Couch to 5K
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How can I speed up slowly?

After a month off in April following yet another pulled calf muscle I have built up to running 5K again. What I have found in the past is that as I approach 6 mins/km and around 4.5k I pull a calf. This time (and so far) I have dropped the pace and seem to have settled at 7.33 mins/km and am OK.

The question is how can I lift the pace slowly so my calves don't notice

4 Replies

Are you warming up properly. Maybe you need to do a few calf stretches at warm up and cool down.


Agree you need a proper warm up and cool down. Some very gentle calf stretches afterwards might also help. I had a calf strain and I started very slowly as you have done, built the distance very gradually and I found my speed just naturally increased without me even realising it.

I also did one run a week of maybe just 3 'fast-er' 1k intervals - not exactly sprinting, I can't do that even now! - but upping the pace to 'quick' rather than 'okay'. I'm sure that helped, if only for giving me confidence that I could still do it.

Can you check your pace as you're running - do you use a Garmin for instance? If so, maybe you could try a reasonable speed for a set time/distance then try to up it just a little for another and drop back to your original pace. I'm sure there's an element of muscle memory in running - once your legs and lungs have done it a few times, it becomes the norm, so doing that regularly might help.

Whatever you do, don't get too frustrated and try to do too much too quickly or you could find yourself doing even more damage. It might take a little while but you will get back, stronger and faster.


Have you tried the 5k+ podcasts? There is a speed podcast, Laura counts out the correct beat for you. I did it today, it was quite good.

Good luck.


I liked the speed podcast when it came out, but I had been trying to reduce my 5K time and just used lampposts for the intervals. After a good 5 minute warm up walk followed by further 5 minutes jog I then did from lamppost 1> to next 1 fast almost a sprint, then next 2 LP's at reduced speed, slowish jog to recover, then repeated. I repeated this about 4-6 times. Finishing off with a slow gentle jog then cool down walk. It really built up my strength and stamina. Hill work is also good for strength building which will in turn build up your speed. Be carefull though after injury and take it slowly, better to be safe than sorry.


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