The Beginner’s Guide to the 5K – A Couch to 5K Treadmill Plan

Running a 5K, which is roughly 3.1 miles, is a training goal that’s attainable for many beginners.

The race distance offers enough of a challenge to work up to, but won’t be too much to handle.

And preparing for one is just a matter of having a good plan.  That’s where the couch to 5K program comes in handy.

Also knows as the C25K, this plan is designed to ease you into a running program without risking injury or burnout, and it fits beginners of all ages and all abilities.

The typical C25K plan takes place outdoor, but the reality is that you might not always be able to do it. Adverse weather, rough terrain, or simply a lack of safe running space can thwart many beginners from venturing outside.

That’s when—and where—a treadmill comes in handy.

When you have a treadmill at hand, the barriers (and excuses) vanish and you can instead focus on your upcoming 5K.

A good treadmill will allow you to train regardless of weather conditions and in the safety and comfort of your personal workout space.

What’s more?

The treadmill offers you complete control over your training experience.

You have a timer on the console in front of you, and you can swiftly see when to pick up the pace or walk.

But how do you prepare for a 5K on a treadmill?

Don’t worry. You’re in the right place.

In today’s post, I’ll show you exactly how to get ready for your first 5K using a treadmill.

Sounds good?

Let’s get started.

How fast & hard should you go?

What makes the Couch to 5k program efficient is the easy start and gradual progression. That’s what makes it useful to newbie runners and those who are looking to become regular runners.

Start with an even mix of jogging and walking, with the plan gradually having you spend more time jogging as your progress through the program.

By week eight, you should be able to complete a full 5K distance with no walking breaks needed.

The Ideal Pace

As for running speed, the rule of thumb is to stick to a conversational pace—a pace in which you could still carry a conversation while you run without much trouble.

If you find yourself panting for air and not able to carry on a conversation, slow down. Take as many walk breaks as possible, and for as long as you have to.

As a guide, shoot for running speed of around 6 to 8 km. Don’t worry if the pace feels too slow.

Keep the walking part to a brisk pace. In general, your walks should be around 3,5 to 4,5 km per hour. That’s different for everyone, and it’s ok. As long as the walk isn’t making you huffing and puffing, you’re good to go.

As a rule, you should keep your heart rate elevated, so it’s easy to transition back to running.

The Plan

What follows is the basic C25K treadmill program for beginners. You can also check this beginner post as well as my C10K program in case you’re thirsty for more running advice.

The couch to 5K treadmill program involves three sessions per week. On your non-running days, feel free to work your muscles in other ways by doing different forms of exercise, such as strength training, spinning, or yoga. The more, the merrier.

However, remember to always listen to your body and adjust your training and plan as needed to allow for recovery

Week 1

Workout I – Run one minute, walk two minutes. Repeat 8 times.

Workout II– Run one minute, walk two minutes. Repeat for 10 times.

Workout III—Run 1 minute, walk 1 minute. Repeat  8 times. 

Week 2

Workout I–Run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 5 times.

Workout II–Run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 7 times.

Workout III–Run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 4 times.

Week 3

Workout I–Run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 5 times.

Workout II–Run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute. Repeat 5 times.

Workout III–Run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 5 times.

Week 4

Workout I–Run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Repeat 3 times.

Workout II–Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat  3 times.

Workout III–Run  5 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 4 times.

Week 5

Workout I–Run 8 minutes, walk 3  minutes. Repeat 2 times.

Workout II–Run 8  minutes, walk 2  minutes. Repeat 2 times.

Workout III–Run 6 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 3 times.

Week 6

Workout I–Run 10 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Repeat 2 times.

Workout II–Run 10  minutes, walk 2  minutes. Repeat 2 times.

Workout III–Run 12 minutes, walk 2  minutes. Repeat 2 times.

Week 7

Workout I–Run 12 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Repeat 3 times.

Workout II–Run 12 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 2  times.

Workout III–Run 15 minutes, walk 2 minutes. Repeat 2  times. 

Week 8 

Workout I–Run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Run 10 minutes

Workout II–Run20  minutes, walk 5 minutes. Repeat 15 minutes.

Workout III–Run a 5K distance at a comfortable and easy pace.

As you can see, as your training progresses forward, you spend more time running each week. At the end of the 8 weeks training cycle, you should be a very competent runner.

Once you graduate this beginner treadmill program, you should take your runs outside. Just keep in mind that pounding the pavement is a different experience and it may take you a while to get used to pounding the pavement instead of the treadmill belt.

Running will be hard, but it’s okay. It’s just a matter of time and practice.


There you have it. The above couch to 5K plan is only you need to train for your next (and first) 3.1-mile distance. Now it’s up to you to show and do the work. The rest is just details, as the saying goes.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

Thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

David D.