Couch to 5k success strategies

Truly the programme is amazing! Yet, there are certain pieces of advice and troubles that seem to recur. I thought I'd summarise. Mentally, I divide C25K into three groups of three weeks each, each with its own special challenges.

Weeks 1-3: THE PLUNGE

In these weeks, you are puffing like a train and feeling like you might expire. Neighbours wonder if they should call ambulances. Many people feel ashamed of their appearance and fitness. Many hide their participation from loved ones for fear they cannot succeed.

Strategies for success:

* Do not "run" but *jog* slowly. SLOWLY.

* Remember that runners are invisible. No one will see you once you put on your invisible running gear. The lack of interest from passers by is astounding.

* Get out the door in whatever you have handy. Don't delay to purchase perfect shoes, perfect pants, perfect whatever. Getting out the door is the MOST important thing. You are not running long distances so shoes that work for walking are good for running too.



These weeks are so awesome that you just can't believe they are true!! You go from gasping out 3 minutes (end of week 3) to confidently running 25 minutes (end of week 6). Many people freak out. How is it possible? The truth is your body is amazing and built to move. Give it a chance and it will astound and amaze you. Week 5, Run 3, the first long run, is a highlight of the program. But the challenge to your mind is real.

Strategies for success:

* Continue to go SLOW

* Now's the time to change out gear if you need to

* Come out of the closet and get extra support. It's a mental game, these three weeks. You CAN do it. I did it. Many many people on this forum did it, and we were all old, fat, unfit, ex-smokers who hadn't exercised since school and then only reluctantly. Still, we did it. And you can too. Tell your family and friends, or come on here. You won't disappoint them, or us.

* Accept the challenge. Don't repeat a run "just in case". Go with it and see how far you can get.



In weeks 7-9 you just do long runs, so actually... you don't need the podcasts or app (shhhh). But you WANT it. It helps to stabilise you, give you structure and form, a goal, now that in fact you are pretty sure you will be able to run 30 minutes. Crisis of motivation is not uncommon since...these weeks are not the amazing weeks. Instead it's a mental game to get out there and just finish. It's also the time to prep for after graduation so you don't just go back to the couch.

Strategies for success:

* To motivate yourself, change things and give yourself something to look forward to. Change up your route. Try running outside if you've been on a treadmill. Get a new awesome playlist.

* Take an extra rest day between runs if you need it. These longer runs are rather taxing and you are still building fitness -- you just became a runner, after all.

* Consider adding a strength programme to your resting days. The stronger you are, the further and faster you'll be able to run. Plus, muscle burns calories faster :-)

* Begin to think beyond 9 weeks into your future as a runner. Experiment with no podcast. Download a tracker app, or some kind of training app. Is there one you like that you'll want to use?. Think about future goals (further? Faster? In more places?). Sign up for a 5k race? Begin to plan to achieve those goals. Ask for help if you don't know what to do.

* Time to join a group? Many people take up the challenge of ParkRun at this time. Or perhaps just a running buddy?


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29 Replies

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  • Thanks so much for taking the time to write this constructive summary. It is really encouraging and makes sense. Very motivating for me. I'll refer back to it as I progress.

  • Fab post! 😁

  • Brilliant post, you have got too much time on your hands. Have you packed for New Mexico? 😊

  • I only ever take hand luggage and being me I have a no-fail formula for how to pack. It takes me like an hour, most of which is hunting for my stupid earphones.

  • Bit of an enigma on the quiet, I think.

  • Naw, I just have a process-oriented brain. I'm rubbish at remembering nearly anything or locating myself in time or space, but excellent at working out how things work and should be put together. I excel at schemes, plans, and grand ideas -- actually *doing* anything is my downfall. My husband is the opposite, fears planning, excellent at executing. I love him because everything he does seems impossible to me. Obviously a few years ago he just decided to become fit and did it without fuss or drama. I hired him a personal trainer to plan, which he thinks is great.

  • What a perfect relationship. 😊

  • This is great! Thanks

  • Such a good summary

  • Great post! I'm in the latter stages now and you've captured the early stages perfectly.

  • Great post, as ever, ejvc....& makes so much sense when broken down like this!! πŸ˜‰

  • Great post you! Thank you!

  • Thanks, makes me happy to see you like it since you've been mentoring for quite a while.

  • Wonderful post ejvcruns , I couldn't agree more! I was most certainly a 'should we call an ambulance, do you think she needs some help' type in my early weeks!

  • LOVE this. Ringing so many πŸ”” bells. ALL the bells in fact! Thank you, ejvcruns.

  • Love it!!! So true and funny. Every newbie should have a copy. You are quite wonderful! :)

  • Wonderful! Thank you

  • Brilliant brilliant post - reflects on yours and others journeys I'm sure . Great post for newbies to get inspiration and support .. 1 hr to pack wow that's impressive too πŸ‘

  • Thank you xxxxx

  • Thanks so much! After a rubbish run last night, just the info and encouragement I need to keep going!

  • That makes me happy!

  • Top tips thank you : ) Especially a strength programme on rest days . . . great idea. Can you recommend one specific for 'us' runners!!!?

  • The NHS has a five week Strength & Flex plan with podcasts designed to be used alternately with c25k:

    I know there are other plans and others have given tips so -- hopefully there will be more responses!

  • What a great post. That's exactly how I remember it, now you put it like that! :)

  • So true - reflects my C25K journey so far perfectly!

  • Thanks for making me laugh- your masterful description of weeks 1-3 is exactly me. Good to know there is better running ahead.

  • bumping for new folks!

  • Great post sitting here listening to the wind and rain thinking lm mad going out in this at 5.20 am !! But you just made me want to do it even more. Beautifully written thank you πŸƒβ€β™€οΈπŸƒβ€β™€οΈπŸ‘

  • Great post thank you 😊

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