Couch to 5K
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How I (and Lovely Laura) Changed My Life


That was the sound of the light bulb turning on suddenly, back in Jan 2011. As a morbidly obese, single gal, who was nearing the big 3 0, I knew I had to sort myself out. I gathered my courage and joined a small, local gym. And I started walking. After a while I could comfortably cover 3 miles in around 54 minutes - not the swiftest I know, but it was a start. I went 3 times a week, covering about 9 miles. After around 7 months I had lost over 2 stone and was a size 16 - the smallest and lightest I'd been in a long time. This increased my confidence no end and I bagged myself a boyfriend. I couldn't have been happier.

In late 2011, I moved out of my parents house to live with my boyfriend. People worried it was too soon but I'd waited so long for this man that I just knew I had to give it a go. If it didn't work out, then at least I'd tried. The gym sessions were abandoned as it was too far to travel to regularly and I was walking to and from work every day (2 miles every day). However, my body missed those gym sessions & I was eating more again as my boyfriend cooked us lovely meals. The weight started to creep back on. I had to do something.

April 2012 saw a new leisure centre opening near to us - it had a pool! We signed up and I went swimming 3 times. I love, love, love swimming but I hated it there. The slow lane was too slow, the medium lane was full of Michael Phelps wannabes and the fast lane was, well, too fast. And I couldn't see because I didn't have my specs on! So back to the treadmill then. I got back into my 3 mile walk routine but it wasn't the same. I tried rowing too, but something just wasn't right.

"You should try running"

"Don't be daft, I don't DO running"


Then, while not actually working in work (you know what I mean!), I found the NHS Couch to 5k plan. 30 seconds of running? Surely even I could do that? So I downloaded the podcasts and gave it a go.

HELL ON EARTH. That's what I thought I'd found. Lovely Laura and her naff music conned me into inflicting physical suffering upon myself. I thought I was going to die. BUT I'd done it. I had RUN (albeit very, very slowly). I had done Week 1 Run 1. The plan is 9 weeks long but I gave myself an extra 3. Just in case.

18 weeks later I finished Week 9 Run 3. Yes, it had taken me much longer than I had hoped but I was quite poorly throughout 2012 and some gym sessions were missed. I also repeated some weeks because I didn't feel ready but Lovely Laura told me that was okay - she promised I would get there eventually. And I did.

I now run for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. A proper runner if you will. I have, since Jan 2011, lost around 4 stone. I have spent a fortune recently on new clothes as I am now a size 14. I am LOVING the new, healthy me!

There is however one small problem. I am still a 5k virgin. I am just too damn slow. I cover 3 miles in around 38/39 minutes, running at 4.8 mph (doing the warm up / cool down walks at 3.8 to 4.0 mph). I've been trying to increase my speed to 5.0 mph but I can only maintain this for 15 minutes max. My last run was terrible - my legs died and I had to stop after a paltry 10 minutes. I was crushed.

BUT I am determined to keep going. I WILL run 5k. After 18 long weeks doing the plan, I know that it's 50% physical exertion and 50% mind over matter. I think I will change tactics, and try to increase my time instead of my speed. My little legs are obviously struggling at the 5.0 mph pace!

So thank you NHS, thank you C25k, and thank you Lovely Laura. You and your cheesy music helped to focus my mind and improve my health. I am forever grateful.

30 Replies

Fantastic - well done for making the changes and keeping to the new life plan! :)

Have you investigated the c25k+ podcasts? Stepping Stone might be a good one to try if you're wanting to increase your pace a bit - Speed and Stamina are both good too, but faster. And if Stepping Stone is too quick, then you could work out a similar plan to build up from your current speed, so maybe 10 mins a notch slower, 15 mins at current pace, 5 mins a notch quicker - then gradually shorten the slower start and increase the quicker end section...

But what ever you decide to do next, happy running! :D


What a wonderful blog. Thank you so much for posting your story.

The only thing I would say is, if you have a local park run, give it a go. I'd never run 5K before today when I did my first Park Run. But I did it. And I think you can too. XXX


Such a lovely and inspiring blog post, as a single 29 year old who's overweight myself your blog made me have hope :-)

I have also lost 2 stone so far, need to lose another 2 yet, but things seem to have slowed down recently but ill keep plodding on especially after reading this. I'm still very low on confidence but hopefully as my running and weight loss continue that may change :-)

Good luck getting that 5k in the bag :-)


Keep going .... Muscle weighs more than fat and you are developing more running muscles, changing body shape, getting fitter and eventually weighing less


Thank you for reminding me that muscle weighs more than fat. You can easily get into a weight loss obsessed mindset. As for my body shape, that has definitely changed - I now have a waist and hips. A proper hourglass actually! Thank you x


I too have slowed down, weight loss wise. I have struggled to lose a full stone since 1st Jan 2013. I am only about 1.5lbs off target too which is so annoying! But as Simshaz, below, points out, muscle weighs more than fat so that's probably why the loss has slowed. The upside is that the muscle is much more toned than the wobbly fat so at least I look better in my new clothes!

Thank you and good luck


Have you thought about running outside? There is a whole extra layer of delight and I am sure you could very soon be running 5k, even if not in 30 minutes. It's more of a 'just do it' experience as you don't need to give a thought to speed.

I'm a year on from graduating and my 5ks are still 55 minutes.


If you are using only a treadmill then give it some gradient, I run mostly outside in a very hilly area and the C25K was a difficult start but when I run the flat I can double the speed and distance.

If you browse the web for increasing speed and stamina in running it will say the same thing ... Add gradient

Congratulations on changing your life ......


A really brilliant story - congratulations on everything you've achieved.

"If it didn't work out, then at least I'd tried." - I think that's they key to this whole programme. You tried, and you DID achieve.

The 5k will come - believe me as someone who has shared a lot of what you went through. Just stick in there, building slowly. OR, as Googleme suggests, try heading outdoors. I do a mix of treadmill and outdoor myself and find outdoor running MUCH easier. I still struggle to go more than 5mph on the 'mill, but over the months my Parkrun 5k time has come down from almost an hour to well under 30 minutes.

Your 38/39 mins for 3 miles is excellent - and remember that 5k is only an extra 0.1 mies, which is less that 200 metres. Give it a go. Tell yourself that even if you walk that 200m, you can do the 5k, and do it in under 40mins! Or try roughly measuring out a mile round your local park. Head round it once, then twice and build up t that third lap. This might give you the comfort of being able to stop when you like, or to keep going if yo fell up to it.

Hope some of these ideas help. As you said, it's really a mental challenge. You're almost there ... and you CAN do it!


I like your suggestion on walking the remainder to the 5k, so I'm going to take that on board for my future runs, as I'm about 1.2k off. Friday was my graduation day, and I struggled to complete it, after doing the 30 mins I did actually walk the field to find the 5k finish. I shall do this all the time now - Thank you


Wow, Malcy! Your 5k time was once nearly an hour?!? I read lots of your posts and greatly admire you, but my 5k time is ~54 minutes, so I thought I'd never be getting to where you are.

That gives me so much hope! Maybe I *will* get nearer 30 minutes someday!


I honestly have no doubt that you will. you just need to build up slowly and - most important of all - just believe you can. I know that sounds trite. But that little chimp will be sitting on your shoulder the whole time, telling you that you can't do it. I found that if I asked myself how I was feeling, I could overcome the chimp and put it back in its cage! (and that helped me believe I could do it) From then on, it was just a case of saying that I had done xxx and hadn't collapsed with heart failure. So how would it be to try just a little bit extra, or just a little bit quicker. Slow but sure it all comes together.

Hope that helps.


I am also overweight. In fact I had a gastric bypass last August. I was told to expect to loose approx 8 stones in 2 years. I am now 5lbs of the 10 stone mark after 9 months and for this I thank exercise.

I have never ran before. I used to go give notes in PE to get out of it but I decided I was going to be a runner. I completed the c25k on a treadmill at the gym but struggled at times. My balance is not the best on the treadmill and you keep watching that damned clock. Once I graduated I decided to take the step of trying to run outside and I have never looked back. You can change the route when you get bored, you people watch and most importantly you can run until you are tired not until the clock says 30 mins. I can now cover 8k. I am not fast but tell people I am aiming for a marathon it a sprint. You are doing really well. Keep it up!


A huge Well done!!! What a lovely blog and proof if anyone needs it of how this plan works. You should be really proud of your achievements!! Happy Running!


Congratulations, you have achieved so much. I've only just graduated on Friday and I am no where near the 5k, that is my next challenge. Click that feedback button an request your badge you have earned it ...... Go Girl x x x


WOW! What a truly inspirational story. I think you have done great, no better than that, brilliant.

I am only on week 3, and did week 2 twice because i hurt my knee first time round, and did not want to make it a more permanent injury. I do keep thinking will I run 5K in 30 minutes at the end, but then think to myself don't worry about the 30 minutes, just do the 5K. The time is not important, you are doing a lot more than most people, and you should be proud of it.

Well done. Keep it up.


Brilliant blog - take all the advice... and don't be put off the swimming pool completely- even if it's only once a month and a different session. Get some optically corrected goggles from - they only cost £20 or less which is a fraction of what opticians charge and they will transform your swimming!

Good luck



That is fantastic! My speed is very similar even with the c25k+ podcasts! Such an inspirational blog :) x


Congratulations! What a lovely story and so well written.

I would definitely try running outside, not only will it help you to 'forget about time and distance', you will just enjoy running, you may also find that you get some appreciative male glances - you have no idea how the sight of a good looking chap walking or driving towards you makes you pull in your tummy, straighten your back, drop your shoulders and pick up the pace - it does your confidence wonders (and no harm in window shopping) :-D


sorry, 'so well written' sounds patronising, I didn't mean it to, it was just an engaging story :-)


No! Not at all patronising! A wonderful compliment actually - I try very hard to use correct grammar & good English at all times (I can't stand reading poorly laid out & badly spelled stories / blogs / comments). Thank you x


A very inspirational account! Thank you.


WOW! Thank you all so much for your lovely comments - I'm actually close to tears right now!

I'd like to clarify a few points though. Like I've mentioned, I am a Speccy Four Eyes - without my glasses I am completely blind! I like running on a treadmill as I can remove my specs and leave them safely on the side. I can wipe my face anytime without fear of knocking them off, they don't get steamed up and I don't get that weird, bouncy feeling where they are going up and down on my face (makes me feel a bit sick). But best of all, I CAN'T SEE THE CLOCK! I have to squint very hard to see those little numbers and now that I have left Lovely Laura for Pink (her new album, The Truth About Love, is FAB by the way), I don't really have any idea of time. So even though I'd love to run outside, I think I'll stick to my treadmill. However, you never know, I might feel inspired one day to try it!

I do try to run on a variety of gradients while on the 'mill - I do 10 minutes at + 0.5%, 10 at 0.0% and the last 10 at -0.5%. It helps to break up the 30 minutes. I might try to increase the time at a +% gradient though - I can see that it might help to improve my stamina.

I must admit that I got obsessed about completing 3 miles in under 40 minutes for a while. It didn't occur to me that if I could just keep going for a tiny bit longer, I might actually do 5k! My 5 minute warm up walk covers approx. 0.3 of a mile so if I can get to 3.7 miles in total, that means I will have run for 3.10 miles (5k). Like I said, I'm going to try ton increase my running time so that I can finally achieve 5k.

Thank you all again for your comments & tips. I shall let you know how I get on x


Forget the time and forget the speed...

Give the treadmill plenty of incline and run for as long as you can, slow down and cool off then do it again.

This will build more strength in your legs than just small levels of incline or a flat bed.

Your speed and stamina will improve no end


A really lovely blog that made my eyes a bit damp. :) You have achieved so much - be very proud!

I wear glasses, and I know what you mean about them bouncing up and down (and being itchy and sticky - yuck!), but I run outside and I find it ok really (though I have varifocals, so looking down at my feet is very offputting!)

I'm slow too (slower than you are), but I just keep plodding on to get to 5k - and once, last week, to 10k (it took 100 minutes, but wasn't really any harder than doing 5k, it just took longer). Though I don't think I could do that on a treadmill - much too boring! Anyway, I can now run faster for a shorter distance (a mile) so I'm hoping that eventually I'll be able to run 5k a bit faster. Doing a mix of shorter and faster and longer and slower seems to work well, and makes it more interesting too.

Enjoy your new life! :)


Wow. Well done!


With reference to this bit of my blog "My last run was terrible - my legs died and I had to stop after a paltry 10 minutes. I was crushed."

That run was last Friday (10th) and it turns out there was a reason for my poor performance - I had a cold over the weekend (sore throat, blocked nose, cough etc). I felt absolutely fine on the Friday night when I went to the gym but obviously I was about to be poorly. PHEW!

I'm so happy there was a definate reason and now that I'm feeling better, I hope to get back into the swing of things tonight. 5k here I come!!!


Wow what an inspiring blog!!! I am 1 run from graduating but prob still not quite at 5k in 30mins...but we can RUN for 30mins without stopping and that is an achievement in its self!!!


i think the 1st thing to remember is that you run for 30 minutes. Wow! How many people do you know that can actually do that? The next step will be to run for 5k. well, a little extra every time and you'll soon be there. Then worry about the time it takes, if you really must. I graduated a year ago and am doing a 9 mile assault course this Sunday, but I STILL can't run 5k in 30 minutes. And so what? It's an arbitrary goal really. We're all different and have different abilities and strengths, the important bit is getting and staying fit. Lastly, stop weighing yourself. Measure round your waist, hips and thighs and then do it again a month later - that's where the difference lies. I saw someone today I haven't seen for a while and they told me how fab I looked, when actually I've put on weight (I blame eating chocs whilst injured!)but, I was wearing my brand new next-size-down jeans. So don't sweat the small stuff, just revel in what you have achieved, not what you haven't. Oh, and I really would try to run outside. It's a totally different experience, and I for one find it MUCH easier, hills and all.


Well, we went to the gym last night and it was obvious that I was still a bit under the weather. Cranking the 'mill up to my usual 4.8 mph, I managed 10 mins on a +0.5% incline then a further 5 mins at +1.0%. However due to a big stitch on my right hand side, I had to stop running after 15 mins. By trying to breathe deeply in order to lessen the stitch, I had started to gasp for air, which with a head cold, makes running lot of hard work! Still, I managed to cover 2 miles in total by walking the rest of the way - better than nothing. Afterwards I rowed for 1000m so that should tide me over until Thursday.

As for those of you who suggested that I run outside, I'm inching closer and closer to the idea. I have planned a route that is exactly 1 mile (down to the roundabout and back), which I know VERY well as I walk it twice a day, every day. I'm hoping that as it's so familar, I can carry on without my glasses should I need to take them off. But, this idea is still very "up in the air" so I'm making no promises but if I do decide to take the plunge, I'll you know how I get on.

Thanks again for all your lovely comments


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