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Couch to 5K
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Confused as to whether I a beginner runner or not?

I have been running seriously since July but have completed three sprint triathlons nearly four years ago.

Since the latter end of last year I have been a member of two beginner running groups one which uses the Jeff Galloway method of Run Walk Run and started using the Run 30secs Walk 30secs ratio with both groups. Last night (Wednesday) I joined another beginners group that used a ratio of Run 2mins Walk 1min.

I asked on the group fb page if it was possible to run two days running as I attend a group Thursday morning which I enjoyed but didn't want to give up. The group leader said in her personal opinion that it was not a good idea for beginners to run two days in a row. I don't class myself as a beginner but neither as an intermediate somewhere in between. My pace varies but was nowhere as fast as the others last night in fact I was behind with three others two of which were helping. If I let this bother me I would not run ever again. I am not bothered about speed but still feel like I am holding others back because I am not able to keep up.

Based on the above am I a beginner or not? How should we class if at all beginners? A beginner to me is someone who has never run before and is starting from scratch and I would never be able to run 2mins and walk 1 unless they have done couch to 5K which I have. Should I listen to my body as to how I feel? The Thursday morning group does Jeffing as mentioned above so technically should be easier.

4 Replies

I would be tempted to say that you need your rest days for your muscles to repair, but i’m No expert. I’m sure Oldfloss or IannodaTruffe can give you more expert advice.


The somewhat arbitrary figure that I have read (but I cannot give you a source, unfortunately) is that you should not consider running on consecutive days until you have been running regularly for a year or more.

When you run you create micro tears in your muscles which repair and strengthen on your non running rest days. This is part of the process of adaptation that your body undergoes when progressive overload is practised in a training plan, increasing your strength and resistance to injury very slowly over months. The same happens to your bones, but this takes even longer.

It is a long slow process, and while you might get away with it, why risk injury, when you could improve your running more by doing non impact exercising on your rest days. It is very easy for leg muscles to develop disproportionately with the supporting structure, leading to strains in other areas. I discovered this when I first increased my long run to 10 miles and suffered lower back pain, requiring a lot of core strengthening work to remediate.

A beginner to me is someone who has to ask a question like yours and has not done enough of their own first hand research to come to a conclusion of their own. Don't take that personally, but learning to run safely is about learning about your body and how running affects it physiologically. Listening to your body is great, but nearly everybody I know who has injured themselves running said they felt fine beforehand and then without warning something gave way.

I would not claim this is a definitive answer, but I would urge any runner to err on the side of caution, as would most of the experienced runners who contribute to this forum. The injury couch is not a nice place.

Take care.


I am not going to comment on just exactly what a "beginner" is :) and it is too difficult to generalize about who should do what and when - but I believe that the answer as to what any of us should or shouldn't do on consecutive days lies in what we are actually doing. Hard, moderate or easy - long or short. . I am definitely not a beginning runner - but I am coming back from an injury so I am carefully watching what I am doing and listening closely to my body. Some of my runs would be considered to be something a beginner would do - but I can and do run on consecutive days. The general idea that we need rest after a HARD day is certainly correct though as is the idea that we need to build up strength slowly and conservatively.


I would say, always err on the side of caution in order to avoid injury. It will be of little interest whether you are an intermediary or a beginner if you stuck on the IC!


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