Couch to 5K
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Warming up/stretching

Hi all,

Tomorrow will be W4R2 for me, really enjoying the programme but I'm finding the backs of my calves are quite painful when I start the warm up walk (probably exacerbated by the fact that where I live the start of any route is uphill, so I'm always walking uphill to start off).

Do you all just use the 5 minute warm up on the podcast as your warm up, or do you stretch as well? Are there specific stretches you use if so? By the time I've finished the walk my legs usually feel okay to go or just have little twinges, but I'm concerned about doing any damage when the running distances get longer if I'm starting to run when it's a bit painful...

Thanks in advance!

6 Replies


To warm up before the walk I do some leg swings, high steps and I also stretch my tfl's as mentioned in this article

as I was suffering a bit from groin/hip pain and this seems to help.

After the cool down walk I do some calf raises and dips and also some lunge stretches (again for the groin).

Seems to work for me.


I had VERY similar at same stage... had advice to go and get proper running shoes and gait analysis done.. ( reluctantly) I did and never felt a twinge after I got shoes that fitted my running gait.... additionally having PAID for running shoes.. made me HAVE to complete course , since I'm a mean b*gger... not saying that IS what causing your problem.. just a thing to consider...


I don't do any extra stretches but I have changed the 5 minute warm up walk to a 10 minute one. I walk as far as the 5 minute one took me and then turn on the Podcast. I have found that that gets me warm enough so my legs don't ache when I start. Good luck!

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I had the same problem with my calves when I started - I live in high heels so was struggling with running shoes at the beginning! As the weeks progressed I started doing stretches before I started, then paused the podcast after the 5 min warm up walk and did some more stretches before the first run. I literally just need to push my heel into the group and raise my toes to feel my calves stretch (along with some of the more traditional warm up stretches which we were taught in school PE, etc). At the beginning I really feel the stretch and can tell I'm loosened up a little when I do the same position but can't feel the stretch in my muscles so strongly. You'll soon work out when you're warmed up by how your body feels.

I am now on W5 and since last week I have also tried to make sure that my foot lands beneath me and that I don't stride too far forwards and that has made a huge difference to how my calves feel too.

I am by no means an expert so someone may have better advice but that's what has worked for me :)


Had the same problem when I was doing the programme. Calf stretches and more calf stretches. It's now second nature to hang off an escalator step or when I am waiting for the kettle to boil! Also look at your shoes and maybe think of a foam roller


I've had some extremely poor experiences with pre-exercise stretching and have an active aversion even to seeing anyone else doing it (too long to explain why!), so the 5 minutes warm up walk and not being asked to do any stretching before or after was a big attraction of the NHS C25K programme.

One thing I've found though is that for me, literally warm calves are important and I only run in cropped bottoms when it is really very warm, otherwise I do seem to get little twinges.

I do 10 minutes of yoga first thing every morning and that seems to keep me on the straight and narrow.


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