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  • Writer's pictureLibby Jones,

Couch To Double 5K Training Plan

The Coach

Sara Johnson is a wife, mother of two, RRCA-certified running coach, and avid runner for more than 10 years. Some of her favorite running experiences include qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon, finishing the 2011 Comrades Marathon (an ultramarathon in South Africa), and running any race with family, friends or clients. Her coaching business, Reality Running, provides accessible, affordable, practical, and professional coaching that helps real people with real lives achieve their running goals.

Please feel free to contact Sara with training questions at or visit her Facebook page (

Sara is still accepting new clients and is open to receiving questions about her plan.

Intro to the Plan

Congratulations on registering for the New Years Double back-to-back 5K races! Setting this big end-of-the-year running goal definitely will keep you healthy and moving through the holiday season. Here are a few tips regarding the training plan:

  • This plan was designed to help both runners who are new to the 5K distance and runners who have completed 5Ks in the past. If you are a more experienced runner, run the upper distance or time suggested for the workouts and simply eliminate some or all of the suggested walking. If you are completely new to running, feel free to ramp up the running more slowly than suggested and walk a little more. Focus on finishing each day’s run, not on how fast you run.

  • Cool down after each running workout with an easy 5 minutes of walking.

  • The key to successful back-to-back races is learning to run on tired legs. So resist the temptation to break up the two, longer weekend runs. If your weekends are too busy to handle the training, juggle the schedule around so you can complete them on back-to-back days. However, also maintain the rest day before and after the double long workouts.

  • On the runs labeled run/walk, mix it up however you prefer.  Feel free to use the same running to walking ratio as the week’s earlier runs, run the entire time, or mostly walk.

  • Take advantage of the cross training days. This is your chance to add other activities you enjoy to your training, such as yoga, cycling, swimming, or even playing tag with your kids. It also gives you another opportunity to practice moving a tired body the day after a workout.

  • Implementing some basic strength training into your routine will help your muscles get through back-to-back race days. Even simple leg exercises such as lunges and squats and core exercises like the plank performed 2-3 times a week strengthens your muscles and prevents injury.

  • Listen to your body. Feeling sore after a hard run is expected. However, if you are not feeling an overall, general soreness, and instead feel an “I hurt right here (insert knee, ankle, hamstring, etc)”, that could be a sign of oncoming injury and a day or two of extra rest may be needed.

  • Running an actual, organized 5K race as practice not only gets you used to a race day environment (if you are new to racing), but also will most likely push you to run harder than during your normal training runs. Don’t feel as if you need to restrict your practice race to week 9. There are a lot of fun holiday events during late November and early December. With this program you also will be ready for a local Turkey Trot!

The Plan

Words of Caution

You accept this training plan at your own risk. You understand that any fitness plan should not be undertaken without the guidance and supervision of your doctor. These plans are provided as a tool for general guidance.

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