Ankle pain: Hello everyone, I've just completed... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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Ankle pain


Hello everyone,

I've just completed week 2 run 3 but barely. While I notice that my lungs and my legs can certainly take it, my ankles cannot and I think that my stride is fatally wrong. When I started the program, I found it enjoyable but noticed that I made quite the loud stomping sounds. I've tried many things to adjust this during my past runs; taking shorter strides, landing on the balls of my feet, landing with my foot beneath my body, not in front of it but nothing seems to make it any better.

I've read tips like: "try to imagine you're running on eggs and trying not to break them", but every time I start running my body comes down with way too much force I think. It feels like my body is a heavy sack of potatoes that I'm lifting with each step and then letting it fall to the ground again if you understand what I mean. Don't get me wrong, I'm nowhere near overweight; I just stomp like crazy and my stride is not smooth. At all. Even if I make an effort to land with my feet directly below my body, my heels still touch the ground and I seem to land flat footed every time, no matter how hard I try not to. Running on the balls of my feet hasn't helped either and this feels awkward and uncomfortable anyhow.

Does anybody have any tips? I was planning to do run 1 of week 3 in two days, but would it be better to rest until my ankles don't hurt anymore? I really do not want to give up running, even if this would mean restarting the entire program.

Best regards (and don't forget to vote!),


18 Replies

As a very recent graduate (yesterday in fact) I would advise three things, although there are many more experienced runners on here than me (still find it odd referring to myself as a runner)

1 Take an extra rest day or two and then slow your pace right down, run as slowly as you can

2 Forget about concentraing on how your feet land and you stride pattern ( I had a a few runs trying to do that and it made the problem I was having, hip pain, worse, didn't enjoy the running either, so just run and enjoy, but very very slowly!

3 Go along to a "proper" running shop, not Sports direct or any of the big sports chains, and consider getting some decent running shoes after having some "Gait analysis" done. I did my graduation run in new shoes last night, after having gait analysis done I bought some new running shoes, more support and more stablility, what a difference, it's like wearing slippers and running on clouds now.

misswobbleGraduate in reply to Big-Andy

Slow things right down, small steps. Laura tells you this early on. Light jogging is what's needed. No need for speed or over striding. If you try and go too quick you slam your legs, which will hurt.

Don't be over-anxious, it's just a short spell of walking with a few jogs thrown in ☺

Your body does feel the strain if it's new to exercise but that's to be expected.

LizziejjGraduate in reply to Big-Andy

I am not an experienced runner but my suggestions would be to have a look on youtube - I found lots of useful advice there regarding running style. One of the most useful people I found is George Anderson, who has youtube videos and a book. I have found his advice re running stride, how to position your body and breathing to be enormously helpful. Of all his suggestions, the one he emphasises the most, is to slow down.


Hi there. Sorry you're having ankle pain. Big-Andy is absolutely right - if you haven't had gait analysis done, it may well be you are running in the wrong shoes and they are causing the pain by not supporting you. I started C25K in the trainers I had and by Week 3 was crying from the pain in my shins. I went to a proper sports shop where they took a lot of time to find the right shoes for me and lo and behold, the very next run - no shin pain! When I came to replace those shoes of course they no longer did that model and it took ages to find a good replacement. Shoes matter if you have a non-neutral gait. It's worth a try anyway - if they say that your shoes are find, go to your GP and just check that there isn't another problem lurking.

I hope you can sort it out and get on with the programme. Best of luck!


Also worth trying out the experience of running on a different surface. Some are more forgiving than others.


Hi FU2016

Sorry to hear about your pain. But don't despair!

As the other two guys have recommended I would get a proper gait analysis done. I didn't do this until I put my back out and after a slow recovery was amazed to see the video of my running style and not at all surprised by the damage running on standard off the peg shoes did.

I ended up having orthotics made to measure and now wear these in every pair of 'sensible' shoes I own. It's made a huge difference to long distance walking too! Not all people will need made to measure, and I would advise you to check to see if a standard orthotic from your podiatrist will work.

Then finding a pair of good running shoes, that work with the orthotics is the final piece of the jigsaw. I ended up with a pair of Brooks, which fit like a glove and were about the same price as the original shoes I started with.

One other thing worth considering is ankle, calf and knee strengthening exercises. I genuinely believe that we all benefit from this kind of thing if we are going to subject our joints to the impact of running. There are lots of these online.

Good luck and happing running.


John_WAmbassador in reply to mo-mentum

I have custom-made orthotics too and they have, running and fitness wise, changed my life :-)


As MissWobble says... small steps will help.

Have you heard of the "Army Shuffle" ?

Have a look at this:

Hope that helps.

And yes, get some gait analysis done and get yourself a pair of really comfy shoes :-)

Good luck!


HelsbelswhatamIdoingGraduate in reply to John_W

this is interesting as this is how I run (Wk8), and had been concerned that I wasn't striding out - I don't think I'd last 28 mins if I did. Not sure I go as fast as that lady though!

FU2016, I got my gait analysed after reading lots of comments on here, I LOVE my shoes, comfiest things ever. It is worth the "feeling a bit silly on the treadmill in the shop" feeling.

Good luck!



When I started out I too had really painful ankles. I could cope with the breathing and everything else but my ankles were always the first to go. I went along to a local sports store where they had a treadmill to measure my gait. It only took about 10 mins and they found that I have what is called over pronation. That means that my legs twist inwards when I run, so they are not perpendicular to the floor. It was really obvious when they showed me on the screen. They suggested shoes and insoles to correct for it. My first thought was that they would be a fortune but they were not at all. What a difference it made. The first run out was a pleasure and pain free. Perhaps you have something similar.


When I first started I got shin splints. Changing my shoes made a huge difference. (although I am saving my gait analysis for when I graduate!!) I would also suggest you don't try to run through the pain. Take a few days rest, get your foot wear sorted and try again. I'm sure you'll be fabulous. :-)

Hello everybody!

Thanks for the (unbelievably fast) replies. Gait analysis seems inevitable for me. I live in a very urban area and I do know of a shop specialised in running and they do analysis too. But going there is quite the threshold for me as I have seen the prices of their shoes and they are steep at best. I have got my current pair of running shoes (Nike Flex Experience RN 4) from a sports discounter with prices that (to me) are still rather on the high side, but at least affordable. The buying experience basically came down to me trying on different shoes and walking (not running) a short distance in them which may just have been too little. I just don't want to have an analysis done and then not buy anything or go on the internet to find their recommended pair for less - I know this is common practice nowadays, but personally I find it quite rude.

HelsbelswhatamIdoingGraduate in reply to FU2016

When i had my gait analysis done (I also over-pronate), they had a sale on and I got a fab pair of shoes reduced by 50% because they were "last season's colour". I actually preferred them to this season. If they're a good shop they'll give you several options, depending on your budget.


I too had a problem with my ankle, After one particular run my ankle swelled up, and after an hour from the run I could not walk. It turned out to be a sprained ankle, It took over 5 weeks to recover, after the swelling receded I was advised do some ankle strengthening exercise, plus I bought some orthotic sports Insoles. Since then I have had no re-occurring issue. I now have orthotic Insoles in all my shoes. These are the ones I bought if it helps. for my running shoes. These have made a real difference for the better :)


Ask if they have old stock, last years colours/ styles or what's on sale

Go in with your budget firmly in your mind, if you have to then source the shoes elsewhere so be it, can't spend more than you've got

And don't forget the photo 😉

"I've tried many things to adjust this during my past runs; taking shorter strides, landing on the balls of my feet, landing with my foot beneath my body, not in front of it but nothing seems to make it any better. "

This is what you are doing wrong.

Forget all about how you are "supposed" to run. Do not attempt to change the way you have been ambulating your entre life until now. Do not listen to yur footfalls or worry which part of your foot you are landing on. Do not listen to anyone even Laura, who tells you you should be doing something different. Everyone who ever reads 'Born to Run' has a sudden epiphany about how we should be forefoot striking and wearing sandals made of pieces of car tyre and becomes a born-to-run again zealot insisting that this is the only way forward. And 7 weeks later thet are on the injury couch because they are suddenly trying to reinvent their foot. There is nothing wrong with forefoor striking, don't get me wrong. I am a midfoot striker and that's just my genetics or the way I learned to walk 50 years ago, not a conscious change. The way to footstrike is the way you footstrike, certanly at this stage of the game.

Do the programme first. Get to running 30 mins. Work on strengthening your joints and muscles and soft tissues and getting your neuromuscular system used to the whole schlemozzle. Then start thinking about tweaking your form.


After reading Bazza's post a few days ago, yesterday I tried to when running, lean forward from the ankles very slightly and get up on the balls of the feet sometimes, and it took off the heavy pounding noise a tad, I could feel the calves twinging a bit though. So seems a good reliever when the pounding gets loud, but couldn't run up on the toes indefinitely made a nice change..

I also have pain twinges from my left ankle, caused by numerous ankle sprains through going over on platform healed fashion shoes more than 40 years ago..but luckily, no pain when running..😊

Hello again,

thanks for the additional replies. I will visit the runners' shop as soon as my schedule will allow for it. I'm not sure whether I will be running the day after tomorrow, it depends on how my ankles will feel. If I feel the slightest amount of pain in any position, I'll take an extra rest day as injury will probably set me back a lot more than resting a couple more days. And yes, I will keep my budget in mind; in my opinion a professional running shop should focus on its customers' needs, not on its own agenda of selling the most expensive products.

Another question though: How tightly should I tie my shoelaces? Should my feet have some playroom around the ankles or should the shoes sit tight like a second skin?

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