Couch to 5K

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I know that we all started out with the aim to eventually run 5ks - after firstly getting off the couch. But I believe that many here (including me) get sidetracked into matters like actually running non-stop for 30minutes and how far they can go in that time - and how fast they can do the 5k's and of course, they MUST do the 5ks with non-stop running.

But, I am now of the opinion, that this programme is only a beginning - and the true "light on the hill" is the ability to cover longer distances (at any pace and in any manner). It doesn't really matter whether we can cover 5k's in 25 minutes or 30 or 35 - what matters is that we can do the distance, and finish it in a manner that we are up for more. For weight loss ( and I know that applies to many of us here) , I have read that we need to be moving for in excess of 45 minutes to one hour to really start to rack up calorie burns. We know that running burns more cals than walking -- but not many of us here can run for a long time - but we are capable of walking or run/walking for longer times/distances.

It seems that there are some who are putting off doing a 5K "race" until they have graduated this programme and even until they feel that they can run the 5ks non-stop in some idealistic time -- but you CAN do the 5K's right now. Go to Parkrun , and incorporate the latest C25K run/walk ratio into the 5K's -- you will be amazed that, by doing this and taking the pace slow, you will already be able to finish a 5K race NOW!!!.

8 Replies

I tentatively support that idea, with two major caveats: be prepared to walk a sizable chunk of that distance depending upon where you are in the program, and listen very, very carefully to your body.

Generally, it is not safe to increase your running mileage more than 10% in a week. Considering the increase in distance each week already built into the program, it can be over-doing it to also try to go far beyond that as might be the case in a 5K race. The excitement of the group racing might push someone past what their body is really ready for, and getting injured just sucks.

Sometimes your cardiovascular fitness is ready for the challenge, but your weakest muscles/joints have not built up enough strength to run much longer than the podcast amount without really feeling it afterwards. So in the moment, you might feel great about going on much longer, only to find yourself hobbling around after all the adrenaline wears off.

That said, if you are near the end of the program and totally feeling great running (or run/walking) 4-5 K three times a week, then by all means go on and enjoy a park run if you want. But I can't really recommend aiming for the full distance for someone who is in week 3 and finding that their knees ache.

One way to enjoy the community feel with less likelihood of injury is to:

1. Plan to "race" a shorter distance. Whether the route is only 3k long, or you only do one of 2 laps, or even just plan ahead to call yourself "done" and a winner at a certain place along the route, you can still enjoy the camaraderie until you get there.

2. Plan to go the 5K distance, but be absolutely ready to walk a lot of it. Maybe you run the first lap and then walk the second - think of it as your "victory lap"!

Bazza, I definitely support your enthusiasm! Going out with a group can be tons of fun, and I hope you do so soon. :)


Hmm -- actually, I think I must not have made the point that I was trying to make clearly enough. So- I'll try again. :)

The whole point of this programme is to "run" a 5K ace. Nowhere does it say how fast the 5K should be run nor whether it is meant to be run non-stop. However it is on those two points that I see a lot of anguish.

So - I am proposing that these aspects (non-stop running) and pace can be forgotten. The prime object should be considered to be to finish 5k's - and this can easily be done before the programme is completed. (that is not to say that the programme does not need to be completed) . However , at a pace commensurate with the latest week we have trained for, the extra difference between what can be achieved in the approx 30 minutes of the daily programme can be covered easily in a Parkrun ( where there is really no emphasis on "speed" )

At age 67 and a slow runner, I have easily participated in Parkruns after completing week 2 of the programme. In fact, I have incorporated Parkrun into each weeks runs - but I have done it without worrying about what pace is "acceptable" or whether one should run a 5k non-stop.

AlaiyoGraduate in reply to Bazza1234

I find myself agreeing with the replies below that the "whole point" of C25K is to get running, and beyond that it really varies by person what their goals are. I want to give you credit where it is due, Bazza; it could be a revelation to some that they don't HAVE to wait until they graduate to try a park run. For those who are looking forward to that experience, and shy about trying it, you are right to be encouraging.

I applaud your impulse to share the joy of park running. And am glad that we can agree to agree that it is a nice option to have, as long as one is being safe about it.

I'm not sure I agree with the whole point being to run a 5k "race". For me, a middle aged overweight bloke when I started, the whole point was to get out, make my heart and lungs work and just go running. Don't get me wrong, now I can run 5k (and quite a bit more) reasonably competently, I want to do it without stopping and I want to go faster, but it's not the whole point. Right now I'm quite possibly in the best shape of my life and, together with a sensible diet, it's down to the programme.

It wouldn't worry me if I were never to "race", it's just me against the road..... And I win that race every time I go out.


well said!!!


I thought the primary object was to complete the programme! Being 'pushed' or goaded into something one is not ready for can only be counter-productive. I also subscribe to the school of 'live and let live'.


Although we are united by the C25K programme, I think we need to accept the we are all individuals and look to get different things out of it. For some it is the length of time they can run for, for some it's about speed, for some it's about distance. It's about fitness, mental health, weight loss, self-esteem. For some it's just about enjoyment!

We all have our own goals and reasons for being out there - none of them 'better' or more valid than the next.

So, whatever your own holy grail, good luck with pushing towards it.

I see your point,i could get up early and take all that cross town transit and go ahead and do the Parkrun, using the current interval pattern plus walking, IF claiming a 5 k were my goal. But, i already know i can do that, so all that hassle just to run/walk in a crowd for an officially posted time is not a priority for me. By the time i got home, half of Saturday would be gone.

My reason to take up running was that 5 months of walking had worked, i had lost weight and improved my abilities for distance and hills, which had been pretty low, coming from the US and driving everywhere! By that time i really had explored my neighborhood and surrounding ones pretty completely, walking was no longer interesting, making time for the distance was becoming a chore. Since i know i can do the distance, doing it faster I would be more efficient!

I may do Parkrun or races sometime, but my current goals have little to do with distance proving, or competing with others at all.

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