Couch to 5K
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If I keep running 5k for 3 to 5 days a week, will my speed naturally improve

or will that only happen if I do speed work?

I tried week 1 of c25k, but instead of walk/ run I jogged/ran fast and I found

it extremely hard and unpleasant almost to the point of putting me off running!

At the moment I can run 5k between 38 and 42 minutes, but I would like to be

able to do it in 30 minutes and I would be happy with that :)

10 Replies

I think you speed up without thinking about it, as time goes on. Since graduating I have been doing about 5 miles which now takes 40 minutes. I now I am running quicker nowadays but it just seems to have happened.


Ah nellienoo, that is the big question. Will your speed just improve on it's own? I think, and I may be wrong, that the conventional wisdom is that you need to do a combination of speed training (Miles_Yonder's fartlek training perhaps) and also some longer distances. The speed training does what it says on the tin, whilst the longer distances increase your strength and stamina so that you're less tired and therefore able to put more into your 5k runs. Like you, I had been contemplating doing w1 again as speed training, not a full on sprint but definitely faster than I generally run, so your post is a bit discouraging. Are you planning to try it again? If you are, let me know and we could compare notes. :)


From what I have been reading the simple answer is No if you run 5K every time you run you may not naturally increase your speed by much, Ancient Mum is right about doing some longer runs to build stamina and aerobic fitness which you will need if you run faster or your breathing will feel like week 1 all over again.....the general advice seems to be, if you are running three times a week then you would do 1 x easy run (maybe your normal 5k) 1 x speed/fartlek run and 1 x LSR (long slow run) at about 60 to 90 seconds slower than your 5k pace which you would increase distance by about 10% each week. You would also do a cut back week say every 4 or 5 weeks

where you do less distance/speed on one or two runs to give your body a little extra help to rest, then you would build up again from where you left off the following week..........Please feel free to shoot me down in flames if this sounds like gibberish to any more experienced runners :)


All sounds sensible to me... I'll let you know in a few months! Long runs, bit of speed training and the right amount of rest! :)

And - slowly does it - improvements take time (apparently up to 6 months JUST to build a base for new runners)...


Also - your body has some limits based on when you started to run, age, sex, general fitness and genetics somewhat... You need to be realistic with your goals... I'll never run an 18 minute 5K, but I just might one day hit 26-27 minutes... maybe... :)


Thanks everyone for all your helpful replies :) I just could not get on with running fast for any length of time, I was

gasping for breath and ended up having to walk. This makes me think that maybe I need to build up my stamina before I attempt speed work again as I don't want to be put off running.

I am still one and a half stone over weight and over 50 and only started running about 11 weeks ago. I can just about manage to run 5k without collapsing in a heap, but I will keep at it in the hope that it will get easier :)


I would suggest a combo of extending your run longer once a week, and also try the Speed podcast once a week too....that will really help..good luck :)


Hi ju-ju, I’ve just picked up a reply from you about speed and you mention a speed podcast. Is it called speed? I graduated a couple of weeks ago and I’m still running 3 times a week. I’ve increased my distance for one of my runs but would really like to improve my 5K time in readiness for my first parkrun. I really don’t want to be the last to finish. Today’s run was 6K, but slow. I’ve adopted Oldfloss’s mantra of slow and steady, which has carried me through thus far but I would love to see a little improvement in speed.

Hope you can help. 😊


I've been using the Speed podcast 2x/week and running 30 mins or 5k (depending on nebulous factors like my mood or how much time I feel I can spare etc) 1x/week. For the sake of stamina, I try to carry on running after the end of the intervals on Speed - and I do seem to be getting faster, little by little.


Hello.... here is a link to where you can download the podcasts. I think they are fab :)


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