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Couch to 5K
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Sore knees during and after session - do I rest or keep going?

I'm on week 3 run 2 but developed knee pain (particularly in my left knee) on week 2 run 3.

The pain carries on after the session has finished and I still have it now.

I stretch after each session and last night after my run I put an ice pack on both knees for about 20mins, then had an ibuprofen tablet, a hot shower and then before bed put a hot water bottle on my worst knee, again for about 30mins.

It felt a lot better this morning but the pain is still there.

My next session is due tomorrow night (Weds) and then for one reason or another I won't be able to do my usual runs again until Sunday evening but to keep my days break in between, which I have been keeping to so well, I was going to do a run Friday morning crack of dawn to fit it in and not break my pattern. (I usually run evenings during the week)

For once in my life I'm actually sticking to something and I'm doing so well I feel loathe to rest now (I'm so scared I won't start up again)

I feel I should push on so I don't let myself down but I read on the NHS webpage that you should not run with sore knees.

So from those who know what it's like - should I carry on or should I take the break (Thurs to Sunday = 3 days off)?

20 Replies

Rest, no point breaking yourself. If week 2 didn't hurt stick with it a bit longer, while your body adjusts.


I would say rest for a bit too. Make sure you have shoes with lots of shock absorbance as this can help stop knee pain!


Don't run till your knees are painfree. Keep up the ice and ibuprofen and do exercises:




If it's not better in a few days you could see a sports physio, they're often more knowledgeable than your GP so it's money well spent.

Last autumn I ignored knee pain and it put me out for months. If you (like me) weren't particularly sporty before starting this it would be a good idea to keep the exercises going in addition to the programme.

Don't worry about taking a break while your knees recover - you'll get back to where you were very quickly when you start up again.

Another thing you could do if you haven't already is get a gait analysis and your shoes checked, the right shoes make a world of difference.

Good luck! :-)

1 like

Thanks for this info.

I'm not sporty at all and have led a sedentary life up until now. Now I've started I don't want to stop so soon after starting, I really enjoy it, but based on what everyone has said it would be worth my while to rest for now rather than do any more damage.

I take it you have recovered and are now running once more? Do you have any knee pain or are you now pain free?


Do you have a local gym that you can use on an adhoc basis? Doc's advised me to lay off for 3 weeks but I'm allowed to use cross trainers and treadmills with flexdecks. Council gyms usually allow you to pay on the day.


Thanks - that's interesting. So it's not like you can't do any exercise while resting just not running.

We have council gym which does allow pay on the day so I'll have a look at this.

Thanks again


You won't know until you try ;-) Cross trainers are low impact so I'd try that over a treadmill, if your knees are hurting stay away from the step machines they killed my knees last time I was on one.


Absolutely painfree now, ran 5K in 35 minutes this morning. But it didn't get better till I stopped running with pain...

Having said that yours don't sound a 'bad' as mine were and you look a wee bit younger on your photo :-) so you'll probably be better quicker than I was!


Thanks - that's the thing, my husband says its just because I'm unfit and my body is scared of all the work it's being made to do so is rebelling. He thinks I should push through it.

It's not that bad, just uncomfortable and not anything I would go and see a GP/physio about at this point. I just don't want to muck it all up by having a really serious injury which could easily have been avoided if I rested now.

I think I'll rest for the 3 days and see how it feels.

Glad to hear you're pain free and running so well after having sore knees - means to me that it's not all over before I've even really begun


Sounds like a good plan!

Pushing through anything more than a very minor niggle isn't a good idea though - pushing through being tired/fed up/scared is absolutely fine!! If I hadn't tried to push through wonky knees I'd maybe be doing 10K by now. I started the programme last July but spent the middle 3-4 months on the injury bench because I ignored my own pain.


Have you tried running with a knee support? I have one bad knee and when it's painful I use a knee support and find it really helps.


The best advice I was given was to 'listen to your body'.

Running should be [relatively] pain free, but we all get niggles from time-to-time. if these persist or get worse, try stopping or running on a different, and softer surface.

Carry on with RICE, and if needs be see the doctor for a referral to the physio. I did many years ago after almost having to be rescued on Helvellyn, and now I am fine.

Above all, listen to your body, and enjoy your running,


I had pain in my knees at around week 3 too, It got so bad after trying to run through it that I had to take a week out until the pain had completely gone, but on the good side I resumed where I left off so didn't have to start over.

My issue was I was wearing the wrong shoes for my running gait, I got some running shoes that were correct for me and haven't had a problem with my knees since.


Thanks, I will have a look at this.

I haven't invested anything in this apart from time.

I wanted to avoid my usual pattern of starting something, spending a fortune on equipment or whatever and then only stick to it for a week. I know it sounds daft but I just wanted to make sure that this is something I would actually stick to for once.

I have a sneaky feeling that this C25K could be it. Not once so far have I not felt like going for a run. I'm eager to go and get annoyed if I think I can't or my husband is late home to babysit our little boy. In the past I would have used any sort of bad weather and any sort of pain as an excuse but this time I am genuinely upset that my knees could signal the end and I've just been running through it.

I do hope it is something as simple as getting the right shoes.

Where did you get your gait analysed? What does it involve.

(I'm worried they will laugh at me - I'm quite large and run very slowly)


Gait analysis is something that a specialist running shop will normally do for free (on the assumption that you'll get some shoes from them). Some do charge however.

In my case it was just a case of someone watching how I walked and ran outside the shop and assessed what my pronation was.

In some places they will video you running on a treadmill and watch in slow motion how you land as you run, others have a whizzy treadmill that monitors how you land.

Decathlon will do it for free if have a free rewards card. The sweatshop will also do it for free.

I'd search the web for a running shop near your location and give them a ring.

Good luck!


I had terrible pains in the first few weeks of doing the programme, as my quads had to develop some strength. However, any stiffness/pain didn't last for more than a day and wasn't severe enough to require ice packs.

In your case I'd suggest

a) rest. You don't want to do any serious injury. A week or two off is better than the weeks taken for injury to heal.

b) getting some decent running shoes

c) seeing a physio for exercises to stretch gastrocs/hamstrings and strengthen quadriceps.


Also, buying a good pair of running shoes is often an excellent motivation to continue with the programme. I had gait analysis and bought trainers and moulded insoles when I was on week 4 of the programme. After this, when I felt my motivation drop, I knew I couldn't pack in as I had spent far too much money! That was nine months ago and I'm already thinking that mine are just about ready for replacing.


I suggest going to a physio. My knees hurt but it's not my knees but IT band (ITB). I also have a foam foller and boy does that hurt if you try it against your ITB. I haven't stopped running and also had to put an orthotic in my shoe (only one side) and that helped. I wouldn't know any of this if I hadn't gone to the physio.


Thanks for this.

How easy is it to see a physio? Do you need to get referred by your GP first or is it something you can just look up and book?

Incidentally I've had a 4 day break and knees are better, not 100% but almost back to normal. I'm starting week 4 tonight so I'll see how I get on.

I'm also seeing my GP at the end of the month for a general check-up so if my knees are still an issue I can bring it up then so it would be handy to know if I could ask for a referral if needs be.


I go to a specific sports Physio privately. So I just ring up and get an appt. referral to nhs may be weeks or less if you can get a cancellation and not specific sports. Good luck.


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