TOO SLOW…………………...TOO FAST: This post is the one... - Couch to 5K

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TOO SLOW…………………...TOO FAST

This post is the one I needed to read when I was doing C25k in the summer of 2013, hopefully containing the basic information that new runners need, to understand why the the nannying old fogeys on this site are forever going on about slowing down and not pushing too fast and hard.

In the days before becoming EDIT: IN DEFERENCE TO MY ESTEEMED FELLOW MENTOR, I WILL HEREBY INSERT THE WORD " co" nannying old fogey in chief, I ran the whole of the C25k training plan as fast as I could. It started in W1, when I thought “This is too easy” but I humbly cast aside my male arrogance, acknowledging that whoever devised this training plan knew more about running than me and rather than abandon it completely, decided, with just a mere dash of male arrogance, that I would ignore the advice of just a gentle jog and go as fast as I could.

THAT IS NEWBIE RUNNER MISTAKE NUMBER ONE

So my newbie question was “Surely pushing as hard as possible makes you a better runner?” Well, the answer is “Yes”…….but also …...“No”.

In the first few weeks of C25k you will notice that your breathing and recovery times improve rapidly and maybe even that your muscles are becoming more defined and stronger. Those improvements are coming about by a gradual adaptation of your muscles, nerves, bones, heart, lungs, brain and all the other tissues in your incredible body. Your lungs take in oxygen more efficiently, then transfer it around more numerous blood vessels via the pumping of your more efficient heart. In time you become better at utilising fat and carbohydrates to produce energy for the rapid muscle contraction that propels you while running.

The adaptation to muscles and bones comes about as a result of the impact stresses of running. Muscles develop micro tears when you run, as a consequence of that impact. On your rest day, your body goes about adaptation, repairing those muscle fibres and strengthening them. Without rest, no repair, no strengthening, increased injury risk. Gentle non impact exercise on your rest day will aid the repair by increasing blood flow to the damaged areas, without adding to the damaged muscle fibres.

If you are over thirty years of age, then your bone mass and its effective strength, are in steady decline to the end of your life. That decline can be slowed though, by exercise, and running, because of the impact, is particularly good at slowing loss of bone mass. The impact stresses trigger similar adaptations as in your muscles, but the processes are much slower, so bone adaptation may be many weeks behind your muscle strengthening. theconversation.com/taking-...

These adaptations are progressive, gently increasing your injury resistance, which is why training plans, such as C25k are also progressive.To trigger these adaptations we need to stress the muscles and bones beyond their normal range, in what is known as progressive overload, which is why it is important to push hard sometimes and why we can answer “Yes”, to the newbie’s question above.

So where, you may ask, does the “No” answer come from?

If you are new to running, or last ran many years ago, then you will provide adequate stress to your body by running C25k at a gentle jog. That pace will trigger the adaptive process and slowly begin to build the base that, as a new runner, you have not yet acquired. This according to many sources takes 10 to 12 weeks, although full development continues for many months and years. runnersworld.com/for-beginn... As a new runner you do not have that base and if you push too hard you are risking injury which can put you back weeks.

All musculoskeletal injuries are caused by part of the body being asked to do more than it is either designed or conditioned to do. Muscles tear, bones develop stress fractures and tendons and ligaments get strained, or at worst, detached.

Once you graduate, you can pop over to the Bridge to 10k forum, where you will find that most people are following a training regime similar to the pros, based around running hard for approximately 20-30% of their weekly running, with the remainder, 70-80%, run at an easy pace, which is one where you can easily hold a conversation as you would when walking. runnersworld.com/running-ti...

Counter intuitively, it is this slow pace that builds stamina and the solid aerobic base that you need to move forward, but is also the perfect pace for the new runner doing C25k.

Runners who are working on a progressive, performance oriented training regime are running along a knife edge between triggering the maximum adaptive responses from their body and hitting the overload button. There is no need to consider such a programme, as a new runner,when C25k provides a safe way to build the initial base, from which you can further progress.

Your aim with NHS C25k is to build your basic stamina and endurance runningarea.com/2017/10/bas... There are other more performance based 5k plans, if that is your aim, but I would not recommend anything other than the slow and steady progress on offer here.

If you feel you want to push yourself a bit, to safely maximise the adaptive process, then after doing the first two runs of the week at a gentle jog, you could try upping the pace a bit in the last half of the last run in each week. You might not want to follow that advice if you are on W5 or W6.

Oh, and if you are wondering whether you are too slow, as mentioned in the title of this post, the answer is “No”. Read this. womensrunning.competitor.co...

Following all that, if you are not yet convinced that the slow and steady approach is necessary, read the two stories below of runners who were honest enough to admit their own errors in doing too much too soon.

healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

Take it easy guys, keep running, keep smiling.

44 Replies
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Great post at the right time for me -with great links,thanks :)

I finished my c25k last week in 45:58 , slow but not as slow as predicted by my usual 3k in 30 min pace .

it was hard, really really hard to find that extra 15 mins run , but I did it , no walking

I desperately want to improve my speed and stamina and have signed up for a 10k charity run in May 18.

Went out yesterday to tackle Park run a 2nd time , took my super excited youngest child for his first run.however , it was cancelled so we ended up trying a short route in the local area.

I couldn't do it , I could not run for even a minute , and I've no idea why, maybe it's because he was steaming off, it was cold , I was tight chested-I couldn't do it ,whereas previous weeks that was my staple 20 min route :/

However, what we did do was (very) short bursts of sprinting together , well my version of sprinting anyway ...

I'm hoping to get my head back in gear soon

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Head over to the Bridge to 10k forum for all the help you need.

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will need to read this several times to digest the info 😊

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Can I ask a question in relation to this? I did my wk 5 run 3 today and I actively tried to run slower in order to last the 20 mins but ended up doing my fasted average so far - 6:56 p/km. This was totally unintentional and utterly unexpected but I just seem to settle into a pace without meaning to. I'm worried now that I'm overdoing it (I'm aware this isn't fast compared to seasoned runners but I know the advice is to go slow and I don't want to rush the programme).

Any advice?

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Don't worry about it if you survived intact. You will just have triggered more adaptive processes, which ultimately will make you stronger. Those processes are slightly different if you run fast than if you run slowly......both are good.

The speed is entirely personal and is based on your heart rate. When no heart rate monitor is available, being able to hold a conversation is a good guide of easy pace.

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:) ".... nannying old fogey in chief," ? I really thought that was me..... :)

An informative and extremely useful post! :) Thanks x

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No! You're oldfloss, now don't you go changing your name to NOF..😁

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Sorry, Hil, I have edited to spread the load.

It wasn't a title that I expected anyone to be desperate to claim.

We are a team!

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We are indeed a team..... I just figured I was the real nagging pain.. whereas you are not... and always offer well balanced and sensible advice :)

A super post and one that has come at just the right time too :)

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Good cop, bad cop?

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Every newbie should get this as their welcoming email. Incredibly helpful, informative stuff. I am sure it will go down a treat with new starters, I wish I knew all this at the beginning. Did make me laugh - nannying old fogey - - as if! We take everything you say very seriously. :)

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I agree, it's informative without it being tough to read. I'm a week 5 runner and would have liked the info on week 1.

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PS

I posted the Women's Running link a few months ago...

healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

Only proving that I really am, a nannying old fogey... but, hopefully, going to carry on to be a really old one :)

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Great post, really Informative, thanks for putting in All the hard work to put it together.

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This one is for the FAQs.

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Great post, answers about 90% of the questions we all have had at one time or another.

Brilliant.

P.s. the other 10% are utterly random things like wondering why your nose runs when you run...

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Haha yes it does. I carry a tissue in my pocket to deal with all incidents 🤣🤣

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That makes me feel an awful lot better! Thanks.

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Really wish I had read this before I started 😀

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What a lovely way to start my Monday as a slow poke runner...

Actually after starting a few c25k programs and injuring myself, this is the furthest I have ever managed...

And finally my feet and hips seem to have adapted to running...

And I still instantly smile at the thought I ran 20 mins continuously ...25 mins to be run on Wednesday ...

Thank you

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Fantastic post! Thank you 😊

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This should be compulsory reading. Especially for us first-timers who are slightly older (ahem) then 30 🙂

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Thanks IannodaTruffe . V helpful. I have just finished a ‘reset’ week - ie, not running for a week (I graduated July) and my body has responded oddly. It feels as though all my muscles are incredibly stiff and sore - even hands and feet and worst in lower back. Could this relate to running? Have been doing NHS strength and flex but that is very mild (only on week 2). Any ideas?

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I believe that as your muscles develop, they do need to be kept working otherwise they do seem to stiffen up. This purely my observation, from personal experience, I have not read it anywhere else.

A week off every now and then is a good idea, letting all that adaptation catch up.

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Thanks. Useful that someone else has observed something similar.

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Thanks for this. It explains the mechanics very well. Not that i have a choice but to run slowly where i live and at my age. i certainly would have done in my yoof though!

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This is really great information and exactly what I needed to read. Thanks 👍👍

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Thank you-very informative and useful information to know 👍🏼

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Well done. Great post for all new starters!

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Thank you for this post. I love to know the science behind the running - it even makes the running more pleasurable because I can visualise how my body is improving. I’ve shown the post to my husband in the hope that he’ll start c25k.

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I can thoroughly recommend Runner's World The Runner's Body, by Ross Tucker, which I had to vastly simplify. It is very detailed but easy reading.

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Great post! If this isn’t a pinned post, maybe it should be?

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Thanks, Decker.

We will be creating an FAQ section shortly and this was written with that firmly in mind, so hopefully it won't just disappear.

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Thats a great idea for the new folks to check out!

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Superb post :) :)

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and nice tags ;)

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Are you lusting after my tags again, Julia?

I have no idea where the carbon monoxide came from.......

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always lusting after your tags.... ;)

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Really helpful and thorough explanation of the theory that underpins the advice on here. Thank you for taking the time to share you’re knowledge and experience 👍

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" nannying old fogey in chief"

Top end ;)

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Thank you for your wise words.

Happy running!

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Brilliant post. Excellent information. Will be jogging - slowly - visualising those improvements going on inside my body and looking forward to a healthier, longer life!

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Thank you for taking the trouble to write this excellent piece. I have just re-read it, and shall read it again ... everyone starting out should read it.

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Hi. I have done day one and have had a rest day and have muscles that are complaining as I haven’t used them in this way for a very long time.

I want to do my next run. Should I do it with hurting muscles or should I wait another day?

Loved your article about going slow. I need that definitely. Found myself with no speed control and tired pretty instantly.

Will go slow. Promise.

Many thanks in advance

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