Go from the couch to a 5K in just 10 weeks

December 29, 2023

Most want-to-be runners make the same mistake youth runners make when it comes to getting started – they go too fast too early. The following is a program my friend Bob Porter and I designed in 1992 that has been very successful for many locals who made the transition from a walker to a runner. Many runners still use this program today, as it is a great one for the beginning runner.

This program is designed to take the walker or non-jogger to a slow, continuous 30-minute jog (equal to a 5K) in just 10 weeks. Call it a trot, call it a jog, even a run; the bottom line is that you are able to complete the 3.1-mile distance without stopping. The program is designed in minutes, not miles, which most runners seem to enjoy better. The program has you working out four days per week with plenty of rest in between sessions. 

Before you begin, get a complete physical and make sure your body is cleared for this challenge. Get your legs ready with six days of walking followed by a day off before you begin. For each week of the program, try to keep your four workout days consistent such as Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday.

Following your pre-conditioning walking week, you are ready for week one of the program. Good luck, and 10 weeks from now will place you on the starting line at a local Seashore Striders event in March. See you there!

Week 1 - walk 4 minutes and jog 1 minutes. Repeat five times.          

Week 2 - walk 3 minutes and jog 2 minutes. Repeat five times. 

Week 3 - walk 3 minutes and jog 4 minutes. Repeat four times. 

Week 4 - walk 3 minutes and jog 6 minutes. Repeat three times. 

Week 5 - walk 2 minutes and jog 8 minutes. Repeat three times. 

Week 6 - walk 2 minutes and jog 12 minutes. Repeat two times. 

Week 7 - walk 2 minutes and jog 14 minutes. Repeat two times. 

Week 8 - walk 1 minute and jog 14 minutes. Repeat two times. 

*Week 9 - walk 1 minute and jog 15 minutes. Repeat two times. 

Week 10 - jog 30 minutes. Congratulations! You are no longer a walker.

*Note:  After completion of week 9, if you feel tired and not ready for your last week, repeat week 9 of the training and move on when comfortable.

Ten Golden Rules

1. Begin at the doctor’s office with a complete checkup before you start.

2. Get proper equipment, most importantly a new pair of correct running shoes.

3. Keep a log that will track your progress and condition, and direct your future.

4. Never push too early. Going too fast is the most common mistake.

5. Know and listen to your body with common sense.

6. Four feet are better than two. Train with a partner or group of runners.

7. Develop your training routine with times and locations that are best for you.

8. Eliminate aches and pains with proper warm-up/cool-down stretching.

9. Head off a quick injury with three basic rules: avoid worn shoes, uneven surfaces and training too far, too fast, too soon.

10. Set no limitation for yourself, and don’t underestimate your potential ability.

Just about 10 weeks from the new year locally in Milton is the 11th annual Lucky Leprechaun 5K scheduled for Sunday, March 10. If the 10-week program is going well for you, you can test your fitness with a walk/jog during week six with the Lover’s Lane Boardwalk Valentines Run 5K Sunday, Feb. 11. Seashore Strider events are being added weekly, so keep checking

The Strider Challenge

This week, the Seashore Striders wrapped up the Strider Challenge 2023.  When I launched this challenge Jan. 1, 2023, I was hoping for near 100 participants. The challenge ended up with a team of 129 taking part from 10 states and one country with a goal of logging 1,200 miles in a year.  Participants tracked their miles running, walking, swimming, biking and rowing with RunSignUp, generating a ranking list of participants and mileage each month. To complete the 100 miles per month, participants had to average 3.29 miles per day or 25 miles per week. The challenge is not real difficult, but weather and missed days keep things honest, and it does give you some motivation to get out and move. You know what they say, “The hardest step is the first step out the door.” The 2023 challenge raised $13,252 before expenses. Donations will be made to four charities: Beebe Medical Foundation, Sussex Family YMCA, Cape Henlopen Food Basket and Humane Animal Partners. A survey was sent out this week to the 2023 participants regarding repeating the challenge in 2024, and 90% approved doing it again. Stay tuned for info regarding the 2024 challenge, the charities involved and a few minor changes.  

Race Into the New Year 5K

The annual Race Into the New Year 5K is the final event of 2023 locally at the beach. It kicks off from the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk at 12 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 31. There is a kiddie dash just before the 5K race. Go to for race information and to register. A record crowd of more than 300 is expected.

Farewell to 2023

As we say goodbye to 2023 and look forward to 2024, I close with my 1,612th column in the Cape Gazette. Happy New Year to all my Cape Gazette running and racing readers near and far.


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