Couch to 5k training plan (with PDF)

The C25K training plan will get you from the couch to the start of your first 5K event.

Whether you are just starting our or you want to get back into running after a long hiatus. The Couch to 5K program is the easiest way to start running.

Start to run: C25K

The Couch to 5K program is aimed at absolute beginners and helps them figuratively from sitting on the couch to running their first 5 km. The program takes 9 weeks to complete and contains 3 workouts every week.


Running days

Structure is really important in those first 9 weeks. If you plan your runs every week at the same specific time, they will become part of your routine and it will help with motivation. 

In the plan that is linked at the bottom of this page, you run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. With rest days on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. You are free to shift these days around. If you want to run Sundays, you can. You want to have your rest days on the weekend? You can do that as well! As long as you keep at least one rest day in between two running days, you are free to do whatever you want.

Recovery and rest days

When you’re getting the hang of it, you might be tempted to skip a rest day or only rest one day instead of the two that were planned. I would advise to not skip on those resting days as this might increase the risk of injury. Those resting days are in there to give your legs the time they need to recover and become stronger.

Also try not to skip any of the runs itself. You are free to shift some days around but if you skip running days, you might find it hard to keep up with the plan. If you have to shift or skip too many days around your schedule, you might need to go back a week or two. Just continue from there and you will be back on track in no time.

If you find an exercise too difficult to complete, you can also go back a week or two and start over from there. Remember that this is a training and not a race. After each run you should feel accomplished, not exhausted.

Types of runs

Warm Up

Each run will start with a 5 minute warm-up. The goal of a warm-up is to “warm up” your muscles. If you just start running for half an hour after sitting behind your desk all day, you might increase the risk of injury. That’s why it’s advised to do a quick warm-up before you start your workout. A warm-up can consist of some dynamic stretches and/or a fast paced walk. Just try to get your muscles moving as much as possible..


After the warm up you can start the actual run. Most runs in the Couch to 5k train consist of run-walk intervals. This means that every running interval will be followed by a walking rest period. Try to run slow during the running parts. If you have the feeling that you are exhausting yourself, it means that you are going too fast. Do you have a heart rate monitor, try to keep your heart rate in zone 2 and 3. If you don’t know what that means, you can read more about heart rate zones here

Cool Down

After each run, there is a 5 minute cool down period. Just like with the warm up at the start of the workout, the cool down period is here to help your muscles transition from the hard work they had to perform back to your daily routine. I mostly use the cooldown period to walk back home and do some light stretches when I arrive. 


Underneath you can find a PDF for you to download and print out. Put it up somewhere and cross out every exercise you completed successfully. This will help with motivation as you will be able to see your progress. Starting to run can be hard at first but it will become easier, I promise.

Couch to 5K training plan PDF:


For people who are looking for an app to keep track of the time, I highly recommend the Couch to 5K app from Active. It contains more or less the same C25K program from the NHS and it keeps you motivated during each workout. More info can be found here, together with other recommended apps to check out.