Couch to 5K
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Beginner - Help!

Hi Everyone - I am brand new to Couch to 5K, i literally started it on Tuesday, so today I need to go again but my muscles hurt sooooo much! Just walking hurts! Any tips?!

I am not particularly overweight but have never really done any form of exercise so my body is clearly struggling! On tuesday I also found the hardest part was my breathing, i was so short of breath my chest hurt - anyone else had the same problems?!

Thank you!

12 Replies

All I can say is that when I first started I felt sick often. It gets better as your body adjusts. I used to get back and ice my knees if they were sore. I also did knee strengthening exercises. Have at least one rest day in between. I had two. I also took Vit D tablets which helped a lot with muscle aches.

It took me three months to graduate and one year later I run three times a week usually for 30 minutes at a steady pace and love it. I'm 61 in May and if I can do it anyone can!!!!

Keep going you will get there.👍


Hi Jess, have a look at yatesco post 'I wish I knew..' The video is great and has helped me... Keep going it's a slowly slowly but you will get there don't beat yourself up I was there and now feel great! And everyone has had hard days and set backs but take heart you will if you keep following this forum and Laura get to the goal! 😉 Good Luck...


Here's the "I wish I knew" post from Yatesco:

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Main piece of advice - take it nice and easy - go SLOW.

Think JOGGING not "running" :-)

Good luck for today !



Take more than one rest day if you need it. I took plenty of extra rest days in the beginning when I was too sore or had any kind of pain. Most important is listening to your body. And going slowly. Go slow during the running intervals, the object is to just keep moving the entire time. There's no rush either with speed or the time you need to finish the programme in. Many people have taken more than 9 weeks for a variety of reasons. Good luck!

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You have to be really slow!

Also, if you have not exercised then clearly the aching is understandable. Don't worry, just take an extra day's rest. When you go for the next session go really slowly ☺

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Well done for starting! Rest more if you need to, there's no hard & fast rules with c25k, but don't run too fast just above walking pace is good enough, if you push it in the early days then you will get sore, and gently massage & stretch, limberup & 5 min warm up walk also, and 5min cool down walk and rest days a big must.😊

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Hi Jess, I agree with everyone above about speed, keep it slow, even when you think your going slow, you can go slower.

The breathing will get easier, keeping your body and head upright allows you to intake more air. It's natural to struggle with this at first.

If you don't feel up to the "run" today, go for a walk to loosen those stiff aches, not doing anything at all won't help. Also, try to start the flex and stretch podcast for non-running days as this will help strengthen your muscles which will make the running easier eventually.

You've done the hardest bit by starting the program, the next runs will get better but please.......go slowly and listen to your body.


Hi Jess - most importantly, try to relax, and take it as slow as you can. If you need to, take a couple of weeks of going out and just walking at a brisk rate for half-an-hour to an hour to build up to the first week again. You're using muscles that you've not pushed that hard for a while, so some aches are normal. Also, take comfort in the knowledge that there are those (myself included) who repeated weeks or runs until we were comfortable with them.

With regards to the breathing, again it's a matter of running as slow as possible. You're not looking to try to cover 5k at the moment, just get moving a little faster than walking pace for your "running" segments. Don't try to rival Usain Bolt, don't even think about trying to beat a tortoise at the moment - it's more about conditioning yourself for the later weeks little by little.

There are times when I find my breathing a bit more laboured than I'd like at the moment when I'm out. I go through a mental checklist:

- are my shoulders relaxed? Can I drop them down a bit?

- are my arms relaxed? Am I balling my hands up into fists? (I aim not to have my elbows at 90 degrees, and if my hands are crossing my centre line, I need to drop my shoulders back and open out the chest a bit more)

- is my jaw relaxed?

- have I lengthened my stride or picked up my pace? Can I slow down?

- is my breathing coming from the diaphragm (stomach-breaths), or have I started breathing from higher up in my chest (shoulder-breaths)? Push the breathing back down towards the stomach and fill those lungs from the bottom up.

Once I've run through this and tried to remove any obvious sources of tension, I then try to avoid thinking beyond making the next footfall, and try not to think about how much longer I've still to run. I've not perfected this zen-like moment yet, as it always amazes me the random thoughts that pop into my head, and I'm always thinking that I need to be back home and showered in time to head off to work ;)

Anyway, the short version, slow down, check for any tense areas and relax them, and try not to think beyond putting one foot in front of the other.


Take it slow and steady...calm even breaths. This is is just the beginning... take the advice from the great folks on here too...remember the golden rule at this stage. " doesn't matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop " :)


I would say week one was the toughest week on this programme.. honestly.. get through it however you can.. and you will be well on your way x good luck x


As someone who prior to starting C25k hadn't ran (jogged) since secondary school 30+ years ago I found week 1 hard also but I would have to say slow is the way to go and it will get better and easier and keep posting as everyone on here wants to help you get to the end.


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