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Couch to 5K
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Even slower?!

I did W9R3 back in August - 5k in a time of 42.14. Not fast by any means but I know speed isn't everything, I was just happy I'd done it!

Since then I've continued to run 2/3 times a week but always less than 5k - usually 4k as I find it easier. Last night however I did another 5k but the time was 45 minutes. Slower than the first time!!! I thought the more you did something the better at it you got? I must admit it's sort of put me off trying again in case I'm even slower!!!!

Has this happened to anyone else?

4 Replies

It happens even to the best runners and the factors affecting you are many. Keep running 5K's now you've reached that distance and record your times and see what your average is over say a month repeat and see if your monthly average times is less than the previous month. It will take weeks to see improvements and you'll probably see you times drop faster early on then plateau

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C25k is about getting you to 3 x 30 mins light aerobic exercise a week. If you keep this up you will achieve health benefits which are too numerous to list, What you are doing is worthwhile so don't beat yourself up about not improving

If you want to improve then you should be training not exercising. Training comprises of

Stress + adaptation (which takes place during rest) = improvement.

If you choose, you can add stress by increasing distance or by doing speed work (or both if careful). Even top athletes only have a limited capacity to place stress on their bodies so you need to go careful. An 80/20 split of time spent very easy, easy vs. harder, very hard is commonly recommended with virtually no time in the 'trying harder getting nowhere zone' which a lot of amateur endurance athletes will recognise and spend most of their time doing.

At the moment it sounds like you are a bit goalless. A nebulous 'improve my 5k time' is not a very helpful goal. I'd suggest forget about speed and enter an event in say 6 - 10 weeks time which stretches you a little (10k would not be ridiculous if you're healthy) and set yourself the goal of finishing the event.

I find a heart rate monitor very helpful. For instance this morning I ran the same route for 5k 2 minutes slower than I did 4 weeks ago. Although my intention was for a slow recovery type run. I was still disappointed at 'no improvement'. However when I looked at my HRM data, my average HR was 15 bpm lower and my max heart rate today was the same as my average HR on the previous run. So I can see that my heart has adapted to the exercise and this is motivating.


There was a few weeks where my times were going slower and slower. Other things can effect runs like the heat, eating to much, running at different times of the day. Or some runs are just like that for no reason at all.

You ran 5k, be proud of that. If you keep going your speed will change but its not the end of the world ;)

P.S I just ran a personal best out of nowhere 5k in sub 30mins. Before that is was running about the same time as you. Keep going and enjoy your running.

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Wow! We'll done, that's an excellent time.


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