Couch to 5 K completed but feeling very despondent

I finished week 9 run 3 on the couch to 5k today but am feeling very despondent about it. I ran at the local Park Run and was so slow — I was so far behind everyone from the very beginning. I ran for 35 minutes without stopping and then walked and ran the rest, ending with a very fast sprint. It took me 43 minutes in total and I felt like I was about to die/collapse the entire way (I feel like this every time I run).

The running hasn't become any easier as the weeks have gone by. I never feel comfortable and I have slowed down every time the time has increased. Before I started the scheme I tried a park run and had to walk most of it but had a time of 40 minutes. I had hoped that by now I could run the entire 5k comfortably but I don't feel as if I have become any fitter at all and am not sure whether to continue running.

Any advice? What did other people do? Should I try the speed podcast?


Featured Content

Join the NHS Couch to 5K community

Couch to 5K has been designed to get you off the couch and running 5km in just 9 weeks

Start today!

Featured by HealthUnlocked

27 Replies

  • Please do not be despondent - you will know how far you have come over the course of the programme. I graduated about 15 months ago - last night went for a run, puffed all the way round - only did about 2 miles. My best 5K time is still only 34 mins, first Parkrun was about 39 mins - it is always a race against yourself and no one else.

    I really like the Speed podcast - but be warned that it is not easy to start with and took me many months to really conquer it. Keep running and it will become a bit easier!

  • Thank you c4ts. I guess I just need to stick with it and hope to get there in the end!

  • Well that didn't sound great. Perhaps you should just forget about this run, and do your 'proper' W9R3 when you are feeling more positive. I personally think your speed is brilliant - I'm nowhere near your pace yet - haven't ever run as far as 5k. I think you are just having a bad day. Do you remember how hard it was to do 8 x 60secs, then how hard it was to do 5 mins ... then how terrible the big 20 seemed? Well look how far you've come. I bet you're loads fitter than when you started, it's just that your expectations are too high. I haven't lost any weight, and I still groan going up and downstairs, but I am sure my cardiovascular system is better now and at least the C25K has made me drink less wine (though my cake consumption seems to have increased!).

    Don't be so hard on yourself - you did good x

  • You are being very harsh on your self. If you have only just finished the programme, it is really early days! The 9 week plan only gets you up to running for 30 minutes: most people will take longer to get to 5k and then longer again to pick up the speed. Doing a park run is something I am planning to do some time in the future when I feel up to it! Be a bit kinder and more generous to yourself: you are doing an amazing thing and it is an ongoing process, not a finite one. Good luck in your ongoing journey!

  • Thank you :)

  • The program helps you build the muscle strength and joint mobility for running. Your time for 9 weeks is great, please don't put yourself down. Many of us are slow and steady. I would suggest you try some fun runs just for you. Take any sort of pressure of and find what works for you. I am a natural run/walker I do two of those runs a week and a solid nonstop one. Since I allowed myself to have less pressurised runs I am enjoy the actual run so much more. Believe me you have achieved something wonderful the only thing you need to do now is make it work for you rather than the other way round.

  • That's really helpful. Thank you. I tried running again today but it was a disaster and I ended up walking most of it — I blame the very strong winds!

  • you know, I 've been feeling the same way.... Are you eating enough/ doing too much. My breathing todaty at the park run was a nightmare. I'm a bit asthmatic so I think I'll go get checked out by the Doc. Is this likely in your case? the stepping stones C25k+ pods are good as Laura paces you. will warn you though you will notice the difference. I would listen to what your body is telling you maybe it likes the interval approach rather than continual running??? That's what I'm wondering myself.

  • Hi 1968u. It is so frustrating, isn't it. I had it in my head that I would be able to run the 5k comfortably by now, even if I am very slow, but I do feel like I am not running at all! I tried to run today and it was even worse than on Saturday and I pretty much gave up after 5 minutes! I guess I just have to stick with it.

    I would definitely get your asthma checked out by a doctor. I go and see the asthma nurse quite regularly and it is very helpful.

  • Guess who's down with a virus!!!! Gradually got worse at the weekend and had to come home from work today. feeling really lousy.... Don't worry about what you should be doing do what you can. My sister who's a regular runner says everybody hates the first 5 minutes of running as it takes the body that tie to settle into a rhythm. She recommended time tables, mentally checking money spent that week etc as a distraction. I do it and it can help. remember exercise should be enjoyable.

  • That makes sense. When I am in pain I recite poetry to distract myself, I will have to try the same for running!

    I hope you get better soon!

  • I am so glad to see you have your graduation badge. I read your post earlier, and you sounded so defeated. You did so well today. Give it a bit of time and you will run the whole 5k. 40 mins is a pretty good time when you walked some of it. Keep the great work going xx

  • Thanks :)

  • Hey, firstly well done on getting out there and running. Thats a wonderful achievement given where you once were. The key to events is really getting around and finishing them - I strongly suspect you felt like giving up and just jacking it in. However, you persevered and finished. Secondly, try not to put too much emphasis on time. This is whats holding you back somewhat. The moment you forget about the clock, and enjoy running for what its worth, you will make your own steady progress. Months down the line you will remember this run for making you a stronger runner. Ive had some horrendous runs haha - with 5 minute discrepancies on 5K runs - and 5 minutes is a long time in running loll. However, like a boxer I was floored by this and could have given up. Instead, as Muhammed Ali quotes, a true champion is one who gets up again and continues. YOU will be that champion! M

  • Thank you :)

  • Please don't be so hard on yourself , you really have done an amazing thing you know. From those first tentative few steps on W1R1 to 30 minutes non stop running, please don't forget how far you have come .

    Seriously , don't worry about speed, just get out there with no pressure on distance or time. Keep plugging away, keep calm , try not to panic take it slow and steady so youre not trying to catch your breath, you sound as if you are putting so much pressure on yourself that you are not enjoying it all which is such a shame .

    You have achieved so much, you really have , believe in yourself and many congratulations on your graduation xxx

  • Poppypug says it all for me, very well said.

    You ran past me as I was marshalling yesterday and I admired your pluck and determination, as did my friend who was marshalling next stop on (by the zebra crossing), as we said to you after the run "You did it!" it's all that counts, and I believe the tougher runs make us stronger. You will improve if you keep plugging away - one of our friends who was despairing has come down from 38 minutes, to under 33. No magic secret, just keeping at it. Congrats on your graduation!!

  • Thank you :)

  • Thank you :)

  • Thank you :)

  • So -- you have now finished C25K - which is a run/walk programme meant to get you to be able to run non-stop for 30 minutes . You have achieved this goal. Now - you have to move on to a further goals , to be able to run 5k and then to be able 5k as fast as you can :)..( if this is what you want) . I would suggest you continue on with another training programme.

    You could do another 5K plan, an intermediate non-stop running plan - that builds on your current fitness level - such as this one or this one ( harder) You can see the difference in the requirements. OR - you could start another run/walk type programme which will take you out to longer running times and distances like this one

  • Thank you. I think I will redo week 9 a few times and then perhaps look at some of these other ones.

  • I think quite a few people don't get that amazing high from graduating that others seem to, I certainly didn't, I finished feeling quite flat. Put it behind you, your a graduate now, just go and enjoy running for a while without that tyrant Laura!

  • Thank you! I am going to try to make a fun playlist to listen to!

  • Hey Nausicca, first things first - you are a runner. You can run for 35 minutes & more and that is better than 99.9% of the population. And you have graduated from C25K that is an achievement in itself.

    ParkRun is not really a helpful event if you care about your 5k time... for the first few times it is really hard to not get carried away with the speed at the start. I always go off far too fast and then struggle towards the end: it really needs some discipline and possibly a running watch to tell you your pace. But ParkRun is intended for people like us, make sure that you start near the back and run your own race and I'm sure that you'll feel stronger and less defeated.

  • Thank you :)

  • Hello I see this was 9 months ago. I've just joined and feel similar! I fell on the last training run before my race4life run so didn't do well on the day. But I got round - and slower than you!! I hope you're feeling better about it all now. Are you doing strength/ resistance training too? That can really help apparently. X

You may also like...