Six of the best beginner running programmes

If you’re new to running or are coming back to the sport after a break or having a baby, a couch to 5k programme is a great way to safely get started. There are also plans to take inexperienced runners to 10k and beyond – a great way to prepare yourself for your first race.

Here’s our pick of some of the best programmes on offer.

1. NHS Couch to 5k: week by week

This programme features podcasts to explain each week with celebrity coaches, including Jo Whiley, Sarah Millican, Sanjeev Kohli and Michael Johnson. The programme lasts nine weeks and includes three runs a week, taking you from walk-running to running 30 minutes without stopping.

2. Runner’s World beginner 5k plan

This six-week programme is simple to follow with Runner’s World’s timetable of three weekly runs. The plan aims to take you up to running for at least 20 minutes without walking, so you are able to take on your first 3.1-mile race.

3. Women’s Health beginner’s running plan

Women’s Running teamed up with
Nike+ Run Coach Jes Woods to create a 4-week plan to having you completing your first 5k in one month. The plan is simple to follow and includes tips and advice to help you kick-start your running journey.

4. Active’s 10-week 5k plan

This slightly longer plan involves three to five runs a week to help you confidently complete a 5k. Some weeks are repeated to ensure you’re ready to take on the next step in training.

5. London Marathon’s beginner plan

If you’re feeling ambitious, this 17-week programme will take you all the way to 26.2 miles. The plan is designed for beginner runners who have some base fitness, four weeks of steady runs as a minimum, so it’s not for complete novices. It features three runs a week with one day of stretching/core strength exercises. It will take a commitment, but you could be running a marathon by Christmas.

6. BUPA’s 5k programmes

BUPA shares a variety of training plans to prepare you for your first 5k. The walk run plan is a very gentle introduction to running and is ideal for those who haven’t been very active in the past. There’s also a plan for beginners looking to challenge themselves a little further. Weeks can be repeated if you feel you need more time before progressing to the next stage.


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