Couch to 5K
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A post for the beginners: grad runners - what have you learned?

Off I went on my grad run and I went all reflective! it was so hot, I needed something to distract me. I thought this might be helpful for all those week 1ers out there who think they won't get there. You will!

----Everyone and anyone can run, you just have to be taught like any other sport.

I am the kid that was in tears when always coming last at cross country at school. This has hung over me since then: 'you're not a runner, you never have been, it's just not what you're built for'. Looking back, at primary school, I was expected to be able to run about 3k, just like that, having never run before. No wonder I couldn't do it! And no wonder it terrified me and put me off for the next 20 years.

I learnt that slow isn't bad and you can't go from nothing to running confidently at good pace with no steps in between. It's just a case of building blocks.

----It's all in your head.

My body can do it, it's always been able to do it, it's just my head decided I couldn't. The hardest thing for me was getting my mind to relax and just go with it, let the body take control. Each week I shocked myself at my achievements and gradually managed to silence the gremlins. They still pop back every now again, and always will, but I'm pretty rapid to banish them!

----Go easy on yourself :D

I mainly attribute this to yoga but running helps! I now have an acceptance for what me and my body can do. A gratification that I can do it and not giving myself a hard time when I feel like I under-perform. It's not the end of the world if your legs won't do it today! We're very quick to scathe ourselves but I've come to realise that that just compounds the negativity and then you feel even more rubbish. Let yourself off, you're bossing it!

----It makes calorie counting way easier!

I started calorie counting with my fitness pal and run day is soooo much easier than a non-run day! I've lost a stone since combining mfp & c25k. Here's to the next two!

----I like feeling fit and strong.

I love the next day when you can feel that you went running last night and everything's a teeny bit more toned all over. Combining running with my hot yoga gives me strength, flexibility and stamina that I've never had before!

Fellow grad runners (teeheee!) what have you learned.

18 Replies

That was a lovely post, and I agree with every sentiment.

I strongly agree , in particular, with the "go easy on yourself" idea. I have chronic fatigue, which comes and goes in unpredictable fashion. To begin with, the control freak in me was determined to keep running three times a week, including a 5k Parkrun. However, my poor legs were having none of this - and I have now settled into more of a "if I can run, I will" mentality.

Now when I run, however short in time or distance, and however slowly, I congratulate myself on putting the kit on and just doing it. Even a 3k that takes me 20 minutes is better than being on my ass on the settee. :) And because I'm not putting myself under pressure to achieve anything in particular when I'm not feeling strong, it gives me the courage to just go out and do whatever I'm capable of on that day - it removes the fear of failure ( and boy, do i hate failure!!)

Thanks again, Hannah, for a life-affirming post :)


It's great to hear that this is also working for someone else :D Of course it's a lot easier to say than do but recognising it is the start!

I've found it starts to overflow into other aspect of life too. The world will not end if that work task is done tomorrow instead of today after hours etc. Overall I'm a much happier person than I was this time two years ago. I've just stopped being so mean to myself!

I also hate failure...but I tend to think of failure as a never going to happen. I now try to think of it as a 'just not today' :D


Today as a grad runner, I leant to feel good about doing a short run. I ran 'only' 24 mins not the 30 I intended. There were two reasons, one being that at that point I met my husband coming the other way in the park, and turned to run for the first time with him, and he stopped after a few paces having completed his week 6 run 1. I did the five minutes cool down with him to share the experiance. The other reason was that I had come straight from a long session at the dentist and wasn't sure if I was drooling or not from the injections. Now up to this point I would have been beating myself over the head from 'failing' to complete, for the first time, a run. But now I can make choices for myself, knowing that I can do longer when I want, and I can choose to make today shorter, overall I am still a runner and this doesn't make it less so.


I never thought I'd be a Graduate...A Runner. I want to put stress on the word "never". I've always been overweight, or.. "Fluffy" "Chunky" "Big Boned".. whatever people wanted to call me. My brothers got the runners frame, I got the one built for chocolate chip cookies. The furthest I ever ran was through an airport to catch a plane, and when I got to the gate I proceeded to board, and then vomit from exhaustion once I got to my seat. I believed, not that I was not built to be a runner, but that I Couldn't, physically couldn't, do it. - And I was told all my life that was okay! Love yourself for who you are.

Trouble is... I always WANTED to be a runner. Those non-runners out there of all shapes and sizes... if they don't want to run that s perfectly fine! Love yourselves for what you want to be. Be comfortable in your own skin. I'm 36. I wasn't comfortable. I've lived many, many years uncomfortable. Until one day at the beginning of this year (I'm a new graduate) I decided, screw it, I WANT to run, I'm going to RUN.

That was the day I met Laura, and the C25K program. That first run was HARD. I thought I was crazy, I thought the program was nuts. I thought "There is no way they meant this for someone like me.. I can't do this."- But then I stopped myself and asked "Why the heck not?" And so I continued.

Over the 9 weeks on the program I continued every run to amaze myself. I was proving everyone I've ever known that I am NOT what they said I was... that I COULD be a runner. I just had to believe it, push through it, and DO IT.

I ran my first 5K face on Mothers Day (May 8th here in the US). It was my gift to me. My daughter and husband cheering me on. It was astounding. I graduated the program, and as of today have lost 35 pounds. I am still considered overweight, and have more to go before I get to where I want to be... and I already have the people who tried to hold me down before telling me "Don't lose anymore.. you look great... you've done enough."

I'm tired of people holding me down. I want to Defy Gravity! And so I run. And when I run, I feel like I can fly! (I'm slow.. but I'm flying :) )

If I can do it... ANYONE can do it. All you need is a will, and there is your way.


Wonderful, life affirming words!


Lovely post! So glad you're finally turning into what you want to be! A runner!


To those who would ground me, take this message back from me....

Tell them how I'm defying gravity.

Kiss me goodbye, I'm defying gravity.

And you can't pull me down 🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶

(Now I'll be singing this for hours!)

Don't ever accept limits that someone else has set.

Go, you!! 🏃🏻🎉👏🏼😃


Wauuu, you just made me want to learn how to fly too. I'm plodding, not flying yet, but I will learn how to fly just like you. Thanks for your inspirational words.


That's great stuff, PotterBook! And you're so right about the people with their siren voices saying "Don't lose any more...". Let yourself fly!


You've put it so well, I've not much to add really!

I've learned a valuable lesson in believing in myself and realising that I am worth the time and effort I'm putting into running.

I've always known it to an extent but I've also learned that if you can physically raise your game your mind will follow.


I think others have covered most things. My contribution would be:

- c25k is just as much, if not more a mental battle than a physical one

- patience is a virtue, pre-graduation you need those rest days, post-graduation you should consolidate before signing up for a 'marathon in 12 weeks' program

The following is a similar post with some great tips (post is mine, wisdom is others):


I too have learnt that I can run, 5k 3x a week if I want. And I can do it week after week - if I want. That is pretty amazing to me. I've tried running before and have got up to 5k and probably even 10k (it was before we had smart phones). But it's never been sustainable and at some point I've fizzled out. Now I can run 5k and then push it up to 8k 2 days later if that's what takes my fancy. And I am way faster than I have ever been in the past (but still far too slow😈). I still find that pretty astounding. Slowly but surely it's sinking in that I may really be a runner.


Well done H😊 Many congratulations. Yoga, running, healthy eating and drinking will keep you slim, fit and healthy. Here's to you ☺

I learned not to overdo it. I learned the hard way and ended up benched for months with hideously painful shin splints. Go steady with this new-found skill. Use it wisely and develop your post grad running gradually.


I'd say it's a way of winding back the clock. There aren't too many things you can do that give you back the energy, flexibility and health you thought you had lost forever, but running is one of them.

1 like

I agree with everything. I was the last one picked for any team and was put off any sport for a long time.

Don't underestimate the mental health benefits of getting out in the fresh air for 30 minutes of me- time, enjoying nature and living.

And it's free! (Well, apart from the running watch, the trainers, the wet weather trainers, the trail shoes, the special socks, the running tights, the tops, the running rain jacket, the running hat, the running earphones....oops!)


Hi Hannah

First, congratulations on graduating! I totally sympathise with your feeling of "I'm not a runner" - that was very much where I started, too, all those weeks ago. (Plus the humiliation of coming last in cross-country at school - I can so relate...)

I agree with your points "go easy on yourself" and "it's all in your head". I would say - be sure to complete the full time on each run if you possibly can, but go as gently as you need to go. Just the fact that you have been in "running mode" for X minutes, no matter how slowly, is gradually conditioning your body to accept more work.

Another point - it's OK to repeat a full week if you don't quite feel ready for the next step - but I would suggest repeating just one run of that week, to see how you go. The C25K programme is paced to suit just about everyone, no matter how old or unfit (ahem) we are.

One thing I would recommend, though, and which C25K could feature a bit more, is correct technique. I got into a bad habit of "shuffling" - going slowly, but with great effort. I wish I had researched proper running technique earlier on, as it makes a big difference between grimly enduring a run and motoring through it with ease. I learned some tips through chi running (, but there are other sources on the net as well. Also, the C25K+ podcasts give you the basics.

The main elements of technique, as I understand, are:

- Keep your head up, look at least 10 metres ahead of you

- Keep your back straight, and your head, back and pelvis aligned

- Keep your arms bent at 90 degrees, and swing them back and forth, not across your body

- Relax your shoulders and your leg muscles

- Let your feet hit the ground underneath your body, not in front of you. Your feet should feel as if they are doing a "cycling" motion against the ground.

Sorry that's such a long post!


Me again! Just one more point. Don't worry if you find yourself running among other people who all look younger, fitter, faster, yada yada. I live near Canary Wharf and the place is infested with uber-people like this. Let them do their thing but there's no need to compare yourself with them.

Remember, you are unique - just do it your way! (Here are the Gipsy Kings to give some encouragement:


Congratulations on graduating Hannah.😊😊🎉🎉

I too believe that you do have to learn how to run. The c25k program gives you the building blocks to do just that. Being successful at the bite size runs gives you the confidence to keep going and surprise yourself by the times you can acheive..

Then you are hooked and run because you can and it makes you happy.

Wishing you lots of happy running wearing your new badge.😊x


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