Sometimes it feels like everyone is doing Couch to 5K. But what if you want to get fit but you’re not sold on the idea of running? That’s where our Couch to 5K Walking Plan comes in.
This plan is designed for total beginners and aims to get you walking your way to a full 5K in just 6 weeks. A 5K is a great goal for improving your fitness level and all you need to get started is a comfortable pair of walking shoes or trainers.
Just like the running version of Couch to 5K, this training schedule uses short intervals to ease you into brisk-paced walking. You’ll alternate moderate walking at a normal pace with short heart-pumping bursts of faster walking.
This guide covers:
- How far is 5K in miles and steps?
- Is there a Couch to 5K for walking?
- Can you walk in a 5K race?
- Training for a 5K.
- How long does it take to walk a 5K?
- Is Couch to 5K walking good for weight loss?
- The Couch To 5K Walking Plan
Let’s get started!
How Far Is 5K
If you’re not used to the metric system, the K stands for kilometers. 5K is approximately 3.1 miles.
5K in steps is approximately 6200 to 7440 steps.
The exact number of steps depends on your walking speed, fitness level, and step length (stride length). Taller people tend to have a longer stride and take fewer steps to cover the distance. Find out more about how many steps in a mile.
Is There A Couch To 5K For Walking?
This plan takes some of the essential elements of the Couch to 5K for running and applies them to a walking plan:
- A gradual build-up of effort level and distance.
- 3 training sessions a week.
- Using the interval approach but instead of walk/run intervals, this training plan uses brisk walk/moderate walk intervals to build fitness.
- Rest days for recovery.
Can You Walk In A 5K Race?
Yes of course! Most 5K events are aimed at encouraging people to exercise. You’re still completing 5K if you walk the distance instead of running! It just takes you a little longer.
On race day walkers get just as much support as everyone else. Especially slower walkers at the back of the race! The last finisher always gets the biggest cheer.
Check that your chosen event accommodates walkers and doesn’t have any cut-off times but it would be unusual for a 5K race.
Training For A 5K
Follow these tips to start your 5K training program:
#1 Check In With Your Doctor
If you haven’t exercised for a while, you’re carrying a lot of excess weight or you have any pre-existing medical issues, it’s always best to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
#2 Wear Comfortable Walking Shoes
It doesn’t cost a lot of money to take up walking. There’s no expensive gym membership and you can walk in any non-restrictive clothing, although breathable sportswear is best.
But you do need good shoes. Your trainers or walking shoes need to be comfortable and supportive with good cushioning if you’re walking on hard surfaces. Fashion shoes won’t cut it and neither will the ancient pair of trainers you’ve just dug out of the cupboard.
#3 Walking Regularly
The Couch to 5K plan is based on 3 days of training a week. Make sure you don’t skip any. You need to get your body used to walking and you can’t do that based on just one or two weekly sessions.
A daily walk is a good practice. By the end of the 6-week training plan, try to build on your fitness by getting into the habit of walking every day.
#4 Long Walk
The training plan gradually increases your walking distance starting with 20-minute walks and building up to a 50-minute moderate walk a week before race day.
This long walk will help you prepare for walking the full 5K distance. Don’t worry about walking speeds and distances when you’re following the plan. The aim is steady, consistent improvement. Your speed will naturally increase with regular walking.
#5 Rest Day
It’s so important to rest and let your body recover between training sessions. Even a low-impact activity such as walking needs rest days or easy days between hard sessions.
Complete lying on the couch type of rest isn’t necessarily the best idea. Bodies need to move. Try and stay active. Visit a local attraction, do your chores, or walk around the shops. Find something to do that gets you out of the house even on a rest day.
How Long Does It Take To Walk A 5
A 5K walk will take 47 to 62 minutes at a pace of 3 to 4 miles per hour. This is a typical pace when you’re walking briskly for exercise.
Some people will be slower and some will be faster, it all depends on your walking speed. When you’re trying to complete your first 5K, time isn’t important – it’s just good to be improving your fitness.
Most people will walk a 5K race in 60 minutes or less but if it takes you 90 minutes that’s still okay. Find out more about how long it takes to walk 5K.
Is Couch To 5K Walking Good For Weight Loss?
Couch to 5K isn’t a weight loss plan. Walking for just 3 sessions a week won’t create enough of a calorie deficit to make a big difference to your waistline. If you feel ready to walk every day, try our 5K Walking Plan For Beginners.
However, you will feel fitter, more positive about your body, and build leg and core muscles. Muscle mass is important and it’s almost impossible to lose weight unless you exercise.
Combine your Couch to 5K training with improvements to your diet and you’ll start to see results. Once you’ve completed your first 5K try and increase your weekly walking distance.
The Couch To 5K Walking Plan
The training plan uses intervals to build walking fitness. Brisk-paced walking is alternated with moderate walking to give you time to recover and catch your breath.
It’s better to walk to feel instead of checking your walking speed. The plan does include some paces for guidance but most of the time it’s best to walk with just a watch and let your effort level dictate your walking pace.
This is making some effort. It’s normal walking pace – the pace most people walk at when they’re walking somewhere with a purpose – such as popping out to the shops.
Your heart rate will be slightly elevated but you can still happily hold a conversation.
For a brisk walk, you’re trying to walk quickly – you’re walking for fitness. Your heart rate will be elevated but you can still walk and talk. You’ll be making a constant effort to maintain your pace.
By the time you complete your 5K, you’ll be strong enough to keep pushing at a brisk pace over the whole distance.
Always start your walks with a warm-up to get those muscles working. We love Tom Morrison’s walking warm-ups.
The Love Life Be Fit Couch To 5K Walking Plan
Thoughts From Love Life Be Fit
The best way to get the most from the training plan is to make your sessions fun. Train with a friend or plan interesting routes.
When you complete your first 5K – celebrate your achievement! And start planning the next step in your quest for fitness.
This site is full of useful tips and advice to get you through your first 5K (and hopefully fall in love with walking).
Our beginner walking guide contains tips for good walking posture and will help you get the most from your walks. Once you’ve completed your 5K, come back for more and learn how to walk faster or further with our walking workouts.
Or maybe you’ll decide to give running a go with our Couch to 5K Plan or our Couch to 5K Treadmill Plan. Always try and get to the ninth running or walking session before deciding if an exercise program is for you – it’s long enough to adapt to a new challenge. Find out more with these Couch to 5K tips for beginner runners.