Still not managing 5K :(

Hi all, Hope everyone's doing well. Since I graduated (June I think), I've found it really difficult to get to 5K. I'm comfortable at my snail's pace (7.2 KMPH) and manage to cover around 4.5K including the warm up and down.

I'd like to get to 5K but I don't necessarily want to run faster. Should I just run for longer? I'm never going to be an uber-runner but I would like to continue for fitness/weight loss/general health.

Am I ok to continue as I am, do you think, or should I constantly be pushing myself to go faster and further?

I'm happy where I am as I think I can maintain it 3-4 times a week whereas I'm concerned that if I push myself harder that I'll give up?

Any thoughts? Am I just being a bit lazy?

32 Replies

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  • Hi, I have just graduated and complete 2 x 30 min runs per week at the moment plus I have joined a social running club where we run for 5k at our own pace. It takes me about 38 minutes. I am happy with this at the moment and until I feel differently will go on in this way.

    It's up to you obviously, but as long as you are happy I don't see why you should feel the pressure to go faster; after all, it's supposed to be fun and we are all different. You are certainly not lazy!!!! I think you are doing brilliantly!

  • Congratulations on your graduation! I think I feel a little pressured because it's couch to 5K but, to be honest, I'm just chuffed to be able to run for 30 mins without dropping!

    Perhaps I should just continue as I am and, when I'm ready to put in more effort, increase the speed by 0.1 KPH each week or something.

    I can't stand the thought of not getting to the end of the 30 mins and I think I'd fail if I ran any faster!

  • There is no pressure to run further or faster ,totally up to you how you wish to progress :)

    If running 5K is your goal then just go for that , you might surprise yourself once you achieve that :)

  • Thanks Slow_Rob

  • Run for longer. Add a bit each time till you cover 5k. That's what I did.

    My first 5k in Mid may was 44 mins 59 seconds.

    I'm now under 40 mins.

    Over time you'll get faster naturally as your fitness improves.

    Over the last few weeks, I've been mixing things up. 1 run is just on the flat 30 mins, next run is up hill (and down) 30 mins, final run is a long run (although last week did a 5k hard hill run instead). Was doing 10k as my long run, but have now decided to switch that up and on "long run day" switch it up between a hard hill run one week, then the next week a 7-8k run, then the following week a 10k.

    I sometimes feel like a bit lazy too, but definitely over the last couple of months I've seen improvement beyond my expectations. My first k today was at 7mins and 4 seconds which a couple of months ago I wouldn't have thought would be achievable for me.

    No matter how fast or slow we are, a km is a km and it's a km not on the couch, so that's a winning ticket all day every day.

  • Thanks islandrunner. I did add a minute on today to see how it felt. It was fine, probably because I didn't increase the pace.

    I think you're right, when I'm ready to challenge myself I should run for longer rather than faster.

    I have the endurance to run for longer I just don't have the speed to run at the pace necesary to fit it into 30 mins.

  • Me too. I think I'm more endurance than speed. But, like I said, I'm seeing the speed improve as I get fitter anyway ! so, win win !

  • If you are happy and if you are managing to run 3-4 times per week, then don't worry. From a fitness point of view and maintaining a healthy heart the amount you are doing is absolutely fine.

    Running for longer will obviously get you further if you maintain the pace, but keeping up the enjoyment of running is far more crucial than pushing yourself to greater duration or speed, especially if that means you fall out of love with running.

    Personally, I just love the fact that I can go out and run ten miles in beautiful surroundings whenever I feel like it. That is the wonderful gift that C25k has given me. My wife is happy to run 2-3 times per week and only occasionally does longer runs, two years after starting the programme, but that has kept her fit and she has had no injuries, while I have, as I have striven to run further and faster.

    I would never say that somebody who runs 4.5k three or four times a week is lazy, I would say you were another successful graduate of C25k.

    Keep running, keep smiling.

  • I am happy as you say IannodaTruffe. I'm worried that I'll risk my motivation for something that I'm not ready to face.

    When I'm ready, I'll try running for longer but I'll enusre I'm in the right frame of mind.

  • There is no 'should'. There's plenty of 'want' or 'wish' or 'love' or 'happy to'...but definitely no 'should'!

    If you're happy doing what you do, that's what is important. By all means, try running a little longer if you 'want' to reach 5k but there is absolutely no pressure to do so if you are 'happy to' carry on as you are.

    Your run - your rules! :-)

  • Thanks dottiemay. I like 'your run - your rules' :)

  • To sum up:

    1) You want to ultimately achieve 5K

    2) You are happy with your pace, and don't really want to push things any harder at this stage

    3) You are happy with going out 3 to 4 times a week, but are worried about having to go out more frequently to achieve your 5K goal

    Don't worry about having to alter your pace to speed up - it's not a problem. Don't push yourself to go out more often each week - 3/4 times per week is plenty often enough. You run the risk of injury if you go out too often at this stage. All you need to do is slowly increase the length of some of your runs by a few minutes (10% per week max) until ultimately you can run 5K. It doesn't matter if it takes you 40 minutes or an hour. Just take it as it comes. You will reach 5K, if that is your goal. Run and enjoy yourself. You get the health benefits by running regularly. Who cares about how long it takes you to cover the distance?

  • Yes that about sums it up! Thanks.

    I certainly couldn't fit in any more runs so it's good to know that I'm doing enough from a fitness angle.

    I know it makes me sound like a bit of a baby but 10% might be too much (a whole 3 mins!) but I could probably manage to tack on a minute and then increase to 32 mins after a week or two.

    I really AM enjoying it - running has give me so much pleasure which is why I'm a bit worried that I might go crazy and ruin my motivation.

    You're completely right - who cares how long it takes me to complete it. Thanks for the tips.

  • When I was near the end of C25K, after the required 25 or 26 or 28 or 30 mins, I'd walk for a couple of minutes, then run again for 1 or 2 minutes. My logic being "do I have anything left in the tank ?", usually the answer was yes, so that bolstered me for the next run, when those minutes were added to the run itself, as I knew I had "something else to give" and it was a matter of being in the right frame of mind to do it.

    Might be worth trying that sort of approach.

  • All excellent advice above :)

    If you are running for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times per week, then from a fitness point of view you are definately doing enough already. From a fitness point of view you need never do more than that.

    Certainly don't try to push yourself to the point where running becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.

    As for your speed, if you continue to do what you are already doing then I think that you will find that your speed will gradually increase without you noticing. You will continue to run at the same effort, but that same effort will take you progressively faster.

    If you decide that you want to gradually increase your distance or running duration, then only increase by 10%, and don't increase again until you are comfortable again at that level.

    If you increase your distance, then don't increase your pace at the same time, if anything, slow your pace a little for your new run initially.

    Happy Running

  • Thanks Zev. If I slow my pace any more I'll be going backwards! :)

    Brilliant advice - thanks.

  • I agree with all the above!

  • Cheers!

  • That is a really interesting question. I am 51, still have 2 stone to lose and I am on C25K week 7, so nearly done. What is the aim of running, I guess each one of us will have a different hope. I can't believe I can actually run for any length of time. I am not competitive and can't see me ever breaking any speed records and don't think beating others would motivate me. My aim is to run distance (5 K first, then maybe 10 K) but to try different places and types of running. I like the look of trail running - but don't think I will ever run up a mountain, so exploring places near me which are different to see how it goes. I would like to try parkrun and a running buddy would be good sometime but happy to plod on. I did 5K a couple of times slowly and my speed for the first time was 8 min km and second time slightly faster. As long as I am able to enjoy it, will make my own goals to keep it interesting and fun. Julie

  • Fantastic goals Joolie!

    I suppose that's the reason I posted. Just completing the programme was a huge challenge and I felt great. Now I'm in maintainence mode and, while I don't have that challenge anymore, I'm alright where I am!

    I'm going to try adding another min on my next run depending on my frame of mind - I still find myself clockwatching and wishing it was all over...

  • If we are in competition with others, it would never end. I am 51 so not likely to "win" a race but I can find a personal challenge that works for me. My would like to be a little quicker but not going to risk injury as that will stop me from doing anything. I would like to run in some new places and to keep to 5K but I guess if I am running up and down hills and through the woods, my time will be slower, so distance is the most important thing. Being in maintenance is great,methinks before running you were "resting" and now you are fit and healthy and working hard to stay that way. Running is not fun as such,mot is hard work, sometimes tiring and painful,mwhatever would make it more fun for you - running with a friend, different places maybe?

  • From what you have said, you want to reach 5k. So once a week add a couple of minutes to 1 run until that run reaches 5k. Leave the others at 30 minutes. When you reach 5k on one run, then add a couple of minutes to another, etc. You'll soon be running 5k three times a week. But it's all very arbitrary. There is nothing special about 5k. You could decide to do 3.14159 miles (a pie run!) instead, or 200000 inches. So long as you get out and enjoy your running that's all that matters.

  • Thanks rmnsuk. Adding time seems like the way forward and, as you say, I don't have to add the same amount of time to each run.

  • Some great suggestions above. We each have our own goals and our own way of enjoying our running. If it's any comfort, two years on I have never run 5k in 30 mins - and never will. But I do keep plugging away each week and regularly run 4.5 -5.5 K each time.

    Still just totally revelling in the fact I can do this! It's enough for me.

  • Like all the others have said. If 5km is your goal then just add a wee bit onto a run each week until you get there.

    My first 5k in April took me 49 mins to do. My fastest since then is 37.45 but I normally hover around 40 mins. What's important is that you do what's right for you & at a pace that's right for you. But THE most important thing is to keep enjoying it ☺

    Good luck. ☺☺

  • I was never a fast runner when I was younger so it's very unlikely that I'm going to get super speedy as I approach 50!! That said I can run at a constant pace of around 7mins/km for 15 - 20 km. I found that once I accepted that I wasn't going to get progressively faster and decided I wanted to run further then I started to enjoy running more as I wasn't pressurising myself. whatever you decide to do enjoy your running as that is likely to remain your biggest motivator to get off the couch!

  • Same here,mi was totally rubbish at PE, mind you the teacher just stayed in the hall and sent us off to run round the field. There was no preparation or instruction and I just launched out and within 5 minutes, my heart was pounding, had difficulty breathing and my legs were red with the cold air. No wonder I avoided running for 40 years! For me it is the adventure of running on different surfaces and in new places and the satisfaction of distance and it will never be about speed. Julie

  • I graduated in June and was fixated on running 5K which I have a few times . But as others have said it is enjoying your running and setting your own goals . I regularly run on a quiet trail with the dog , from the bridge to the end and back is about 4.3 and so I just see if I can keep a steady pace each time . Was so proud of myself when I got the pace under 7 ! Enjoy what ever goal you set :)

  • Have you thought of going along to a parkrun? You could go along and run for as long as you want and then just walk the rest - and each week run a little more and walk a little less (you will be surprised by just how many people start walking before you, so please don't worry that you would be shown up by not being able to run the whole thing!). They really are a wonderful motivation and a great way to start the weekend.

  • All good advice above. I'm trying to increase from 5km to 10km but I can't always manage 5km as it is and thinking about a timed 10km run in November and wondering if I'll be able to do the distance in time and simultaneously trying to increase my speed over 5km when I do manage it and it's not going well...

    (Sounds ridiculous when I see it written down.) :-(

    Then I realised yesterday that the key is to keep enjoying it!

    So, taking a much more chilled out approach and not getting stressed about times and distances. Just going to keep running.

    (And the odd bit of swimming which I seem to be able to do more easily now... maybe I am a bit fitter???)

    Running 3-4 times a week is in no way lazy! :-)

  • I run the same route which is just over 5k and it took me quite a while to build up to running it all without stopping. However I took it slowly, and every time I ran I tried to run just a little bit further than the previous day e.g. The next tree or the next bend. I found it easier to do it distance wise rather than time wise (that's the way my mind works!) and eventually got there, you will too!

  • All, so many motivational comments and so much good advice. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    You've all made some excellent points and now I've set myself a new goal. I'm going to slowly build up to 5k and ignore the time element for now. Once I've reached 5k I'll see if I can do it a little faster but in the main I'll focus on endurance.

    Thanks for helping. Happy running!

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