Discovery Vitality
  • Let’s be honest, the hardest part of exercising is getting off the couch and starting.
  • To give you that first little boost, we turned to Discovery Vitality’s training plan that will have you running 5km in just 8 weeks.
  • Get your training programme below. 

Whether it’s getting off the couch, getting to the gym or putting on your activewear, it’s no secret that the hardest part of exercising is often simply getting started. The good news is that if you can walk five minutes today, you’ll be able to run 5km in just eight weeks.  

There are many health, mental and social benefits to running that can serve as an incentive to start. Besides aiding weight loss, increasing bone density and strengthening lung capacity, running also boosts mood and self-esteem. Running a mere 10 minutes a day can cut your risk of cardiovascular disease by 45% and increase your life expectancy by three years, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  

This weekend, the Vitality Running World Cup will kick off and for the next four weeks people from around the world will take to streets, trails or treadmills to run 3km in 30minutes for their country. And this might just be the perfect time for you to take those first steps towards running.  

Beginning an exercise programme is the hardest part of exercising but once you’ve started, staying motivated can be your next biggest hurdle. “The biggest thing when you first start out is establishing the habit—getting used to being on your feet,” says Matthew Meyer, a certified trainer and running coach. As with any fitness program, training for a 5K should be done gradually. It is important to allow your body time to adapt, slowly build up muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance. The Mayo clinic recommends for beginner runners, that you should allow at least seven weeks to build up to running for 30 minutes. Those with good fitness from other sports such as swimming can aim to achieve these results in a shortened two to four week training programme.  

Ready? Let's get started 

Every runner needs comfortable shoes and socks. Look for socks that are seam-free, and ones that manage moisture, so you won't get blisters. 

As a beginner you also shouldn't be worrying about how many kilometers to run; rather begin by running for time. As Mari Leach, a biokineticist with Discovery Vitality, says: "A race isn't won in the first 100m. Think long term and keep the whole race in mind when you start off. You should have found your sustainable pace within the first kilometre. One of the great things about timed races is that you can't really lose because you'll be learning something about how to run through various situations.” 

And don’t forget about cross-training. Changing up your training programme will not only work other muscles while you allow others to recover but will also keep you more interested and excited about training than repeating the same thing day after day. On cross-training days, try a different kind of workout – like biking, swimming, walking or a group fitness class at the gym. The variety will help your overall conditioning and allow you to stay active, while having a break from running. 

Make sure your training programme also has a combination of exercise and rest days. A good first week of running is 20 to 30 minutes in total of jogging/running/walking three times a week. Find a comfortable run rate for yourself, this should be at a pace where you can still hold a conversation and don’t be afraid to mix it up, run a little distance, then walk a little distance. Walking breaks the run into smaller, more doable pieces and these breaks will allow you to run longer and faster. The walking breaks work best if you walk for one to five minutes at a time.  

Be sure to also space your training days throughout the week to give yourself a chance to recover and rest. Rest days are an important part of your training. They give you an opportunity for your body to recover and your muscles to build in strength.  

Now that you’re getting the hang of the training focus on your form. When you run look forward not at your feet, don’t lean forward but rather stand tall and try to extend your leg stride. These small changes will help you runner better, longer and faster.    

Check out the Discovery Vitality training schedule and programme below to help guide you step-by-step on your first 5km.

Discovery Vitality

Whether you’re a novice newbie or a renowned runner, anyone can register for the Vitality Running World Cup for free. Taking place from March to April 2020, the event starts with a 7-day qualifying round, so you have from midnight on 5 March to midnight on 11 March to qualify (by tracking a run or jog of at least 3km in 30 minutes). The Vitality Running World Cup is an annual, free-to-enter global running competition that gives everyone the chance to represent their country, whatever their fitness level. 

This post was sponsored by Discovery Vitality and produced by BrandStudio24.