Fitness not improving and now knee pain! - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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Fitness not improving and now knee pain!


Ok, so I knew I wasn't very fit to begin with. I have now done week 1 and 2 sessions of week 2. I don't feel my fitness has changed at all. I still feel slightly out of breath when I run upstairs, exactly the same as before I started. Am I expecting too much too soon? If my fitness doesn't improve as I go along, I can't really move on to week 3 though, as I'm only just managing to do the 90 seconds at a time jogging (and that's a slow jog). Actually I do remember when I was younger, I used to cycle a regular 4 mile route, twice a day for 2 years. It never got any easier, I always found the last mile difficult. So it seems to me my fitness levels do not build up. Is that possible?

Also I'm getting pain around my left knee cap, just below and to the outer edge. I don't know whether to ignore it and push on, or rest. It's not really bad, just a niggle. I did look at knee strengthening excercises and in one part it says when bending your knee make sure it points in the same direction as your foot. But my thigh is rorated at my hip joint to actually my knee and foot are out of alignment by nearly 45 degrees, so that's physically impossible for me. Maybe that's why I'm getting the pain? Any advice much appreciated.

11 Replies

Hey .. your fitness will undoubtedly increase. It takes a bit longer than this to see the benefits. Definitely keep going and you'll be amazed in the end. I can now run for 5K quite comfortably, and I've never run at all before this program.

Not sure about yr knee, but take extra rest days when you feel you need to. Do loads of stretching, leg strengthening exercises and elevate and ice if it aches after a session.

Good luck.

Sounds like you should go see a physio or podiatry person. I spent an hour with podiatry bio mechanics person for a problem I had. Its great to start the program but you don't want to have any injury because of misalignment. Theres no problem staying at the same week until you feel fitter, or sort your knee out.

go see a physio or podiatrist as it might be your feet not getting the correct support and alignment therefore everything is off centre

I damaged my ankle and needed to go to physio, who has worked wonders but I cant run on the ground yet, but she diagnosed my flat feet which is why I found running so hard and painful so need special insoles for my knee to point forward instead of at an angle (like you)

anyway every week is hard (I know from previous attempts on the program) having two weeks on week 2 or 3 isn't bad, I used to do a trial week 4 r1 then back to w3 just to phase it in

how about when doing the second w3 you try a few runs to be longer than 'laura' tells you

Thanks for the suggestions. With the fitness, I guess I just need to be patient. As far as my knee/leg is concerned, I did have this looked at as a kid, and it's called "internal rotation of the hips". It basically means my thigh bone is in the hip socket rotated inwards, so if I stand with my feet facing forwards and bend my knees, the knee on my left leg bends inwards instead of forwards. It's really common, many people have it without realising, but mine is quite severe. I guess it may have an effect on running. I did ask once, years ago, but the doc wasn't really interested and just said try swimming if it bothers you. I guess I could start by asking my GP what she thinks.


Wait until you finish week 3 or so and then go back and do a run from week 1. I bet you'll realize the fitness you've gained then. The first way that I noticed my fitness improving wasn't that the runs felt easier. Rather it was that I was recovering on the walk breaks faster.


Going for five runs is not an intensive regime, so I am afraid you will have to be patient. C25k works on the basis of gentle progression, with you in charge of the pace at which you move on. By the time you complete a week, you will be ready, despite your doubts, to move onto the next week. After about three weeks you will realise that you are doing more than before, so stick with it and in a few weeks time you will be really proud of your own achievement.

As for your knee, lots of good advice here, but any persistent pain should be referred to a health professional. Learning to run will teach you so much about your own body and how to look after it while accomplishing feats that you previously could not even dream of. It requires care and patience. Good luck.

I definitely found that my fitness levels did not build up at the rate that meant I could follow this programme as specified. I have had to repeat runs and whole weeks many, many times, and feel like it's taking ages to get any better. I've been on the plan since the start of November, running 3 times a week, and still not managed to complete Week 6. I am doubting I will ever run the full 30 minutes, but hey, I'm still benefitting from the exercise.

So don't be despondent. We're all different, and not everyone progresses or builds fitness at the same rate. Just be proud of yourself for getting out there - you will benefit, even if progression is slow.

By the way, I also had knee pain in the first few weeks, but it did slowly get better as my muscles strengthened. Hopefully yours is the same thing, but do seek professional advice if it carries on.


If you have a known knee problem go and ask your GP for a referal to a podiatrist or physio. My kneecaps are misaligned (also common and underdiagnosed) and my podiatrist was able to make me custom insoles that let me run. The solution to your issue might not be insoles but there is probably one somewhere out there. Don't wait for it to cause a real problem.

In the meantime, take it gently.

I agree with ajwyld. Your case sounds too specialised for a GP to advise on with regard to running. I'd try and see a physio. There will be a reason for the pain but we can't be sure what it is. Even just 1 or 2 sessions to sort out if you need to correct the way your foot strikes the ground and learn relevant strengthening exercises would be better than doing something wrong and ending up on the innury couch.

I finished W3 last Sunday, having run with pain in my knees for about a week. I'm now in a position where I have been struggling to walk - so have had to rest from running all week. My advice would therefore be, take a break until your knee pain has gone! Good luck.


i had knee pains in the same places for ages and got really fed up with it. i ve been doing regular stretches every day for a few weeks now and yesterday ran without a twinge. i find trying to touch my toes really helpful as you can feel the strech but it does take a week or two to start working

its worth a try i think

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