Couch to 5K
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VO2 max 34-35

Hi Guys,

This is my first post, I've been watching these threads for a while and find the information and inspiration great.

I have a question about VO2 max/running progress. I started running this year and I did my first park run 30th Jan 2016

Quick background about me

I'd say I'm average size, I've lost 3 stone since 2014, BMI is 28

I have a 9-5 office job, however we walk everywhere. My daily steps are 14,000 weekly - 25,000 on a weekend.

I've been running 3-4 times a week (3-4 miles) for the past 6-7 months with running groups and have been doing parkrun I also do spin once a week, some PT sessions and the odd 5k,10k race on a Sunday. So i'd say i'm pretty active.

I've gone from 44min in January to 37.28 min October (which is great) at parkrun.

I'm definitely improving but at a considerably slow pace to other runners I see in our groups.

My diet it pretty good to be honest (could do with some more greens) but on a whole we dont eat junk or bad food.

Now I feel like I should be improving more quickly? for the past 2 months I feel like sometimes my running is slowing down and not progressing, I still find it extremely hard to run the whole parkrun without stopping to walk and burn out quickly, and always find myself at the back of the running groups. I did a 10k yesterday and was second from last, but I felt like i couldn't possibly go any faster

I guess i need to remember I had never run before January this year and have always found it hard, 3 years ago i couldn't even run to the train when we were late.

Going back to VO2 max my garmin is saying mine is 34-35 (which from what i understand is nearly on the poor scale, I also know it's an estimate! but good to see)

When running my heart rate is pretty much 168-180 for the whole way (until i walk), its gone up to 200 when i've done hills so i can't physically push any more.

Also i'm only running between 11-13min mile pace

Could it just be i'm simply going to slow to progress and need to work on it and this is normal and its all in the mind?

Or i'm not getting enough oxygen and generally struggling? I didn't want to go to a doctor and waste time if it's generally me just not being fit.

obviously, I know your not doctors, but from experience :)

Sorry for the long post!



8 Replies

You will speed up as you get fitter and stronger. it's not all about fast running either. Slow running builds legs, so get some longer slower runs under your belt too. uphill runs are great for strengthening everything! choose a long uphill route and tackle it good and slow. stop as needs be and then push on ☺

Walking is great too ☺

This is a slow process. don't be in and hurry. put the work in and you will get the there. Get off road and out onto the the trail ☺ off road runs are more fun


It sounds like you've been doing brilliantly to me :-) if you want to improve your time and if you don't do this already, maybe you could try one short fast run, one medium speed and medium distance and one long slow run per week? if you're interested in heart rate stuff then you could look online and youtube about working out your heart rate zones and try to work in set zones?

You might also like to read No Need For Speed which has really helped me celebrate becoming more active and my own small successes when I am generally in the habit of not feeling like I'm fast enough, fit enough etc. A quote I saw on a running poster, 'Don't compare your chapter 1 to someone else's chapter 20' :-)

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Sounds like you are doing really well and really putting the effort in! Re the VO2 Max that is provided by Garmin I tend to think that its an estimate and I dont worry too much about it. I think you need to alot of lab equipment and specialiasts to measure it accurately. For info, mine fluctuates between 39-40 and has been like that for a year or so. I think that the Garmin calcualtion takes into account lots of different factors, so its difficult to compare one person with another.

We all feel like you do after some of our runs, but I tend to take the long view in that improvment dosen't happen overnight and we all get good and not so good runs. The way that I look for overall improvment is to look at my average pace for runs over the last 12 months and I can then see that the mins's/per k gets slightly better.. so i'm happy!!

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I don't know what my heart rate is when I run, or even when I don't run for that matter, and I'm not able to give any technical advice.

But what I would say is that you're doing plenty of exercise and sound fit and healthy to me. Is speed very important to you? Could you learn to enjoy running for the sake of it or are you by nature quite competitive?

I'm too new to running to know for myself but I have a friend who's been running for a few years and runs 5k, 10k and the odd half marathon, but she says she just accepts that she is a slow runner. She doesn't seem worried by that at all, but I admit I want to see improvements in my running and wouldn't want to just "settle"!


Hi Guys,

Thanks, i don't think speed is a big part of my training it's more about the progression, But as you mention if it's slow, it's slow, everyones different. Naturally I want to progress and if its baby steps i'll need to stay positive and focus on myself not what others are doing, I just got concerned and felt it was very very slow and if my heart rate is high then thats telling me i cant push harder otherwise its dangerous.

Returning2Run I like that quote! very true. I need to tell myself more that others may have been running for years and i'm only just starting.

Perhaps some books may help me get through this journey :)

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I think it's pretty common after the program for all of us to expect big ongoing gains. But as you progress it takes longer and more work to see improvements. If you're still improving, that's wonderful.

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Well done ! You sound really clued up and know what you are doing and by all means read more books and use gizmos. I occasionally research things especially when someone mentions 'glutes' I think to myself "What's that an adhesive?" Then I have to research.

Don't know where you're located but there is a sketch by Comedian David Walliams worth noting. He impersonates a lady clerk and when asked a question she taps into her computer and always answers "The computer says NO !" Apps and techno gizmos can't always be relied upon.

Most on here will say what counts is mind over matter. remember what your motivation is for starting to run or get fitter and make it interesting and take it slow and be happy and don't put pressure on yourself. Forget the others and work to your own goals. Ask yourself "Where's the fire ?"

I couldn't run for a bus back in March/April now running 6K+ and aim to run about 45 minutes to build up a buffer of stamina so that when I come to 5K it is easier and never set myself up for a bad run. I can use that to practice on my speed and technique.

I say to myself "My aim was to run for 30 minutes anything else is a bonus". Yes I do ilke a challenge and alter my routes and take in inclines, even run 4K to work (I cycle other days). But at the end of the day and happy with my weight and health and well being.

Similar to you I lost about 3 stone over last 2 years. 10lb of that came of on the C25K this year.

So happy running !

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There are some really good replies here. I would also add rest, it is as important as all the runs you do. Every now and then they recommend a down week to allow your body to recover. Sometimes it is hard for the body to push further if it is always at the top of its limit. We all have a habit to underestimate the training power of a good rest.


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