Couch to... definitely not a 5K?: I'm about to... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Couch to... definitely not a 5K?

kinemagic profile image

I'm about to start week 5 (where the first of the "run 'x' distance (or 'y' minutes)" runs appears) and have become incredibly discouraged. I have been training with a treadmill so that I can train evenly with consistent pace. The best I can manage on the 5 minute jogging sections (that I can sustain for the who section) is 4.1 mph. To make the week 5 times work, I would need to be running 6 miles an hour. My brisk walking pace is 3.0 mph, but at 4.1, I cannot hold any semblance of conversation, so i don't think I am taking it too easy. I see on the forum that many people graduate without the ability to run the whole 5K (3.1 miles) in 30 minutes (you must average 6.2 mph), but I with that either A. the app allowed you to input your pace, and would by mathematical formula adjust the schedule to ACTUALLY get you to 5K (what is claims it does). or B. allowed you to pick by time or by distance training modes (that might result in a longer training schedule) so that if your pace is slow, you can still actually finish. As it is, I am going to "graduate" while only being able to complete ~67% of the race, and then I'm on my own. It's frustrating to say the least. Thoughts on how to train up the last 15-20 minutes in endurance?

21 Replies

Wow. My spelling is horrid in this. Sorry guys, cold hands and poor proofreading.

So you are not doing the NHS C25K programme then?

The NHS plan makes no mention of distances or speed and is based solely on duration. You might not be quite so fast at the end of the process but you are less likely to be discouraged and stop running completely.

Most C25K plans are similar in other respects. This forum is primarily for those doing the NHS plan but feel free to join us.

Sorry! I didn't realize there were so many varieties! maybe I will go over to yours! :) Thanks for the info!

sheps profile image

I think we have to accept that C25K is a catchy but not altogether accurate name for the programme. Don't let it worry you. The 30 minutes you run at the end is what is called graduation - you can then work on speed or endurance over whatever time you like. Don't let yourself be pushed too quickly as the steady progress recommended here is what keeps us largely injury free and progressing.

Enjoy your running and all the benefits it brings.

RebeccaSK profile image

If you're not following the NHS Couch25k then switch! I have a friend who has tried five different couch25k plans and never got past the fourth week. Convinced her to try the NHS one and she whizzed past the fourth week. The NHS one is good because it's less rigid and allows you to progress whether you run fast or slow - it's irrelevant to the NHS plan in fact. A huge number of us NHS Couch25k were not running 5k when we graduated - in fact, a lot of us still aren't - but we could run for 30 minutes without stopping.

I guess you need to work out which plan suits you best but you'll find that 99% of the folk on here are following the NHS one - and the success rate is enormous.

Oldfloss profile image
OldflossAdministrator in reply to RebeccaSK

... and we ROCK, don't we... she said happily!!!

RebeccaSK profile image
RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to Oldfloss

We most certainly do!

Polly2810 profile image
Polly2810Graduate in reply to Oldfloss

We do (well you do I'm not a bone fide member yet only wk 5) come on over!!!

RebeccaSK profile image
RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to Polly2810

You're still a member! Graduates are just at different stages of the journey but are no more a member than non graduates!

Oldfloss profile image

Everything that IannodaTruffe said...but do stick around and maybe join in the programme:)

Definitely go with the NHS C25K programme rather than one that emphasizes speed or distance. Also give yourself a break, you're running and every time you get on the treadmill it's a win!

ShannieP profile image

Think most of us did NHS C25K and all most all of us definitely did not do a 30minute 5k on our last runs

Took me another year to crack a sub 30 minutes 5k and only done it the once.

Mainly because training for 10k then a half marathon.

If it happens great if not enjoy the running.

5k is 5k whether it takes 29minutes or 39 minutes

in reply to ShannieP

Equally 30 minutes is 30 minutes no matter how slow you run it.

Coddfish profile image

Agree with what everyone has said about using the NHS variant, which focuses on being able to run 30 minutes. I have been running 2.5 years. I am over 60 and fairly short. I have a slightly compromised stride length from an earlier injury. I can't run 5k in 30 minutes and don't expect I ever will. But I can run 10k and I can run for 90 minutes and I am certain I am a lot healthier than I was when I started.

Don't let it put you off. Probably 25% of the people in my local parkrun take more than 30 minutes and many of us won't change that much.

It really annoys me when I see things like "couch to 5k gets nearly everyone running 5k in 30 minutes". It will get you running 30 minutes and give you a basis for extending to 5k. You might get to be able to do 5k in 30 minutes depending on age, height, weight, general health - but it really doesn't matter.

So after doing so more research, the planning app that I have has exactly the same time recommendations as the NHS program (with the exception of W3R6, which NHS says 25 minutes, my app says 22) just my app says, for example in W7R1, "jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes)" I guess for people who might run faster than that they can stop at 2.5 miles. I guess I will just not read it and listen to the app when it tells me I'm done by time rather than by distance. Thanks for all the encouragement! (Also, in case not obvious, I'm from across the pond. Hello All!)

runswithdogs profile image
runswithdogsGraduate in reply to kinemagic

Following the time suggested is a solid plan - you'll find success that way. There's plenty of time to learn to run faster after the program is finished. And hello southern neighbour! Nice to see another from this side of the Atlantic.

Sounds virtually the same, just go by the times it gives instead of the distance. 🙂 and running is running - regardless of whether the plan has NHS written in front of it, just feel pleased in yourself for making a go if it. Good job and welcome to the forum 👏🏼

Are you doing any other type of training as well as running? I found my stamina and speed built up last time by including a HIIT class, yoga and a core strength class. I also built in some fartleks and (small) hill work which all helped to make the day to day runs much easier even though I wasn't running as many miles.

Don't be so hard on yourself. If every athlete could run their personal best at the start of their journey, there would be no incentive to continue training to become the world number one.

Definitely switch to Public Health England's version of the app. It's all about endurance and speed will come later.

One you reach your graduation date and can run for 30 minutes, you can start to mix it up. The occasional hill will make running on the flat faster and the occasional ultra fit person for company with always push you forward.

Just don't be so hard on yourself, you're doing amazing because you've started running!

quirkybee profile image


I don't have any experience or knowledge at this time as to what pace I should jog, or how many minutes it takes to run one mile etc.....All I'm concerned about is that I've started the NHS C25K programme/podcast, I've chosen Laura as my Coach and I'm just listening to her advice and tips as I go through each run.

My pace is a very steady and slow pace and whether it's done at the right distance, stride etc, I do not know haha. But what I am sure of, is that I'm sticking to the advice from Laura and so far, so good, despite my legs aching and thinking "how much further do I have to go?", haha 😂

At the moment, or even after I complete this podcast, I'm not even going to think about how fast I can jog/run, or how long it will take me etc. My concern is building up my stamina and strength in my legs and just do it at my pace. I'd be the first to want to achieve this or that by a cettain time, but I've since learnt with running, that it's done steadily over a period of time. When I feel strong enough, then I guess that's when I can work on endurance and go at a quicker pace.

I've never tried any other running programme, only the NHS one, so I can't comment on others.

By the way, it's lovely on this site 🤗🤗😊

Bordandbey profile image

If you can have a go at running outside. That way you won't be tempted to be watching the clock for time or distance. The seconds & minutes go much quicker. I used to go to the gym but never managed 30 mins on a treadmill- I'd get bored. Outside running has the added incentive that somehow you have to get back to the car or home! Don't get hung up about consitency of pace, the goal is to get to the end! Do athletes run their races at the same pace throughout?! Enjoy.

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