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Couch to 5K Review – Does it Really Work?

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three women in silouette against a sunset on the sea running down a hill - Couch to 5K Review

A detailed and completely honest review of the NHS Couch to 5K app – by someone who’s actually completed it (twice)!

WAHOOOO! I just got back from a 30-minute run. Me! If you know me you’ll know how monumental that is. If you don’t, let me tell you, it’s pretty flipping monumental.

And after literally completing the app moments ago (I’m still sweating), I wanted to sit down and write this couch to 5k review because it’s honestly one of the best apps I’ve ever discovered!

No one asked me to write a review of the Couch to 5K app. The app is free, and no one is paying for this blog post. I wrote it because I had a brilliant experience and wanted to let others know just how good this app is.

Starting From (TOTAL) Scratch

When I started Couch to 5K, I really was at level 0. Or maybe level minus 12?! I’ve never been a fit person – and by the end of last year, my unfitness had reached its peak.

Being a travel blogger means I often find myself doing active things – like hiking – as part of a group. And it’s embarrassing to always be the sweatiest, the one panting the loudest, the one always at the back. To find myself out of breath while we’re walking up a very gentle incline!

emily wearing a pink sports top and sunglasses with her blonde hair down around her shoulders standing on a mountainside with clouds behind her on a sunny day. she is holding two walking poles in one hand and making a peace sign with the other.
Climbing Mount Fuji last year made me realise just how unfit I really am!

But the real reason I started Couch to 5K was because I knew that if I was ever in a very dangerous situation, I wouldn’t be able to get out of it by running away. I travel solo, and that means being in charge of my own safety. So I wanted to get fit enough to be able to outrun danger if the need ever arose. I also wanted to be able to talk whilst walking upstairs.

So, I downloaded Couch to 5K and decided to get going. This wasn’t my first foray with the app, but last time my only goal was to lose weight. When I didn’t lose any in the first 3 weeks, my interest failed and I gave up. This time around it was different. I had better goals: get fitter, and be able to outrun a zombie (just in case).

However… I really was starting from scratch. Running for just 60 seconds brought vomit to the back of my throat (no exaggeration). I was in a position where I could never have imagined completing a thirty-minute run. Never. And yet here I am…

My Couch to 5K Review

So… from zero to hero, just like that. Except without the training montage or the gospel choir of muses* to cheer me on! 

Did Couch to 5K really work? YES! 

woman wearing a pink top and shorts running along a path beside the sea with a grassy lawn in the foreground.

The first week starts with eight 60 second runs, broken up with 90 seconds of walking between each run. From there it builds up gradually, until the end of week 5 when you have your first unbroken 20-minute run. By week 9, you’re doing 30-minute runs.

Back when I started the Couch to 5K app, I saw how fast the progress was meant to be and thought: “that’s impossible”. I knew my fitness levels and I knew that a thirty-minute run was definitely not 9 weeks away for me.

And, to be honest, it took me more than 9 weeks to get there. I had to repeat the first week because my stamina just wasn’t quite there yet. I also had to space out my runs so I was doing slightly less than 3 a week, because my lifestyle (and fitness levels) made it hard for me to run every other day. And I had to take a lot of breaks to let my shins recover because my crap trainers meant I kept getting shin splints

But it didn’t matter how long it took me to complete the Couch to 5K. What matters is that I completed it, in my own time, and progressed from literally sitting on the couch doing nothing, to running for thirty minutes without dropping dead. I can definitely outrun that zombie if the need arises! 

(*hands up if you got the Disney reference!)

Woman in silhouette against a sunset wearing a visor and running. Best running app for beginners.
Not me – I’m too busy running to post for photos when I’m running!

Best Couch to 5K App

This Couch to 5K review is all about the free NHS version of the app (links below). It has honestly been amazing – I can’t believe it’s free. 

Google Play Store  |  iTunes App StoreDownload as a Podcast

Aside from the programme structure, which gradually builds your strength up until you can run for thirty minutes, the Couch to 5K app from the NHS has a ton of great features.

It’s simple and user-friendly, although it doesn’t do anything fancy like track your weight or measure distance. You can easily do those things on your own though, using other apps. 

Choosing Your Trainer

My favourite thing is that you can choose the voice of your “trainer”. There’s Laura, the original voice of the Couch to 5K app, but the app has also teamed up with BBC’s Get Inspired to bring a few more recognisable names.

screenshot of an app page with teal background and a grid of 4 photos with peoples faces. the text reads: your own personal trainer. Our supportive trainers run with you every minute of the way, telling you exactly what to do".

You can also choose from Jo Wiley, Sarah Millican, Sanjeev Kohli, and more. I picked Jo Wiley and honestly – I don’t think I could have finished the Couch to 5K without her! Positive without being annoying, motivating without being cheesy… she was my perfect running partner! You can change whenever you want, or have the same trainer all the way through. 

UPDATE Jan 2024: More trainers have been added since I first wrote this post. You can now choose from Steve Cram, Reece Parkinson, Yasmin Evans, Jo Whiley, Denise Lewis, Sanjeev Kohil, Sarah Millican, and Laura (the default).

screenshot of the Couch to 5K completed screen in the app

Support and tips from your trainer while you run

You can play music in another app while Couch to 5K is open, and when the trainer pops up to talk it automatically lowers the music for you so you can hear them.

That’s the other best bit. Jo would pop up to tell me when to run and when to walk – and how long I had left. There’s nothing more motivating when you’re about to give up, and someone in your ear tells you there are only five minutes left to go and to just keep going. 

There’s also a lot of useful info within the app itself, and on the BBC Get Inspired site, about how to run. Jo slipped in a few useful tips along the way – like how to pace myself, what to eat and drink – as well as more motivational tips, like repeating a mantra (“I love running”) to yourself as you go. 

My Top Tips for Couch to 5K

1. Know your goals!

Make sure you know why you’re running and what you want to get out of it. That way you can track your progress and see what you’ve achieved. But let me be honest – if your main goal is to lose weight fast, you might find that Couch to 5K isn’t for you. If you want to build your fitness and learn to run further, it’s amazing. 

2. Go at your own pace

I don’t just mean running speed, but the pace at which you follow the app. When I started, I simply didn’t have the energy for 3 runs a week, so I was doing each week of the Couch to 5K in about 8-10 days. And I did the first week twice before moving on to Week Two because I needed to build my stamina a bit more.

3. Get the right gear

I cannot stress this enough: buy decent trainers! In the beginning, a cheap pair of running shoes was fine for me because the actual runs were short, and I didn’t know if I was really going to stick with it. But I burnt through them fast and soon found I was getting pains in my knees, ankles, and arches because my shoes weren’t supporting me. 

Close up of a pair of light purple running trainers. tips for couch to 5k

In the end, I went to a specialist running store and had my feet properly measured. I have really wide feet and low arches, so I’m now the proud owner of some men’s Hoka Arahi’s. They have structuring to make up for the fact that my feet turn inwards when I land. Oh – and get some good, padded running socks. Turns out my nasty blisters could have largely been prevented if I’d invested in some decent socks early on.

If you have boobs, you also need a decent sports bra. I’ve used the Panache Wired Sports Bra for years (not the same one) and I can’t recommend it enough. The support is amazing. 

You don’t need fancy expensive leggings or a pretty running top, but you DO absolutely need decent trainers, a good sports bra, and padded socks. Got to look after yourself!

4. Make a happy playlist

Last tip. You need music that distracts you, fills you with joy, and makes you not hate what you’re doing. For me, it was 90s club music. Rhythm is a Dancer, Two Times, Encore un Fois, etc… that’s just how cool I am! Make a playlist that REALLY makes you happy – preferably bouncy stuff that helps set a good pace. 

5. Find Your Time!

I am definitely NOT a morning person. But I also have really low energy levels in the evening. And I don’t like exercising when my stomach is even remotely full. In the end, I found that for me, the best time to run was first thing in the morning. I put my stuff out ready the night before, get up, drink a glass of water, and GO. I like the feeling of getting something done and ticked off my to-do list before the day even starts!

But that’s not for everyone. It might not fit around your work schedule, or you might be even less of a morning person than me. Maybe you prefer evenings, when it’s cooler and there are fewer people around. Maybe late at night? Figure out the best time for you and work your runs to suit that. If the run is at a time of day you don’t mind, it’ll feel less like a punishment. 

Couch to 5K Review – My 5-Month Update

It’s been five months since I completed the app and wrote this Couch to 5K review. So I thought I’d drop back in with an update. 

I kept the running up for several weeks after completing the app – but I found my interest in running waning when I didn’t have a trainer in my ear or a goal to work towards. So I started setting myself challenges to beat my time or run further in the 30 minutes. 

Later, a few health problems got in my way, and I ended up taking most of the summer off. And if you don’t practice a skill, you lose it! Today for the first time in a couple of months, I dug my running trainers out, popped my headphones in, and hit the Common. I started from scratch again, with week one of the Couch to 5K app, but it was a lot easier than the last time I started. On my next run, I’ll skip ahead to Week 2 and see how quickly I can work my way through the app this time. 

However, I still say that Couch to 5K is the BEST running app out there for beginners. My fitness levels are still so much better than they used to be, I’m better at running, and I even – almost – enjoy it. I enjoy the solitude, as well as seeing the sun on the sea first thing in the morning. And I LOVE the feeling of achievement when it’s over. 

4 Year Update

Jumping back in with another update! As mentioned above, ongoing health problems meant I had to take a lot of breaks from running. I got back into it a few times, and each time Couch to 5K was amazing, but the long-term damage to my knee means no more running for me these days.

Luckily, I can still use an elliptical trainer without feeling like my joints are going to snap! Last year, I joined a gym and worked my way back through the Couch to 5K app. A year on, I’m still going to the gym regularly, and can run for 30 minutes straight without any walking at all!

Happy to report that the app works just as well for running on the treadmill or cross-trainer as it does in the great outdoors. I still LOVE it, and I will never stop recommending it.

Give it a Go!

If you think you can’t run, you want to get fitter but don’t know where to start, or you just want to try a new challenge… Couch to 5K is for you. I honestly believe that if I can do it, anyone can! If you do give it a whirl, be sure to get in touch and let me know how you get on. GOOD LUCK! 

Did you like this Couch to 5K review? If you’ve tried the app too I would love to hear your thoughts on it, so scroll down to leave a comment. 

68 thoughts on “Couch to 5K Review – Does it Really Work?”

  1. Running is definitely a satisfying feeling. Well done on making the 5k! Sidenote, have you heard of the Zombie Run app? Check it out, it’s a lot of fun if you want to keep the running going ;)

    1. Thanks Mike! It was so satisfying getting to the end and discovering I could actually do it. A friend told me about Zombie Run next week, so it’s defintiely what I’ll be doing next to keep the running up. I still need to build my fitness and keep up all the good work :)

  2. Just completed my first run today ! How unfit am I ?!!
    Your comments have given me a bit more confidence that I can do this if I just take my time . Thank you

    1. YAY – well done you!! I was crying and retching after my first run so I know how you feel. Stick with it – and if you feel like you need to repeat a week don’t feel bad. But do remember to push yourself too!!

      Good luck :)

  3. I’m nearing the end of couch to 5k. I used it to return to running towards the end of travelling. The walk / run intervals made it easier to navigate in new cities. I’ve cycled through the different coaches and found they give the same tips about food, breathing, technique, etc.

    Love the Hercules reference!

    1. YAY – well done you!!! I’ve just picked it back up after taking summer off (various work/health reasons got in the way) and I’ve found it much easier the second time around. I think all the coaches read the same script, but I found Jo Whiley to be the most natural and comforting one so I liked to stick with her!

      1. I agree about the coach. My intuition was that Jo Whiley would be the best coach, and I was right. I listened to all the others too before I started. Many of them read from the same script, but Jo does it in her own words. With music on as well, it’s like having your own personal DJ/coach/friend running with you. Well done, by the way, on the article and the running!

  4. During this awful time, I decided to put my time to good use and get fit with couch to 5k.
    I haven’t ran since I did cross country at school when I was 15, I am now 52!
    I completed week one last week and found the first two runs difficult but I enjoyed the third run and felt it was slightly easier.
    Like you Emily, I have decided to repeat week one as I am also at zero fitness and don’t want to run before I can walk…pardon the pun!
    I am determined to keep going until I get to week nine.
    Thanks for your review, it has definitely given me the confidence to keep going this week. Jo

    1. Oh YAY good for you Jo! I can’t run at the moment due to some health reasons, and I weirdly miss it. Do keep going, and just be kind to yourself as you go – if you need to repeat every single week twice, just do what works for you. Good luck and ENJOY it :)

  5. Ive just completed the second run of week one. im feeling positive about it and your review has definitely spurred me on. ive been quite a fit person for years but overweight for the most of it and with my upcoming nuptials i wanted to start this. The outbreak of Covid-19 ruined my progress so far this year and ive got no other option but to do this! thanks for your comments, im going to see it through!

    1. Oh good for you – how are you getting on? I still can’t run for the time being (health things) but I really miss it. And I loved the sense of achievement doing a step-by-step process like Couch to 5K gives!

  6. Although generally fit, I am rubbish at running so thought because of the lockdown, I’d give it a go (plus my bike is currently out of action). Just about to start week 4 and am already perversely looking forward to it.
    Once we’re out of lockdown, a parkrun is definitely on the agenda!

    1. Good for you! Doing the Couch to 5K thing gives it a sense of purpose doesn’t it – because you’re building up to something and can see the progress week on week! It’s so good :)

  7. I’ve just completed the first run on week 2. It was quite tough to be honest. What made it tougher was on my final 90 seconds I was approached by two young runners, stripped to the waste, ripped and rippling. I jogged past them, podgy and panting. Still I kept going! Thank you for sharing your story – it’s inspirational.

    1. Aw thank you! Ignore the super-fit runners and just crack on at your own pace :) I’ve realised running is something pretty much anyone can do, at any level – it doesn’t matter what you look like, how skinny you are, or how expensive the gear you’re wearing is. At the end of the day all that really matters is perseverance :)

  8. Well you’ve definitely inspired me to keep going!! I’m on week 3, run 2 and actually really enjoying it so far. Like you I have never been a runner and always hated it/avoided like the plague, but I’ve had 2 babies (in less than 2 years – youngest now 4 months) and really need something I can do ON MY OWN that is positive and makes me feel good. So far so good but I’ve looked ahead to Week 5 and it’s terrifying!! That’s less than 2 weeks away! Still, you’ve inspired me to keep going so I’ll give it my best shot. Thanks for the great review :) ps. Michael Johnson in my ear, sounding impressed with my 3 mins unbroken running is also great motivation!!

    1. Oh YAY this is awesome news!! I think the trick is not to look ahead, just keep doing each week at a time and focus on where you’re AT, rather than where you’re going to be. And look how far you’ve come since week 1 ;) Also, if you need to repeat a week, or just do 4 runs at that week’s pace before moving on, then do it. Push yourself but also be kind to yourself, ya know?! Good luck, hang in there, and feel proud of yourself for getting out there and going for it :) :)

    2. Hi Molly

      I did what you did and week 5 frightens me too! I did my first run on week 3 yesterday and thought I was going to die, if it wasn’t for Sarah Millican saying you will feel like you can’t do it, but its important to complete the whole time, I think iI would have quit after the first 3 minute run. But, I persevered and did it. And I’m 6 stone over weight! Keep going Molly.

  9. Hi Emily

    Thanks for the really encouraging review.
    I am 73 and just completed a 25 minute run at the end of week 6. Hard to believe – I came from complete non-runner and would not have imagined it could be done. I use Sarah Millican’s voice as it is comfortingly northern, and can’t wait to tell my friends (who all refused point blank to join me) that I can run 5k. Keeping it up will be the hardest challenge, though, as a structured programme really is the key.

    1. Oh this is SUCH amazing news Jackie – well done you! I hope I’m still running when I reach 73 :) I agree, a structured programme makes it so much easier to keep going, as does having a goal to work towards. I found it really hard to just keep running afterwards without being part of the app’s regime. There are several apps for progressing, depending on your goals – if you’re working on your speed so you can run further in less time, maybe. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about the “zombie run” app – it’s kind of a game, where it tells you there are zombies chasing you and you have to speed up or slow down accordingly! What I did to keep it going (when I could still run – I’m on a health-related hiatus at the moment) was to pick a new destination every week and see how fast I could get there by the third run – that was fun!

      Anyway, good work on making it to week 6 – you’ve got a lot to be proud of! Perhaps a Park Run or Race for Life is in order when lockdown is over?

  10. Thank you for the honest review. I’m a 54 yr old smoker and complete couch potato. I’ve just completed week 2 with huge effort. My ankles and knees hurt all day and my ribcage feels like a vice every time I run. Can’t believe I’ve got this far! Need a different route than the local farm track for wk3… I’ll be repeating a lot I think.

    1. Well done for getting this far! Most weeks I had to repeat at least one run, so doing 4 week three runs instead of 3 before moving on, if that makes sense. You have to push yourself, of course, but you also can’t feel guilty if you need to repeat – you know your body and your limits and if you push yourself too hard you’re much more likely to give up completely. Take it easy, enjoy it, and remember that it is entirely possible – it’s just baby steps. Good luck with week three :)

  11. i am on it now ..week 4 ..with Laura ..there is one song that plays at roughly 16.07 ..lyrics ..” something cool and something bad is what i feel when you are there ..Your one of a kind” etc etc ..does anyone know what the song is …?

  12. Enjoyed reading this.
    Completed the first task yesterday. Blimey! my legs are aching today!
    My aim is to get fitter and lose a bit of weight. Did you lose any?

    1. I did lose a bit. Not a ton – I think because I was so unfit to start with that I was probably just converting fat to muscle. But one thing I definitely noticed was that I looked and felt slimmer even though I wasn’t necessarily lighter. I was definitely loads fitter by the end though and that made me able to start pushing myself in other areas, like swimming.

  13. You’ve really inspired me Emily, I was ill for majority of lockdown with coronavirus so only started couch to 5k on 3rd June, really struggled with first run of week 3 yesterday, but I am 6 stone overweight so it will never be easy. I’m trying to eat healthy too, logging my weight, exercise and measurements, so will hopefully see some changes in a few weeks. Thanks for sharing your success story!

    1. Oh I’m so happy to hear that it’s going well so far. It is a real struggle at times – if you feel like it’s too much repeat one of the days from week 3 before moving on. Or even repeat the whole week. It’s important to push yourself, but not TOO much! I really hope your hard work starts to pay off soon. You can already feel so so proud of yourself for getting this far!

      1. Hey, I couldn’t agree more it is a brilliant app! I was a total novice runner and followed the 9 weeks to the Letter with Sarah Millican as my coach ?x wish there was one final ‘maintenance’ run though on app.

        1. So do I! I tried to keep going with week 9 but it didn’t feel quite right, so just started doing my own 30 minute runs. I’ve heard good things about the Zombie Run app, which is a bit more like a game. One of these days I’ll try it out and do a review!

  14. I have just graduated! Like some I repeated a few runs to get my stamina up. I’m 41 and have never ran a day in my life. This app is fantastic! I never thought I would be able to run 3 minutes never mind 30! I love the feeling of achievement when Michael Johnson says “you did it”. Always have a smile on my face when starting my 5 minute cool down walk.

  15. Hi Emily,
    I thought your review was great. I had to chuckle as I could associate with so much of what you experienced!
    I’m 58 and apart from quite a bit of walking, I haven’t done any real exercise since I was 15.
    I did start swimming a few times a week before lockdown stopped that and as I’m now working from home I was walking a lot less than normal and was now weighing at 15st.
    My daughter suggested Couch to 5K which I thought would be impossible for me as I couldn’t run a 100 yards if my life depended on it! However, I am amazed to say that I have “Graduated”!!!
    I cannot believe that I completed all 9 weeks, on time and without missing a run. I used both the Strava and a Fitbit app to check my distance and I don’t think I am actually achieving 5K, probably about 4.5K, but I’m still very pleased that I’m running for 30minutes non stop.
    My wife came with me to watch my last run and she took video footage of me crossing the “finishing line”. She showed who cried at my achievement, which convinced how worth while this has all been.
    With this app, and my wife’s healthy cooking, I have lost 24lbs and as a result my blood pressure and resting heart rate have never been so good.
    I intend carrying on using the App but just re-running week 9 with Michael Johnson as my “trainer” and improving my pace to do 5K in 30 minutes. MJ really makes you feel as though he is running with you and willing you on.
    Congratulations to all the other writers here on your own successes and I hope, like me, you are recommending this amazing App to your friends and families.

    1. Oh wow those results are amazing – go you! I love hearing success stories like this one, especially when you can actually track how much your health has improved. What an amazing achievement. Hope you’re still enjoying running, good luck with your mission to reach 5k in 30 minutes. Maybe you can sign up for a Park Run or something to show off how far you’ve come :) Congratulationssssss!

  16. I am 56 and never done any serious physical exercise. I am fit and not overweight but would never have imagined that I would take up the couch to 5K challenge. I did and I succeeded! I am so proud of myself doing this and really enjoy it and am now committed to continue running and see how I progress. If I can do it anyone can !!!

  17. I have never ran before in my life but I started couch to 5k in June this year and completed it 31st July doing it 3 times per week. I completed the 8 weeks finishing running 5.32kms I am now onto week 10 (day 1 tomorrow 10th august 2020) as I downloaded the couch to 10K app. I could not believe how unfit I was doing week 1 day 1 I thought I was going to pass out just running for 1 minute near killed me and here I am now running for 40 minutes already. The couch to 5K/10K is the best thing I have ever done. I am a very determined person so I just keep on going and I must admit I am loving it I run 3 times a week Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I would recommend this app to anyone wanting to start running

    1. Haha I know what you mean, I’m also really determined and will just keep ploughing on rather than admit defeat. I think the app really helps with that because you have something to measure against, when I was just trying to run on my own I’d find it much easier to give in or let myself off!! LOVE this app so much. Good for you on starting Couch to 10K, and for completing the 5K – feels amazing doesn’t it?!

  18. Well done on getting back into the program. I completed the program during lockdown and I really enjoyed it. Annoyingly I feel of a bike a few weeks back and have been unable to run due to needing to rest my ankle for a few weeks while it heals.

    It is reassuring to hear you go back into the program and are enjoying it again. Hopefully I can get back into it again soon.

    1. Thanks Ben!! I’m actually on medication for a thyroid problem atm (sexy) and the doctors told me to avoid high impact exercise. So I know what you’re going through! I really miss running and I’m looking forward to doing Couchto5k all over again once I get my treatment and can get moving again!

  19. I first started the Couch to 5k app a few months ago and made it about half way, until the end of week 4. I was so happy with the progress and being able to run for 5 minutes without stopping. Some runs I even went for 6 minutes because I knew I could keep going and wasn’t tired. The following week I spent the whole week packing and moving house, which completely threw me out of my routine. Shortly after that I had surgery and wasn’t able to do any exercise for a few weeks, which made me feel so lethargic! I was determined to get back into running and I started the app again last week and am excited to actually finish it this time. Having made it half way last time, I know it works and that I can actually do it! I’m getting married in about 2 months so my goal is complete 5k by then!

    1. Yay well done for getting back into it! I’m still waiting for treatment for a thyroid issue I have, and until I’ve had it my doctor has advised me against high-impact exercise. And like you said – it’s made me feel so lethargic. I actually miss the feeling of getting up and smashing out a run before work! As soon as I’m able to again I’ll start straight back on the C25K app because, like you, I know it works. My experience has been so positive and I love hearing comments from others who have had success. Good luck with your goal – YOU GOT THIS!

  20. I’ve just completed the couch to 5K but was very disappointed with my final run, only 4.3 k, my shins were hurting, been hurting a lot the past 2 weeks and also I ran in the dark tonight which wasn’t good as I couldn’t see what was under my feet most of the time! Anyway I’m proud I ran non stop for 30 minutes 3 times this week, and will start couch to 10k next
    I’m enjoying running just wish I could go faster

    1. I try not to measure the distance as for me the most important thing is to run non stop for 30 minutes, regardless of how far or fast I go! Your speed and stamina will build up the more you do it :) Have you thought about repeating week 5 a couple of times to build up your strength?

      If you’re getting pains in your shin it could be shin splints, check the NHS website for info. You might need to take a break to let the heal. One thing I really recommend is to buy some really decent quality running shoes, poor quality or older shoes can mean your legs/knees take more impact. I got professionally measured and fitted in a specialist running store and the shoes I bought made a world of difference! And if you’re running on pavement maybe switch to grass as that can make a difference – I can’t run on hard surfaces as it kills my legs. Hope that helps – good luck wit improving your speed :)

  21. Loved reading your piece. Thank you. I have just finished week one, but scared to try week 2. Thinking of ‘re doing week one to try and improve, well, everything. So glad to read that you were the same. No idea what running trainers are, but guessing none of my motley collection fit, So I am now off to Google trainers. Much more my comfort zone. If I stick to this app it will be a miracle. 58 years old. 3 stone over weight. Zero fitness. Wish me luck!

    1. You can do it, I promise! Do every week twice if you have to, or wait 3 days between each run so you can really pace yourself and let your body recover. Just don’t go too easy on yourself or you won’t start to build the fitness! Good luck – and most importantly, try to enjoy it :)

  22. I don’t make resolutions but….I moved to a different continent 2 months ago. With covid t’s impossible to meet new people. Even tho my new city does allow movement, it’s been daunting (language barrier although I take classes). I found myself wanting to stay inside and not get out and explore. I decided to google C25k and the NHS site came up, then your review. I’m going to give it a go. Physical fitness is important to me, but I think having a good routine will help me, mood wise, too. thanks for the review from a “real” person. Feliz ano from Argentina. Maybe I’ll post an update in a couple months!

    1. Hola!! Is Argentina where you moved to? How exciting!! Definitely give C25K a go – I loved it. I wanted to write the review because I’m just a normal person, not a fitness pro or a runner or even someone who likes running. I really started from the “couch” part of the couch to 5k. So I feel like I can give a real opinion on how effective it is :) Hope it goes well – and it will be such a fun way to explore new parts of your new home. Good luck with your C25K journey!

  23. Good afternoon from Devizes. 14 stone, 64 year old man and former middle distance runner here. Had let myself go and have decided to get a grip so am on this programme and finding it good. Have reached week 5 and run two is to be completed later today (Wednesday). Was looking for a blog/diary relating to C25K and came across yours Emily – a good, well written report for a person like me. The comments on shoes is very valid, I am still in Tesco’s not so finest and have put off buying proper running shoes because of the expense. Will need to soon as the programme is beginning to bite, Twenty minute run on Friday ……

    1. Amazing work so far Robert, well done!! It feels so good when you start to get further into the programme doesn’t it?! Definitely recommend investing in some good shoes – they made a world of difference for me. Also taking cod liver oil might help if you’re noticing any joint pain – that seems to have helped me a bit. I get bad knees when I run!! Good luck with the rest of the programme – and enjoy it!

  24. I was 5’4”, 16 stone and 55 years old when I first tried this. Week 1 was for me the worst. I felt so unfit and cried when I got home as could barely manage running for a minute. I repeated week 1. After that there was no stopping me. I thought week 5, day 3 was going to be challenging but did it with relative ease. I feel so much fitter. If in doubt would recommend to anyone to try and not be disheartened by week 1! You can do it.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting Anita – I love hearing all these success stories. And I hope it helps show others in a similar position to us that anyone can do this app. I’m with you – week 1 felt so impossible when I first started. I really thought I was never going to get to the end. Well done for getting through the app, have you finished it now? I was so happy at the end of the last week that I ran across the “finish line” (the entrance of the park) with my arms in the air!!!

  25. I’m so thankful to find this article! I just started couch to 5k two weeks ago and was feeling discouraged! I’m HORRIBLY out of shape and was afraid I’d never be able to run for longer than a couple minutes without gasping for air. Your post was so encouraging! I’ll stick with it!

    1. Oh no you’re definitely not the only one! When I started I was at the “out of breath if I talked whilst walking up a gentle incline” level of unfitness. Totally didn’t think I had it in me to complete the app. You just have to believe in yourself, and also be kind to yourself – repeat any weeks you feel you need to etc. Push yourself obviously, but not too much! Stick with it, stay positive, and HAVE FUN! You got this :)

  26. Thank you for this great blog! I have just completed week 1 (I am SO unfit -it was reassuring to read your post and the comments from others underneath) and was thinking about repeating it before moving on to week 2. You have convinced me that it won’t be a fail if I do that!

    1. Oh it absolutely is NOT a fail. I had to re-do the app last summer after an illness meant I couldn’t exercise. I think I repeated almost every week at least twice, if not more times. You have to go your own pace and you can’t set yourself unreasonable goals, or think of things as “failures”. Just by going out for a run you’ve already succeeded, regardless of how fast/far you went etc. Repeat away and enjoy yourself – YOU GOT THIS :)

  27. What a brilliant read! Thank you for sharing your journey with the programme. Firstly I hope you are doing well.
    I am on Week 5 and I am surprised how well the programme is going, you really notice the improvement each week. For me it has been not only improved me physically but mentally, I feel better after a run and this evening I came home from work and wanted to go for a run because I knew it would help my mood.

    Thanks again for the blog. Wishing you all the best!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting! I am such a massive fan of that app and love hearing success stories from other runners. And you’re right, it really makes a difference to your health and mentality over time. When you stop looking at running as an impossible, difficult chore and it becomes something that actually makes you feel good, you know you’ve made a big change :)

  28. This post gave me some reassurance, thank you! About 10 years ago I was running avidly, half-marathons mainly and even a couple of full marathons. Then I had 2 injuries about 2 years apart, had foot surgery and then knee surgery, had to stop running altogether, and managed to gain 60 lbs. Tried to start up running again a couple of times in the last few years, each time some new pain made me stop. I never wanted to do couch to 5k, having to watch the time, running for 1 minute, then walking. However, now that I have an app that tells me when to walk or run, it makes it much less annoying! I’m only on week 3, and so far so good. Mainly I’m worried that my weight will cause problems stressing my joints, etc., plus I’m 53, so not young anymore! My run is more of a shuffle/wog haha! And I don’t want anyone to see this trainwreck, so doing my workouts on a little dirt road loop near home! Hopefully I can keep it up, between it and joining Weight Watchers, get healthy again!

    1. Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for commenting :) I hope the Couch to 5K is going well for you. It’s definitely much easier having someone in your ear telling you to start and stop, rather than having to time yourself and keep an eye on the time. I feel like if I was managing it myself, I’d just spend the whole time watching the seconds go down and wishing it was time to slow down again!! Don’t worry about people seeing you, though – no one is judging you :) Do you judge people who jog past you? It’s hard because I totally know what it’s like to think you look stupid and everyone is staring at you, but you have to remember that most people are so busy with their own lives/concerns they won’t even notice you! And anyone who does notice you will probably be fleetingly impressed that you’re out jogging and then they’ll go back to thinking about whatever it is they’re doing :)

  29. I’m week 5 and Steve Cram is helping me through this. I would recommend searching your preferred music app for something around 160bpm, it helps me to zone out and run to the beat. Great app.

      1. I’m thinking of starting it,I’m a smoker which is bad anyway and just get out of breath walking up the stairs, I have very active and very fast 6 yr old son that I need to keep up with. I’m going to do stoptober and maybe try this to keep my mind of the fags, I’m not sure how it will go but we will see

        1. I really recommend giving C25K a try – it’s amazing the progress you can make by following it. If you feel you’re starting out quite unfit you could always do the 1st week twice before moving on to week 2, to help you ease in. You want to push yourself but not *too* much!

          Hood luck :) :) :)

  30. I can’t find this app anywhere?
    I only find the other couch to 5K apps can you provide the link?
    Thank you for your very informative review

    1. Hi Saskia! The links are in the post but I guess they’re quite small in the middle so not easy to spot, I’d better make them buttons instead!! Here’s the link:


      You an also download it as a podcast on the NHS site:

      Hope that helps :D

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