Couch to 5K
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Stuck at 15 minutes

I've been following a similar plan to the NHS C25K plan (different app with slightly different walk/run timings) for a few months now and have progressed from being someone who struggled to run 60 seconds to someone who is just about managing to run 5K. I'm really struggling to get past the 15 minute mark though.... I'm wondering if it's psychological as my pattern of late seems to be run 14 minutes, look at my phone and inwardly sigh that it's 14 minutes again, run for another 60 seconds and then I 'have' to walk for 1 minute, then I run for another 14 minutes inwardly sigh, run for another 60 seconds, walk for 60 seconds and then run the remaining 3-5 minutes until I reach 5K. It's driving me slightly bonkers - even when I know that I've only got another 3 minutes running left I just can't seem to push past my head telling me I need to walk. I've tried varying my route but it doesn't make any difference. Any tips for getting past this?

5 Replies

Have you tried using the C25K podcasts with dear old Laura? You can clearly run.....but as you say you need to ditch the run / walk thing. Does sound like a mental block. Week 5 run 3 on the pods is a 20 minute run, the following weeks get you to 30 no stopping. Maybe having that to stick to and forget your watch etc will help?


Crumbs, you have got yourself into a negative thought pattern, haven't you! I know how you're feeling because I had something similar with a particular route I used to run - could never get passed a certain point without stopping. So frustrating!

My advice to you is:

a) Leave the watch at home so you don't know how long you've been running.

b) Plan out a completely new 5k route using Mapmyrun, so you don't think "oo this is the place where I normally get too tired to continue."

c) Listen to an audiobook or talk radio to take your mind of the running -it's amazing how far you can run when your engrossed in a good story.

d) Slow right down and I mean * really, really* slow. You're not interested in your time, just completing the distance. If the 5k takes you the best part of an hour, so what? Once you can do it slowly, you can do it more quickly another time.

Very very best of luck. You will defeat the negative head gremlins. You just have to get your strategy right. :)


Hi catching flies. I wonder if you download the c25k week 5 podcast and go from there? As NorthernSpirit said, w5r3 is 20 minutes running non stop. It is up to you, but I wonder if you start at w5 r1 to get into the podcast and take it from there?

Other thoughts:

Do you listen to music while you are out? That may serve as a good distraction.

Also, maybe leave your watch at home, so you can't be tempted to look at the time. I have the podcast playing on my phone, which is tucked into my running belt, so it's too much hassle to look!

Best of luck with your running. I have come to the conclusion that this running lark can be mind over matter sometimes.


This sounds more like a mental thing than a physical problem. I would suggest two things.

1. take a week off, then do a 16 minute slow run. You'll get to 14 minutes, and you know you only have to run two more minutes, so you'll do it. Hopefully once you run past 15 you'll be OK to go further.

2. start c25k at week 4, and see how you do

Run slowly - as slow as you can. Remember if your legs don't hurt (too much) and you can still breath, you must just keep on running. Completing 5k in 33-35 minutes is quite fast if you take a couple of minutes out to walk. Once you get over this you be running 5k in sub-30 quite regularly.

Keep posting to tell us how you get on.


Thanks for your replies :)

So this afternoon I adopted a totally different strategy and decided to run to a podcast instead of music on an entirely new route. I also decided that it didn't matter if I 'only' ran for 16 minutes and then strolled home.... far more important to get past the 15 minute mark.

My pace was slightly slower than normal but the plan worked.... a comfortable 23 minute run without a walk. Followed by a gentle stroll home. I feel so much happier.....can't believe I'm past it after being stuck for ages.


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