Log in
Couch to 5K
65,197 members98,507 posts

Feeling so down and no idea what I'm doing wrong!

Well I had a little wobble last week (Wk4) but have kept going out and ran W5 R2 on Wednesday. I feel like I'm making excuses but whichever 5k route I pick, there's always one big (to me) hill or several long uphill bits. So I went out on R2 and still, within the first 8 minute run, my shins feels achey and my lower leg feels heavy. I then get to the second jogging section, which starts halfway up a hill and by the time I got to the top, my legs felt so ploddy and my breathing was so heavy that I struggled to continue on the flat (to complete my next section). I ended up coming back to walk 1.5 mins short of the planned time. Now I know that one failed run isnt an issue, but I just feel like my lower legs hate running and right from the off pretty much, it's so hard on them. Every time I get near the hills, it drains me so much that I'm out of breath and too lethargic to complete the next bit, even though that's on the flat.

I went out with my husband for this run (which might not have helped), and he tried motivating me to get to the top of the hill and then said "you can relax a bit now we're on the flat" but after the hill, I feel too exhausted to continue and my lower legs aren't feeling much stronger yet. Is everyone still finding it really hard and have aching legs almost as soon as they start? It's almost like my lower legs tighten up as soon as I break into a jog and it just gets progressively harder until the hill section finishes me off.

I'm just wondering if I'm doing something drastically wrong? I'm going very slow, even though I have been power walking at virtually the same speed for years and over long distances, so I should be fairly fit. I'm making a conscious effort to remain upright and not slouch. I never feel anything in my thighs or bum (where i hoped it would target), it's just all in my calves and shins.

As I hadn't completed the run on a Wednesday, I attempted the same one today as I feel I'm way off a 20 min run on this route. I drove to a flat lake so that I was almost making it a bit easier but within 20 seconds, my legs were tight and I felt like I was dragging my legs. I did one lap (only 1.5 miles) but walked nearly all of it. Each attempt to run only lasted 10/20 seconds before my legs gave in.

I feel so demoralised as today, I feel less fit than I did on Wk1 and being able to run 5k was such a goal for me that it has really upset me.

What is making it worse is that I have worked hard to lose 3 stone this year and exercise has been helping to maintain this. I've been doing spinning classes and regular long power walks. Since starting this programme though, I haven't felt able to do anything more than a gentle stroll on my rest days as when I have been cycling or walked too quickly, or even done an aerobic class, I'm then too tired in my lower legs to run the following day. This has meant that most weeks, I'm only getting 6/9 of light jogging in and perhaps another 5 miles of walking and the weight is creeping back on. I don't want to cut my calories and then find I've got less energy for running, but it still a vicious circle. I'm also concerned that my cycling fitness and just general fitness is disappearing since I haven't done anything much for a month.

I'm so close to giving up because I feel I must be doing something wrong or my lower legs just aren't working as they're supposed to. I will feel so disappointing to not complete it though, so I'm desperate to not give up. I just can't gain the weight again and I'm hardly getting any exercise, despite my lower legs feeling so achey.

Any help or advice would be really helpful. X

12 Replies

What kind of shoes are you wearing to run in? Running puts a lot of impact on your ankles (which can impact on your calves) and it makes a huge difference to have properly fitted running shoes.

1 like

Perhaps you need more time between runs. Take two rest days and see if that makes a difference.

You may also be going too fast. It doesn't matter if you can walk faster, as long as you are doing a running action with both feet simultaneously off the ground, then do that. A light jog is all that is required and it will build your stamina along with the rest of your running body.

Although the C25k workouts may seem demanding, they will burn very few calories, so don't think that you have to keep your intake up. To lose weight you need a calorie deficit and you don't need any extra calories to complete the programme.

Is your hydration adequate. The recommended minimum is 1.5 to 2 litres per day and if you are exercising you need more, taken evenly throughout the day. Hydrate today for tomorrow's run.

Stretching after runs nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/... helps realign muscles.

Keep positive. You are fitter than in your first week and if you stick with it you will become more so. You have hit a rough patch. You are not the first but you will succeed........we will make sure.

Next run.....relax, be positive, start slow, stay slow......you will do it.


Try not to let it get you down. Im on my last run of week 4 tonight and had a wobble after run 2. Like you, I cant avoid hills and I feel as if my lungs are going to burst, and it’s making me very anxious about running for 20 minutes next week. Im also painfully slow and getting slower as the runs get longer. But i dont think we are the only ones to tackle these problems and doubts. Please dont give up. Be kind to yourself, and take longer to complete this week if you need to. Im telling myself that I dont have to do week 5 all in one go, and that Im not failing if I do end up repeating it. Hills are hard. I have no choice here, just like you. Just think how well we are doing to be a third of the way through the course with the handicap of having to run uphill. Honestly, what you say about the heavy breathing and aching legs totally describes me. But we can both do it. We may or may not take longer because of the hills, but we can do it!

Hugs xxx

1 like

Hiya . Could u slow down a tad more ? There’s no rush and what about changing route so it’s more even underfoot . Even if it means driving out somewhere. I can powerwalk faster than I jog but that’s ok I’m happy with my speed at the min . Try not to feel too down at least ur moving and not sat on the couch xx

1 like

Thanks everyone for your replies.

I will try to go slower. It's hard because I'm really tall, so I think I have quite a long stride and find it difficult to move really slowly. I do concentrate on not going out too fast, but half way through, it feels harder to go really slow than to speed up slightly. I'll try this again on my next run though.

Trainers maybe aren't right. It's tricky because I have had running trainers before on previous attempts to run (over the years) and the weight and rigid structure of them made me feet feel uncomfortable and I didn't feel like I was moving my foot in a natural manner. I couldn't really roll my foot and I found myself getting pins and needles in my toes. So this time, I bought some lightweight Skechers, which I thought were suitable for running but might not be. They haven't been fitted or recommended though. I find them very comfortable to walk and run in and because they're quite light and bendy, my foot can flex like it would barefoot, but maybe they're not suitable for running.

It's so frustrating because I've wanted to run for years and every time I've attempted it, I've ended up with shin splints. I think I must be prone to them, for some reason. This has been in many different types of trainer, so I wondered if it was my technique that was the problem, but not sure.

If I run my hands down my shins today, my shins are sore all the way down. There's no pain when I don't touch them but I can feel that they ache. I will probably have to give it an extra day and not run again until Sunday, to allow my shins to recover, but this means I'm not even doing 3 runs a week and I'm worried that my general fitness is being lost. I've spent months getting reasonably fit and being quite active and because running is so hard and causing my legs such trauma, I'm now hardly doing anything. It's this that makes me question whether I should stick with it or not. I really want to be able to run but equally I want the health benefits of being fit and was doing a lot more exercise before I started this programme.

I know others that have learnt to run, including my husband and they somehow managed to slot the running into their existing exercise regime. I don't know why my legs find it so difficult and not just on the run, but for the following 2/3 days too.

I wish you lot could watch me run to see if I'm doing something obviously wrong. I do really appreciate the support though and it is helpful to get someone else's perspective on things - and to know that I'm not alone in finding this hard work! X


I had lightweight running Asics which I loved but my right calf inside leg was giving me grief so I had a gait analysis which showed I run with my right foot slightly turned inwards so needed trainers with more support not lightweight . They’re now a dream . X


Get your gait tested and be properly fitted in the right running shoes. Some are very rigid and supporting, some are cushy and soft, some are springy. Unless you get expert advice, you wont know which of these is right for you, along with various other factors 😊

1 like

Yep, FlickM3 is right. Gait analysis done at a specialist running shop will point out your specific requirements. There is no real substitute and leisure trainers are not running shoes.

If you are concerned about technique then a sports physio could give you a lot of advice, including about appropriate footwear.

With your hills, why not run as far up as you can, then turn and run down again. Each time you tackle that section just try to get a bit further uphill. If you have run up, it is not cheating to run down again.

You obviously have issues with your legs, but so much of running is in the head, so don't build blocks to progress.


IannodaTruffe has given some through and really useful advice. I would just add, do not think it something you are doing wrong...You are here... That is the thing :)

I feel your shoes could be part of the problem, I love Skechers, and I assume yours are designated Skechers for running...but I prefer a more robust running shoe.

Try to land lightly too... the impact on our body and our legs is incredible and as you say, you are carrying a bit of extra weight, and are tall...so even more impact...:) Kiss the ground with your feet :)

It sounds too, as if you are doing a lot of exercise in addition to the running.. maybe, you are using all your reserves up.

Be kind to yourself..prioritise your rest day exercises, and your after run stretches too...Iannodatruffe has given you a great link.. and here is another:


A routine of exercise for each day, is a good idea.. you could make your own routine to suite your self and your time commitments too :)

Stick with us, and we will support you.. try not to overthink any of this... this is your journey, no one else's, try also to relax, and of course. just slow down.. there is always slower:)


Hills are hard but very good for you. The trick I find is to keep your feet moving at the same speed but take smaller steps. Almost running on the spot if the hill is really steep. You won't go fast but it makes it easier to keep going.


Another thought.......you say you have long legs. Your footfall should be under your body, not out in front, otherwise you are overstriding and causing extra impact stress to your legs......this is not sprinting.

Try to avoid a heelstrike, regardless of what your app/ podcast trainer says. Midfoot is considered best.


Thanks everyone. Lots of things to look at and try out. I will also find somewhere to have my gait analysed and get some better trainers. X


You may also like...