Graduates - how long before 30 mins is 'easy'

Howdy. First - I am starting week 9 next, and I am really proud of my achievement - this isn't an 'encouragement please' type of post (although that is always welcome :-)).

I have found week 7 and week 8 much harder than any of the other weeks (apart from week 1 maybe). Each run felt like a real tough slog - legs burning, breathless etc. It feels like I am really pushing my cardio and muscles. 

The earlier runs felt like that, but it always felt like I was pushing the boundary 10-20% if that makes sense. These runs feel like I ran out of gas halfway through.

To put it another way - week 8 was three 28 minute runs which I completed. I expected at this point I would be able to easily run 20 minutes, and whilst I can obviously run for 20 minutes, it is still a challenge.

I almost feel like I am cheating :-) as I keep thinking "it shouldn't be as hard as this - the other runs weren't."

In summary, things are just harder than I expected they would be, and whilst I am completing the runs (and confident I will complete the 30 minutes next) I don't _feel_ they are getting easier. The whole journey has been pushing through, but the amount of pushing has increased significantly.

So, finally to the question - for graduates who had a similar experience to me - how long before 30 minutes became 'easy' - still challenging, but not a continual fight? Is this 'normal' and should I just stop moaning and get on with it ;-)?

P.S. I removed 'The Runs' and 'Gas' tags that the website automatically edited - thanks for that!

29 Replies

  • I'm not sure any run is ever easy if you're doing it right!  As you get better at running, you probably don't even notice that you're going a little bit faster or have slightly better form, and unless you are actively trying not to challenge yourself, you'll probably still be finding it slightly hard work.  I think the difference once you become a regular 30 min plus runner is that you start noticing the world around you more and enjoy that rather than clockwatching and worrying about how much you are huffing and puffing.  Once you graduate, it's quite fun to do lots of different types of runs - some fast, some slow, some long, some short, some with walk breaks, some endurance ... I think the day you find it easy and stop challenging yourself is the day you go back to the couch!

  • But no-one should have to feel they are challenging themselves every time they go out. That was a thought that put me off ever starting.

  • I still, I am afraid, find every run a challenge!  Perhaps I'm doing something wrong??!!

  • Perhaps that says something about me.  I am very stubborn.  When I'm finding something hard, I don't give up.  My dad always called me a 'cussed mare'.  I think he may have been right.

  • Hi yatesco, ha ha, it's never easy! From my personal experience, it has taken my body a lot longer than I thought to understand what I want to do and that this is a regular occurrence.  (I graduated about 2 years ago - did too much too soon and got plenty of overuse injuries)   I run twice a week, usually parkrun and one longer distance, up to 10k.  I used to get burning legs etc., but not any more, I still get the gremlins and my body still goes into panic mode occasionally when I first start, I've just learned to ignore it.  I have added in an exercise bike  2x a week, 20 minutes or so, just recently which has helped a lot. - and improved my times a bit.

    Right now I'm loving it, concentrating on getting more confident with 10k, to be honest running wasn't the reason I started the programme, that has been a side effect, so I have no desire to be super speedy or run longer distances - but I wouldn't be without it now.....

    We're all different, I've learnt that my body does not like too much high impact, and takes time to adjust, overall it's more a confidence thing I think.

    Happy running 😄


  • Pretty much what UIOLI said. It's hard work pretty much every time I go out for a run. As you get better your pace gradually picks up etc without you even being aware of it. I think you run to a perceived effort level, rather than a  set rate.

    Having said that I understand what you are asking. Of course it wll vary from person to person dependent on age, bodytype etc, but I would say if you are consistent with your thrice weekly runs you should expect to be into the 'autopilot' stage in maybe 3 months. somewhere between 3 and 6, certainly. I have found this to be generally true in most things I do - it takes 2- 3 months at the beginning to get the basic mechanics of the thing, and then another 3 months or so for it all to be committed to muscle memory and the joints and tendons and neuro-muscular system and all that stuff to make the adaptations, and then you can just do the thing without really having to think about it or coughing your lungs out etc.

    People often seem disappointed about 'how long' these things take, but if you think about what is actually happening, it's pretty damn quick really.

  • Great answer!

  • This is actually really encouraging, rather than disappointing, to read. I like to have an idea of what I might expect after week 9 is over (hoping I get there!), especially as I found my run yesterday to be exactly as yatesco describes. I don't mind waiting a few months!

  • Sorry to butt in Yatesco I just wanted to say I am so glad I am not the only one who feels like that!!

    After my fabulous 40 minute run last Sunday I thought 25 mins on Tuesday would be a breeze, oh god it nearly killed me yet again. I really do have to push myself to do it even though I want to stop. Last night was the same, even without the injury I was asking myself if I could actually manage 25 mins. 

    You're doing so so good & you really don't come across as if you find it a struggle & I always look forward to reading your posts :)


  • Your body is programmed to save energy, so it will inevitably tell you that you are off your rocker when you force it to run around for fun (you can put that in quotation marks if you wish).  Whether you run for five minutes, thirty minutes or two hours, your instinct and the basic rules of biology will be running as constant background noise,  telling you to stop. Runners call them gremlins, but they are explained by basic biology: energy should not be wasted on futile occupations. 

    Having said that, you get on top of it, and your brain soon gets a twisted kick out of getting one over on your basic instinct - I think that's what it's all about. As useitorlose it says, you eventually find yourself switching off and thinking about other things - it took me a few months after graduating to hit that point, probably when running became part of my routine rather than a specific challenge. 

  • Love the quotation marks comment :-). 

  • I guess it depends greatly on how much you are pushing yourself speed-wise. If you keep things slow then 30 minutes will start to feel easier before too long. If you up the pace then it will take a lot longer.

  • Keep going slowly and you'll get there quicker. I know it sounds perverse but it's true. You can crash and burn or keep chugging away, taking care and getting there. OK it takes time but you'll get there in one piece.  I might get into trouble here but I think men tend to want to push too much as they are naturally competitive and want things to happen yesterday.  Stick with the task carefully and diligently and you'll be running mindlessly before you know it. Or should I say, "in the zone".

    Your health, diet, strength, stamina, puff, determines how quick you'll be running smoothly. I think good diet, staying hydrated, plenty of sleep etc all play a part; it's not just the running. 

    Good luck and happy running!

  • As above really... I've been running for about 18months and its still not "easy"... I'll let you know when it is... but don't hold your breath for a quick reply :-)

  • Thanks all - you all rock! Rather than reply individually can I do this instead:

    In summary:

     - continue at a slow pace for a couple of months after graduation to continue building a base

     - it's naturally 'against the grain' due to biology

     - it's never 'easy' as once you have fixed X you seamlessly move onto fixing Y so there is always a challenge

     - you guys/gals rock!

    And my person comment which I forgot to add - even though it is hard, it's great too! I never knew it would be so addictive :-).

    Thanks again all.

  • Completely agree - it never gets easy. If you slow right down though it can be a lot easier, but most of us want to improve and are always running at a level which is difficult. 

    Play around with your speeds - you've got more than one. I did a 10 k run yesterday (only graduated 6 weeks) really slowly and was surprised how easy it was. And then a 4 k will completely floor me because I'm trying to run faster. 

  • Yep never easy & as Miss W says you will get faster gradually without even realising it. My 5k this morning felt really hard (& obvs took me longer than 30mins) but when I've looked at my pace I was much quicker than my normal shuffle is............ 

  • I can say that even now I have cracked 10k and would say I run both 5 and 10 'comfortably' ,neither are what I would describe as "easy"! Sometimes a 5k run can still be a hard one! 

  • I still struggle with short runs, but what keeps you going is when you start to slip into the zone.  You'll be running along, huffing and puffing and hating the effort and then... it's as if angels descend from above and magically move you along.  You feel effortless as your route passes by.  You're a gazelle running through the fields.  It's surreal, like a dream.  You feel that you could run forever and ever.... and then as suddenly as it started, you have a swift return back to your turtle self huffing and puffing along.  

    Doesn't happen every run, and usually don't last long for me.  On a rare occasion, that's the entire run.  Those are glorious and worth every curse and slog.

  • Love this description....I sometimes say 'a fizziness starts in my legs, travels up my body and it's like my body takes over my mind!' But like you say it doesn't always happen :( 

  • I think Weeks 7 and 8 can be the toughies for some when the reality of running as a regular way of life comes into view stretching way off into the distance... and never forget the possibility that the correlation may not be causation, you might just be a bit under the weather or something.

    If you are not enjoying this (or, at a push, at least enjoying how you feel *afterwards*) you are unlikely to keep it up, and keeping it up is the point. There should perhaps start to be brief periods in your runs when it feels good, even if they are sandwiched by screaming gremlins mostly talking bollocks. If this is something you have yet to experience (I think you will this week as the graduation ribbon hoves into view), then it may be time to do some tweaks - easing off the pace, looking forward to using your own choice of listening (including silence), running somewhere there is plenty to interest you, and different routes.

  • I think maybe it just happens in its own time?? I graduated at Christmas, but only now, four months on, is it really, most of the time, second nature. 

    Some thirty min' runs, seem harder than longer ones...sometimes. Yet, this morning, in foul weather at the crack of dawn ( well. not quite) 35 mins seemed to fly by.

    We are all so very different, and what is happening with your body and mind on the day, must play a huge part.

    I feel, maybe, the slight, stress of the 'end in sight' is subconsciously there in your mind?

    You will do this :)

    I feel, also, that when you have, and do a few runs, without pressure, just for the hell of it, that you will run for the time and later on, beyond the time, naturally and probably without even noticing it as useitorloseit and Rignold say.:)

    Just go with it, slow and steady... you will get there!

    What's the quote..?Have Patience, all things are difficult, before they become easy :)

  • Thanks all - (again, rather than replying to each and every appreciated reply, please allow me to summarise here).

    I _do_ enjoy the runs, and there are fleeting moments of, well, maybe not a gazelle :, but at least a period when it all comes together, almost like I have found my natural rhythm.

    Let me put it this way - I'm not stopping, even if every run takes this much effort :-), it was really about managing my expectations.

    And excellent call-out to the causation/correlation prompt, too true. I am still battling the after effects of that hideous virus everyone seems to have come down with (around these parts anyway).

    Another excellent point is the negatives of 'finishing' the c25k programme and then facing the untamed wild.

    Again, thanks all - keep them coming :-).

    Oh, and if you don't think all these comments are helping, they really are - I am now looking forward to my last w8r3 run tomorrow even more than I was before.

  • Initial summary almost correct, except

    " - continue at a slow pace for a couple of months after graduation to continue building a base"

    should read

    " - continue at a slow pace for the rest of your life after graduation to continue building a base."

  • I think it took me 6 months post graduation to get to the point where I was regularly comfortable doing a 30-40 minute run. By comfortable I mean all of the following:  not needing to walk parts of it, having the ability to up my pace for sections during it (if needed), recovering heart rate quickly, no twinges during the run, and not having major stiffness later in the day.  That said, the first 5-10 minutes of a run always feels tough, it seems to take that long for my breathing to settle into a rhythm.  Some runs just don't feel right even today. 

  • Thankyou for asking this, yatesco. I don't have anything constructive to say, but the I've read all the way through this thread, and gained some really useful and encouraging information from it. Go you - you can do it!

    (Also, one of my posts featuring Steph was adorned with the tags "Antibiotics" and "The runs"...)

  • I think there will come a day when 5K is an easy outing, but once in a while it can still shock you by being really hard, bad day, not eaten, just not feeling right. 

    What took my ages to learn, was run slower, every run should not be flat out otherwise you end up injured, one flat out run per week, one slow slow run and then intervals or something. 

    Also when you graduate, don't forget that it is ok to walk occasionally, it just an interval and they are good for you.

    Enjoy, still addicted nearly 4 years later 😊

  • Thanks again all - week nine day one today. 

    One of you mentioned the negative impact of approaching the end of the plan, and yes, I can recognise that. On the other hand, actually, graduation week at the end of week 9 is a little arbitrary - I think it is true to say that every week is a graduation/there is no graduation. 

    The motivation for this post was my expectation that graduation had some notion of reaching a threshold, which doesn't/didn't feel true. For me, it is more helpful to think in terms of actually this is just week 9 of a 40 year journey, next week will be week 10 and then week 11 etc., because the learning never stops.

    Don't get me wrong, I _love/d_ this program - I am so grateful, but my mistake was thinking that I would be 'a runner', where 'a runner' is defined as one of those effortless gazelles you see racing around the park.

    I _am_ a runner, but the journey/learning has nowhere near finished, it has only just begun, and I can't wait :-).

  • Another thank you for this post I was wondering the same thing  😃

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