"Couch to 5K" is a training program that uses interval training and moderate workouts to help people new to running get fit enough to run 5 kilometers, or 3.1 miles. The program consists of three workouts a week for nine weeks. The workouts gradually increase in intensity to safely build fitness.
Each "Couch to 5K" workout lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes and consists of periods of running interspersed with periods of brisk walking. According to Mayo Clinic, this type of interval training burns more calories and reduces the amount of waste products that build up during exercise. Interval training tends to cause less muscle soreness than non-interval exercise. This type of workout makes it easier for people new to exercising to gradually build fitness without becoming discouraged or developing injuries. Although skipping workouts in the "Couch to 5K" schedule is not recommended, if users find the workouts too challenging, they can repeat the week's plan to build up fitness more gradually.
"Couch to 5K" training can be done either by timing the intervals or tracking distance. These methods make it easy to use both on treadmills and when running outside. There are applications for smartphones and other mobile devices to help users track their intervals, and there are online communities that provide virtual support for people using the program. An additional program called "Couch to 10K" continues where the 5K version ends and conditions users to run 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles.