Your Beginner Couch to 5K Training Plan

By Gabrielle Kassel | June 5, 2018


Mudder Nation newbies, we're talking to you: Are you ready for Tough Mudder 5K? Are you ready for 3.1 miles and epic team-building obstacles like Pitfall and Kiss of Mud 2.0? The question isn’t if you’re tough enough—you are. You've just got to get on board—and that's where we come in, with a 4-week beginner couch to 5K training plan to help you prepare for those muddy miles.   

Look, we get it, training for a 5K can seem daunting, whether you’re a seasoned couch potato, a novice runner, or a meathead who’s just finding their running sneakers for the first time. But don’t worry, our couch to 5K plan will help you get tough and stay tough. You’ll be showing the mud who’s boss come event day. Besides, Mudder Nation will have your back and be there to congratulate you for taking the first steps on your Tough Mudder journey. 

In that spirit, check out this couch to 5K plan from Karli Alvino, coach at Mile High Run Club and Founder of Iron Diamond Fitness. With her help, you’ll learn to own your fearlessness, stick to (and crush) your goals, and find your inner Toughest 5K-er In The World self.

For starters, download our printable 5K training plan and put it on your fridge. Or bathroom mirror. Wherever you'll see it on the daily and stick to it. Then, follow along below.


“The first week is all about just getting out there, learning what your starting point is, and getting started,” says Alvino.  

Monday: Walk or run 30 minutes at a pace that is most comfortable to you. Your goal here is too get used to your new sneaks, learn what speed feels comfortable, and enjoy your first day of movement.

Tuesday: “No good training plan is complete without some full body strength work,” says Alvino. That’s why she recommends that 2 strength days are incorporated into every 5K training plan. Think you only need to train legs to run? Think again. Running is a full-body exercise, and strengthening your trunk and arms will give you a serious advantage—especially on obstacles—on event day.

If you have a partner, try the following workout:

-12 partner sit ups
-12 air squats with partner claps at top
-1 400 meter run together
-Rest 20 seconds, and then repeat for 5 total rounds.

No partner today? No worries. You can always work out in under 10 minutes anywhere, anytime with this quick HIIT circuit )and there are more on our YouTube training playlist.)


Wednesday: Rest. Brainstorm your team name. And if you’re really feeling up for it, give foam rolling a whirl. 

Thursday: Walk or run 30 minutes. Today, your goal is to perform the “talk test.” “That means you want to move at a pace that you’d be able to say a couple of sentences at,” explains Alvino. This will help improve your cardiovascular strength.

Friday: Strength. Pick one of the following workouts to complete:

3 sets of 5 minutes of work. Rest 2 minutes between working sets.
-10 air squats
-10 push-ups
-10 sit ups


18 minute circuit. Go through the following circuit as many times as possible in 18 minutes
-10 mountain climbers
-15 jump squats (or modify to air squats)
-20 sit ups

Saturday: Walk or jog 1 mile. If you don’t usually train outside, use together to hit the streets or trail.

Sunday: Recover. Take a yoga class, or go on a 30 minute leisurely walk. After, text your buddies and make sure they’re following a 5K training plan, too.


“Week two, the goal is to use interval training, or the run/walk method to gradually increase endurance and stamina,” says Alvino.

Monday: Interval training. Run for 1 minute. Walk for 3. Repeat for 30 minutes.

Tuesday: Strength. With a partner alternate between 20 walking lunges  and 200 meter row. While partner 1 is completing one round of 20 walking lunges and a 200 meter row, partner 2 is holding a wall sit. When partner 1 finishes, partner 2 can cease holding the wall sit. Work continuously for 30 minutes.

No partner? Either do the above circuit resting 20 to 30 seconds between exercises. Or try this at-home tabata workout.

Wednesday: Rest. Take a casual walk. Stop and smell the flowers. Remember that in a few weeks you’ll be covered in more mud than the roses. Wink, wink.

Thursday: Using a combination of running and walking, log 1.5 miles. Tip: a good playlist will make this more enjoyable.

Friday: Strength. Pick one of the following workouts to complete.

12 minute circuit.

-800 meter run (or run/walk combo, as needed).
-15 air squat
-30 high knees
-30 seconds of jump rope



-Mountain climbers
-Walking lunges
-Flutter kicks 

Saturday: Mental grit training: 30 burpees.


Recover. Take a long walk. Or, put the "couch" back in the couch to 5K plan and take the longest nap the world has ever seen. You choose, Mudder.


Monday: Interval training. Run for 1 minute. Walk for 2. Repeat for 30 minutes.

Tuesday: Conditioning. Complete 4 rounds of the following circuit.

-30 jumping jacks
-20 air squats
-30 high knees
-20 sit ups
-30 butt kicks
-20 reverse lunges
-30 mountain climbers

Rest 3 minutes between rounds.

Not in the mood for all that jumping? Try this 4-move upper body workout instead. In this upper body workout, all you’ll need is a pair of light dumbbells, a sturdy overhead structure, and about 30 minutes.  

Wednesday: Rest. If you’re up for it, take a yoga class. After all, it can help you train for your muddy event. 

Thursday: Using a combination of running and walking, log 2 miles. 

Friday: Strength. Either complete this 7 minute full-body workout or this 10 minute butt and ab workout.

Saturday: Interval training. Complete 8 400-meter runs. Rest 1 to 2 minute between runs. Aim to match your last 400 meter pace to your first 400 meter run. 

Sunday: Rest. Meal prep for the next week, if you’re into that. These 6 tips and tools will help.  


Monday: Interval training. Run for 1 minute. Walk for 2. Repeat for 30 minutes. If it feels possible, aim for 1 minute of running, 1 minute of walking instead.

Tuesday: Conditioning. 4 rounds of the following:

-10 box jumps (or box step ups)
-15 push-ups (or push-up from knees)
-20 high knees
-90 seconds to 2 minute rest between rounds.

After final round, use jogging and walking to complete 1 mile at an easy pace.

Short on time? Try this instead: 5 rounds, rest as needed:

-16 jumping jacks
-8 push-ups 

Wednesday: Recover. Foam roll. Make sure your transportation is set for event weekend. Google your event. Envision awesomeness. 


Thursday: Using a combination of running and walking, log 2 miles.

Friday: Rest. Text your team. Lay out your outfit the night before. Get pumped.   

Event Weekend: Crush it. We’ll see you at the start line. And we promise: the fun will last longer than the pain.

Want to keep your training going? Find a Tough Mudder Bootcamp near you.