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Couch to 5K
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Total newbie-any advice for a very unfit beginner?!

I can barely walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath and tired and aching legs, so the thought of being able to do 5k in time is more than a little daunting! I have very severe IBS which means I don't like leaving the house and am frequently too dopey from morphine to exercise, but I like the way this plan is organised and am hoping to succeed even if it take me twice as long as suggested. What are your best tips for success? Any advice much appreciated!

9 Replies


Exercise will help your IBS (it did with mine), it'll also help with your stress levels and that in turn will help your IBS and build your confidence about going out of the house. If you find walking up stairs difficult then start slowly; maybe you could use the warm up exercises as your 'workout' so that you get used to walking at a faster pace, get your heart pumping and the lungs working but without exhausting you too much. Stick to the roads around where you live so that you can nip home if you need to. If your not out of breath from the walking stage, then try one of the running periods in the week 1 podcast, if it gets too much drop back to a brisk walk. At the end of the day, you should just do what you can, any walking/jogging that you do will help, so start small and work up to it. You may also want to consult your GP as well to make sure they are happy with you doing this plan, just as a precaution. Good luck!


I found week 1 too difficult when I started, so initially made my own programme on runkeeper where I ran for 20s and walked for 2mins, and gradually over a couple of weeks I upped the running by 10s a go and dropped the walking time by 10s until I reached the 60s/90s for week 1.

Don't go too fast and don't be afraid to repeat a week as many times as it takes to be able to complete it. Make sure you take your rest days, maybe use them to walk.

I'm afraid I have little experience of IBS so no advice there, but good luck.


I was totally unfit at the beginning of the year. I started off doing exercises at home. Luckily I have a treadmill which I then started walking on during the winter months I now walk a lot locally rather than get public transport. Slowly I built my fitness. Before I started this (I'm only on week 3) I used to run on the spot in the livingroom (I was a bit scared of being able to run on the treadmill! Lol). I've done all my c25k running outside 'around the block' and I take it steady. You go at your own pace. My confidence and fitness has grown so much over the last 4 1/2 months. Good luck :-)


Er first question why are you on morphine? I am guessing you suffer some kind of chronic pain. I have ME and various other health issues including IBS so I do understand, if you want to message me privately if you want to discus anything but don't want it public, but would like a sounding board from someone who has done this programme (well almost I have 2 runs left) please do, I am more than happy to help where I can.

Ok so first off you might want to discuss starting this programme with your GP, just to make sure you are good to go, I am sure they will be very supportive afteral you are wanting to make a positive change.

Now you are ready to start. Slow it down. I would start by doing some prep work before starting week one, running on the spot in your own home, wii fit (if you have one) or as someone else suggested shorter runs spaced with walking, until you feel ready to start week one of the programme. My prep work to start this was a lot of physio and walking gradually bringing in running.

Take each week as it comes, have extra rest days when needed and repeat weeks and runs when needed, for example I am on the final week of this programme - week 9 - but for me it's actually my week 13 since starting (excluding prep work).

IBS do you take anything to control it? Is there a pattern to when you need to go? I find I am better off going out in the morning before I have any food in my system. Is there a way you could stick close to home, or go to a park with a public loo so you know you have one near by should you need it? In the long run exercise should help with your IBS symptoms, diet also plays a major part, I don't know if your doctor has suggested anything, or if you've looked at options for example I know my triggers are artificial sweeteners (and advice seems to generally avoid these if you have IBS), very spicy food and too much fruit (for some IBS types the recommended intake of fruit and veg is only 3 portions a day). Find your pattern and work round it.

This plan is very good and as you can see from looking round the forum it has a proven track record.

Keep comeing back here to update us on your progress is a great little mental tool, because you get a virtual pat on the back and lots of encouragement, it's certainly helped me. And is especially great if you aren't ready to come out of the running closet just yet.

Something I also find helpful is to also plan each week and decide what are going to be my run days.

And remember this isn't just physical it's also mental, we all have had (and still do) had the internal discussions with ourselves revolving around I can't do this, well yes you can.

Good luck and let us know how you are doing.


There are some brilliant walking videos on YouTube by Leslie Sansone which start from one mile

which takes 15-20 minutes to a five mile walk which is around 75 minutes. Basically you're walking/stepping/gently jogging in front of your TV/PC/laptop. These would start to get you fitter in readiness for when you feel ready to start C25K.


As you get fitter climbing the stairs will be easier...... in fact on some days that might be quite a good way to practice! I don't have IBS, but type 1 diabetes, so its really important for me to exercise after meals to keep my blood sugar down. When its really cold and wet I use the stairs. I have to say outdoors is nicer though!

Also, I think lots of us start with walks, even five or ten mins, going faster over a few weeks before we join Laura.

Good luck!


Firstly, you have shown that you are willing to do what is necessary by posting on here; and I commend you for that.

Secondly, the most difficult part is starting the first run. Once out of the front door and on the street, you have overcome THE biggest hurdle. Get out there and try it; if you don't try you will never know ~ and you will spend the rest of your life wondering. Not a good place to be.

Thirdly, and finally, please watch 'Running for my existence' on Youtube. It is SO inspiring. OK, there are loads of clips out there, but this is one on its own. Make sure you watch all of part 1, and have the tissues ready.


I was as unable to run, or walk up stairs. My only health problem is weighing so much i am carrying an entire extra me along everywhere.

On my third try at week 1, i figured that, for me, the trick was running as long as i could when Laura (the voice on the podcast) said go, then walking even though she hadnt said stop. So i might run anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds, and walk the rest of the minute, plus the 90 second walk. For me, it was important to be ready to go when she said go, even if i was only able to go that short a time. I repeated weeks for 2 or 3 weeks, but then got knocked off track with family illness and travel and school holidays ending up in a really bad run. Knocked me back. But i am beginning again.

So, slow and steady. Repeat as often as you need to. Feel free to contact any of us, or all of us, for support.



There's lots of good advice here, but I think the key is to start and see how it goes. Week1 is a pretty gentle introduction, but if it's too much then stop or take it in stages. Before I started, I found myself analyzing the whole thing way too much. It's a well designed program, with a green light from your GP, the next step is to just start. Good luck, hope it works well for you as it seems to be for me!


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