C25K should be better planned....

I am sure there are many people on here who think the programme is fine, but I feel it could be greatly improved, and at times it is unreasonable.

My wife and myself are both approaching 60. I am medically defined as obese and she suffers from asthma. We have both had to repeat week 2 and the jump from week 3 to week 4 is rediculous an unmanageable.

I know many of you will just it does not matter how long it takes and to keep repeating weeks, but it is totally demoralising.

This plan is unrealistic for many people without having to repeat weeks, which I am sure leads to many giving up.

With technology as it is, the plan should be based on an individuals circumstance. The program could ask questions such as age, height, weight, how long since you last regularly took exercise etc and suggest a plan that is more likely to be achievable even if it is based over 12-15 weeks. Only by constantly progressing do you feel like you are achieving something. Not by constantly going backwards......


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42 Replies

  • Oh gosh... I do empathise, but, unfortunately.... or fortunately, we have nearly 40,000 followers. Logistically, even in this high speed age.. it would be a nigh on impossible task to tailor a programme to meet individual needs.

    Maybe, this is not the programme that is best suited to your needs... have you taken a look at the sister programme... Walking for Health...maybe you would find it more useful. Many folk use it and find it really great :)


    There are many folk, carrying extra weight and also many running with asthma.. and many, many older runners.. I am 67.. who are able to complete the programme... without repeating weeks too.

    The only way to do it, is slowly and steadily... as slow as you like... and if you do that, you should be able to continue to the 30 minute runs... taking extra rest days too is often helpful as is other exercise on rest days.. Strength and Flex for example.. many of us used these to help our running.


    As long as your wife has the go-ahead from her Asthma nurse.. and that you also, have medical clearance to do this, you should be fine .

    Hopefully, this may be helpful to you ...this is your journey and you tailor it to suit your circumstances and if that means taking it slower, then that is the way to go.

  • Thx but it would be very easy for NHS to add filters to work out a programme more suited to the individual, very rarely in anything, does ‘one size fit all’. For some, it may be better to have a 12/14 week programme where you did not have to keep repeating weeks. As for going slower, it I jogged any slower I would never get home!

    I appreciate there are some older people on here, but looking at profile pics most seem to be 40 or under who appear to be ‘a bit out of shape’

    I honestly doubt there are many 50+ who are 4/5stone overweight, who have not exercised for 20 years who complete the program in 9 weeks....

    I am not saying it is bad, I am saying it could be improved.

  • I am so sorry that you feel this way. I am 67 and have just completed the programme today. I repeated Week 1, because I was so unfit and overweight, but taking the advice on this Forum to go slowly and steadily, I really enjoyed it and made progress, very gradually. I did the Strength and Flex recommended by Old Floss on three Rest days a week and was careful to stretch properly after each jogging session.

    I am fitter and healthier than I have been for years, and I cannot recommend this Programme highly enough.

    I do hope you find a Regime which suits you and your wife.

  • I am not sure that the NHS, accepting the financial constraints it is currently experiencing, would stand the cost of such an enterprise...which is why, we administrators and mentors are volunteers:)

    A year ago, in a poll taken.... the majority of C25K-ers were in fact, aged between 50 to 60...:)

    It is a great programme and although many do complete the 30 minute runs in nine weeks, there are many who do not. If you wish to take longer that is absolutely fine.

    And, believe me, there is always slower! But.. the more you do, the stronger you will get.. linked with a healthy eating regime this will work. Many of the forum family are on the linked Weight Loss site also and find it works amazingly...maybe take a look.


    I do hope you continue with this..and find a way to continue the journey:)


    My profile picture was taken when I was much younger :)

    " Vanity, thy name is woman ?"

  • I work in the NHS... "financial constraints" is a polite way of putting it!

  • I know... I am full of admiration. !

  • Hi ... I understand what you are saying. I am a tech and computer programmer and I think I get what you are saying.

    That being said am 53 with asthma and about 6 -7 stone overweight and I think probably fit into the category of not doing exercise for that sort of timeframe.

    Before starting this I did kick off with some walking of about 30 mins initially and then about 50 mins (about 2 months). When I started out I really struggled and there are some weeks where I would have agreed with you on run 1 of the week but as the week went on things did get easier. I think (for me) if the programme had not pushed I would not have progressed. But I am also a believer that everyone is different.

    The key message that helped me and I hope will help you is that this is not about doing 5k it is about getting out there and building up to running for 30 minutes gradually - as such take it slow and slower still. During the programme my fitness and stamina have improved but initially my speed was almost like walking - it is still not very impressive!!

    I hope you are able to stick with it and progress through it would be a shame having made the decision to start it, if not one of the other programmes that I think I saw linked by OldFloss may be a way to continue with a different approach. I guess, from the feedback, for now the programme is what the programme is - from what I can see it is a slightly modified version of other C25K programmes some of which try to do it in 8 weeks so are more aggressive. I think I took about 10 weeks as in the first few weeks I took anything from 2 to 5 rest days between runs.

  • I think I read somewhere on here that only 10% of folks do complete it on time and on speed. (Oldfloss, was that you who said that?) Don't assume we're all sticking religiously to the timetable- I'm not but I'm still really proud of the progress I've made so far, and you should be too, for getting started!

  • Yellowduck, I turned 70 last May. I do not run like a gazelle but I love to run which I think is a bonus. I know C25k can be hard, but I did find that it got better and better as I went along. There are a few old chooks in this group and I am sure a lot of them will agree that age does not matter. It just takes you longer for the distance but it works.

    I understand your issues and If you are keen, perhaps you could work out a program to fit you age and your health and post it on this forum. It would be helpful to anyone with the same issues and interesting to a lot of us who like to know things. Your program could be more accurate as you would be the one experiencing it.

  • I agree, one size does not always fit all. Please give the next weeks a go before you decide you can’t do it though. You’ll be amazed how much is possible even though at face value you may say ‘there is no way I can do that!’.

  • I'm aged 56 and never did any exercise since school other than walking the dog. I never in a million years thought I would be able to run but it is possible. I followed the plan and didn't worry about how fast or far I went just set off and turned round when told half way.

    I hope that you find your own way to achieve your goal, whatever that is 🏃‍♀️🏃

  • You did.. and did wonderfully!

  • That’s the spirit, we’ll done Carolyn

  • I did the programme in nine weeks, aged 59. Im ashamed to say I hadn't exercised for years and was (still am but less so) over weight. I now run three times a week and have completed several 10k events, now training for a 10 mile event. I also now do strengthening exercises including yoga and Pilates .

    Personally I would prefer the NHS to spend funds on treatments and care rather than further investing in supporting new runners. There are many other training programmes already freely available or individuals could choose to buy one to one coaching if they are so inclined. There is also no reason why individuals cannot simply extend the programme themselves either by repeating weeks, or tweaking new weeks themselves to build less of an increase where they feel they wish to.

    Its important to remember though that this programme is tried and tested where as an individually tweaked plan wont be.

    I always find a positive mental attitude helps immensly in any challenge.

  • Good points:)

  • To make changes to the app would cost significantly less than it would cost to treat one patient who suffers from obesity.

    How good the program is is not only measured by how many complete it, but also by how many give up and who don’t complete it.

  • It sounds a lot like you’ve decided the programme isn’t for you. There are plenty of apps out there that allow you to set your own intervals - so you could make each run an even more gradual increase, and take the guidance of your GP to help you do this.

    All those who have already posted have been encouraging, and many have had a similar starting point to yourself, but no one except you can decide what is right for you.

    Every bit of exercise you do will make some difference - so whatever you decide, keep it up. Good luck!

  • This is a good point. It's ok everyone saying the program is super and brilliant but it would be interesting to see how many people quit it.

    However, I don't agree with you that the program could be 'improved' . It is what it is, it's a a one size fits all approach. To give you an example from another side of the coin: some of the earlier stages seem 'too easy' if you have done sports before, done them recently , or are in good shape. It doesn't mean the program needs to be improved though in my opinion. There is no harm in doing a physical exercise if it feels too easy. In the same way, there is no harm repeating a stage of a program if it feels too hard. I think if a program allows you to repeat certain weeks then it's a good idea. I mean , how could you improve the program without creating a myriad of other programs?

  • I’m 48, was overweight and suffer with Hypothyroidism, was recovering from a T10 vertebrae fracture and two prolapsed disks and found it hard as hell at first but I repeated where I needed to and kept seeing improvements... Lots of good advice in this thread that doesn’t have to depend on the NHS recreating an uber programme that won’t get used because it would have to be massively customisable and therefore over complicated... the tools you need are already there.

  • After looking at the replies and comments etc... I wonder if maybe this, would perhaps suit your needs and those of your wife better.. a longer programme and broken down into workable sections combining a variety of exercise:)


    I quote...

    "Want to improve your health? Need to lose weight? This activity plan for beginners, combining running and strength and flexibility workouts, will get you into the habit of regular exercise in 12 weeks."

    All there for the taking and at no extra cost :)

  • I’m 63, have bronchiectisis, and have had a total hip replacement. I completed this course in just over 9 weeks. My only blip was when I pushed myself too far too soon, and pulled a muscle.

    It has certainly taken determination, and nobody was more surprised than I was when I completed it. Sticking to it though, and achieving results, has given me such a lift and boosted my confidence.

  • You cannot fail at this training plan unless you give up and head back to the sofa. As part of the instructions you are told that if you do not manage to complete a run, then you simply repeat it. That is not failing. Repeat whole weeks if you need to. This puts you firmly in control.

    Most problems, especially in the early weeks are caused by going too fast. There is no speed requirement for this plan. You should be able to hold a conversation as you jog, not just gasp the odd word. If you can't do that, you are going too fast. As long as you are maintaining a running action, ie. both feet off the ground simultaneously during each stride, it doesn't matter if you could walk faster.

    We had an 83 year old graduate just a couple of weeks ago, we have had graduates who still need to lose five stones, but they all managed it because they slowed down to the pace that suited their level of fitness.

    The best feature of this plan is its simplicity. To complicate it would be counter productive in my opinion.

    Good luck, this plan works.

  • I think IannodaTruffe is right. The programme becomes bespoke by the way you approach it - through slowing down and repeating week if necessary.

    I'm hoping to graduate tomorrow (and admittedly I've managed without repeating weeks) but I doubt very much that I'll be covering 5k. I've concentrated on getting out there and keeping going for the required time at my own pace. I can worry about covering the distance in future runs.

    The strength in the programme for me was in giving me a structure to get up and out there and always providing the next challenge.

    As such it's really worked by making me focus positively on making time to improve my fitness and keeping improving little by little.

    I do hope you'll stick at it - and you couldn't find a more encouraging bunch than the folk on here to help you feel motivated and inspired to keep going.

  • I'm sorry you are feeling frustrated, but please don't give up on changing your health & wellbeing either by C25K or by another program, it is worth the effort for your quality of life.

    I am 58 and have never run before. I started the program a stone and a half overweight. I am combining C25K with slimming world, and over the last 6 1/2 weeks have lost 3/4 of a stone and started to feel noticeably fitter and better in myself. The benefits that I am beginning to reap are most definitely worth the effort. I started this program as a result of a casual comment from my daughter, - I am so glad she did & I did! Good luck in your own journey! 😀

  • I would recommend the runners world 30 30 plan. For 30 days you do the following: walk 5 mins. Then run 30 seconds then walk until you have recovered and feel able to run again. You repeat the 30 second run followed by walking as long as you need to recover until you’ve been doing that for 20 mins in total . Then walk 5 mins to cool down. It’s a great stepping stone to couch to 5 k and you could do that until you feel ready to run for longer.

  • There is no harm in repeating weeks as long as you both need to. You will find there are lots on here that do too and graduate. This forum is great for seeking advice on tweaking the plan to best suit your needs so do continue to ask us!! if you can both persevere it will help with your weight loss and your wife's asthma too. I'm assuming you've both been checked by the GP and given the go ahead to do this?

  • I can only echo what everyone else on here has said. I was 53 when I started this programme and had been a smoker since I was 14 . ( I know, that's really bad ) I kicked the fags and the booze and needed something to fill the " void " and improve my health and general well being at the same time .

    Please persevere, it is so worth it , it really is . Its an NHS tried and tested programme , and this forum will offer you first hand support and encouragement . Of course , if you or your wife have any health concerns , I would just run it by your GP.

    You don't have to worry about what speed you are doing ( I got overtaken by a convoy of 3 mobility scooters on one of my runs ) or what distance you are covering , you just run for the specified time and if you have to repeat a run, it doesn't matter .

    Good Luck on whatever you decide to do :-) x

  • repeating weeks might be demoralising, but I don't think it is a given that it is demoralising for everyone and there's probably a couple of aspects to that. One is the sheer number of people who take longer or repeat weeks, so it seems pretty normal to customise it yourself. The first thing I was told by someone when I said I was going to start was "oh my friend did that and she just did every week twice and she finished", so it seemed a) fine and normal and b) the person I was told about finished which was reassuring. I doubt either that there's a straightforward correlation between age, weight, and whether you need to customise it. I had to "practice" quite a few runs.

    The second aspect is that the NHS plan comes with this forum where you can get so much support and also be exposed to people who have had trouble or have repeated or who have the same health background as you so you get to hear about how normal it is to repeat or how people with your issues have dealt with it. You can always post about your runs and that can help you feel progress where otherwise you feel none, or just generally get encouragement.

    I agree that it could be improved, for instance adding in advice about stretching - and perhaps more advertising of the forum - and perhaps a note to say that you can repeat or customise as you like (though that is mentioned at week 5, I think, the idea of repeating that week). I took longer than 9 weeks - no-one told me you *had* to do it in 9, just that you shouldn't do it in less so as not to push yourself, but then I'd already had the idea of taking longer normalised for me by my friend's friend. It's already an improvement on the other C25K plans in that it doesn't focus on distance and my personal feeling is that the simplicity does do it good. It's still not for every one, that is true, and there, there are other programmes instead (again, maybe some advertising of those might help people who are struggling to pick a different option).

  • All I can say is that I bet if I had asked the OP would I ever be able to run 5k - let alone 10 - by using this or any other programme given my health profile they would probably be just as vehement in saying I would never be a runner as they are that this programme is lacking.

    I am not a "walking miracle" - I m a dadgummed RUNNING miracle ;)

    (the programme is really the miracle ☺)

  • Love you ....Saying it like it is... the programme is great... and it does work ...:)

  • It works if you work it :)

  • I am not really sure where the problem lies. The programme clearly states that one can repeat runs or weeks as required. There are countless members who proudly graduate having taken 14 weeks, 20 weeks, up to a year even. Why that should be demoralising I do not understand? You progress at your own rate. The whole principle on which this and indeed most exercise programmes are based is one of progressive overload: you do something, be it running or lifting a weight, or doing a pressup, to the level which you can mange, and once you can do that you increase the distance/time/weight/reps... Sometimes you make rapid progress, sometimes you need more time at each level. That nmay well be influenced by your age, weight, fitness level etc, but the curve is still the curve regardless of whether you progress slowly or quickly. The intervals used are based on solid science. If I lifted 100kg last week and fail to lift 102.5 this week, I just need to drop my weight and get stronger for another week, not devise some other fraction in between just to feel

    Like I am making progress.

  • I wonder where you have met the 'many' people who could not do the NHS Couch to 5K programme because it was unrealistic? On second thoughts you may have read their posts here where people have *felt* like that but missed their subsequent posts in which it turns out actually they can make the programme work for them and often with quite significant health challenges - plenty with obesity and asthma. More often they have posted asking for suggestions from which they pick and choose and find something that works for them. Using this forum constructively does seem to be a big factor in success (which is not to say that having a bit of a moan sometimes about it all being too hard and getting all those rubbish thoughts out of your system isn't sometimes part of that!)

    It took me something between 12 and 18 runs and over 6 weeks to complete Week 1.

    I have to tell you that no, I was not, ever, truly demoralised. I was exultant! I thought it was a bloomin' hilarious marvel that I was attempting it at all and sticking at it. I thought, hey ho, it would take me nine months rather than nine weeks and there didn't seem to me be anything about the structure of the programme that made that a problem (and that would represent nine months running which is significantly more impressive in health benefits terms than nine weeks) As it turned out, I was able to complete each run successfully (if not easily) every time after that, so it didn't take nine months

    How about explaining more about the precise difficulties you are experiencing and see what other people suggest? It *is* perfectly normal to have a bit of a wobble at some point in the programme. I do wonder if in your situation the problem is the reverse - not technology but too much technology as if you are using the app then I think there are some bells and whistles which may not be helping you in your situation, and the podcast presentation, where there's no screen for ticking anything off, could suit you better.

    If you've maintained a running motion when it says run and a walking motion when it says walk, and you've done that three times you do not need to return to that 'week'.

    I reckon if you put down the great weight of fighting the programme emotionally, it will be easier (not easy, but easier) And a lot quicker than hoping the NHS is going to re-write it for you. It's not that we are all relentless Pollyannas and many of us know (just read the Bridge to 10k forum!) there are running programmes out there that don't suit us personally (ironically some of them the sort where you *can* input details about yourself!) even though we've cracked the NHS C25K.

    FWIW I graduated from the programme over five years ago and I am still running regularly. Not fast, and generally not far, not three times a week but almost always once or twice. I have a physical health condition which means that I have been unable to work for nearly 30 years and need to spend most of my life in bed and that's still the case. I was also obese when I started but happily have been a healthy BMI for several years now.

  • I would say 40,000 members says it all. This program is brilliant and has helped so many. Nothing is perfect in this world so there will always be a few it won't suit. Happily I am one of the many it worked for, I completed the program just before my 60th birthday.

    I do hope you can find a way to make best use of this popular program. Good luck.

  • I’m someone who did every single run twice thereby extending c25k to 18 weeks instead of the normal 9. I did this precisely because I didn’t want to over face myself and end up giving up. It worked for me and I never felt like I wasnt progressing - every run was an achievement and as long as I got out there and ran I was progressing from doing nothing and getting somewhere.

    You are right that we are all at wildly different starting points and should tailor the programme to be something that works for us but I think the current app lets you do that. I hope you give it a go.

  • I am sorry you are finding C25K demoralising. I'll add my experience to the mix: it took me 50 runs, not 27 to graduate, and I was still 4 stone overweight and approaching the age of 50 when I did graduate. I also developed (or discovered I had) exercise-induced asthma during the programme. I have had ups and downs in the last 5 years, have had the odd injury here and there, have run more and run less during that time due to lack of mojo but have never regretted taking up running.

    The thing I have learned over the last 5 years is that no run is a bad run. You learn something from every run. Sometimes it's that you can push on through that feeling of 'I can't do this.' Sometimes you have to finish your run earlier than planned and thinking about it later you realise that you hadn't slept well the night before, or that you didn't leave enough time for your lunch to settle, or that you now need three days between runs, or that a run that is interrupted by road crossings breaks up your rhythm and means you can't get going again. There's quite a lot of analysis and introspection in running. There's also a lot of grit and determination, whether you are running for 60 seconds or 6 hours. They require the same mental resolve, drive, guts - call it what you will.

    I hope you can both continue with the programme, and I wish you well.

  • I am nearly 65, medically classed as obese, only 5’ tall and have never run in my life. I think the programme is amazing, I start week 7 tomorrow and can’t tell you how wonderful I feel about being able to run I’m looking forward to graduating in 3 weeks and even thinking about a park run after I graduate and I would not have done any of it without C25K

  • Hi Yellowduck, I do sympathize as it is demoralizing to be making efforts to be fit and healthy and then "fail". However, if you are any bit fitter and healthier, you have NOT failed. I have recently completed Week 9 Run 3. I started in August so took about 12 weeks to do C25K. I think you should just adapt it to suit yourself, even if you just do Week 1 over and over. Or maybe you will find something that suits you better. Good luck! Don't give up!

  • As someone quite rightly mentioned, there is no indication of how many quit the program. At our Slimming World group alone (and there are hundreds each week across the UK) when my wife said she was doing this, at least 5 others said they started, and for one reason or another gave up.

    Those that give up probably do not post on here...


  • I get your points. I find it an interesting topic. People take what they want out of couch25k. Many don't complete it first time. It's probably been all said before on this thread. I still don't 'enjoy' running that much. I like the feeling of setting targets and achieving them though.

    If this course didn't exist, I would have probably gone for a few runs, thought this is boring and hurts my legs too much, and decided joggers are all fanatics and jacked it in. Even if I do stop running I have gone out and made an effort and improved my fitness for a few months.

    You don't need to follow it to a tee. If it says run 30 seconds or whatever , just run 20 instead. Make sure you decide or write down your plan before hand is my advice. Do it your way(s). I do think running isn't for everyone though but if its possible to mix it up with walking (hiking for example), swimming, cycling etc.

    As for people quitting, they may choose other sports, it does happen. Anythings better than doing nothing.

  • i think you said it yourself, those people "Gave up"...., its not impossible, its difficult. Those people didn't persevere, they didn't push themselves, if it was easy, it wouldn't be as good for you.

    I sweated, grunted, moaned, ached and hated the first few weeks, but it gets easier, your stamina increases, and you feel a million times better for it....

    If people want to quit, they will find any excuse.

  • Because those people gave up doesn’t mean the programme is broken or the tools aren’t there for them and given all the advice and support in this thread it’s pretty clear it would work for you if you were motivated enough... the forum here helps a LOT with the motivation and support to keep at it.

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