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Couch to 5K
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When does the pain stop?

After accepting a challenge from a friend I had to run a 5K this year, so I did this on Saturday. Coming from where I started (I couldn't run 500m without a break 5 weeks ago) this clearly wasn't run solid - so I was exceptionally disappointed to get some sarcastic remarks from Basildon Park Runners such as "This is called park run not park walk" to their running buddies which really puts me off.

Anyway ever since I started running I am in agony just moving around. My shins feel like they are bruised all the way around to the point where sleeping is hard, my previously broken ankle (25 years ago) is like a balloon and my lower back is constantly aching to the point where I cant tell if its a serious injury after a run or just some weird DOMS symptom. Infact after about 3KM when my left ankle joined in the pain it actually helped my form as I wasn't favouring one side!

In general terms I am decent shape, but have only done weight training in the gym for over 10 years with very limited cardio. My weight is pretty good for my height also.

How long should these symptoms go on for? I was also disgusted with my time.

15 Replies

Hi Paul, firstly I'm very sorry (and angry) to hear of those comments from others at Basildon parkrun. That is not at all my experience of parkrun and I am sorry it was yours. Try not to let a few idiots get to you - don't let them win! But I can imagine if it had been me it would have really gutted me too.

You say you did 5KM on Saturday, had you been training up to that? Just can't tell from your post if you've been doing Couch to 5K recently or not. I'm not the best to advise on these horrible pains you are having (hopefully others will follow who know better than me) but it doesn't sound right to me and I am sorry you are having this experience! What's your history of running specifically (how long? how often? have you got good running shoes?)

I am sorry you weren't happy with your time too - but whatever your time was, just think how many people you lapped who were at home, still in bed, or on the couch!

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Wow Paul, you've done a heck of a lot in a very, very short space of time. Have you been following the C25k podcasts? You really shouldn't be in that much pain.

The C25k course takes a minimum of 9 weeks to get you from nothing to running non-stop for 30 mins - and it's unlikely you'd be hitting 5k, especially if you've never run before.

I'm so sorry to hear of your experience at park run - do feed back to the run director. It's very rare for people to behave like that, they may have been trying to encourage you, not realising their comments did the opposite, everyone is different, and we all perceive situations differently, the whole point is that it is inclusive, lots of people walk/run at mine, we have speed walkers too.

Please don't give up, I think you need to give yourself a break and let your legs recover, your shin pain might be shin splints, it might be an idea to get gait analysis at a reputable running shop.

And don't be disappointed in your time, you have a starting point, and that's all it is, you might get quicker (once recovered) or you might not, the most important thing is that you do the running for you, and that you enjoy it.

Take care of yourself, I hope you feel better soon



I have been doing a plan which roughly equates to the c25K podcasts without knowing it, so thought this would be a good place to ask. I have been training I think for 5 weeks, but it could be slightly more but only twice a week due to the pain. I find it impossible to run for more than 10 minutes solid, but I worked up to 4KM for the last 2 weeks

The only people I lapped were walkers - and only just :)


Sounds to me like you've been very hard on yourself. You sound fit and strong from the weights etc., that you do, cardio and stamina are hard work and take time, not least 'training' your muscles to run, even though we are built to run, your body still needs to learn to do it.

I'm no expert, but generally pain that doesn't go within two days is telling you, too much too soon.

Take care of yourself, you can definitely do it, you certainly sound like you have the determination, it just might take a little longer than you expected.

If it helps at all. I took nearly a year to get to running for 30minutes - I did too much too soon, and learnt my body dislikes high impact more than twice a week. And I am slow.



I would echo what has been said above, take a break and come back slowly. If you haven't been following the podcasts, that would be the way to go.

I am appalled to hear of the comments at Park Run - at the briefings of the one I go to they say - if you are running or walking. Don't be put off, when you are ready try another.

Good Luck

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To be honest there was no chance of hearing the briefing with 140 odd people crowded around one person without a megaphone! I just expected it to be more friendly, if I get a comment like that again ill be expecting it next time - will take more than that to put me off.

My time is my main frustration to be honest, the pain would be worth it if it had come off better. I am going to try to cut my pace back. I did a classic go off far too fast, my mile times varied between 8:30 and 16:30!


Hi Paul

Running takes time to get used to. There is the muscular training and the cardio aspect but much more importantly, there is the need for your joints and ligaments to get used to the repeated impact.

I think the problem you have is that you are too fit! You have come to running able almost immediately to run a significant distance and at a very fast pace. That is great in some ways but unfortunately it means that you can stress your skeleton faster than it is able to recover.

I really think that you need to take a break until you recover from your pain. Muscular aches after running are quite common (especially if you don't stretch enough after) and the occasional joint niggle is bound to occur, but the type of pain you are describing is almost certainly the result of too much impact too soon and I cannot see that going away while you continue running.

If your previously injured ankle is swelling that much then I'm sure you are at risk of something quite serious. Similarly, the shin pain is probably shin-splints caused by too much speed and too long duration at such an early stage. Especially if you are going all-out for speed, you are probably striding too long and landing on your heel, which can quickly result in shin pain.

I am afraid that you will have to accept that you are a new runner and treat your body correspondingly. The fact that you have the fitness to run fast and long does not mean that you can or should do so. It means that you need to be very disciplined and allow your joints to adapt gradually. You also want to make sure that you have good shoes, preferably fitted by a specialist shop that will do a gait-analysis. Those will also help reduce the impact.

Sorry to sound negative - I don't mean to be. Your progress in such a short time is enviable but I really think that it will end in injury if you continue pushing yourself so quickly.

Good luck with it - let us know how you get on.


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Hi Paul,

Don't let those comments put you off, I'm 23 and have been running for over a year now and still have to take a couple of seconds sometimes minutes walking, when I'm running around I just try to motivate other people, I'm usually in the last 10-20 runners and my times aren't that great usually around 40 mins,

Try not to be to hard on yourself about your time I go to just have fun whilst meeting new people, you've just got to remember that even though those people made a comment about you walking, your lapping everyone that is sat on the couch even if you walk most of the parkrun, your getting up and completing 5km, so give yourself a pat on the back and be proud of what you achieved yesterday,

As for the pain in your shins I'd say take a little bit of time off, it sort of sounds like the start of shin splints so maybe a trip to your GP to discuss your symptoms and to see where you go from there, if your GP tells you, your fine to carry on I'd take a couple of weeks off running and come back slowly, maybe look up the couch to 5k programme on the nhs website and don't worry if it takes longer than the 9 weeks it has planned out, it took me more than 11 months to graduate,

Wish you all the best in your running,

Take care,

Siobhan x


All : Thanks for all the positivity. I am off on holiday at the end of the week so there will a natural break in my running to let bits heal back up. Ill be honest I didn't expect the run to be "cross country"

Ugifer : I think you are right - I am used to d.o.m.s. to the point where I cant walk well in my legs, so my assumption was that this impact pain would go like that. However it clearly has not. Its a difficult one with the ankle, it swells for any sport even after a short walk so I pretty much ignore it. I am going to start watching it closely



Paul, you reveal more in your answers than in your original post. The pains you are having are not normal for every new runner, especially if they have followed a carefully graduated training programme, such as NHS C25k.

It sounds to me that your old ankle injury is obviously still causing problems. If you are in pain when running then you will not be carrying yourself in a balanced manner, as you try to compensate. I would definitely consult a physio before continuing. A gait analysis would probably be beneficial too. Ignoring pain and swelling is the route to injury.

You don't state the aim of your training plan, but if you were expecting to be able to run 5k at the end of it, then it has let you down. NHS C25k is tested and proved to work by tens of thousands of successful graduates. Its aim is not to run 5k at the end, although you well may, but to get you running continuously for 30 minutes 3 times per week, ie. working on both ability and habit. The progressive nature is designed to give good satisfaction rates of advancement with the risk of injury minimised.

You could probably pick it up in Week 4 or 5, and if you follow it in another five or so weeks you will be, at least, somewhere near where you want to be. Don't be disgusted with your time. As a runner, you have to accept that you are where you are and then devise the plan to help you progress, but don't be tempted to rush it. There is no rapid route to success, only to the injury couch. The C25k mantra is slow and steady, as those who have gone on to run half marathons and marathons will readily endorse.

As for the comments of parkrunners, the race director should definitely be informed, for the sake of others, who may not be as thick skinned as you. That sort of reaction is totally counter to the ethos of the parkrun movement.

This forum is, to my knowledge and belief, the best and most supportive site on the internet for new runners, so keep us posted on your progress.


I can suggest some good responses to the rude park runners, ranging from teh quite invloved and eloquent involving their parentage to a really snappy two word one.

I reallythink your crash course in running is the problem with most of what you describe. It takes time for muscles, joints, bones etc to adapt to different types of exercise.

To put it into context, if someone said they were a regular runner but had only started with weight 5 weeks ago an was now deadlifting their bodyweight but getting lots of pain in their back and shoulders, would you be surprised.

I would suggest backing right off the running until your ankle recovers. Keep up the cardio during that time, with some non-impact exercise like bike or ergo-rower, then build up the running again more gradually.

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Hi Paul

Yes I would definitely agree with Ianno and the others. This pain does not sound like the normal " new runners aches and pains " sounds like you are suffering really badly .

Please consider going to see a physio , just for treatment and advice . Once you are given the all clear , you can pick up the programme and we will all be here to support you . This is a really friendly encouraging place , with lots of really good advice and there will always be someone along to help. We encourage each other and share our experiences, it is a brilliant forum.

Please don't let those nasty remarks put you off parkrun. I have one word - T*ssers !

Hope you feel better soon xxx

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My husband once said "There's only one thing I hate more than cross country running and that's cross country runners"... and I understood what he meant. A lot of attitudes and fussing around by close relatives who are runners put me off. The NHS C25K programme showed me *my* way in.

HOWEVER, what you actually wrote was "...some sarcastic remarks from Basildon Park Runners such as "This is called park run not park walk" to their running buddies which really puts me off. " I'd be pretty sure amongst friends this is friendly banter which is welcomed and it sounds as though you know it wasn't meant for you and were clear that they were talking to their friends. (It doesn't sound much like sarcasm either... far too direct!). Yet later you describe yourself as 'disgusted' with your time... you wouldn't dream of describing someone else's time as disgusting, you don't approve of people chiding their mates in a Parkrun context however jokily meant (and I think you have a point because as you say, it affects other people's confidence)... but you'll talk about yourself seriously that way?!

It is a familiar story... it so often seems to be the fit ones who run into difficulties! And you seem to have been particularly horribly afflicted... as others have said, this warrants some serious investigation and then when you have more information you might be able to have a look at C25K and discover how much more fun you can have running.


I assume the comments were not supposed to make it to my ears, but they were made just as myself and my friend were overtaken and there was no one else in earshot. The effect when I am well outside my comfort zone (this was the 2nd time I have run off a treadmill) isn't positive. There were plenty of "get out of the way" statements as I got lapped but they didn't phase me.

I would never be anything but positive about other peoples times. I just cant understand how I can be so bad at running hence my self deprecation.


hi paul

Sounds as if you might have a problem with your biomechanics..ie the way you run...Have you considered going to see a physio or maybe its your shoes...if you go to a running shop they will analyse your gait and running style...could be a simple problem like the wrong type of shoes...



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