How To Do Couch To 5K On A Treadmill

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If you have been contemplating getting yourself into running but you are hesitant to run outside, a treadmill might be just the option you are looking for. Many people, especially beginner runners, find a treadmill to be less intimidating than hitting up the great outdoors.Today we discuss how to do couch to 5K on a treadmill.

Benefits of Treadmill Running

One benefit of treadmill running is that you will be less likely to miss a scheduled workout due to weather. Whether it is hot, cold, snow, rain or ice that might keep you from following through, a treadmill takes the weather out of the equation. The treadmill doesn’t know it’s 20 below zero outside and when you are toasty warm during your workout, you won’t either!

Another plus is there is less impact in treadmill running compared to running outside. Particularly helpful for heavier runners, less impact can help alleviate potential injuries. As you get started, you may notice fewer aches on your joints, compared to if you were training outdoors.

You can also set the treadmill at a consistent speed which is often helpful for beginners. In fact, this is one very big positive for newbie runners. It is all too common for new runners to start off too fast or by trying to go too far. This is one reason why doing couch to 5K on a treadmill is such a great option. You are in control of those buttons that regulate speed and incline!

treadmill running benefits
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Treadmills are very convenient, safe and private. For beginners, the privacy is often a huge thing. Especially if you feel quite slow compared to friends you know who run, being able to complete a workout without feeling watched or judged.

A disclaimer, however, most likely the only person judging your pace is you. Runners tend to be an inclusive and supportive group of people who will cheer you on if you show up to a group run. Yes, even if you are slow.

One last very big positive aspect of treadmill running is that you can easily create distractions for yourself. Whether you are in the privacy of your own home or at a gym, treadmills often have access to a television. It’s amazing how fast time flies when watching your favorite comedy on TV! Furthermore, I have seen people reading, watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts or enjoying music while doing treadmill workouts. If you keep your brain engaged you are more likely to finish the workout.

Does Couch to 5K Work on a Treadmill?

Of course, it works on a treadmill! If you can run a workout on land you can do it on a treadmill. You just need to be motivated to get the job done. Personally, I find it takes more mental willpower to stay on a treadmill than it does for me to complete a workout outside. But not everyone is like me!

Some people are in love with their treadmill and have no problem completing workouts indoors.

Getting Started

If you are already an active person it shouldn’t be too hard for you to get started in training for a couch to 5K (C25K) program. However, if you are very inactive you might want to consider just moving yourself in the right direction first.

You should be sure you have a decent pair of running shoes before jumping into a 5K training program. Shoes specific to running will help keep your feet healthy and happy.

There’s an old saying that you need to walk before you can run. Although in many instances it is speaking metaphorically, it is very true to running also. If you are looking to get started the best thing you can do is be sure you can walk 30 minutes at a brisk pace.

If you are looking to do this on your treadmill, try setting your treadmill at 4.0 miles per hour. This means you will be walking a 15 minute mile. Your goal should be to do this for 30 minutes. Absolutely dial it down if you need to, but see what you can do. If you can easily accomplish this task, you’re ready!

If you can’t do that, you still might be ready! You just need to realize your limitations.

The Plan

Believe it or not, there are actually many C25K programs out there. Sure, someone started it but as you know anyone can post on the internet. The most basic of plans has you alternate running and walking segments, :30 seconds on and :30 seconds off.

How to you time these? You can download a C25K program that will actually tell you exactly when to walk or run through your headphones. Some people really like this option. You can also download a pace timer to your smartphone and set it for the workout each time.

run 2C5K on a treadmill plan
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If you are following a C25K program to fidelity, you may love an app that guides you through each workout. It will tell you exactly what to accomplish every single run as it guides you through the days and weeks in the program.

If you need a little more flexibility, you may just want an app with a timer.

Starting the Run Intervals

Since you are running indoors, you will need to determine how to set your treadmill on run intervals. If you were outside it’s pretty simple: you just run. On the treadmill, however, you need to know which buttons to push, what speed to set it on, and you have to have the balance and dexterity to push the buttons again when it’s time to walk.

Believe it or not, those can all be tricky!

If you’re walking pretty comfortably at 4.0 for 30 minutes, I would suggest you try 5.0 for your run intervals. If it feels easy for the first :30 seconds don’t assume it will stay easy. Do the whole set at these paces to see if it gets harder.

So here’s the plan: run :30, walk :30 and keep doing that for 20-30 minutes. If you can maintain those speeds (5.0 for run, 4.0 for walk), you may be able to set the run dial a little faster. Great job!

Rule number one is not to be too aggressive on day one, however. Be smart and patient.

C25K Treadmill

If you’re working to complete the C25K program on a treadmill, there are a few things specific to the ‘mill that you should consider.

Don’t watch your feet. Try to keep your eyes up instead of focused down the whole time. Putting a television at eye level can help with this.

Practice pushing buttons when you aren’t fatigued. Believe it or not, you can lose your balance when changing your speed.

Consider incline. Many articles will advise you to use some incline to replicate the outdoors. I don’t advise this for very new runners. Save incline for your later workouts.

Use the rip cord. Most treadmills have a safety device that clips to the runner and inserts into a “key” to stop the motor if you fall off the device. Use it. You can suffer 3rd degree burns from a treadmill belt if it keeps running once you stop.

What If I Stall In My Plan?

If you start to struggle one important thing to remember is it’s supposed to be challenging. If running was easy, everyone would do it. Having said that, unless you have an actual 5K on the calendar and you are afraid you won’t be ready for race day, you have all the time in the world.

C2K on treadmill
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If you struggle one week, try that week again. There is no harm or foul in stretching an 8 week plan to 10 or 12 weeks. Just don’t give up on yourself.

Adjusting Speed

If what you are doing feels too easy, just amp up the speed a little bit. The one thing to avoid is starting out fast and getting slower as the workout goes on. If you can start out at a 6.0 but you can only do one interval at that speed, just start out a little slower. Better to pick it up at the end!

If you can run a bit faster on tired legs that is quite an accomplishment!

How Long Should it Take to Run 5k on a Treadmill?

As a coach, people often ask me how long a certain race should take them. I always answer the same, “it takes as long as it takes.”

I am not purposely trying to be glib or elusive in my answer, I really believe it. I can tell you how fast an elite runs a 5K. I can also tell you the average runner shoots for staying under 10 minutes miles. What I can’t tell you is what you should expect from yourself.

Just remember, you’re a beginner and anything worth having takes time. Be patient with yourself. This is a journey worth taking and in the end, the race is only against yourself. A stronger YOU is right around the corner.