My 16 week "Running for Fitness" plan - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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My 16 week "Running for Fitness" plan


As soon as this d*** headcold lets go of me, I will be starting on one of Jack Daniel's "Running for Fitness" plans. He has 4x16 week performance graded plans in his book under the heading of "Running for Fitness" - ie they are not in any way connected to a race length. These 16 week plans are further broken into 4x4 week blocks - each 4 week block building on the previous block. I have decided to do the "Red" plan which is the second of the 4 plans - the first being more suitable for a total beginner. His final 2x16 week plans are quite intense - so too much for me at this stage. He argues that our bodies basically take up to 4 weeks to become accustomed to an additional stress placed upon them - hence his progressively forward looking 4 week training blocks. The plans are graded in that pace is recommended for easy, tempo and intervals according to a recent timed 5K race. In my case, my fastest 5K time was 33minutes 20 seconds so my easy pace will be around 8:15 per k, tempo pace will be 6:50 per K and short intervals (which are not introduced into this plan until week 12) will be at 6:20 per k . He only has long runs going out to 6 miles (9.6K) for the duration of this plan - so I will select different runs each week in different places to make them interesting. I will probably do the longruns as run/walk efforts and the shorter 30 minute easy runs as non-stop efforts.

The plan can be seen more clearly here

12 Replies

Good luck with it! I will store the info for when I am there....ever optimistic lol!


You "will be there" as soon as you graduate C25K :) -- the first run of Red plan is simply an "easy" 30 minutes. :)


Good luck with it Bazza! You are the man with a plan- always! x :-D


Looks interesting, what are you hoping to achieve from this? Any particular distance, or is it just to vary things a bit and keep you iinterested? What is the "strides" bit about? I've got some personal stuff going on in my life ATM, but I certainly need something to get me out of my comfort zone and doing a bit more... still running at the same speed/distance as when I graduated...

Bazza1234Graduate in reply to Hidden

Its a little bit complicated - but Jack Daniels is a "professional" running trainer - who like many trainers has a personal philosophy regarding running training - but with a well known record and basically presents his thoughts and theories in a BIG book. He doesn't just say "do this" but explains why to "do this" - and his training plans are based around a persons individual fitness (as indicated by results from a recent "race" )

His training programs are both for serious runners for various distances - plus these "training for fitness" programmes which have no particular distance in mind - just raising level of fitness during each.

We are going overseas in May/June next year - so his 16 week programme fits nicely into the time remaining and to my current level of fitness .

"Strides" are short periods of fast(er) running - with a longer time of walking after them eg 30 seconds run fast /90 seconds walk. They are done at the end of a slow easy run where, if you do too much slow easy running , your body starts getting accustomed to doing just that - the "strides" are meant to break that complacency . Do a Google search to read more about them. They are quite a common training thingie! Ending a slow easy run with a short period of short but fast(er) runs makes that slow session end on a high!

HiddenGraduate in reply to Bazza1234

Thanks Bazza, I'll see if I can find that book on Amazon...I did something similar when I was swimming regularly and it really worked, I knocked more than 45 secs off my 100 MT time! I'm not competitive but it certainly made it more interesting. I'd like to run a bit faster/further so I'm not looking at the same bit of scenery all the time... certainly for when I get back to France in March I'm hoping to be able to go a bit further afield..There were 2 routes for me at that stage,because of the lack of roads, one 3.5 the other 7K, which included the 3.5 if you know what I mean... got a bit boring. Sounds like a 16 week plan would be ideal...I know what you mean about slow and easy, I tend to stick with that hoping speed will come by magic, and sometimes feel quite down after a run. I remember something I learnt in school all those years ago... One definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the result to be different....

Bazza1234Graduate in reply to Hidden

Beware - the book has 1250 pages !! :)

In a nutshell, it looks to me that we have to do more slow easy running , and much less but harder "workouts" . The general consensus seems to be that amateur runners run too hard during their easy runs (and not enough easy runs) and too slow during their "workout" runs. Easy runs build aerobic fitness - while workouts build the speed and running form -- all of this described "in a nutshell" .

But we can do both the easy runs - and the workouts in interesting places :)

Airhare75Graduate in reply to Bazza1234

Sounds good to me!


Well done Baz. I hope you get some good results from the plan and that your fitness improves, and your running

If you have a plan Curly it sort of keeps you occupied. You know what you're doing and it focusses your mind on it. We can all run long, slow runs but you feel that you're not getting much out of it enjoyment wise. Your body will probably appreciate it for a time but you sort of run yourself into a rut. After a time I think the health benefits stop as the body gets accustomed to the same thing. If you challenge yourself a bit you'll get a kick out of it when you start seeing improvements

Good luck with it


What is the book called Bazza ?

Bazza1234Graduate in reply to Zev1963

This spreadsheet can be used in conjunction with the book and its tables

The spreadsheet is needed if your fastest 5K is slower than 30 minutes -- but even if you are faster than 30 minutes, the spreadsheet makes things much easier to determine your recommended training paces.

Bear in mind that Daniels training paces are actually quite slowish - a race is a race but training is training ( and hence at a slower pace than racing) -- this is one of the reasons why I am now a little bit against the prevailing ethos of Parkrun which I see to be " race against your own PB EVERY Saturday) . I will still be attending Parkrun and will run the 5Ks each week, but intend to incoporate a training run into the event - hence I won't even be attempting to break any PBs any more - except for maybe every 6 weeks or so.

Zev1963Graduate in reply to Bazza1234

Thanks for the info Bazza, I've ordered the book from Amazon :O)

What you are doing sounds good to me. What you say about ParkRun I understand completely. If I was in UK I would run it every week I think, but I wouldnt be trying to break my PB every week, I'd just be doing it to be part of it. :)

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