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Couch to 5K
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Feeling a bit defeated already

Hi Guys,

I'm hitting 40 in a few months and decided to start Couch to 5K as a way to lose a bit of weight before my birthday. I'd previously followed it and got to week 3 without too much trouble but then for one reaosn or another I didn't complete the program.

On Sunday I went for my first run and got through it without too much trouble at all. I followed the podcast to the letter and I was really pleased with myself. I was looking forward to getting out again today for my second run.

However since Sunday my legs are really sore. I was putting it down to muscle ache after my first run and thought it would be fine after a day or so, however I woke up today and they were worse than ever. I definitely didn't feel like I could run. Have I made a mistake? I'm now wondering whether I should've just given it a go and seen how I got on. I'm really disappointed and feel a bit defeated.

I am overweight but do a physical job where I am on my feet most of the day, usually without any problems, so I am not completely unfit. I was just wondering if anyone has any advice about what to do regarding the pain in my legs, I'm certain it's not any sort of injury but would love to know if there's a way to minimise it? I've decided to get out there again on Saturday morning and repeat my first session so I'm really just looking for some advice and support.

Thanks in advance everyone

12 Replies

Do you do any stretches after your run? That can really help with the aches. Also I have Epsom salt baths after most runs as that is also supposed to be good for muscle aches. Doing a few strengthening exercises on rest days might also be a good idea. There are more experienced people on here that might be able to advise you further. Don't get disheartened though, it doesn't matter how long it takes but you will get there.


I second Epsom salts! Great stuff for aching muscles. Cheap too!


I didn't do any stretches as I've read differing views on them and also been told by a running friend (he regularly runs half marathons) that they can sometimes do more harm than good. I'll make sure to do some after Saturday, hopefully that will make a difference. I'll also look into getting some bath salts.


Static stretches before running are generally not a good idea but I find stretching afterwards really helps, or at least I certainly notice the difference if I don't do them


Congrats on getting yourself together and giving it a go again anyways! It might just be delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), something that can happen to anyone if their muscles are trying to adapt to a change in their regular regime. It should usually go away in 1-2 days, if it doesn't, maybe you have gotten a small hiccup injury. Alas, don't let it take you out, whatever it is, it will subside and you can just go run after it feels good :)

Personally, I faced bad knees after every run in the beginning (maybe because I strike with balls of feet, as opposed to heels which Laura suggests in W2), it lasted all the way through W2 and W3. I just used to apply icepack and pain relieving ointment, and take extra day off if my body asked for it. Slowly, as I am now on W5, I feel my knees have become stronger, and the pain does show up after every run, but usually goes away easily before rest day ends. So, it will be easier for you too, if you just don't ignore the importance of rest days, run with a correct posture and give your body time to adapt to the changes. It should become easier down the road.

Others have given great advice, I second them. Take care this time, we are all here to help you through :)

Good luck and do not give up, you can do this.

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Are your shoes good enough? Got enough support? First few weeks I needed to ice my shins, that really helped. Now I stretch particularly my calves throughout the day, on escalators etc. No problems and I have just come back after four weeks out. I am on week 8.


Bazza gave me some good advice when I started, you have to think of your legs making a circular motion, like you are pedalling a bike. It made a massive difference to me, goodness knows what I was doing before!


Firstly, well done for starting again.

Don't panic! Try not to let the doubt-gremlins in!

I don't have a bath but family members all swear by Epsom salts too.

My calves can be a bit annoying, I'm now on week 7.

I have quite a steep hill that I have to walk back up after one of my run routes. It really helps to stretch them out after and I notice that I'm far less tight in the evening/ next morning after that route compared to others.


Thanks everyone for your replies, they're a great help. 

Regarding my shoes they are proper Adidas running ones, I didn't get them fitted but they're in good condition, are the same ones I used before and they didn't give me any problems then, I find them very comfortable. I also wore running socks too.

I definitely think I should've stretched now, quite foolish of me not to looking back. My legs are still a bit sore today but feel a lot better so I'm definitely getting back out there again on Saturday morning.

Thanks again, I'll let you know how I get on, determined to do this!


Good Luck , keep at it !

I definitely recommend the cool down stretches after, I have missed doing them a couple of times and ended up walking like a cross between Frankensteins Monster and John Wayne for a couple of days after . Ha ha ! :-)

Let us know how you go on, we are all rootin' for you ! :-) xxx


I went out this morning again and it felt good! I made sure to stretch properly afterwards too following the routine on the NHS page. Hopefully I'll feel fine to go out again on Monday. Thanks again for all your help, advice and encouragement! 


My legs feel fine today so it looks like not stretching was definitely the cause of the pain! I spoke to my friend again and he assures me he never said not to stretch after a run, just not to stretch cold muscles! I must've misheard/understood him!

Anyway looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow!

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