It's so hard!

I am 37 and started last week so have just gone up to 1.5 minute runs and they are soooo hard. I am a nurse so I walk about for 12 hour shifts  a lot and I have 3 children under 12 so feel like I shouldn't be this unfit, but I cannot finish the last two runs of 1.5 minutes, I need to stop after a minute, despite slowing my pace to significantly slower than my friend who started at the same time as me.   

I made the mistake of looking forwards to see how the course progresses, as 9 weeks just does not seem long enough to get from barely being able to manage 1 min run/2 min walk to running solidly for 5k, and I am now even more petrified!  The jumps between the weeks seem massive to a total newbie but then when you come on this forum and read all the encouraging and positive posts here, it must be possible.....? 

I am enjoying it and am really pleased when I get home that I went out, but I ever dreamt that 1 tiny minute would feel like a marathon!!  


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31 Replies

  • I noticed that you have already seen the post that almost50 made minutes ago. All the same responses could be posted here. Many of us struggled with the short runs in the first weeks, but we all made such progress, and so will you. 9 weeks is enough - trust the programme, go slowly and you will make it. No doubt.

  • It definitely gets easier! I'd say don't look ahead at the schedule, just take each run one at a time.

    I'm only at the end of week 2 and I actually enjoyed my run today- there's no way on earth I thought I'd be saying that at the end of my first run.

  • That's really encouraging 90ldfinch,  Thankyou!  I look forward to truly enjoying it :)

  • Welcome to the couch to 5k.

    Do not worry about finding it hard to begin with---most people struggle at first.

    I am 60 this year and completed the program last year---it took me longer than 9 weeks because some weeks were hard. I just repeated weeks until my body got used to the work.  There are many people on here who did the program in this way and you still get there in the end.  I run 4 days a week now for 40 minutes or so--if I can do it so can anyone.

    Also be sure to run slowly and take as many rest days as you need.  If you have aches and pains or just feel really tired just take an extra rest day--because your body will get stronger on the rest days.

    Don't worry about running slowly as this is the best way to build running fitness---it is tempting to look at what other people are doing but we are all so different--they maybe running faster or slower for all kinds of reasons.  It does not really matter because this is about your fitness and well being.

    Go at your own pace--repeat weeks and also take more walking breaks if you need--Good luck :)

  • I was there!  At week 2, my brother came along with me, as he is a runner. 90 seconds of running left me gasping for air.. my body screaming to stop. I remember saying "Don't quit, don't quit" but feeling like I was going to die.

    That was 7 weeks ago...   I'm now about to Graduate. I ran last night for 31 minutes straight. How??  I have no idea.

    The program frightened the heck out of me. Week to week I looked again and said.. "There is NO way I can run 3 minutes.. there is NO way I can run 5... 8... and then 20!!"  But honestly, You CAN. Follow the program. Believe in it, and mostly believe in YOURSELF.  You are stronger than you know.

    If I can do it... You can do it.  I was the definition of couch potato before this program. And here I am, about to run my first Parkrace on Sunday.

    You can do it. Don't give up.

  • Our minds are very powerful hey?  Thanks for making me feel better about it potterBook :)

  • Any time :)

  • Welcome FS, we are here to encourage you. So far, you've made two mistakes. First, you looked ahead and got yourself worried. Secondly, running with a friend sounds like such a good idea, it gives you the motivation to get out and do the runs. But, it sounds like your friend is a bit faster. That can be disheartening. It is quite common to need to repeat some weeks, and so, if you need to repeat W1 once or several times, just do it. You sound very active with your job, but your body needs to learn about the running gait. That can take a few weeks, and you'll be using very different muscles running compared to walking. So, don't worry. Just have another go, and let your friend progress if they need to. You can do this. You've already taken the hardest step and started the course. As always, we are your daily dose of encouragement and motivation, so keep posting about your progress, and we can all look forward to your 'I ran 5km!!' or 'I ran 10km!!' posts. 

  • Hi Marky D,  thanks for your reply.  You're right I knew as soon as I looked ahead that that was a mistake, and yes running with a friend seemed to give me good encouragement to get out and go, but she is faster than me.  I am more than happy to let her go on at her pace without feeling disheartened, but worry I am holding her progress back as she was a week ahead of me and has dropped back a week to meet me so we could run together.  

    Thankyou again for your helpful words :)

  • The first two weeks I felt after each 'run' that someone had followed me hitting me with a large stick.  The mere idea of getting up to three minutes seemed hopeless.  But I soon started to see a pattern, first run of the week OMG was hard, middle one a little better, third managable.  Some time around week three, I took on board what people were telling me about controlling my thoughts.  I would work out something to think about during the next run, plans for a holiday were good, and then once I got going I would drag this thought out and go into it in massive detail.  Should we book a campsite in Wales or England?  Hire a tent or use the one we have.  Can I sleep on a mat or do I need a blow up bed?  If so do we have a pump..... you get the idea.  The moment I started to do this, the runs just happened.  Yes I would notice that my legs were heavy etc but I was able to put that on one side.  Then I switched from the podcasts to the app and put together my own playlist.  Now I was trotting along lip syncing to Pitch Perfect and focussing on the next line.  Sometimes I ran with my arms doing the dance moves, which must have looked hilarious to any passers by.   What I am trying to say is, DON'T think about it, trust in the little voice in your ear to do the driving, and focus on something else.  It will happen.  I am five stone overweight, 59 years old, and I have never done anything like this in my life.  Week nine and I am running 30 minutes, very slowly, but 30 minutes.  And you know what? I feel fabulous! 

  • Ah well done you! I can't seem to get the app at the moment, only the podcasts but I will keep trying as I like the idea of my own music. Thankyou for your inspiration :)

  • The app can be rather flaky so maybe a good idea not to get distracted by that. Your own music when you've graduated can be a carrot, and sometimes not wanting to hear *that* song again can be what makes the difference between completing a session and not. 

    Your own music sounds very attractive but you are learning to run and developing your own running rhythm, not dance, not chill, not do that walk down the ward in that weird nurse way when you are busy so that you don't get interrupted umpteen times before you get to the other end. (Which is not to say that bulgarianlily's strategy of focusing on something else eg the words of a song doesn't have merits)

  • Be patient. You're growing your runner's legs. It can take some time. Every run helps and so does every rest day. Just repeat your run until you can do it. It isn't necessary to do it with ease, just getting through is enough. The programme worked for me and I was 49 when I did it. Patrick has recently graduated and he is over 70. So don't be hard on yourself, take it easy and be relaxed about it. When your legs have built up strength and your lung capacity has increased, you will definitely complete this run. Are you running with your friend? If so, her pace may be too fast for you, so I'd do it alone and run together later.

  • I like the idea of that, I need to grow my runners legs! thanks for your advice :) 

  • Thankyou, you are all great and encouraging...I didn't think at all that I was going to just put on trainers and go, but I didn't realise how little stamina I was going to have to build up just get to the end of my road... I look forward to having more compliant lungs and leg muscles! 

  • I felt exactly the same, because a minute doesn't sound like long. But it is hard! Keep at it. I am on Week 2 Run 2 and you notice the changes quickly after that initial shock!

  • Hi, you are right, I notice a little change every run... I just completed w3r3 tonight and although the 3 min stints were hard I could do them and felt like I wanted to do more after a little walk at the end of the 2nd 3 min. Keep up your great work too!! :-))

  • Repeat weeks if you have to, I did. Started in Jan and graduated this Thursday. In my head 9 weeks was far to soon for me so I thought I'll get there in my own time. This enabled me to have the confidence from week 5 to then not have to repeat weeks. It's different for everybody but for me, taking it in my own time meant that I am more confident and enjoyed the training more :) Good luck!

  • I really believe you can do it if you take it one run at a time. As the others say, run slowly. I mean as slowly as you can initially, it's about building up stamina, so don't worry if it's barely above a walk. 

    Sometimes I try and make too much child-free time and stay up later - I always benefit from more sleep, is there room for you to catch more?

    Also, I work in an school and I see how many of us are fuelled by coffee time biscuits! (Not just the teachers) I imagine it may be like that for nurses - can you improve energy levels on that front with better nutrition? (Sweeping generalisation,I know, just - but this is one of my goals)

    As others have said, you can repeat weeks/ runs until until you feel comfortable, it doesn't matter how long it takes to get there, but keep moving! Good luck!

  • Yes There's definitely more room for a little more rest/sleep, and probably a few less chocolates on the ward and inbetween the kids clubs! Thankyou :)

  • hi see my post and responses earlier at least you got to the last 2 runs i only made it through the first one without needing to slow down on week one so  well done!  i hope i can get to the last two next week! but i doubt it unless i use Paula Radcliffe as a body double :)

  • Hi and welcome 😊 the hardest part is taking those 1st steps which you have now done ☺ no it isn't easy , does it get better, yeah it does and some 😊

    Half the battle is the mental side, our inner voices are always looking at ways to make us stop or not even get out the door , it is surprising what we can do when we put our minds to it 

    As others have said really dont look to far ahead, take each run as it comes, as for can you do it? To dam right you can, trust the program and believe in yourself 😊

    That 1st min seems to last an eternity but really it is only 1 min ! 

    Progress at your own pace , you can repeat runs as you wish, it is your journey do it your way and enjoy it 

    Good luck and keep posting we are all here with you 😊

  • Hi there, have a read what Josh Clark (from the US) who designed the C25K program, has to say in this interview:

    "Q: If the program is too tough, or a participant is sick or sore one week, is it OK to stretch out the workout for longer than two months?

    Of course. Like any fitness program, the Couch to 5K is just a guideline, and you should feel free to adjust it to your needs. If you feel like you’re not quite ready to take on the demands of the next week, it’s fine to repeat a week or even to go back to the previous week. The important thing is just to get out there, move your body, and make incremental progress. In order to work, it has to be fun, and it has to be within your comfort zone."

    Whole interview here: - i really recommend reading it :-)

    Good luck - you CAN do it!


  • I'm only going to say the same as everyone else, but I'll say it anyway - repeat weeks or part weeks if you need to, and your body will surprise you eventually. I'm on my second go after completing it last year and then having to have cancer treatment, and I've found this both times. You WILL be amazed what you can do. I stood in the road and cried real tears after my first long run because for 50-odd years I and the people around me throught I couldn't do it - and they were WRONG!! Hang on in there.

  • Wow you sound like you have amazing determination Als_mum!! 

  • Like so many people on this forum! Keep posting and you'll get a lot of encouragement from everyone, and that will help too.

  • Welcome aboard !

    Please stop beating yourself up, be kind to yourself . Theres no pressure to complete the programme in 9 weeks, repeat any run as necessary if you feel you have to .

    Slow and steady baby steps, youre off the couch and you got out there, that's the hardest step of all.

    Good Luck and keep going, you can do this ! :-) xxx

  • Yes, the progressions do seem massive when you look at them. I have just finished week four and have decided to put trepidation aside and trust the programme! It has worked so far. Let's see what Monday brings!

  • I was exactly where you 1 run off graduation. Just stick with it. Some days are easier than others for lots of reasons but honestly keep plodding away as slow as you need to & it will happen

  • How ever fast you are going - slow down. From everything that I have read on here that seems to be the advise given most consistently. Good luck - I am sure you can do it!

  • It's possible, Never ran in my life not even for a bus, but my sister and I have just graduated. Won't lie some days are hard but you push through it. Good Luck!

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