Blog by Ben Venables, General Manager at Jetts 24hr Fitness in Erdington.
Here’s the Couch to 5K plan a nutshell: The program utilises a concept called interval training – moving at different speeds throughout a running session – and lays out exactly what to do every day for 6-12 weeks after starting.
By varying your pace, your body is forced to adapt to different speeds, your heart and lungs have to adapt to various levels of strenuous activity – and get stronger/healthier as a consequence. As a result, you actually burn more calories and get better prepared for a race than compared to just training at a constant speed.
In other words, interval training rocks and should be used by anybody who wants to get better at running!
Over the weeks, Couch to 5K slowly ramps up the amount of time you spend running and cuts back the time you spend walking until you’re at the point where you can actually run a 5K without stopping.
Will the Couch to 5K program help you run a 5K? YES! If you actually stick with it for the entirety of the training program. Constancy is key to the Couch to 5K programme.
Will strength training enhance my 5K performance? YES! If you do the right kind of strength training. You have two types of muscle fibres – referred to as fast twitch and slow twitch. Fast twitch is good for sprints – they have lots of power but exhaust quickly due to fewer mitochondria  than slow twitch, which has lots of staying power, and is what you need to strengthen for marathons.
To develop fast twitch muscle fibres, you do fewer reps with max weights. To develop slow twitch, you need lower weights, but lots of reps and lots of sets. To strengthen muscles for a marathon, I would select a weight that enables you to do 15 to 25 reps and 5 to 6 sets. In a marathon you need stamina so you should mirror that in your strength training.
Here’s a short video showing some exercises that will help you build your slow twitch muscle fibres:
Competition vs completion
The satisfaction in a marathon comes with completion under duress. You reach the point where you aren’t sure you will finish – and then somehow you do. It’s an amazing feeling, but it’s only one way to experience racing.
In a 5K, you
know that you are going to finish. Satisfaction comes instead from competing:
against yourself, the clock and others in an intense, concentrated period of
time. This adds a whole new depth and richness to your running regardless
of your speed.
 The main job of mitochondria is to perform cellular respiration – taking in nutrients from the cell, breaking it down and turning it into energy!