How should I run?: Hello, my husband (who has... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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How should I run?


Hello, my husband (who has been running for a few years) has been helping me do the couch to 5k programme. We've just got to 5mins of running with 3min intervals which I really struggled with, as I have with all previous runs if I'm honest!! On every run my legs have hurt a lot and he suggested that I'm putting too much pressure on my legs by raising my knees quite high and taking long strides when I run. He said I should try just running as if I'm walking fast and not take my feet too far off the ground. I gave it a try and I was thinking so hard about the way that i was running that the time seemed to go more quickly! But it didn't feel at all natural to run that way and i was slower than before.

I just wondered whether anyone else had tried to run differently to how they naturally would and how they found this over time?

I'm just waiting for it get easier in some way!

15 Replies

I can't remember which Week or which Run it is in but Laura mentions not bouncing too much as we run because it takes more energy than running 'flat', so it sounds like she agrees with your husband.

Difficult though, I know, to teach yourself to run in any other way but it might be worth persevering for a few more runs because you may find 'flat' running less tiring as you increase your minutes.

Don't worry about speed or distance at the moment though, and in the end if 'flat' doesn't work for you, run how ever you want. It's your run, after all!

Good luck, keep going!

in reply to MrsLis


Without any ofense. Now, I have image of runnin Phoebe from Friends TV show :)

I would totally ignore Laura's advice on stride, oscillation, footstrike and pretty much anything except pace and times. At this stage of the game trying to reinvent the wheel, or the foot, after a lifetime of running 'your way' is more likely to cause injury than any supposed flaws in your form. 'Correct forn' is always a bit of an odd concept IMO anyway. i was watching the front pack of the lady runners in the marathon the other day -a ll of whom obviously at the top the world elite, and their running styles were all radically different, some entirely antithetical to each other. There are no shirtage of theories as to what form produces the most efficient results and clearly different approaches work for different people.

What your husband may be suggesting however sounds more like you are trying to consciously 'run' rather than just 'move swiftly (ish) over ground'. A lot of people adopt a gait while 'consciouly' running that they might not otherwise if they were not thinkng about it.

the other thing to consider is that alost everyone experiences painful legs during the initial weeksm so it may have nothng to do with your form at all.


Overstriding can put a strain on knees in particular. Most people just do what comes naturally and no doubt can end up developing bad habits, but unless you are running long distances then less than perfect form should not cause major problems at this stage.

Probably your aches and pains are just those that anybody starting an exercise regime for the first is likely to suffer. If I remember correctly it was after Week 5 that the initial pains eased off for me.

Addressing your running form may well help and is something that you need to develop an awareness of. Persistent extremely bad form can cause other issues such as muscular problems, so keeping head up, shoulders back, relaxed bent arms pumping forward and back (not around the body) etc. will all make things easier. As for the speed issue....... don't worry, C25K is about duration not pace.

Thank you, these are all really helpful comments. I will try not to 'overthink' my style of running but also maybe not run too hard either as admittedly it did feel slightly easier running that way. Again though this could be purely psychological as I was thinking so much about the way I was running that I wasn't counting down the time so much! This is all very new to me and I've never properly tried running before so I am finding this blog invaluable! Thank you


I agree that not to 'overstriding' can help - trying to be 'economical' in your running, if you like (I think this is what Laura means in her 'hedge' anecdote!) Most of all though, slow it down if it feels hard. It is about moving for the timed intervals, so running slowly for the whole interval is better than going too fast and struggling to complete the time. Honestly, slow and steady will get you there - pace will come naturally in time. Good luck🙂


I'm think I'm currently running more like a crab with bound chinese feet! Whilst I could in theory run a lot more elegantly its this rather trotting style that's allowing me to deliver on stamina. (Whatever works!!)

what works is King. Always.

I have an eye-watering anecdote relating to Chinese bound feet but it's NSFF (not suitable for forum). May make it available as a pay-per-view bonus.

I have some anecdotes about crabs as wel, but no-one's gong to pay tp hear about that.


I love these two. Such an economical running style !

in reply to Hidden

My gosh. I love them as well now. That's amazing!!!


Slow and steady and run how it feels right for you...Try to land lightly the early days, some of us have a tendency to stamp our feet down :)

Your body protesting a bit, that is, as Rignold says, normal... strange exercise means strange feelings:)

Not sure what week you are on..but, run it your way..this is your journey.. so follow the programme, take your rest days and relax into your style :)


I enjoyed that! Thanks 😃 It can be done! 🏃‍♀️


Try a few running exercises which may help with running style/stance. First one is put your hands behind your back and clasp them together - then start running. You will see that your upper body goes forward and it is almost impossible to run on your heels. Second one is to stand up straight and run on the spot - quite quickly . Do this for a minute or so and then lean slightly forward -- and see what happens . You will start running forward without even trying. Third one is - pretend that there is a nasty savage looking dog asleep just off the path ahead - run past that dog as quietly as you can without waking him. :)

Also take into account the surface you are running on. Grass although softer will tend to be uneven, road/pavement is obviously hard but flat and sometimes camber can cause issues. Running is like breathing, you can overthink it and cause yourself more problems than you started with...


I had similar issue. The first time I tried C25K I was running naturally for me, but way too fast for a beginner. This, I didn't survive many runs and my knee started to hurt. The second time, I forced myself on EXTREMALY slow, but steady. It allowed me to reach W5R3 - 20 min continuous run without pain. I mean, I was tired and struggle with each and every run as they were demanding, but without any injury-like pain. My runnin speed is probably even slower than very brisk walk. But I was told, repeatedly, that speed will come with time ;)

I hope this is helpful.

Good luck and keep up good work.

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