Site makes me furious

Lots of smug, self-satisfied comments hiding one important fact.


My ankles are very painfully tender at every slow step (even with support) & my back feels like it's snapping in 2. And yet I go through this for about 6 months (Inc a break of a couple of weeks about 3 months in) and still can't get anywhere near completing week 1 run.

Not only did I do this for fitness & weight loss reasons I was advised to try this to help in treatment for depression. However, far from improving my very low self-esteem, I ended up feeling a lot worse about myself. There is nothing as demoralising as being unable to do something that everyone can do, as this programme claims.

And yet all I hear is c25k, c25k, c25k.

For anyone considering starting this, don't. Someone tell the truth. It is a scam that doesn't work!!!


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36 Replies

  • Sorry you feel this way. I hope you find something that works for you but you can't generalise by saying because it hasn't worked for you that it's a scam. For many it has worked and changed lives for the better, including mine. That doesn't make us smug and self satisfied. But as someone who also suffers from mild depression I hope you find the love and support you need. You are not a failure. You have tried and not succeeded yet. You may have highlighted how others may also be feeling so your post may resonate with them and help them. I wish you well and please let us know how you get on.

  • C25K advertises itself as a programme to get anyone running 5k in 9 weeks. I could even accept extending a week to 2 or 3. But 6 months & still not managing 1 weeks progress? That is a spectacular failure (or I am). I have even tried reducing 1 minutes run to 15 seconds but still can't complete 20 minutes. This shows quite clearly it doesn't work.

    I would like to find something else but sites like NHS only show pages of c25k.

    How can being in agony be enjoyable?

    How can 6 months without 1 week of progress be working?

    How can this be making me feel better, either physically or emotionally?

    So yes, c25k quite clearly doesn't get "anyone" running.

  • I think you need to try a different type of exercise. This programme works for an awful lot of people - including me! I suffer from depression and MS, so the odds were stacked against me, but I have found it incredibly beneficial.

    Don't be so hard on yourself and the programme - just move on. We're all different!

    You need to find what works for you - I had some hypnotherapy a few years ago which gave me the clarity to realise what I had to do to get out of the funk I'd been in for years. Unless you have physical issues which stop you from running, it's the depression gremlins which are ruling your roost, and you need to find a way to get past them.

    Good luck with whatever you try, and I hope you find something which works.

  • I'm also sorry that it isn't working for you. When I started I couldn't walk far and certainly couldn't 'run'. I then realised that there was good advice on here about what 'run' meant. I still can't 'run' in terms of what you see on athletics programmes, Forest Gump etc if it means picking your feet way up and running like you are running for a bus. But my breakthrough was when I realised that for me, and for many others on this site, 'run' meant a speed that was hardly faster than walking - and more like a slow stagger. I still couldn't run for a bus, but can keep moving for 25 mins. Everyone's different, and on here you will find a group of people for whom Couch to 5K has brought them a measure of freedom through running which they couldn't imagine before. There must be others who haven't liked the programme either, but don't have the courage that you do in saying so. This site has been wonderful for me, but the pains that I have had have improved over the weeks. It may be that you need to get professional help for your pain. No one would be able to do this with real muscle and back damage that needs professional treatment. Perhaps you could try something else for your depression and fitness that is less hard on your back. There was a TV programme where a girl took to cold water swimming, and found this really helped her depression. I think its 'horses for courses', and this is ours, but yours may be something else. I hope you find something else that you really enjoy.

  • I'd just like to say that on occasion my 'run' is actually slower than I normally walk. Slow stagger is about right :-D

  • Same here. I don't run, I "power shuffle"! And yes, I do walk faster than I "power shuffle".

  • From

    "C25K, is a fantastic program that's been designed to get just about anyone from the couch to running 5 kilometers or 30 minutes in just 9 weeks."

    And as this programme does not do this for just about anyone makes it a scam. It is true that most sources of it do not cost money people invest other things like time, effort & hope. It is only fair that people are told these investments can be wasted & neither this site nor anywhere else I have seen have even mentioned this.

  • Interesting - I haven't seen that site because I downloaded the podcasts from the NHS site. That's to some extent in the same vein but does say people may need to do the runs more than once. I think it's probably true that it doesn't make enough of some things, such as actually it's the 30 minutes you aim for - for lots of us running 5k is still some way off. That's one of the ways I've found this forum very useful.

    The following is not meant to be smug, and I don't really know much about running except that it makes me feel good - it's simply that from finding Week 1 really hard I went on to enjoy running, and to feel much fitter, to an extent I would not have thought possible, and I wish it was going like that for you so it's written in the hope that there may be something that's useful for you - if not, ignore!

    I think one of the things it doesn't mention is that there is probably a minimum fitness level needed to be comfortable starting. I'd put that at being able to walk comfortably for at least 30-40 minutes, I think - and there are a lot of people around who can't do that. If I was one of them I think I'd want to start with how ever long I could walk ok and then add a little every so often. Maybe that's not you, though and maybe it's the actual running getting to you in which case I think I'd choose a time I could do - 10 seconds maybe? - do that and wait however long it took me to recover then do again. however often seems ok. You might find that after doing this a few times a bit longer seems much easier. I know I seem to run and breathe much worse when I am starting a run. One of the things that really helped me with the first stages was if there was any distraction.

    You talk about how painful it is for you. Presumably you've checked with a doctor that it is ok for you to run? If you have, do you know anybody who could watch a few steps of you running and make any suggestions for example about how your foot lands? It sounds as though running is a pretty horrible experience for you right now and I'm amazed and impressed you've managed to keep trying for so long.

  • It says "just about anyone" not everyone. Running won't be for everyone. I struggled horrendously on week 1 but I have managed to complete the programme to my own amazement so I wouldn't say it's a scam at all - it does work for so many of us. I notice that you say this site makes you furious, yet you have only ever posted on it twice, both times saying C25K doesn't work. I have found this site very helpful and useful when I've struggled. If I've been in pain or needed help when I've found it really hard and when I've been struggling, I've posted on this site to ask for help and advice - people give very good advice on this site and without it I probably wouldn't have got through to the end. In fact, I'd say I definitely wouldn't have got through to the end.

    I would agree that it's probably not for everyone though. I know for certain that my mum would not be able to do it for example. Have you tried an exercise that's lower impact? My mum was recommended swimming and that's brilliant for keeping you fit and helping weight loss too. Perhaps running isn't for you but you just need to find an exercise that is for you. I wouldn't discourage other people from trying this programme. Had it not been for other people recommending it, then I would never have given it a chance and for me personally it has worked and I cannot imagine not running now, it really has changed my life - I'm not saying this to be smug, it's a fact (for me at least). I had no intentions of doing it in 9 weeks, I knew it would take me longer and I've always taken 2 or 3 rest days between each run. It took me just over 6 months in total. I accept C25K is not for everyone but I think people should try it and make their own minds up. There are always alternative activities if people try it and decide it's not for them. I hope you find something that works for you I really do x

  • Have you tried these short workouts instead? These are also NHS. Perhaps worth a try and see how you find them?

  • Hear hear! I too have found some of the most supportive people I have ever 'met' on here. It's a wonderful community helping people do wonderful things. It may not be for you but please do not discourage others from trying what might be for them. The posts speak for themselves. Probably 60% of joiners were the 'type' (if there is one) who thought they'd never get even close - they are now our graduates. It works for some but not for all. Time to have a look at what other options there are out there.

  • C25K is generously provided free of charge and following has led thousands of people to become regular runners. When I graduated, I kept going after 30 minutes and at 43 minutes, I had run my first 5k, this was on week 9, run 3 at a parkrun so it worked for me. No programme will work for everyone. The only thing I did to run for longer was to slow down. The forum (also free of charge) has been a great support to me and provided me with ideas about how to progress. Have you used the forum throughout the programme? Even if you have just discovered it, I am sure we would all love to support you towards your goals. Any exercise you anchieved is good, either start again or maybe find a form of exercise that suits you, either way being angry with the programme won't help you and we are here because it does work

  • You're right, I think people are sometimes a bit self satisfied on here. I think I would be more likely to leave the smug bit out and say that people are incredibly satisfied when they have achieved something that they doubted they could. I'm sorry it's not been that way for you too. I doubt many people would be able to run, shuffle or jog while feeling so much pain as you are.

    It sounds like you've been on a tough road for years. Have you looked for help with your pain, even outside the NHS if you can? Have you tried walking the programme and see how that goes? I'm asking because I want to help and offer you support which is what this forum is for. Please don't give up on finding a way to feel better, whether that's running or not.

  • The method works for lots of people, and everyone should be pleased with themselves for completing it because for the vast majority of us it was hard work and a major accomplishment.

    It sounds like you have some physical things that aren't working out with running. If it's specifically running you want to do I'd see a sports doctor. If running isn't the main goal but fitness, you can still incorporate the program with exercise equipment - a stationary cycle or an elliptical trainer. You may find success in those. Same idea - when you're supposed to 'run' you pedal harder. You may be able to return to running easier after building up some strength through other exercise.

  • So sad that it hasn't worked for you. No programme works for everyone of course but C25K has caused an amazing turnaround in my life. I am now 53, was very inactive all my life. At school I was a chubby child who hated running esoecially cross country. I graduated about 6 months ago and now run every week three times (2 x 5k and 1 x 10k)! I had to battle to run for a minute not so long ago and can now run non stop for an hour. Both my heart and lungs are so much improved. I feel a more confident and determined person and I have a new hobby that helps me to cope with the ups and downs of life. I have had some niggles but no injury and I am overweight but have always rested when I needed to, often ran on soft ground and I did strength and flex exercises on rest days to improve my legs. I ran 12k last Saturday all thanks to this miraculous well thought out programme. Perhaps find something that has less impact on the joints, walking, cycling, swimming for example. All the best for the future and it is not true that this programme does not work, it might not be for everyone, but it worked for me

  • Sorry to hear that the C25K program has not worked for you. As others may have mentioned it has worked for 1000's of other people, not all, but still loads of people have benefitted.

    I can totally accept that running is not for everyone, but perhaps it's not helpful to call the program "scam" just on your experience. There are many people just starting C25K and they need all the encouragement that we can give them.

    C25K is not a magic pill to health and fitness, it's not intended to be and never will. It is a program to help MOST start people a healthier lifestyle through running.

    Again, I'm sorry it didn't work for and I wish you well with your health.

    C25K DOES WORK!!!

  • You do what you can to get by. I understand. The let down feeling when something promises a 'miracle' and it does not work for you. Makes you feel even more doomed.

    Obviously running is not for you - just like all the procedures and so forth I had years ago to 'fix' me. Worked for so many others, but not me.

    We are all individuals. Genetics suck sometimes. Often we don't deserve them and have so little control over them.

    One thing we can control though - not quitting. If nothing else do what I still do sometimes - use that anger and despair to say 'the hell with it' and try something that no 'sane and contented' person would. Something positive - respond not react. Reaction will dig you deeper into the pit, responding will show you some alternative that may or may not work but at least will help you burn off the negative energy and give you somewhat of a break from the spinning hamster wheel in your head.

    Face facts - you are not going to change anything here, or yourself, by denigrating the site or the people on it or - if you are not indeed a 'troll' - asking for help in this particular way.

    Because if you have given the programme an honest go and it is not working for you, there is no help for it.

    You are not however unique and doomed therefore. Many more than you suffer from physical defects and the curse of depression and the bitterness that can arise from it. The first step towards changing anything for the better is to accept it is YOUR problem to solve - and to look for assistance from those equipped and qualified to work with you on finding some solution.

    Please do not bother to respond to me negatively or abusively. It won't affect me in the least and I won't get into any correspondence with you based around insults or the like.

    However - if you want to talk straight to me, and are willing to accept straight talk in return about some avenues that might show you a way forward, feel free to message me.

  • This is the reply I wish I had the grace to give! Well done @Irish-john

    I started c25k around 7 months ago, couldn't and still haven't got past week 7, as the pain in my knees became excruciating. I too suffer from depression which is a daily battle. My demons are personal, and although I can see why you feel frustrated at the programme if your expectations have not been met. Saying the people here are smug, is completely uncalled for and wrong.

    It sounds like you don't have your depression under any form of control, because if you did you would realise that even walking would help to lift your mood, rather than dwelling on your sense of failure and blaming a programme that has clearly done what it says on the tin for literally thousands of people!

    The advice people have given you here is gold, it's up to you to take it and use it for yourself!

  • Okay so C25k may not work for absolutely everybody and I am sorry that you have not been able to progress, but your statements that it does not work and that it is a scam are patently not true. I have followed this forum for over three years and thousands of individuals have transformed themselves and their health by following the programme. I am still here because I want to replicate the support that I witnessed and appreciated while doing the plan and which this site provides more than any other place I have ever found on the internet.

    At the age of sixty, I am aware that I am fortunate to be fairly fit and healthy, but that is in a large part down to C25k and this site. Anyone looking at the responses to your first post, seven months ago, would probably disagree with you about this site. You were offered advice and encouragement, which is what we are here for and will continue to offer you should you stay with us, but condemning those who are proud of their achievements, as smug is not a helpful attitude.

    I would suggest that you consult your GP, telling them about the pain you suffer. There is little point in continuing the journey though, until you change your attitude to the programme. I wish you good luck in your quest for fitness, it is worth pursuing.

  • I am so sorry that you have had a bad experience with C25k and I wish you all the best in finding something that works for you- running is not for everybody. I wish you all the best :)

  • Thanks for your replies. The majority of you have been helpful. But some, for instance been told both today & previously that it's not supposed to be easy when I never suggested it should be, were extremely smug. I suppose there are bad apples in every bunch.

    However I still view my experience with the programme to be a failure. I have taken the advice given. I have slowed down & even cut the 1st run to 15 seconds. However I am still showing no progress. I cannot view that as having worked. I still think it should be made clear that this may not work, but the phrase "just about anyone" did not give me that impression. I don't think that is fair on new starters.

    It is quite clear that after 6 months c25k is not for me. I'll see about taking advice offered today, but right now I feel that I am not good enough to try fitness or weight loss. Maybe I should first work on other problems not covered on this forum.

    I am sorry if my frustration & disappointment has offended anyone, it was not my intention.

  • You *ARE* good enough to start fitness. Just maybe not C25K.

    I help out with a lunchtime C25K group at work - we go out Mon, Wed, Fri and run the 9-week programme 3 times a year, starting January, May, September. We've now seen about 70 people complete the program across the 3 programmes we've done.

    But .... not everyone who starts it completes it. Some get injured, some don't like it, some aren't physically ready, some simply give up. So you're NOT alone.

    Having been involved with it, I'm convinced that unless someone has physical or serious mental health issues, then it *is* possible for *most* people to complete it. It's been very successful on the whole.

    If your ankles and back are causing you pain even after 15 seconds of running then you should really address those issues before attempting anymore running. You mention weight loss - do you think your ankle and back problems are weight-related? Normally, users on here would advise someone in pain to stop and go see their doctor or a sports physio. Maybe that's your next step.

    Good luck


  • What do you mean that you don't feel good enough to try fitness or weight loss? You clearly have some demons troubling you at the moment. I think that you are good enough, as I'm sure many others do. You just need to find some self belief which is a bit lacking at the moment. I think the first port of call should be your GP. Perhaps get your ankles looked at to make sure that everything is ok with them and maybe discuss how you are feeling in yourself at this moment too. I think there has been some sound advice on here from other members. If you can walk, why not just go out for a nice stroll at whatever pace you like? Go nice and slowly and enjoy the surroundings. This time of year is beautiful for a good walk - crisp clean air, stunning autumnal colours and it's great for getting fit and lifting your mood a bit and clearing your head. In terms of weight loss have you tried slimming world? I only suggest that because the group support is fantastic. I'm rubbish at weight loss on my own - I cave at the first sign of a biscuit, but having gone to groups and talking to people that I now consider my friends has helped a lot. Everyone is in the same boat and there is no judgement if you don't loose one week. Any group that makes you feel like that you should leave and find a new group. There is always the NHS weight loss forum on here too. I know many people have found that very helpful also so perhaps have a browse around that forum and see what you think?

    Please don't give up. Even if you don't do C25K, there is definitely something out there that will work for you, it's just a matter of finding what that is. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself - you CAN and you WILL! xxx

  • I'll make one other suggestion.

    How about trying C25K (NOT the version) - the NHS version - as a brisk walking programme? So the 'running' bits would be done at a very brisk walking pace?

    Do you think you could manage that? You'd certainly increase you stamina, fitness and leg/ankle/foot strength over the 9 weeks and put you in a *much* better position to start C25K as a jogging programme. If you find you have ankle pain when walking briskly, then it really is time to consult your doctor.

    Hope that's of some help - please let us know how you get on. Good luck!


  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us and I hope you find something that works for you. I wish you all the best. Please let us know how your are getting on.

  • I have just started this - so not in a position to be smug (54 & fat - I'm sure I look like dumbo in running shorts) I don't know if I am going to succeed or fail, however just being out in the fresh air especially at this time of year is fantastic. So if you can't run - walk !! It's not a race & the only person we are in completion with is ourselves - no one else !

  • I'm also sorry to hear of the problem you've had with the c25k plan. I am quite curious as to what you've actually been trying to do because I've just noticed that you got your c25k plan from a different place to most of the people on here, and I think they are structured in totally different ways. The main one I just looked at from that website you quoted said this...

    ≈ Less is More ≈

    ◎ Simple and intuitive user interface

    ◎ Easy to learn. Just press start!

    ◎ Ideal for first-time runners

    ◎ 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week, 8 weeks total. You will finish your 5K!

    I think that website is mainly there in order to generate money from people downloading their apps, viewing their adverts and buying upgrades within their apps!

    The c25k plan that most of us here follow is from the NHS website and for the first week you start with a 5 minute walk then you just 'jog' (very slowly) for 60 seconds, then you continue walking for a minute and a half before jogging for 60 seconds again followed by another minute and a half walk again. This is repeated a few times until you've been out for 20 minutes. You then take a rest day (or 2) and this is repeated twice (with another rest day or 2 inbetween) before moving on to the next week. ( You can find the NHS podcast we use here: )

    Does this sound different to the podcast you've been trying to follow?

    Looking at that website, I can see why you're saying this is a scam, but the c25k plan we do here on the NHS site is totally free of all that and is certainly not a scam of any sort. I for one am currently following it, and although there have been times when I've found it very tough indeed, I have managed to progress, but only because I've followed the great advice by the lovely people on this forum who advised me from the start to simply jog (very) slowly, and over time I will improve. This is true because I can now jog (very very slowly) for 25 minutes and yet a few weeks ago I couldn't last more than the 60 seconds!

    I would think that if you follow this NHS podcast that almost everyone on this forum has used, you should (in good time) be able to get through it. Even if you had to keep repeating each week (like a fair few people on here have done), you should see small improvements over time and get there eventually.

    If you really are struggling to just jog (very slowly) for 60 seconds non-stop after trying the plan for a few weeks then maybe there are other medical issues to address and you will need to get checked out by your gp.

    I do hope you give the NHS c25k plan a go and come back on here to give us all the good news of how it's going because it really has changed a lot of people's lives for the better and I hope that it could do the same for you too.

  • Before I started the program I got absolutely sick to death of hearing work colleagues talking about going to the gym. I hated gyms and still do. Running has changed my life though. Its just about finding something that works for you. I think walking in massively underrated as a form of exercise. Getting more active in a way that suits you and lifestyle is the most imporatant thing.

  • Have you actually got proper running shoes? If not, that could be the reason you are having such difficulty. Bazza1234 struggled with week 1 too, he found a pre-C25K programme that worked for him... Bazza?

  • I am sorry you have not got on with the program or the forum. Life is not a one size fits all. Maybe a word with your GP and a referral to a physio to help find which sort of exercise would work for you might be the best way forward. I wish you the best and hope you find what works for you.

  • RFC, this poster is now hidden, does that mean they've left us?

  • I was 67 years old when I first came across C25k. I took one look at it and just knew that It was too much for me - running for 1 minute? So I did this plan instead - from the famous Mayo clinic in the US It only had me running for 15 seconds at a time and even after 21 runs over the course of the 7 week plan, it still only had me running for 30 seconds at a time - but I could finally do this run/walk thing for 6.4 klms (4 miles) . This gave me enough confidence to take on the C25K course. C25K is not a "scam". It is something that led me to discover parkrun and a whole new way of life!!!!

  • I can sense your frustration and hope that as others have said you can find something that works for you. In fact The use of the word smug can have different meanings depending upon the context in which it's used. I know you used smug and scam in the same post which suggests an "I'm alright Jack" type of smugness .

    You also posted that you were not intending to upset anyone. I'm sure anyone posting here would not be intending to upset you. Some posts may come over more blunt or sharp but I've not seen anything intentionally abusive or as a put down. I've posted stuff and sometimes thought after perhaps I should not have put it like that ? Some comments can be interpreted in al sorts of ways.

    If I were on a forum for say "Bog Snorkelers" or "Channel Swimmers" I would probably say you smug lot what ' about poor me ? I can't swim. I've tried and can't. Your trying to fool me ! I would be using smug in the sense of "I'm alright Jack" as if they were doing it at the expense of someone else. But on a forum of "Bog snorkelers" perhaps they have a right to be smug in the sense of being "self satisfied" in what they have achieved and are not putting down anyone who has tried it and it's not suitable or not for them.

    I know I have felt a bit smug and self satisfied and I bet others have in what they have achieved and the difference is that they are trying to encourage others and not belittle anyone who is having difficulties or commenting at their expense.

    Being smug doesn't always last for long as many have also related their bad experiences and difficulties and everyone here rallies round to encourage just like team mates or a community would !

    I think it's fine to be smug or support an idea or a cause as long as it's not at the expense of someone else. That's the bottom line I think. Also lets not get carried away this is just a site for like minded to participate voluntarily like any other. Again I hope that you find something that works for you.

  • I do believe you need to consult your GP about other methods of treating depression - it annoys me when I hear 'just diet and exercise and you're cure of it!' - it's not right at all. The C25K is not for everybody but you gave it a go.

    Definitely speak to your GP about other ways to get fit and weight loss - there is not just one option to get to where you want to be.

  • I hope that the people running the site take your comments on board and put something in about baseline fitness to start the c25k and also come up with something to help increase preparatory fitness.

    If you were to ty walking a very short distance and increased a little when you felt you could and then posted I am sure people would support and encourage you.

    If you had to pay for something that is free on the NHS that does sound like a scam!

    I am sorry if people have sounded smug. It is not meant that way. This forum is a safe place for people to say what is on their minds, celebrate their successes and ask for help when they are not doing so well.

    Lots of people are incredibly kind. They will be kind to you too.

    Wishing you lots of luck and courage.

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