Lockdown has changed the way we exercise, with many of us having to rethink our routines without the luxury of gym classes or group activities. As a result, people (myself included) have taken up running – but starting from the very beginning is never easy. With that in mind, I have compiled a list of alternative options to the NHS' Couch To 5K, which, although helpful, may not be right for everyone.
When it comes to keeping fit, aiming to run 5k is a good (and realistic) goal to have in mind says Daisy Hughes, ultra-marathon runner and Lululemon ambassador.
"Five kilometres is one of the most accessible and fun distances to run," says Hughes. "Whether it takes you 16 or 60 minutes, it’s a short enough distance that anyone can achieve."
However, if you're starting from square one, it's important to understand the impact running can have on your body. "Running is an impact sport," Hughes reminds us. "We put three times our body weight through our legs with every step. To stay injury-free, it’s important to give the body time to build up the strength it needs in all of the muscles, joints, and ligaments to run pain free."
As well as making sure you regularly check in with your body, learning to run 5k is made a whole lot easier with the help of an app, podcast, or programme. While I've found Couch to 5k super useful, it may not work for everyone. Some people find the app slightly flawed in that it doesn't have any strength or mobility component built in to help your muscles prepare for your new exercise. Another suggestion is that the app may even go slightly too quickly, and that certain weeks should be repeated because of this. I can actually relate, as I found that there was a huge sudden jump between running for 10 minutes, and then suddenly 25 in weeks five and six. As a result, I have had to repeat week six several times in order to build up my stamina.
For these reasons, it may be worth giving another 5k starter app or program a go — check out these five to find your perfect one: