Couch to 5k On A Treadmill (with free PDF)

You’ve made the decision to start preparing for a 5k. Congratulations! Even for beginner runners, a 5k is an easily achievable goal, and success with one goal can motivate you to set higher and harder goals for the future. Now all you need is a plan to conquer that first goal.

The plan described below is’t just a Couch-to-5k plan. It’s a Couch-to-5k specifically for a treadmill, so whether you are starting a running habit in the middle of winter when running outside is cold or icy, or whether it is just simpler for you to put in miles indoors, this is your plan. The treadmill can be a very useful tool for teaching you pacing and endurance.

Before starting a coucht-to-5k plan on a treadmill, though, it’s important to assess your current fitness in order to maximize your workouts.

Are you someone who has run before, but had to take a large amount of time off due to illness or pregnancy? You might be able to push yourself a little harder. Are you completely new to running like I was in 2014 when I ran my first 5k? You’ll probably want to take it a little slower.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to train for your 5k. If you’re in good shape—maybe you’ve been walking, but not running, you might be able to train for a 5k in 4-6 weeks. If you’re a little out of shape, you might need closer to 8-10 weeks.

Preparation

You need to be prepared to start training for a 5k. Make sure you have the right gear: running shoes, comfortable workout clothing (moisture-wicking shirt and shorts are ideal, and a good sports bra for females), and a timing method (your treadmill display will work just fine, but a smartphone, sweat-proof watch, or running watch are even better). Running shoes are the most important item on this list, as good running shoes are essential.

Next, figure out how long you’re going to train and decide if you’re going to train based on time or distance. Time is likely easier for most beginning runners to figure out, but distance is more helpful because the times it take to complete a particular distance can vary. Make sure that you take your time and ease into the C25k program so that you don’t burn out and quit.

We recommend starting off with run/walk intervals. This is where you run for a set period of time (say, 60 seconds) and walk for another set period of time (60 seconds). Repeat this until the workout is complete. As your fitness improves, you can lengthen the run portion and/or shorten the walk period.

Before each run/walk, make sure that you stretch for 20 seconds per each stretch—10 seconds to get the muscles warmed up and 10 seconds to stretch the muscles—as well as dynamic workouts such as high knees, skips, and butt kicks.

Next, make sure that you give yourself some time to warm up. Then, run your designated workout for the day. After you’ve completed your walk/run, don’t forget to cool down and stretch.

Preventing Injuries

It is essential that you take the time to stretch after your run, as this will assist in recovery and injury prevention. You could also consider icing your feet for 3-5 minutes after your run as an added precaution. Normally, runners will only ice their feet after longer distances, but doing it even after short distances can assist in reducing swelling and easing soreness.

Finally, don’t forget to include some cross-training in your C25k training plan. This can help you get stronger, keep you from getting bored, and help to avoid injuries. Some examples include cycling, yoga, Pilates, and rowing machines.

Specific Considerations for Running on the Treadmill

While all of the previous information is true whether you’re planning to train inside or outside for a 5k, you should consider several things in completing a couch-to-5k program specifically on a treadmill.

First, running on a treadmill is a bit easier than running on the road. You don’t have to worry about wind resistance, and the the belt moves for you, rather than you moving your body. Setting your treadmill to a 1-percent incline can help make up for this difference.

Additionally, you should consider programming a route into your treadmill that changes the incline throughout your workout. This will feel more like running outside and will help you engage more muscles.

Time or Distance?

Remember that the treadmill makes it easy to follow a C25k plan, because it tells you very clearly how far you have run and in what time. Depending on your needs, figure out if you’d prefer to focus on time or distance. Time might be better if you’re just getting started, whereas distance might be better if you want to push yourself a little bit.

Don’t worry too much about speed at the start. You’ll get faster as you work out, and the important thing is that you’re getting off the couch and on the treadmill. You might, however, want to write down how long it takes you to run one mile when you first start your plan, and then compare that number to when you complete your program. You’ll be amazed at your progress!

Finally, you should write down your runs/walks every day, to track your performance. It is a great way to stay motivated, and it will help you remember how far you ran every day. I’ve personally found tracking my runs to be very encouraging, as I can see how far I’ve come in one week, one month, etc.

Track Your Progress With Our Free PDF

If you download the PDF version of our training plan below, there are spaces where you can write in how far you ran for each run. Then, total it at the end of the week and watch the miles pile up.

Right now, it might seem like a huge goal to go from sitting on your couch to getting fit enough to run a 5k, but you can do it! As you begin to train, you’ll see your progress, and it will be easier to keep going in your fitness goals. You might even get hooked!

To help get you started, we’ve provided a free Couch to 5k Training Plan below. Use the button if you’d like to download a PDF version for free.

Sign up to download this FREE TRAINING PLAN PDF

Week-by-Week C25K 10-Week Plan

Week 1

Day 1: 0.5 to 0.75 mile OR 10 to 12 min (30 second run // 60 second walk)

Day 2: 20 min cross training

Day 3: REST

Day 4: 0.5 to 1 mile OR 12 to 15 min (30 second run // 60 second walk)

Day 5: 30 min easy walking

Day 6: REST

Day 7: 1 to 1.25 miles OR 15 to 20 min (30 second run // 60 second walk)

Week 2

Day 1: REST

Day 2: 0.75 to 1 mile OR 12 to 15 min (60 second run // 90 second walk)

Day 3: 25 minute cross training

Day 4: 1 to 1.5 miles OR 15 to 25 min (60 second run //  90 second walk)

Day 5: REST

Day 6: 30 min easy walking

Day 7: 1.5 to 2 miles OR 25 to 30 min (30 second run // 60 second walk)

Week 3

Day 1: REST

Day 2: 1 to 1.5 miles OR 15 to 25 min (60 second run // 90 second walk)

Day 3: 25 min cross training

Day 4: 1.5 to 2.25 miles OR 20 to 30 min (90 second run // 90 second walk)

Day 5: 15 min cross training

Day 6: 30 min easy walking

Day 7: 2 to 2.75 miles OR 30 to 40 min (60 second run // 90 second walk)

Week 4

Day 1: 15 min easy walking

Day 2: 1 to 1.5 miles OR 15 to 25 min (30 second run // 60 second walk)

Day 3: 25 min cross training

Day 4: 1.5 to 2 miles OR 20 to 30 min (60 second run // 60 second walk)

Day 5: REST

Day 6: 30 min easy walking

Day 7: 1.75 to 2.5 miles or 25 to 35 min (90 second run // 60 second walk)

Week 5

Day 1: REST

Day 2: 1.5 to 2 miles OR 20 to 30 min (60 second run // 30 second walk)

Day 3: 25 min cross training

Day 4: 1.5 to 2 miles OR 20 to 30 min (60 second run // 60 second walk)

Day 5: 25 min cross training

Day 6: 30 min easy walking

Day 7: 2.5 to 3.5 miles OR 35 to 50 min (90 second run // 60 second walk)

Week 6

Day 1: REST

Day 2: 25 min cross training

Day 3: 2 to 3 miles OR 30 to 45 min (60 second run // 60 second walk)

Day 4: 25 min cross training

Day 5: 1.5 to 2.5 miles OR 20 to 35 min (2 min run // 60 second walk)

Day 6: 30 min easy walking

Day 7: 2.5 to 3.5 miles OR 35 to 45 min (90 second run // 30 second walk)

Week 7

Day 1: REST

Day 2: 2 to 3 miles OR 25 to 40 min (90 second run // 30 second walk)

Day 3: 30 min cross training

Day 4: 2.5 to 3.5 miles OR 35 to 45 min (90 second run // 30 second walk)

Day 5: 30 min cross training

Day 6: 30 min easy walking

Day 7: 2 to 4 miles or 25 to 50 min (2 min run // 30 second walk)

Week 8

Day 1: REST

Day 2: 2 to 3 miles OR 25 to 40 min (2 min run // 30 second walk)

Day 3: 30 min cross training

Day 4: 2.5 to 3.5 miles OR 35 to 45 min (3 min run // 90 second walk)

Day 5: 30 min cross training

Day 6: 30 min easy walking

Day 7: 2 to 4 miles OR 25 to 50 min (3 min run // 30 second walk)

Week 9

Day 1: REST

Day 2: 2.5 to 3.5 miles OR 35 to 45 min (90 second run // 30 second walk)

Day 3: 30 cross training

Day 4: 2 to 3.5 miles OR 25 to 45 min (2 min run // 30 second walk)

Day 5: 30 min cross training

Day 6: 30 min easy walking

Day 7: 3 to 4 miles OR 40 to 50 min (3 min run // 15 second walk)

Week 10

Day 1: REST

Day 2: 2 to 3 miles OR 30 to 45 min (3 min run // 15 second walk)

Day 3: 30 min cross training

Day 4: 2 to 3.5 miles OR 25 to 45 min (2 min run // 30 second walk)

Day 5: 30 min easy walking

Day 6: 15 min easy walking OR RACE

Day 7: RACE

Sign up to download this FREE TRAINING PLAN PDF

The Wired Runner