One of my favorite units and activities to teach…MINI COUCH TO 5K

My philosophy in my classroom is to teach students activities they can do FOR A LIFETIME. Walking/jogging is one of those activities we all hope we can do for a long long time, no matter our age.

During my Cardiorespiratory Unit my classes (all freshman in high school) do a mini couch to 5k program. My classes are 90 minutes long and we meet every other day (2x per week). I take one day of the week to do the walk/jog/run and the other day to do other fun cardio activities in the gym or outside that go along with the unit.

Equipment Needed:

A place (flat if possible) to walk/jog. If your school has a track that’s perfect. Ours doesn’t.

A way to track distance for each student. I ask them to use their phones or GPS watches with any app that tracks distance while working out. Strava, Nike, other apps like that. Students who don’t have a phone share with someone who does, they just stay with them while doing the activity so their distance is the same.

*the beauty of this is not much equipment is needed, and the students love having their phones. I let them listen to music or whatever as long as they are participating*

How I structure my walk/jog/run:

Week 1: introduce the activity and make it a class challenge. Students in each class compete against the other classes to get the most average miles over the course of the activity. The winning class gets a party provided by me, and a free play day. This is the key…they LOVE this. Give any high schooler the option for free food and a day to listen to their phones and they are in.

That week we only walk. We do 30 minutes straight walking, no running allowed even if they want to, just to keep it an even playing field.

Week 2: 1 minute jog/run, 4 minutes walking recovery– we repeat this for about 40 mins. That is a little misleading because we have to walk to our “track” and it takes about 6 mins to get there and 6 back, so we really repeat the intervals for more like 28 mins.

Week 3: 1 minute jog/run, 3 minutes walking recovery– this week we decrease the rest interval but keep the work interval the same. We use the same 40 mins total time.

Week 4: 2 minute jog/run, 2 minute walking recovery– this week gets harder for them since we increase the work and decrease the rest intervals. We use the same 40 minutes total time.

Week 5: 3 minute jog/run, 1 minute walking recovery– this week the kids run more than they walk and we really get moving and grooving! I increase the time slightly to 45 minutes.

Week 6: Anything goes! I let them choose their intervals and how much they run or don’t run, but the goal is to get 3.1 miles by the end of our time.

My goal with this isn’t necessarily that they can run a 5k without stopping. I just want to introduce them to interval training and an activity they can enjoy while its beautiful weather outside. They get to see how we can integrate technology (gps tracking on their phones, music, etc), and friends into this activity.

At the end of each class period I have them come show me their phones with their distance. I keep it in a spreadsheet and do an average miles per class each day the activity is done. Then I add the averages for total average miles to determine the winner. I found this is the easiest way since class numbers are so varied.

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