The Couch to 5K founder reveals tips for running beginners | Health

Josh Clark’s journey to becoming a lifelong runner began with a painful breakup in 1994. To help himself recover, the then-23-year-old public television producer started to run, an activity he hated. “There was probably a little bit of self-punishment to it,” said Clark, founder of Big Medium, a digital agency and design studio.

Indeed, his first weeks pounding the pavement were difficult and decidedly unpleasant. His body hurt. But then something surprising happened: Clark started to enjoy running. His runs had become easier and calming, and he loved the feeling of his body in motion. So when Clark’s mother was searching for a fitness routine a year later, Clark immediately suggested running, with the zeal of the newly converted.

There was just one issue. He knew how agonizing his first few weeks of running had been, and he did not want his mother to go through that. So Clark drew up a nine-week exercise plan that combined walking with running to ease her into it, dubbing his plan the Couch to 5K program.

Twenty-five years later, this plan is considered one of the most popular exercise programs in the world. Now nicknamed C25K, it’s even endorsed as an official exercise plan by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. CNN Wellness talked with Clark to get his thoughts on why his plan is so effective in helping countless beginners start a running habit that sticks.