Stupid question alert!!: Hello all you brilliant... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Stupid question alert!!


Hello all you brilliant people out there who fill my life with endless interest and information with your posts! I have a daft question. :-)

I today completed w7r2 25 mins, and like thousands before me am agog that I can do it, even if it is a struggle. My question is this: for me the struggle is not so much a difficulty in continuing to put one foot in front of the other as the minutes tick by, it's the fact my legs don't feel strong enough to repeatedly take the weight on the landing leg; it takes massive determination to keep going simply because I feel they are going to give way because it feels like my weight plus the landing force is too much on one leg at a time and they really struggle to take it. And if I catch the ground wrong and miss my stride I feel I might fall over! (I run slightly muddy woodland tracks). The performance of my heart and lungs has massively improved during the programme and breathing is now steady and I guess effective enough, but my legs haven't improved, they still feel weak, and when i stop running feel kind of rubbery and almost disconnected as I do my cool down walk!

So, do I need to do squats or something as well as run? Does running get your heart and lungs fitter but not your legs stronger?

For information I'm 5.7 and 11 stone 12 last weigh in, heading for 10 stone 7. I'm hoping that the weight loss will help. I have quite a strenuous job and also ride a horse so do rather feel I need my rest days, but if squats are required then so be it. I don't have time to go to the gym, so any home based activity suggestions are very welcome!

Thank you! :-)

28 Replies

It's not a daft question at all and I wish I could help you on this maybe you need JuJu or similar to help. All I ever know is the idea of kissing the ground with your feet as Oldfloss always recommends. It sounds as though you are pounding really heavily, although tracks with uneven surfaces can do that too. I hope you find an answer to make it more comfortable for you.

Gosh, kissing the ground with my feet, I'm definitely not doing that! But I see what you mean and will give it a go. Many thanks! :-)


Try a shorter stride. If you do not have this problem on hills, over stretching your legs is most likely the cause. Hope this helps.

Yes I do have a long slow stride, I've tried a shorter stride but it felt all wrong. Maybe I just need to get used to it. Will give it a try. Re hills, I only do undulations at present, hills would definitely cause abject failure in run completions!! But I will try a hill and see what happens. Thank you! :-)


Hi there...

Well, it may be all manner of things... landing heavily and over striding could be in there somewhere. Running off road with uneven surfaces can be a contributory factor too... trying to keep our balance etc:)

Although you have a strenuous job and ride, other exercise on rest days is really useful for building up our strength... ( on all our bits, nor just legs). Many of us do home exercise, and find it really helpful. The Strength and Flex exercises are a good one and easily done at home..

These could be helpful maybe, too,

It may be, that you have tight muscles... stretching is essential to get rid of the knots and a roller, although exquisite torture is amazing....I assume that you do a really good muscle warm up and a stretch routine after every run..?

Having just got off the IC with a calf injury... the treatment for that by my Sports Physio was a real awakening. The tear was one thing, and has healed well, but the knotted muscle.. gosh! I thought over my nearly two years since Graduation that I had done everything by the book... clearly it had not been enough.. and I am extra vigilant now... :)

So... maybe give some of these ideas a try... lots of us did the Strength and Flex alongside C25K and half an hour or so on a rest day to have another exercise regime pays dividends..:)

Oh thank you so much, both those programmes look perfect and will definitely go on the agenda, although I'm lucky enough to not have to do upper body exercise as I get plenty of that at work.

Yes I do a lot of post run stretching and will try pre-run stretching too to try and wake my muscles up perhaps.

And yes, I think a session with a physio would be an interesting treat!

Thank you so much for your thoughts and for the links, I look forward much to getting stuck in! 😊

Sorry, another stupid question! Wanted to download the programmes but can only find them in iTunes which I don't use because I have an android phone. I can't find them in a non iTunes format. Any ideas?! Sorry, technology isn't my thing!!


I wonder if this is a hip/knee problem? I'm thinking that your equestrian activities would be giving you pretty strong thighs and calves. Maybe you should visit a physiotherapist...

Hiya, many thanks for your reply! I don't feel it's joints, it's definitely muscle that feels like it's turned to rubber. Yes absolutely, I should have strong legs, I've ridden all my life and even worked riding racehorses but my muscles, although big and rock hard if I flex them, just don't perform. I think a physio visit would be very interesting... :-)

roseabiAdministrator in reply to foreverendeavour

I'm not just talking joints, there are tendons and fascia to consider - you have to think about the connections :) But also the hips contain many muscles, and are a common weakness due to our tendency to sit for large periods of time. Squats are great, as Rignold may just have hinted ;) , also lunges would be worth a try. Anyway, good luck!

Ah yes I see, I had a massage once and she said something about my fascia needing work, that's a very good point, thank you. Started squats today, found them easy enough and fairly confident I was doing them right as I used a guide and checked posture in a mirror, so did split squats instead - and they killed! So, it's on on for me with the split squats. :-)

roseabiAdministrator in reply to foreverendeavour

Have fun! Methinks I need to check out these split squats...

Yes, you ned to be doing squats. Regardless of whether you run or not you need to be doing squats. Everyone needs to be doing squats. Every day. Given the choice between running and dong squat I would recommend squats every time. If there was only one exercise that we could all do for the rest of our lives, squats would be it.

There are other good exercises you can be doing to strengthen your legs: calf raises, heel drops, leg raises, reverse crunches, lunges, split squats ( I hate split squats but they are very effective), and there are plenty of You Tube videos demonstrating how to do them. If you work up to doing a little circuit of those exercises a couple of times a week (as well as your daily skwaats!) you will gain strength quickly. The key things are: concentrate on form. Doing fewer reps of an exercise properly will do you more benefit than loads badly; start with a low number of reps of each exercise. Don't try and do a dozen at a time first time, it will just put you off, but always aim to be incerasing your reps as it becomes more manageable. If you are in your comfort zone, you are not improving.

and then do some more squats.

You are brilliant, I do love reading your posts!

I had a nasty feeling sqwuats would be on the agenda, thank you for your advice I will approach them with caution using the links that Oldfloss has posted which look perfect.

Thank you so much for your reply :-)

Gabby08Graduate in reply to Rignold

What's a split squat?! Honestly, it sounds more like something I'd eat for pudding than something I'd do with my legs...

Haha :-D I don't know either, I'm going to YouTube them!

Irish-JohnGraduate in reply to Rignold

Any tips on how to do squats without - my problem - wrecking knees? :)

OldflossAdministrator in reply to Rignold

My Physio does not want me to do squats for while... I told him that you say we have to do them and he said, he knew better!!!!

How dare he???? :)

Mind, he is very, very, very, cute :) I think I may forgive him:)

Rignold in reply to Oldfloss

Why does he not want you to do squats?

OldflossAdministrator in reply to Rignold

I think, initially he just wanted me to do the exercises he gave me after the calf tear...I just did as I was told!

There is a lot of advice for squatting with knee issues. It is a common problem. Enduring you gave equally distributed degrees of bend at ankle, knee and hip is the major one in my book. If you google squats- bad knees you will get lots of good stuff.

I had a lot of knee pain when I first start squatting and the things that helped me were wearing good neoprene knee sleeves and taking high quality fish oil thrice daily. And ....

...doing squats. Strengthened my knees no end. I now do more squats a day with my own bodyweight on a barbell on my back than I could do air squats when I started out a couple of years ago.

Your own weight on your back??? Wow!

Further to your thoughts I did normal squats today, following a guide and making sure my angles were equal, but found them unchallenging. So I did split squats, taking 3 seconds to go down and 3 seconds to go back up, did 10 on each leg... and the muscles turned to rubber! Why is this when they are more than big enough and absolutely solid when I flex them??!!

we;;, good work on the air squats. Keep doing them even if you don't find them challenging. How far down are you getting? If you are touching 'ass to grass' first attempt then you must be very flexible. Build up to 3 sets of 50 and you're golden.

Split squats are my nemesis too. I am doing 3 sets of 6-8 per side with 40kg at the moment and as you say it just reduces me to jelly. I think it is because whenever balance comes in to play you are having to use so many additional muscles for stability. That is the principle behind all these 'functional fitness' crazes with people balancing on balls whilst doing weights etc. The (combined) amount I can lift overhead with a dumbell or kettlebell in each hand is a little over half what I cam manage using both arms on a barbell.

Anyway, so the remedy, obviously, is to go large on the split squats.

but keep doing the air squats as well. pay attention to form. make sure your heels stay flat to the floor, try throwing in a 10 second pause at the bottom of the squat.

Then progress to adding goblet squats into the mix .

Hell's teeth, 3 sets of 50?!! OK, mission accepted! Yes I can get ass to grass no problem although I was only going as far as calves knees and torso being at right angles, as per my guide. However, ass to grass it is from hereon. Yes feet are flat on floor so I guess yes I am flexible which is nice, I can actually do something right for once!

After their little foray into the world of split squats, today the thighs are, how shall I put it... mullered?! I'm delighted actually, have found the weakness and thanks to you the cure, so game on, squats will be squatted in abundance. I'm a stickler for correctness so form will also be monitored. Core strength and balance is pretty good thanks to a lifetime's horse riding.

As for you, squatting with 40kgs?? That's 2 bags of horse feed in my world, that's bats!!

You're fab. Thanks for being there!

a really good tip is to film yourself doing your squats, on your phone or whatever, from the side and front on. It is the best way to improve form.

I've got a full length mirror I use. Tisn't a pretty sight but does the job?

Sounds bizarre but when I started my ankles often felt really fragile as if they were made of fine bone china or something and might smash!! This settled as I moved on but if I overdo it can return a bit. Must be some sort of tendonitis I think. Hopefully your legs will settle too.

Thank you for your encouragement, hopefully yes they will settle! As per Rignold's suggestion I started split squats today (as I found normal squats didn't seem to be difficult), taking 3 seconds on the down bit and 3 seconds on the up. Did 10 on each leg, and the confounded muscles turned to rubber and took the rest of the day to get over it!!! Don't understand it because my thigh muscles are very big - too big for my liking really - and when flexed, absolutely solid - but totally ineffective!!

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