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Couch to 5K
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Wanting to start the couch25K program!

I’m nervous, and excited.

I’ve tried this program before, and failed on the very first run.

I’ve never been good at running- not as a kid, not as an adult, ever.

My heart races, my chest thumps and I can’t breathe. It’s like I have to stop altogether in order for my body to recover and breathing to go back to normal.

It’s really embarrassing for me. I enjoy weight and resistance training, and do that a few times a week as well as walking in between.

But running? Forget it.

I can’t even go for runs with my partner because he’s that ridiculously fit that he wears a mask to make his breathing even HARDER, and I’m just sitting here like I can’t even use my own lung capacity ....

Does anyone have any tips or ideas of what I can do to overcome this? I really want to be able to go for runs and I’ve heard nothing but great things about this program.. but it’s like I almost need to start out easier than the first run!

Also should probably put in there that I quit smoking almost 2 weeks ago after almost 10 years so my lungs are still mending!

16 Replies

Sounds like you are running too fast. Just slow down and under no circumstances try to run with your partner. It's a gentle jog you are aiming for, not an all out run.

Good luck and let us know how it goes. We are all here to support. You can do it.


Well done on quitting smoking.

Running is hard at first. However, your body adjusts to it and as you do more of it, you find that your heart rate comes down and your breathing slows and it all syncs in nicely.

Are you using the NHS C25k plan? I recommend it if you're not.

My advice, and the advice I was given when I first started over 3 years ago now, was to slow right down. You shouldn't be bouncing. Even if you think you're going slowly, slow down even more. As you progress through the plan, you will be amazed at your progress.

Keep us posted.



@scB1 has it right. What is required is that you adopted a running motion throughout the run sections and a walking motion throughout the walking sections. All notions of pace are irrelevant (indeed can be irrelevant forever if you so choose)

My suggestion (because Week 1 was a challenge for me too - something like 12-18 outings until eventually I achieved my 3 completed sessions) is just to get on with it, take it slowly (the walks too), if you start to struggle, go even slower, take smaller, maybe even teeny tiny almost on the spot steps.... but the moment you can't maintain the running motion, walk for the rest of the session... don't get into a 'habit' of taking a breather and trying again.

I think you'll find that way that you won't think of a session as a fail, you'll think of it as 4 runs... something to aim for next time... 5 runs.... and so on (I doubt very much it will take you that long)

After the challenge of Week 1, I completed every other session of the programme without having to extra but I am tremendously glad week 1 was there as I learned a lot.

It's a mixed blessing being around experienced runners and it is a mixed blessing already being active in other ways. But only the head stuff, the body can do it.

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Hi, I have started the programme this week too. I can't say it is easy but then I am in my late 50's, overweight by 2 stone. I don't have any amazing advice except keep trying. It doesn't matter how fast you run it is about just doing it. GOOD LUCK 😊


Who said you are no good at running?

All you have to do to complete this programme is to put one foot in front of the other, with both feet being simultaneously off the ground.....that is running and you can do that.

Don't begin to compare yourself to others. We are all different.

The body adapts and develops more efficiently by running slowly, with good even oxygen supply, than rather than by running fast.

Slow down is the commonest piece of advice given on this forum and it is based on solid scientific principles. Speed will come naturally later on, once your groundwork of running body building is completed.

Relax and enjoy the journey.


Really go slow ...ignore your partners pace, I found this out the hard way ...

And I know exactly what’s it’s like to have the fit partner who runs 10k’s with ease never stopping ...but the goal initial is just use the running motion not walking motion ...

The speed (so I have been told comes later)

But first you need to get legs stronger lungs stronger...

I have tried quite a few programs before I got this ... but I am about to start week 5 ...I really didn’t think I be able to do week 4 but I did....

The mantra slow and steady works for me ... that and an interesting podcast ..


4 years ago at the age of 67, I discovered C25k, BUT - I had never been able to run when I was younger (even in the Australian Military) , and when I looked at the first day of C25k, it asked me to run for 1 minute eight times over. There was no way this was going to happen. So I started walking for about a month - trying to walk faster and faster and further and further - and then discovered this 7 week running US MAYO Clinic programme mayoclinic.org/healthy-life... This seemed like a much easier beginners programme - it starts out only running for 15 seconds at first and slowly increases to 30 second runs after 7 weeks!!! - BUT - running for 30 seconds and walking for 30 seconds got me out to 4 miles (6.4klms) !!! - I had never even walked that far in all my life. After I finished this , I then started C25K for the next 9 weeks - then I went on to complete the B210K programme and ultimately completed one of Jeff Galloways Half marathon programmes . I have subsequently run (mostly non-stop) 109 x5K parkruns, 3x10K "races" and 3xHM's. My best time for the HM was last April in 2 hours 23 minutes .

I believe that my "success' has been taking my time - that first MAYO clinic programme was the start of a new life for me - subsequently C25k led me to parkrun which is probably one of the best things in my life that I have discovered.

Don't despair - there are many people who have conquered C25K and gone on to much bigger things - it can be done. But nobody said it was easy!!! :)

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I am also currently "waiting" to redo C25k all over again - as I have not run for the past 6 months waiting for healing of a bone in my foot fractured when I didn't look where I was running. :( I have been doing lots of other things in the meantime - gym work and bicycling - but I am kind of looking forward to starting my running journey all over again when I can - it was so much fun last time :)

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What an inspirational post! Well done on your achievements so far - incredible.

You’ve given me hope that I can become a runner - thank you 😊


As others have said it sounds as though you are trying to run to fast slooooow it right down, start at snail pace and then notch it back a gear.

It is very doable, packed up smoking in march 20 a day for ever (was 59 then) and now run 3 times a week, if this old duffer can do it so can you but remember slow is the way

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You sound like me in my first week, red faced, heaving with breathlessness and red in the face - more than red, red with ominous white blotches. I was pants at running at school, though i used to run for the sheer joy of it in my late teens. I'm almost at the end of week three now and running for three minutes at a time - hardly Usain Bolt, but it's quite an achievement for me. It's got easier. I think the 8 runs in week one are tougher than the fewer but longer runs later on. I repeated week one. I repeated half of week two because we went away. I'm finding my pace and stride now and really enjoying week three. You can do it. Don't be afraid to repeat runs. It isn't a competition and you are doing it for you and nobody else. My partner is horribly competitive and used to play a lot of sport and, despite smoking, strides up mountains without getting out of breath. I ignore his snidey comments. i don't care. I've got cool running shoes and I'm getting out and having a go while he doesn't run. We'll see who lives longest. Ha!


Well done for starting on this forum Bekk! I’d just add that my practice nurse said that getting puffed out for 20 consecutive mins x 3 times a week is the aim (in order to reduce cholesterol in my case) - and the ‘problem’ is that the fitter you get the harder you have to work to get puffed out. So puffing is good - but slow slow slow let’s you persist for longer.

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I haven’t read the rest of the responses so sorry if someone has said all of this.

I did a mix of jogging and fast walking my first week - as in, I couldn’t even manage the first run! It was amazing how quickly that changed though. I am lugging around a lot of weight and have a health condition that I thought would make it hard, I went into it knowing I might need to repeat runs but that was ok! I’m now on wk8r1 and haven’t had to repeat (except for coming back from an injured). Honestly, if I can do it you can.

Ask your partner to come with you. My partner is a fit bunny too and he comes with me to help me with my pace (sloooowwww) and to cheerlead. He runs on his tiptoes to strengthen his feet/uses the very slow run as an opportunity to stretch out his legs, so it isn’t a complete waste for him. I’m sure if you explained to your partner what you have said here and that you want to get fitter he would be supportive. - yea it’s a touch embarrassing initially, but you get over that very fast.

Good luck, slow and steady is super duper important. To the point you are wondering if what you are doing should be considered jogging at all. It does sound like you are running too fast at the moment.

Also, set the app to Jo Wiley- in my opinion she is the most encouraging presenter. X


Well done for starting and kicking the fags! Basically it's start off slow n steady and keep it there, if you start to struggle slow it down more to nigh on running on the spot, OK, your puffing a lot and face is going beetroot! Doesn't matter, that improves as you get fitter..

I coached my wife on c25k last year and she graduated, which is great for a couple to do, but unless partner is patient to run at slow speeds then it's best to do the programme alone and concentrate on the podcast...😊


Oooh, Ive got Michael Johnson. It’s like being coached by Idris Elba with a sexy West Indian accent ... sigh ...


Thank you everyone for all your advice and support! I will definitely give it a go at snail pace and let you all know how I went !! Hopefully better this time I’m armed with a little more knowledge! Thanks again 🙌🏼


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