Couch to 5K

Speed or Distance?? What is more important???


I have been running since Feb 2013, that was when I started C25K. I graduated in April, then had 2 months break and started to run again- 5K a day for 3 days a week. I did RfL in July, did few Park Runs, they were all good and ran all the way under 32 minutes. So far my PB has been 32 minutes 2 Seconds for 5K but never under 30 minutes, NEVER! I would love to run 5K under 30 minutes, tried but could not do it.

I also ran a 10K once, now run 7K or 7.5K when I feel like, try to do it once a week in one of my 3 days. I don't do anything else other than walking to and from work 30 minutes a day on my rest days.

I like to challenge myself, that keeps me motivated. I tried to run under 30 minutes, but it seems so hard as I said, so I thought I would try to run 10K every day for 3 days a week, but I want to go there gradually.

I like to do a 1/2 marathon one day (long way to go I suppose!!) so what would be the important thing there? Does the time matter when you do long runs like that, or is it more important to complete the run without stopping??

Can anyone tell me what the important thing is, is it speed or distance? Should I keep trying to run 5K under 30 minutes or try to run 10K non-stop?? Both are equal challenges to me, but what would be the best to try?? Please let me know, any suggestion, idea, advice is much appreciated! Many thanks.

22 Replies

In my limited experience ( I also started in feb)... I cannot do a 5k in under 30 but for me I don't want to compete in races I want to go for distance and stamina.. So to that end that has been my focus. I am currently doing my own programme to do a half marathon in October. I am focusing on having 1 or 2 10k, a 5k parkrun and a long run on Sundays... My longest is 17k. I have found its the mental stamina that is mostly what the training is about. I think you need to decide what you want and what works best from what you want out of your sounds like you need something to aim for so I'd suggest finding a HM in the future then that's your training goal??? For me that's more important than doing a sub 30 min 5k, although that would've a bonus!!!!

Good luck and well done on your running you are doing great..


Thank you juicyju. First of all, a BIG 'Wow'!! You run 17K!!, can only dream at the minute, that is simply GR8!!! My longest had been 10K and had knee aches afterwards!

When I started C25K, my aim was to be able to run 5K under 30 minutes, that was my aim/goal as I wanted to do RfL under 30 minutes. I could not do it (finished RfL in 31 minutes 27 seconds) even though my sponsors anyway helped me to raise a massive £705!

I never thought that I would keep on running like this when I first did C25K.

Now I like to do 1/2 marathon one day to start with, but does it matter how long you take to finish it when you do a marathon, 1/2 marathon etc?? Do you have a time in your mind that you want to finish your 1/2 marathon in October or is it to run the distance without stopping??

Good luck with your training and well done in your running!!!


Well done on the sponsorship.. That's fantastic... In terms if the HM I am assuming I can don't have to do it in a certain time??? I don't know much about these things.. However I am aiming to do the HM in under 2 hours 20 minutes ideally but it's around Cornwall and quite hilly so I need to allow for that too!!


Thank you juicyju, I was very pleased with the money that I raised.

I think the HM in 2 hours 20 minutes would be great! Good luck to you!


I also started in February and have run regularly since then (except for the last month due to a hamstring problem), mainly 5ks with the occasional 10k.

For me, once I was able to run 5k regularly I then started to concentrate on improving my times (interspersing normal runs with interval training). While I can now run 5k in 28-29 minutes 10k is still an effort, so just doing the distance is an achievement - but once I feel comfortable with that then I'll try to speed up.

I like to change routes and types of run (slow/fast/interval) each time and that keeps me interested.

As JJ says, if your goal is a HM (or even 10k every other day) then perhaps improving stamina, not speed, should be your aim. I think running a HM is a huge achievement so all credit for setting that as your objective.


Thank you very much Landesman, hope you are ok now after your hamstring problem!

I would have been happier if I could run 5K under 30 minutes, but then as you say, I am also happy when I do a 7K or 7.5K or even 10K (did only once though) and check the burnt calories from my Garmin!

Maybe I will try for 10K and then try to speed up as you are planning to do. I have been doing 7K for a week and a bit and then went on holiday (with my running gear) but could never do a single run:-(

When I returned, my speed has been really (REALLY!!) slow, then again this week I did only 2 runs, should try to do one over the weekend even though I do not feel all that good at the minute.

I run in our local park but I am now bored running there, so I think it time that I change my route too.


I think the progamme is so successful because the goals are easy to focus on (ie. running for 5 minutes, then 8 minutes, then 20, etc) and that is the objective irrespective of speed or pace. Once we start worrying about pace then we can compromise our still fairly limited stamina levels (in my case anyway). So just concentrating on running for 45 minutes, or 1 hour, or 10k, should be enough initially. And while Garmins are wonderful, they can be a bit too insistent that we run faster when all we really want to do is keep going at ANY speed... ;-)

Are you in the Garmin C25k group? It's quite interesting seeing how and where others are running.


Thanks very much again. Yes, I think I will try to run 10K first and then try to speed up. First/last time I ran 10K I ran it in 1 hour and 14 minutes. That was an unexpected 10K run, I did not prepare, but now I am planning to go there gradually. I run 7K or 7.5K now, and will increase gradually to run 10K. Once I start doing that, I think I will run 10K instead of 5K every other day or the week, well, that is the plan at least for the moment. Maybe I will run 10K twice a week and rest keep to 5K since I want to be a bit kind to my knees.

No I am not in GarminC25K group, I was not all that active in it until today. I wonder how you can get to c25K there, do you have to have the same name that I use here??


I think having the same name makes it easier for everyone to know who is who.

If you've downloaded Garmin Connect and signed in, then you just go to Explore/Groups, enter C25k in the 'Search' field and click on 'Join'.

When you are in the Group, you can then look at the Members list and send a Connect request to anyone in particular if you wish.

The other thing that you should probably do is to go to Settings/Privacy and decide who you want seeing your Profile and uploaded Activities.


Thanks , done it! Thanks you for accepting my invite!!


Since December I've decreased my parkrun time from some where over 29 minutes to under 26 (waiting to see the official time), if I knew the secret I'd tell you :-) I think it's partly down to the mix, 1 x 9km, 2 x 6km. On 1 of the 6 I run slowly for 1km, then peg it until I run out if steam, then settle back in to a slow pace. This can lead to the odd disastrous run like last Wednesday, but I just put it behind me.


Thank you crox, so when you do 5K, do you run on the same pace all the way or go faster at the beginning and then slow down and then go faster again? What I do when I do Park Runs is, I start in my normal slow pace and then go on the same pace all the way until the last 20m or so where I speed as fast as I can. I will run mixed (distance) runs and different routes to see whether that makes a difference.


Hi Mini13, I've just accepted invite on Garmin and welcome aboard the C25K group

I know how frustrating it can be to improve on times, this year has been a slow year for me, I've put it down to my age. Any time I've pushed to get below 32 minutes for 5K I've ended up with an injury so I've stopped trying so hard, if it happens then so be it. I've done the 10K distance quite a few times last year with times about 1:06:20 but found I had no inclination to want to train for longer distances, again I just feel I'm too old and 10K took me an extra day for my legs to recover so I can't begin to imagine what a longer distance would do. I'm content to muddle along with my runs, enjoy what I do but love to read of others achievements and progresses. So I'll wish you all the best for whatever you achieve in the future where your running is concerned. :)

1 like

Thank you Oldgirl,I just joined the Garmin C25K group! Thanks for accepting the invite.

I like challenges and it keeps me going, but as you say, I am frustrated that I could not do 5K under 30 minutes as yet. I might forget about speeding up for it all together and try to do 10K now. I did listen to you to try 10K gradually so I am still running only 7K or 7.5K. I might start to run 8K next week, but this week had been a bad week for me, did only 2 runs so far after a week's break.

Thanks very much for your good wishes and wishing you all the very best for your runs too! Take good care! xxx


Hi Mini13

First of all, congratulations on your successes so far! I just thought I would add my thoughts for what they are worth. I graduated October 2012 and since then have managed to run 5k in under 30mins twice, both time mostly downhill routes!! You need to decide what you want to aim for really. I know I can't run very fast so I built up gradually from 5k to 10k by doing 2 x 5k runs a week and a longer run on a Sunday, adding on 10% a week. Once I got to 10k I rather stupidly entered the Cheltenham Half Marathon (which is next weekend) so have been training for that in much the same way. Last week I managed 12 miles. I just want to be able to run the distance and am not bothered about the time so much, though I understand the event is officially "finished" 4 hours after the start.

My advice is decide what it is you want out of running. Do what feels best for you! Keep up the good work.



Hi Chris, Many thanks for your message. One day I want to do a HM, like you, but so far I don't think I am ready to do so. I think like many here said, I will do 2 X 5K runs and 1 X10K for the week when I am able to do a 10K. I am on the way to do 10K regularly but so far only doing 7K or 7.5K, I want to get there gradually. Then I can start to speed up I suppose. My main aim is to lose some weight, be healthy and fit. I am 44 and going to be 45 next month (Shhhh!!!) and have a 6 year old going to be 7 month after, so I got to be healthy for his sake. I got to challenge myself while I do this or else I get bored. I have been running in the park (same old same old) for a while now and I think it is time that I change route and see whether it makes me faster and happier! It makes me happy when I have spent a lot of calories in my run more than how long I have run!

Good luck to you for your HM, I am sure you will do it, keep us posted and drink enough water AND keep yourself safe!


You will get there! You are doing it for all the right reasons. Slow and steady wins the day. As long as you are true to yourself you will be fine. I was 51 on my last birthday, and up until a year ago, hadn't run since secondary school. Think of all you have achieved so far - you are well on your way!


Thank you caj62,I have never run after leaving primary school 'ancient' years ago!! Always wanted to run but never thought that I would really do it. Came across C25K by accident via a colleague at work because at the time I have signed up for RfL and was not sure how I was going to run! Now I CAN run and WANT to do some big running one day, like a HM and later 'maybe' a Marathon, who knows??!! Thank you for all what you said and wishing you all the very best in your running too!!


Hi! Congrats on all your accomplishements! Great stuff! I read in a magazine an article about "running coaches" and their advise. There was 1 "old school" coach who made it sound all good in my books: to train for a marathon he advised to: 1. improve your time on the short distances (5 & 10k) and 2. increase your distance slowly to HM lengths. Meaning: mix it up! When you run your shorter runs (ones a week for example) try to push yourself a little to get to 30min or less ones a week or so. This, I was to build muscles in the legs (the same effect interval training has on you). On you longer runs you just take it slower/easier...but with the gained leg muscles, you will be able to cope better in the long run (pun intended:-)). Good luck!


Thank you very much in deed HappyRunning for your valuable advice and for the good wishes for my running. I will do what you say...I got to gradually increase my distance from 7.5K to 10K..and then try run a bit faster each time when I do them.


Hi Mini13! It is actually easier then that. (My explanation was a bit dodgy..sorry). What "the coach" meant was: people do various types of running during their week and all should benefit each other. Suppose you run 3 times a week: Make 1 run of the week a fast (as possible) 5k (or 10k..if you can handle 10ks) and try to improve that time - this will help build muscles. Your 2nd run of the week, you could do intervals or do different types of excersice (swimming, gym). Your 3rd run of the week could be a slower run but longer...gradually adding k's over 5 week for example to reach 10k/HM/M length. The point is that in HM/M is not one or the other (speed or stamina) is both. Incorporated short but relatively fast sessions in your training schedule and! longer slower runs and add the k's gradually. You can google HM/M training programmes and you will see what I mean. The running bug has them for free. Goood luck and keep us posted!


Thank you!!! Understood. Can't swim-scared of drowning in the shallow end! (I will try again later on, as I do love swimming but scared of water;-()

I think that is the way to go. I never used to mix my running and used to get bored. I used to run 5K and then one day ran an unplanned 10K. Now the idea is to run a bit more than 5K and try different music and different routes. Thank you again for the support, it is very much appreciated!


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