation without hyperventilating or blurting out each word.
2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT sessions can seem scary. However, they can lead to massive gains in endurance whilst taking up very little time. HIIT sessions are designed maximise cardiac and respiratory benefits in a sustainable manner. Each HIIT session should look something like this:
- Warm up at a “conversational pace” for 5-10 minutes.
- 4-8 x Intervals from 30 seconds up to 4 minutes. Aim to run each interval at 90% maximum
- Rest break between intervals. Rest breaks can be from 1 – 4 minutes. You want to feel relatively recovered before your next interval. Rest intervals can be at walking or jogging pace.
- Cool down at a “conversational pace” for 5-10 minutes.
Your first HIIT session will look something like this. 5 minute slow jog warm up. 4 x 30 seconds intervals. 5 minute slow jog cool down. However, you won’t start HIIT training until week 4.
3. Tempo Runs
Tempo runs are “steady state” runs. These are usually performed slightly slower than your 10km pace. That is more intense than conversational pace but not so intense you need to stop every 3 minutes.
Weekly tempo runs are great for building speed and strength. However, they are taxing on the body and require ample recovery time. Tempo runs should be completed maximum once per week.
4. Strength Training
Strength training sessions are key to injury prevention and for building running economy (how efficient you run). They should consist of heavy resistance exercises, core work and plyometric training. Focussing on strengthening quads, calves, hamstrings, gluteals and the hip musculature. This will help improve running performance and reduce injury risk! Read more on strength training here.
Running Program: Couch to 10k
Once you’ve finished the 8 week program, you should feel confident in running medium distances around 10km. Where you go next is up to you! Half marathon? Marathon? Ultra-marathons? Read our articles on the 80:20 method of training and our 9 week HIIT training block to take your training to the next step!
Find a friend to run with! Running with someone else takes your mind of the task of running and makes it even more enjoyable. No one to run with? Do not fret. Find a nice running path and pay attention to the world around you! A recent study has found that focussing on your surroundings when running improves your running economy and makes running feel easier!! (Shucker et al., 2016).
Schücker, L., Schmeing, L., & Hagemann, N. (2016). “Look around while running!” Attentional focus effects in inexperienced runners. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 27, 205-212.