Couch to 5k Week 4: Add a Dash!

Couch to 5k
Week 4: Add a Dash!

Here we are at the 4th week of your program! Hopefully you have been able to get off the couch and outside or on the treadmill for your walks, you are walking for a longer duration at least once a week, and you have been able to consistently keep walking.

Last week we talked about how some benefit from registering for their first 5k early (as in now) as part of a motivational tool to keep them going. Spending the money now on the race can keep you focused on your goal because nobody wants to just throw money away!


With that in mind, we sponsor a number of 5ks throughout the season. BeneFIT Physical Therapy is one of the sponsors of Chester’s Spring Stampede : 5k and Color Fun Run, on Saturday, May 16, 2020.

****Here is the link to register directly for the 2020 Spring Stampede! ***

Our first race in Bridgewater is Izzy’s Infantry Charge Towards a Cure on Saturday, May 30, 2020. By signing up now for the 5k, YOU are making a commitment to attend the event and help make it happen!

****Here is the link to register directly for Izzy’s Infantry! ****

Since BeneFIT PT is also a sponsor of this race, we are able to give patients and friends of BeneFIT a coupon code. Use the code BeneFIT at check out to get $5 off each participant’s entry to Izzy’s! Registering by April 3 guarantees you an official T-shirt.  If you are registering as a group, the same code BeneFIT takes $5 off each person’s registration fee in your group.

This week let’s focus on…..Adding a Dash of Intensity.

In last week’s post, the emphasis was on increasing the duration of all of your walks, shooting for a minimum of 20 minutes for the short walks and aiming for double that on the long weekend walk.

This week we want add our first boost of intensity into the walks. On your walks this week try intermittent short distances and pick up the speed in which you are walking. This would be a good time to start jogging during those short distances! Afterwards resume your normal pace. Then, a little bit down the road, repeat the same short distance increased pace.

For anyone walking outdoors this is easier to do than you might realize. While on your walk pick two land marks in the distance, one further than the other, something like two telephone poles or two driveways. When you pass the first telephone pole, pick up your pace or start jogging until you cross the second telephone pole. Once the second pole is crossed,  switch back to your usual pace. You can sprinkle these short dashes of intensity throughout your walk! Aim for 2-4 of these dashes in your current 20 minute walk.

For anyone walking on a treadmill this can be even easier! After you have been walking for a spell, look down at the time display on the treadmill. Looking at the seconds ticking by, pick a second count to start at and another second count to end at.


For example, let’s assume you have been walking for 5 minutes. At 5min30seconds, increase your pace for 30 seconds. Once the timer passes 6 minutes, decrease your pace back to the original speed. You control the increase in speed for each of these dashes by hitting the speed button.  While you’re new to this routine, use your judgement and comfortably increase the speed by half a mile per hour. As you get more comfortable you can increase the speed higher. Aim for the same 2-4 episodes of increased intensity in your current 20 minute walk.

BE CAREFUL! When on the treadmill sometimes keeping your finger on the increase speed button can trigger a significant jump up and very quickly you can be at 4-5 mph higher than you were. The first few times just tap the button until you get to your desired speed.

Some Tips

Keep an eye out on our socials as we will be posting things to help you out along this journey. For example, if you plan on walking outside check out our post on Layering to dress appropriately for any changes in weather, especially for that long walk of the week. Revisit our post on stretching post walk to make sure you aren’t getting too sore. Be on the lookout for our posts on proper hydration, and some tips our running patients have offered up to help you stay encouraged and on point for your first 5k!!

If you are using a treadmill more than walking outside, keep in mind that the 5k will be outside and most treadmills will offer a hill program that should help you get used to the varied terrain!



Remember, starting any exercise or fitness training is taxing on the body. Before starting any activity you should consult a healthcare professional to ensure you can start the program. With that in mind if you have any questions or concerns about starting this walking program feel free to contact our Bridgewater (908.203.5200) or Chester (908.879.5700) location to schedule a free medical screening with one of our highly trained Doctors of Physical Therapy to ensure you are starting off on the right foot!

Additionally, throughout this Couch 2 5k series, we are offering free screenings at both our Chester and Bridgewater locations. So if you feel like something is wrong or you are more sore than you should be just give us a call to get that screening scheduled. For Chester call : (908)-879-5700, Bridgewater: (908)-203-5200.