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Couch to 5K
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5k - not quite what I expected!

Haven't been on here for a while but I thought I'd share some experiences I've had since graduating.

I did my first 5k in August and it was an eye opener in lots of ways.

My experience of 5k until then had been watching other people at 5k fun runs, I now realise they are very different to other organised runs. My first 5k wasn't fun at all. Before it started there were lots of what I call proper runners wearing club vests all stretching and looking very trim and confident and I felt a little intimidated, but I thought well I can hold my own I'll just start from the back. I'd also clocked that I wasn't the oldest so thought I'd have a good chance of coming in with a reasonable time.

We set off with me at the back of the group and I very quickly realised that everyone was way faster than me. So I plodded forward trying to get my own pace and slowly realised that I was last and that I had lost sight of everyone in front of me. I cannot explain how demoralising this was, I almost blubbed, my emotions surprised me. I stopped and walked for a couple of minutes not sure what to do, then decided to stop being such a wimp and run.

I kept going running, past marshalls who were waiting for me and offering words of encouragement (bless them) then some photographer snapped me, I was soo embarrassed. I kept going running without headphones (they weren't allowed) I realised how heavy my breathing sounded. I felt fat, old and unfit and all the positive vibes built up by Laura seemed to ebb away. Then in the distance, ahead of me I saw another runner and I thought 'you're mine'.....and I ran like I've never run before as I saw my chance not to be last!

As I overtook her I realised she was older than me and breathing heavier so that spurred me on, as I went past her I looked at her and wanted to say sorry, for I felt I was doing a terrible thing. But my competitive streak came through and I pushed ahead.

I came in with a time of 38.45, second from last.

I know its the taking part that matters and that weeks ago I could barely run for a minute so I should be proud of myself and I suppose I am. The moral of this story is be careful which 5k you run as some are not really aimed at beginners and might damage your delicate runners ego!

Running 30 mins a couple of times a week now, still way off the 5k mark but working towards it.

I will go back to that 5k race next year!

18 Replies

Libertinet blimmin good on yer for having a go AND finishing AND overtaking. Lesser peeps (me) would probably have quietly feigned an injury and sloped off home with a faux limp and then felt even more demoralised for not having the gumption to finish. Supa-impressed you have decided to give its a*se a good kicking next time - go you :D

If it's any consolation those serious runners who didn't come in the top few would be beating themselves up far more seriously than you. Serious, IMO, rather knocks the stuffing out of fun.


Yes well done for keeping going, and getting a pretty good time too! I'm nowhere near that!


You should really try a local ParkRun. They are so different to what you have just described and are a really nice 'soft landing' into the world of 5k event running. The atmosphere is really relaxed and other than a few runners at the front, is not competitive at all. You need to register online and print off a sheet of barcodes beforehand, then just turn up and run.

It would do wonders for your confidence to run with others who are of more comparable ability (and less competitive) as 38.45 for a 5k isn't bad at all - so you really shouldn't think that it is!!

There are people there with pushchairs, dogs, little old ladies, kids, everyone just gets stuck, runs their 5k and then eat cake/sip tea afterwards (that part isn't compulsory by the way, just highly recommended).

What's not to like!

Don't be a stranger and keep us posted with how you get on if you go. I am sure you would enjoy it.

If you are anywhere near Ipswich, I will happily meet you there if you wanted some moral support or a pacer.


Didn't know you were an Ipswich boy Maysie. Was planning to do the Parkrun here before my knee troubles. I'll look out for you in a few weeks time when I feel strong enough to give it a go. You can wave at me as you zoom past with the other sub-30 minute runners :)


I have only been to one so far as I only graduated about 3 weeks ago, but that was enough to make me a huge fan and I will now go whenever I can make it.

Send me a message when you are next heading along and I will say hello.

Hope the knee gets better soon!


I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but happy to hear that you found the grit and determination to push on and complete. Not just complete, but also race and overtake. And your finishing time is not bad! So what if most others ran faster - every race is a competition with yourself, and sod the rest!

Maysie's suggestion of a parkrun is a good one.

What really impress me is the way you picked yourself up. Way to go!!


Firstly - well done. You finished a 5K race... so hats off!!

Secondly, as everyone has suggested, try a Parkrun - it's a much more beginner friendly experience. If you're concerned at the ability levels a really good way to check your local Parkrun is to look at the previous set of results. If you pick one that is close and has lots of runners you'll see the finishing times are a really wide spread of abilities... The one closest to me only has about 40 runners usually and they all finish sub 30 minutes... so what I do is head a little bit further to the ones that are 400-500 runners and a spread from 17 minutes to about 45 minutes... :)

Dead last always beats did not finish which trumps did not start.... You completed a 5K and you should be really glad you did... AND you had your own race at the end... :)


Thank you for all your lovely posts. I will give park run a go and report back. I'm in Reading so nowhere near Ipswich but thank you so much for the offer of a companion Maysie1. I really appreciate everyones support.

I find the whole 5k quite funny now looking back! Running is teaching me so much about myself. :)


No problem.

Make sure you let us know how you get on though, and know that we will all be rooting for you on the day!


Thank you for such an honest and helpful post. I am in Week 9 so thinking about next steps/goals and this has helped warn me of some potential pitfalls, as your confidence in particular is such a fragile think, just getting mine back! I am so super impressed that you finished, I would have seriously struggled to keep going. Did you find the person at the end that you'd overtaken at all, wonder if they finished and how they felt... You've got to have a goal and if yours for this race was, I think I can overtake and at a minimum I will do that, I think that's fair enough, it's a race against ourselves really after all. Interesting about the music thing, I'm really not sure I could run without it - is music allowed in a Parkrun??? I have it turned up so loud I shout good morning to all the dogwalkers who probably think I'm insane but it means I have never heard my breathing - that would be too scary a thought. Again, super helpful post and well done for your bravery and perseverance x


Hi MP. Yes, music is allowed at ParkRuns. You may just need to keep the volume a bit lower than normal else you wont hear them say 'GO!'


Hi MarlyParly

Thank you for your reply.

As for the poor lady that I overtook, no I didn't find her, mainly because I felt so awful/ashamed about overtaking her. I looked her name up afterwards and checked our her time and her finishing photo and she was cheering as she crossed the finishing line so I think she was ok.


Well done you! Good on your for sticking with it and not quitting. That's what it's all about.

I think you may have been a bit hasty in your review of the parkrun. When you go back next year you might see that. When you get there, there will be someone who thinks you look fitter/thinner/faster. I think there always will be unless you're Mo Farrah. LOL


Hi Misswobble

Thanks for your message. It wasn't a park run 5k that I did but a local event organised that you pay to attend.

I have been advised to try park run though as they are less competitive and open to all for free. I've heard nothing but good things about parkrun so will definitely give it a go.


I almost blubbed reading this! You are amazing and don't you forget it. It doesn't matter if you took all day to run it, you were off your butt and running. I think running without music is pure torture, I couldn't do it! Just keep going and ignore all these super fitties you did a great job!


you guys are great, thank you for the lovely message(s)!


Well done m'dear. You showed some serious spirit and guts carrying on and finishing like that. Have to admit that is one of my great running nightmares - too like school PE lessons with the dreaded Mrs L. making sarcastic comments about the unsporty stragglers. Scarred for life, I am ;) I'm sure your local Parkrun will be much nicer :)


You are so much braver and more determined than I am, and I take my hat off to you. I would have pretended I had sprained my ankle/was having an asthma attack/felt faint - anything at all not to be left at the back. Well done, you are amazing :)


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