Running is a great way to start improving your fitness. It’s free, doesn’t require any equipment and can be done just about anywhere. However, it can be quite a daunting sport for beginners, mostly because the first couple of times you do it will be unpleasantly tiring.

The key is to stick with it and build your running up slowly so it never seems unbearable. If you keep at it for a couple of months it is absolutely certain – and this is a 100%, take-it-to-the-bank guarantee – that you will start to enjoy running. You might even become addicted.

A great way to get into running is to begin with an eight-week 5K training plan. Having that 5K target means you’ll have something to focus on when the going gets tough in your first few runs. It’s also a goal that everyone can achieve regardless of their level of fitness at the start and that doesn’t require too much of a time commitment.

8-Week Couch To 5K Training Plan

This couch to 5K plan is designed by running coach Ed Kerry (therundoctor.co.uk) and is based around three sessions a week. You can space these sessions out however you like, although it’s probably wise to aim for at least one rest day between them.

Each week the first session is a mix of running and walking in repeated intervals. For example in week one you run for 30 seconds then walk for 30 seconds, with the pattern repeated 15 times.

The second session each week is simply a case of running or walking for a certain amount of time, with the mix entirely up to you.

In the third session of each week you’ll be covering 5K every time. For the first few weeks it will all be walking, but from week four you start to reduce the amount of walking and increase the time running until you’re ready to run the entire thing at the end of week eight.

Week 1

Session 1 Run 30sec, walk 30sec, repeat 15 times
Session 2 Run/walk 10min (freestyle)
Session 3 Walk 5km, timing how long it takes you

Week 2

Session 1 Run 45sec, walk 45sec, repeat 12 times
Session 2 Run/walk 15min (freestyle)
Session 3 Walk 5km (aim to beat previous week’s time)

Week 3

Session 1 Run 60sec, walk 60sec, repeat 10 times
Session 2 Run/walk 20min (freestyle)
Session 3 Walk 5km (aim to beat previous week’s time)

Week 4

Session 1 Run 90sec, walk 90sec, repeat 8 times
Session 2 Run/walk 25min (freestyle)
Session 3 Run 1km, walk 4km

Week 5

Session 1 Run 2min, walk 2min, repeat 6 times
Session 2 Run/walk 30min (freestyle)
Session 3 Run 2km, walk 3km

Week 6

Session 1 Run 3min, walk 2min, repeat 5 times
Session 2 Run/walk 35min (freestyle)
Session 3 Run 3km, walk 2km

Week 7

Session 1 Run 5min, walk 2min, repeat 4 times
Session 2 Run/walk 40min (freestyle)
Session 3 Run 4km, walk 1km

Week 8

Session 1 Run 10min, walk 60sec, repeat 3 times
Session 2 Run/walk 45min (freestyle)
Session 3 Run 5km

Once you’ve done that, you might want to join a friendly group 5k like a London parkrun, or check out our 10K training plans.

In August 2017 Ed Kerry is raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity by running to the castles in all five of the UK and Ireland’s capital cities in just 22 days. For more info visit castletocastle.co.uk