Am I running too fast: A fairly new person to... - Couch to 5K

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Am I running too fast

pete_be_healthy profile image
19 Replies

A fairly new person to running so had some questions about pacing. I'm doing the C25K after having lost about 6 and a half stone through diet and gym work, but not running due to stress on knees.  Now down to about 16 1/2 stone  

Now doing running, and so far loving it, but it's early days. Week three and wondered how fast I should be running, I'm also on a treadmill so that makes life a little easier to judge pace, I also use a heart rate watch (polar m400)

Walking at 6km/HR seems reasonable for the walk bit, and for run part I've got it set at 11km/HR so far managing this but it's ok, is the general principle that if you can do it, then the pace is about right. If I go longer and it gets too hard, presumably I drop my speed. 

At present I'm pretty much maxing heart rate in the three minutes which also makes me question whether I'm running too fast, but perceived effort whilst high is not astronomical. So do I take notice of the numbers, or follow what my body's telling me and if I can do it, I should do it. 

Thanks for any responses. 


19 Replies
AncientMum profile image

Blimey, if you're running at max heart rate then definitely slow down. The object is to run for the specified time, not to run quickly. Speed will come eventually but at the moment you should just aim for what Laura calls a light jog. Later in the programme she'll suggest you speed up at the end of a run if you want to, but certainly not at w3. At the moment you're learning to run and getting your heart lungs and legs used to the effort involved. So slow right down and enjoy yourself.

simonwilliamstutor profile image

I would suggest that 11km/hr is a bit too fast for the run parts. Why not knock it down to 10.5 or even 10? Through C25K I was doing around 9km/hr (that was outside though) and that was probably too fast.

You'll soon be running 5, 8, 10 and 20 minutes at a time so you'll need a pace that you can maintain for that long.

John_W profile image

Hi Pete,

That's a really interesting post. I too did the C25k on a treadmill but I'm only 10 stone and hadn't had to lose any weight beforehand. I think your general approach, to lose the weight first, is very sensible. And I'm seriously impressed with how much you've lost.

You seem, like me, a numbers guy and I can understand the interest in your heart rate.  However, at this early stage I'd recommend not being guided by by your watch. "Perceived effort" as you put it, seems more sensible.  Having said that, I agree with AncientMum that if you're flat out re: heart rate, that's too fast.

This time last year I was in Week 9 of C25K - I hadn't run for 25 years. I'd got injured a few months before starting C25k because my 1st attempt at running again saw me go too fast, too far, too soon. I got v painful tendonitis in my ankle.  C25k 'saved' me in that I needed a structured careful progression. So... on the treadmill I did this:

Walk - 6.8 km/k (brisk!)

'Run' - 9.0 km/h (comfortable jog but with high cadence) - and it worked a treat.

Your jogging/running pace should be one at which you can comfortably hold a conversation at, i.e. a "conversational pace". 11.0 km/h for a beginner, especially for someone who's 16st, seems far too quick. Your best bet to completing the program safely and comfortably is to drop the speed. And I'd suggest 9 or 9.5 km/h .

Speed will come once you've finished. In my case, I'm can now do 5k at 12.5 km/h. But it's taken a while to get there.

Hope that helps - good luck,


JoolieB1 profile image

The C25K programme is designed to take us from non runner to being able to run for 5k.  The increasing run times each week will put increasing pressure on you physically and mentally.  Completing the run time at a comfortable speed (where you could still hold a conversation while running) is the aim rather than speed.  You should be aiming for a jog rather than a run.  I graduated 31 weeks ago and my graduation speed was around 8 mins per km.  I did my first 5k in 43 minutes so I would say "slow right down"!  I can now run 10km so don't worry about being slow, the programme will take you to where you need to go.  The important thing is to avoid injury - take rest days, keep the speed down.  Julie

pete_be_healthy profile image

Thanks for the feedback, and yes it seems I am going too fast. as I am slightly given over to numbers if I can find a speed that equates to about 85%mhr then I should be comfortable. 

I also tend to run after a 20 minute elliptical workout for warmup so HR will be up to start with. 

Back to 10kmh and see where we get to I think.  

Thanks for the advice, as you say speed should come I guess it's more important to finish the programme. 


John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to pete_be_healthy

Exactly Pete - just take it nice and easy.

secan profile image

Hi Pete,

According to our lovely Laura, you should keep a pace that allows you to hold a conversation while running.

philmoore profile image

Interesting to get other peoples take on the speed. I do the warm up at 5.5k/hr and run typically at 8.5 to 9k/hr. If I am feeling good toward the end of the run (last 60 seconds), I try to up it a bit, maybe to 10k/hr.

I feel like a bit of a plodder, but I'm happy with that as long as I can do the time. As others have said, speed can come later!

Terrorrun profile image

Hi Pete - I think the others have put it well in terms of slowing down. It may also be worth putting the tredmill on a 1% incline, this just helps mimic the outdoors a bit more and if you choose to combine your runs indoor/outdoor it will be of benefit :) 

pete_be_healthy profile image
pete_be_healthy in reply to Terrorrun

In that case maybe 1% at 10kmh might make sense. As you said, I've always run flat on the treadmill. I am going to run outside at some point, but pacing seems difficult to maintain. 

Again I expect that knowledge will come with experience, I've committed to running with my son in the summer, which should be about 7 weeks away.

Thanks for all the help. 


pete_be_healthy profile image

Park run in the summer as well hopefully. 🏆

Terrorrun profile image

Try it at 10kph @ 1%  - Just remember that 10kph is still really quite quick for a beginner so adjust as needed :) 

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to Terrorrun

I would advise against that - 10.0 kph at 1% for someone new to running and 16 stone is a little too much at this stage.

I'd suggest keeping it flat and at 9.5 kph maximum.

Terrorrun profile image

@John_W is better at this stuff than me - go with his advice :)

davelinks profile image

Pete, don't get hung up on pace numbers at this stage, being a newbie forget about them totally, and just run to the times in the programme, just above brisk walking speed,that's it! It looks like your going too fast, so, be careful or you'll knacker yourself out!.. Btw,well done! And good luck!

Paul46-ipswich profile image

Exactly what dave said

pete_be_healthy profile image

Thanks for the advice everyone.  As suggested I did the next run W3R2 at 6/10kmh. It was certainly easier, heart rate was generally about 15 - 20 beats lower (partly as a result of running earlier in the day) so perceived effort was certainly a lot lower, and was at a reasonable conversation level (probably!). 

That said whilst it was pcertainly easier from a Cardio/pulmonary perspective it wasn't so easy or natural from a mechanical perspective. So whilst it was easier than breathe it almost seemed harder to run because I was going so what I perceived to be slowly. But I'll keep it slow, as I think the effort in running for longer at the higher speed will become harder, probably too hard. 

So thanks for all the advice, and I'm slowing down. For now. 


Sundae8pm profile image
Sundae8pmGraduate in reply to pete_be_healthy

To maintain your leg speed, take shorter strides. I have slowed down to around 10km/h just by taking shorter strides but maintaining cadence.

pete_be_healthy profile image
pete_be_healthy in reply to Sundae8pm

Thanks for that advice, I'll try that.

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