Couch to 5k is a running program designed to get almost anyone off the couch and able to run five kilometers (or 3.1 miles) in only nine weeks.

The secret is a gradual process that starts with a gentle introduction to getting the body moving, followed by alternating between walking and running small distances until one can finally run an entire 5k non-stop. Here is the breakdown for this running program as to its philosophy, testimonials, resources to help, and local events. Before you know it, you’ll be running a 5k of your own!


Couch to 5k was created by Josh Clark and has five main principles:

  1. Eliminate pain- The idea is that if it hurts, people will give up on it.
  2. Welcome newcomers- Reasonable expectations and friendly lingo are essential for early experiences with the program.
  3. Deliver early victories- If you feel the excitement from the beginning, you are more likely to continue your journey.
  4. Make it easy and rewarding- Humans need momentum, otherwise, we stop.
  5. Not everyone wants to be a power user– Some people want to master the basics and stop there, while others want to push farther and farther until they become a master. There is no wrong way to go about it. It is entirely up to you which path you take.


Clark writes about how he worked up to a 5k for himself the first time,

“I used to hate running. I thought running was for masochists. Every time I tried it, even as a reasonably fit 20-year-old, it felt terrible. I gasped, I had muscle soreness, it hurt. For a few months in my early 20s, though, I found myself particularly determined to become a runner. I pushed through the discomfort for a few weeks.

When my body finally became accustomed to it, I discovered, wow, running doesn’t have to hurt. It can feel good, even meditative. It became something that I looked forward to, that gave me energy and, as a happy byproduct, also happened to keep me fit and healthy.”

Meanwhile, Rob, of the website, shares his own story,

“A few years ago now I ended decades of life on the couch and went from being very fat to [an] ideal weight by starting to run. I got there by following the couch to 5k plan, the first step to running for beginners as well as following a much healthier diet.

Since then I have been a beginner runner many times over; a beginner at training to run 10km, and then a beginner half marathon runner. From there, I became a marathon beginner; After that, a beginner ultra-marathoner.”

What Resources are Available

You’ve heard the saying, “there’s an app for that.” Well, that’s true for Couch to 5k as well. Go into your app store, look up “Couch to 5k”, and easily download one of the numerous apps to your phone. The ones by C25K and Active Network are among the most popular.

You can log and share workouts, sync playlists, and track distance and pace with GPS. You are also able to get the support and motivation that you may need by selecting your coach, sharing progress with friends on Facebook, and connecting with the rest of the Couch to the 5k community.

The Couch to 5k website is also a great resource. It not only explains the program in a host of other languages but it lists podcasts, discussion and support forums, gear for purchasing, running info, information on furthering your running beyond a 5k, inspiration, and more.

There is also a ‘Couch to 5k’ Facebook group with more information, support, and a way to connect with your fellow Couch to 5k runners.

Events in My Area

You’ve put in the work, trained even when you thought you were too tired to go for a run, and now you are ready for your first race. Congratulations! Check out to find races near you, and then grab a friend and watch all of your hard work pay off.

Get Started

The first step is always the hardest. But once you get going, a walk turns to a jog, a jog turns to a run, a run to a race, and you’re off on your running adventure. Check out Couch to 5k today. You’ll be glad you did.