Is Couch to 5 k a misnomer?

I love the programme and think that it is amazing but I do wonder if the title sets up false expectations.

Wk1 - run one minute 6 times. Particularly for older/chunkier people this can actually be quite hard and is beyond most true couch potatoes. Perhaps advertising that you may need to build up starting off with one or tow or three of the runs and repeat until you can do all six,

Wk 9 run 3 - again particularly the older/chunkier runners, very few will achieve 5 k. Going on my current speed I'll barely hit 3k and I know from posts on here certainly be at around 4 k is not uncommon,


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33 Replies

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  • You are indeed correct. if you read through some posts here you will find it oft repeated that, despite the name, the object of the programme is to get you to running for 30 minutes unbroken at the. End of the 9 weeks, rather than a set distance.

    There are some people who run 5k in that time at graduation, although the majority do not. They all run for 30 minutes though.

    It is true that C25k is slightly misleading. C230mins does not really have such a snappy ring to it. Though. I guess if when you graduate you find you are not running the distance you anticipated you could always ask for your money back.

  • I would suspect that everyone who has the capacity to run continuously for 30 minutes and a regular habit of doing so (the actual aims of the NHS programme) has the capacity to run for 5k eventually should they so choose, without doing anything special, although doing it in 30 minutes is moot.

    What interests me is that yes, the programme is called Couch to 5K... and then leaves you to get to 5k yourself BUT the idea that it is designed to get you running 5K in 9 weeks is dispelled right at the beginning of the first session. I can seriously only think that people don't actually listen... or that there's some complicated psychological bargaining/distancing going on that generates all the quibbling (you are far from the first as Rignold points out)

    I can't say I found it at all hard to grasp the idea that I might not manage to run all 8 (in the NHS podcast version) of the 60 second run sections and might need to keep repeating that podcast until I'd worked my way up (although to be fair my mental health is in reasonable nick, and I can't recall where I heard 'well done if you managed them all and if not, you've got something to aim for next time' - it might have been the Audiofuel Pyramid 180 session). I was over the moon frankly, as an obese and ill person, that I managed 4 the first time out (It took me somewhere between 12 and 18 attempts to work up to 3 full sessions)

    'Couch' makes me laugh - the programme taught me to run but sadly (?) has not enabled me to spend much time on the couch instead of in bed (my version of a marathon is getting through 3 weeks of 4 nights a week of Springwatch for an hour)

  • Couch to 5k is a great plan that actually does work..

    So many non-runners like me have started the plan with little or no expectation of being able to run for three minutes let alone 30...

    I was 55 when I started and never had to repeat a week although I chose to do W4 several times while waiting for my hubby to get over an injury. I took three weeks off after W5 as I was on holiday but came straight back. Some of my final runs where on a treadmill indoors but I can honestly say the feeling of confidence and success on graduating was amazing..and I'm still amazing myself today.

    So, have confidence that you too will become someone who runs and let the magic happen.

  • I'm certainly not dissing the programme. It iseems great and I have redone it every year for the last four. ( struggle to keep it up over winter☺.

    It's the title I'm querying. On my runew I entertain myself by trying to come up witha better title. Asmentioned above alternatives don't have the same ring.

    Low level fitness to still breathing in 30? Don't do much to 30 mins( first steps to calling yourself a runner? or the best I came up with 6 minutes with a rest in between to 30 mins all in one go?

  • When I saw it shortened to C25k I thought I was in the wrong group. Honestly thought it was for people looking to run circa 25km πŸ˜‚

  • C2R430m3xPW podcast, anyone?

  • I'm old.... but not so old as to believe everything I read in print...:)

    It is a title, as Rignold says... a catchy, zippy, name to grab your attention... but if and when you read the ethos behind it, then you realise very quickly what its aims are.

    It is, as GoogleMe says, apparent, certainly to the majority of us, from the first week that the intention is to get you running safely, hopefully enjoyably, slowly and steadily to a thirty minute run in nine weeks. If anyone misses that, the forum family soon give the advice and support to clarify the intention.

    You would not feel motivated to begin a programme that indicated, right from the start, a hard slog, where you were going to have to keep on practising run after run, or week after week, until you got it right...?

    We all start this with something to aim for... an end result.. whatever that might be...some of us may make 5K, most of us don't..but one thing we are, all of us, at the end of this path, is runners.

    The programme title may indeed, be a misnomer, but the programme,as Jan-now-runs states, works.

    " It's not about the destination, it's about the journey to get there".

  • Those starting C25k from the couch come in all ages, weights, shapes and degrees of physical fitness, so there is never going to be any plan that works in the same way for all starters. I considered myself of average fitness for a 57 year old who had not run for 40 years, however, on reading this forum I soon became aware that my fitness level was well above the average of posters on this forum. It is a shocking indictment, illustrating how ineffectual most health education in this country has actually been, that so many let their activity levels dwindle to such a dangerously low degree, that they are incapable of carrying out the workout in Week 1.

    Until kids come out of schools having discovered the joys of physical exercise, rather than having been put off for life, then we, as a nation, are going to continue to be burdened with vast numbers of people, of all ages, who are costing our NHS dear, simply because of totally unavoidable conditions.

    This, mis-named, programme developed the running habit in this, now, 61 year old and also enabled me to run 5k in under 30 minutes within the nine weeks. I don't think it is an inappropriate title at all...........but I am still shocked how unfit so many people are, which is why I spend so much time here, trying to help people realise their potential and create a continuing habit of regular strenuous exercise.

  • Very, very well said...:) The programme certainly did/ does it for me... starting at 65... also reaching 5K in nine, 67...still running... and loving every moment.:)

  • Pleased you did manage to run 5km in 30 mins - but try it being female, 59, only 5'2" with a very short stride length - I think it's very unlikely I ever will.

  • I only managed it because I thought I had to ! ( Duh.. silly me ) :)

  • I did it first time round too, at a similar age, because I thought I had to! What I didn't do - because I hadn't found this forum - is consolidate the 30 minutes. I only went running occasionally. So I went back to basics and did the programme again, and have been running every two or three days since graduation. Still not loving it. But doing it. Because, as someone on a previous post put it, it is a gift and a privilege.

  • Never say, never...:)

  • Nowhere in the literature or podcasts for C25K does it say that you have to run 5k and certainly not to run 5k in 30 minutes to graduate.......3x30minutes is all that is required and when I started the programme that was my target. Once this graduation target is achieved most graduates are going to be able to reach 5k fairly easily. So the 5k in the title seems like a reasonable aspirational target to be included in the name of the plan. If we are going to get pedantic, maybe removing the vague term Couch would be more sense, since it is standing for inactive, unfit, overweight, unmotivated, low self esteem, etc. etc.

    Try as I might, alpacagirl, it is a physical impossibility for me to become you, whereas with training and the right attitude, you running 5k in 30 minutes, is a possibility. We all do our best.

  • I did finish C25K last year (female, 56 & 5ft2in) & ran 5K within the 30 mins, but stupidly did a 10 only a few weeks later (thinking I was invincible!!??)... too much, too soon & suffered one injury after another, having had none until the 10K... decided to rest & heal up & started C25K from scratch a few weeks ago... am now on wk7r1... no injuries & loving running once again - love the name & if you can't do a full 5K when you graduate... at least you're running & who knows, as time goes by, you may well surprise yourself :-)

  • Oh well done Suzykk - I am impressed you did 5k in 30 mins - i'm sure it's harder if you've got short legs - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it

  • Female, 61 year old when I started, 5' 1". Managed several sub30 5ks and even a couple of sub60 10ks! Age and height is not necessarily a barrier! ;-)

  • Thank you dottiemay that's really encouraging - maybe I should try a flatter route sometime and see if I can do any better!!

  • Must admit most of my routes were flatish - and I never really set out to do sub30s, but when I saw it was possible the first time, I went for it. I was as surprised as anyone when I did it, believe me! Pushing yourself plus a bit of self belief goes a long way.

  • hi there, don't know if you will see this as i am posting two months later. i am about to start week 7. like you i am 5'2" and am 60. i have never run. i also am jogging not running, and have always thought i hat d running. i did week 6 run 3 today, 5 mins walking, 25 mins running then 5 mins walking. i did 4.5 k in the 35 mins. i never thought i would achieve this and i am in anticipation that with 30 mins running i can get to 5k. i think we need to believe what everyone is saying in trust the programme. the view looks different at different points along the journey. if you stick with it, i am sure you can make it. good luck!

  • Hi LadyAnnie it's so great that there are so many of us older shorter females who have never run before πŸ˜€ If you did a brilliant 4.7 k on week 7 I'm sure you'll get to 5k in 30 mins. As for me I'm content just running for 30 mins with some short 30 second walk breaks halfway up the hills - I find it easier than slowing down to almost walking. I'm doing it for my health. I would maybe like to slowly increase the distance (not in 30 mins though) any tips anyone?

  • Well said!!!!!!!

    I've never been particularly overweight and eat healthily but when I started W1R1 I was shocked at my level of physical fitness. Embarrassingly bad. I was no good at sport at school and as soon as I left was happy to wave goodbye to P.E.

    The joy I get out of being able to run for real chunks of time is a revelation. Well into middle-age, I am easily the fittest I have been since about nine. It feels good to be fit.

    Every time I hear someone say "I could never run that much" I tell them about the programme and most agree, when challenged, that yes, they probably could run for 60 seconds. Well that's all it takes to start.

  • Yeay!!! Go you!!!

  • I feel the same - I think I mistook being slimish for being fit when I was younger. I too was shocked at how difficult it was to run for 60 seconds - and as the programme went on to realise that even someone like me who hated PE and had done no exercise at all except walking - can actually as you say be fitter than ever. When going for walks I can now walk up steep hills without getting embarrassingly short of breath and having to stop!

    Wish I had found this forum when I first started couch to 5k 3 years ago and I may have kept it up!

  • I am older, chunkier runner and don't expect to actually run 5 k by the end - for me being able to run for Half an hour without stopping will be achievement and then I plan to work on distance after completing the program (I've just done week 5 r 1)

  • Yeay!!! Go you.... I am old.. started a tad chunky... ( too many weeks in France) not so chunky now though :)

    Well done !

  • I always saw 30 minutes as the goal and 5k as the challenge. It took me a while to get a sub-30 minute 5k - and when it did happen it was quite unexpected. Now I've shaved a few more minutes off through losing weight. I used to smoke and started running when I quit but it did take a while to get my lungs back into a healthier state. I never obsessed about the 30 minutes - I was simply happy to be running and finding a new life style. It is indeed an indictment of our society here that so many people are so unfit but starting this programme is the first step to reversing that whatever we choose to name it 😎

  • I have just graduated and am overjoyed to have completed C23K. (Defo not c25k, lol) When I started week one I was more like couch to 100m in a hour! Although I'm not at 5K yet I am super happy to be on my way!

  • As a 24/7 carer of a son who has severe autism there are very few things I can do to get out and exercise. Running I've never been able to do but always admired those who did. I was bullied badly at school for being the fat kid and always picked last for teams. Although my self esteem is low of myself I am determined and stubnorn and like to find ways. I get up at stupid o'clock or when he's gone to bed and put on ,y running gear. The first week was a killer as was the 2nd, 3rd, 4th... but I'm now on my 7th week. I don't care if I can't run 5k in 30minutes but I do care that I can no matter how slow or how I look that I get out and am improving my fitness and mental health and that is what C25K is all about for me...oh and the great bunch of guys who support and help get us all through it

    Remember it's not how long it takes to get to the destination but that you kept going and that you feel good and are certainly better for it

  • Yeay!!! Go you.. that is exactly what it is all about.... :)

    You are doing amazingly.... keep posting... we need inspirational friends like you...:)

  • Thank you for those lovely words is you though and others like you that are the inspirations and inspire people to carry on and make them realise they can do it...thank you my friend πŸƒβ€β™€οΈπŸ˜Š

  • Well at 17 stone I'll not be doing 5K by week 9 (am doing about 8kmh at the moment). Once I can do 30 mins, I'll gradually increase until I get to 5K in 30. No rush.

  • When I say 'couch to 5k' to others they seem to 'get it' straight away, so I agree with you but I think the name does its job and isn't actually misleading - just a bit on the optimistic side. Glad you're enjoying it! πŸ˜‰

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