Training for a 5k, advice needed

There's a 5k run happening on February 14th and a few people I know are doing it, I decided that I want to give it a go too. I'm not fit but I'm not couch level either, I complete Week 5 Run 1 on Friday and Week 5 Run 2 yesterday, they were more difficult than I thought and I'm concerned that shin splints will get me, Week 5 Run 3 will be 20 minutes non-stop, which is a huge jump.

I'm not sure if I'll be ready in time but I'd really like to try and give it a go and the pressure to do the run is pushing me forward. Am I silly to skip so much when my body isn't used to running?


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23 Replies

  • Did you start the program from scratch or did you start at week 5?

    If the latter, you may find W5R3 to be a bit much. With that said you still have 4 weeks and given that you can do W5R2, getting to 5k is doable as long as you take it easy.

    Why are you worried about shin splints?

  • The only other aspect is I need to do the run in ~30 minutes, probably 35 is about the max.

    I started at Week 5, although I didn't realise it until I compared what I ran with the C25K schedule.

    The pain got quite bad in my last run, I'm guessing because I'm not used to the impact yet. I won't do run 3 until Friday or Saturday but will be cross-training.

    Maybe I'll give Run 3 a go at the weekend and see how I do, I can evaluate things after that?

  • This doesn't sound good. "quite bad pain" after two runs where the longest running stretch is 5 minutes, and you want to run non-stop for 30-35 minutes four weeks from now. Be careful, you only have two legs and you don't want to end up injured.

    Sorry about the downer.

  • It was 8 minute continuous part, the pain was in the first 8 minute section, after the walk and flexing/stretching, the second 8 minute stint wasn't too bad.

    It's not a downer, it's realistic, all I can do is aim to meet my target and if I fail I'll pick myself up and set a new target :)

  • Why do you need to complete the run n 30 minutes?

  • It's the maximum time for the run, as it is arranged, I'm sure they won't mind if a take 5 minutes more though

  • The c25k plan is designed to build up your stamina and train you to run for a sustained period..30 mins.

    By starting at the beginning ( still a 30 min workout) you are gently introducing running to your legs and discovering that speed is not as important as taking it steady so you can complete each run section. When you get to week 5 you are then 'ready' for run 3 and surprise yourself by just doing it.

    I suggest you start again work through the plan with rest days, and see where you are by Feb 14th. Chances are you will be ready to give that run a go...even if very slowly... then carry on til the end of the plan.

    Good luck😊

  • Only you know whether your current fitness level is good enough to skip so much. The plan has been proven by thousands and thousands of couch potatoes, and it works. But that's not to say it's the only way to get fit.

    If your main focus is the 5k on 14th Feb, how about doing a run/walk thing? Like the intervals you've been doing in W5R1, just repeat them again and again until you're through the 5k.

  • I agree with Thomas... If its an event and not part of the C25K program then you can run / walk if you want or need to... So just enjoy the event and don't pressurise yourself with times and enjoy the well deserved medal (bling) :-)

  • If I were you I would go easy on yourself. I had a good level of fitness from going to the gym 3 times a week and swimming 3 times a week two, but when I started the programme I started at week 1 and went through it gradually as described in the podcasts, running 3 times a week (but continuing with my gym/swim on my rest days). It meant that as I faced the increased challenge each week my body was ready for it, and I found the increased running totally do-able. If you skip too much you may find that you struggle, I guess it depends on your initial level of fitness, which only you can guage. Just be careful that you are not pushing yourself too hard and end up on the injury couch.

    I think Tomas and AndyD have given good advice.

    Take care.

  • Lots of excellent advice from all sources here...just decide on a sensible plan of action; forget about the 5K in 30 minutes maybe, and just go for the whole experience, however long it takes:)

  • Hi garyc

    It sounds to me that 14 February is too soon to run the whole 5K if you're getting leg pain already. If you'd like to have a go at a social run, look at

    and you'll see locations for 5K runs every Saturday morning throughout the year at 9am. If you're free to run on a Saturday morning, I'd recommend you going to one of these once you've completed the C25K programme (or very near the end). They're incredibly friendly and supportive events, and it doesn't matter whether you're mega fast or an old plodder like me.

  • I am no doctor, but it seems to me that you need to assess carefully your aims and the reasons behind them, as well as your current level of fitness and the amount of time you're able and willing to commit to getting fit. If you're already able to run 5 minutes at a time, several times, then starting at week 5 isn't disastrous, but personally I'd want to do runs 1 & 2 a couple of times each before going on to run 3. If at all possible, you'd want to be doing some form of cross-training on your non-running days, too.

    Be aware, though, that running for 30 mins and running 5k are (potentially at least) two vary different targets. I have relatively often in the past few years run for 30 mins; I have never run 5k in 30 mins. Some people are naturally quicker, for sure, but plenty others aren't. Trying to increase speed and stamina at the same time is usually a short cut only to the injury couch...

    I'm aware this might sound terribly negative, and it really isn't meant to - after all, many people take just five weeks to get to running 30 minutes from starting week 5 of the plan; it's just that they've spent the previous four (or more) weeks building up their fitness gradually. It's just advice to stop and think about how realistic your aim is, to run a 30/35min 5k in four weeks' time, and whether you are prepared to listen to your body if it starts telling you that this isn't quite that do-able. Is plan B to take longer, and do a run/walk for 40-45 mins? Or to not do the run on that date, but look for one further in the future?

  • Thanks for the advice. I'm working out 2 days a week doing circuit training and general exercise, running on 3 days, and on my two rest days I do a 10-15 min quick workout. I'm pretty committed but realistically so, I think there's a chance I won't be ready for the 5k on the 14th and if that's the case I'll reassess and schedule a Park Run instead rather than walking it.

    A few people have suggested starting at the beginning, but I think if I do that I'll lose the motivation that I currently have.

  • Heyup!

    Shin splints are really worrying, they often come on from doing too much too soon, so be careful!

    My pennyworth: if you start from the beginning your motivation will be to complete C25K. After that, if you enjoy the running, the 5K races can follow on.

    I was really fit already before I started C25K. Everyone's different of course, but I found that the programme gave me a nice gentle introduction to running that I really enjoyed, and the mindset I got from it has helped me to run faster and farther since :)

  • Once I've achieved the 5k, I'll probably do a couple more to improve my times, but then I'll move on and find a new challenge that isn't running, perhaps cycling if the weather is better or maybe 3 peaks challenge... I like to mix things up and I know that running alone won't keep me motivated in the future.

    I'll see how it goes, being careful of course, and drop back on the training programme if I need to.

  • Sounds good! Have fun :)

  • You can certainly complete it with a run-walk no problem. But in a specific time? Who knows? Is it to keep up with your chums? They can slow down. Or, what my friends and I usually do is meet at the start and meet at the end.

  • 30 minutes is the maximum time for the run which I can push to about 35. Runners are handicapped on the 30 minutes so that everyone comes back at roughly the same time. I think I'm going to have to play it by ear and just keep training and see how it goes! :)

  • C25k. aims to help people get off the couch and running for 30 mins, 3 times a week. It most definitely is not about running 5k in 30 mins. Many graduates of the programme take a further few months to get to 5k in 30 mins, there are many others who will never achieve that ambition as the speed is not achievable. We are all different. But no matter, the programme does not require or aspire to this.

    So i will be blunt. If you dont want to follow the programme because you feel you are already above the target level, then why not find a programme that better suits your needs? Picking and choosing small elements and partly following the programme is not what its about.

    I am firmly of the opinion that the integrity of the programme should be protected in order that it remains credible and valued by those who really need it, both now and in the future.

    Some may feel that is harsh of me. Unfortunately those are my thoughts.

  • I'm using the week 5 onwards as the basis of my programme, it doesn't matter what I label it, but I'll happily not refer to it as couch to 5k if you feel that me not doing so maintains the integrity of the C25K programme.

  • The whole structure of C25K is designed to keep injury risk to a minimum. It is duration based, rather than speed or distance and the advice in the programme is to run at a gentle jog, again all to avoid injury.

    I completed the entire programme, despite finding the early weeks easy, simply because I accepted that the devisers of the plan knew more about running than I did. When it came to pace, I ran as fast as I could comfortably maintain. Even though I had a fairly good level of general fitness prior to C25k, I did find the later weeks pretty tough and was glad that I had built up my stamina by following from Week One.

    Doing too much too soon is a common cause of injury, which in extreme cases can be serious and curtail running completely, as has been reported on this forum on more than one occasion. Be cautious and sensible and be ready to drop your expectation. I don't know your age or fitness level, but as others say, many C25k graduates never achieve 5k in 30 minutes and you may have to accept that, especially when trying to rush to your aim.

    Are you wearing running shoes that support your technique and style? There is more to this running thing than non runners realise and not many shortcuts.

    Good luck.

  • I've had my gait analysed and have running shoes to compliment my runnning style. I'm more than prepared to lower my expectations and change tack if necessary.

    I think the 20 minutes run will give me a good idea as to whether this is achievable, and if it isn't I think I'll start at the beginning and do the full 9 weeks, I can always top up my exercise with other activities.

    Thanks for sharing your experience :)

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