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Couch to 5K
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Graduated but how to hit 5k?

Been lurking here dipping in for hints & tips and have finally completed Wk 9 run 3 so graduated!! Its all on a treadmill and I had to stop for a couple of weeks due to knee pain so repeated wk 4 twice but then straight through. Next target is 5k as 30 mins is not 5k for me. Not sure if I should gradually increase speed to hit 5k in 30 mins or keep speed the same and slowly increase run time from 30 mins till I can run the full distance. Any advice welcome...

5 Replies

Hi, and firstly a huge congratulations on graduating!

Don't worry about not being at 5K yet, most people aren't by the end of the programme. I'm one month post grad and while I'm now running between 5.5km and 6km, it's certainly not in under 30 minutes! It's really up to you what to work on, but I think most people try to up their distance bit by bit, as this sort of natural brings your speed up in the long run too. There is also the speed C25K+ podcast. I haven't used it, but it basically gets you to push yourself for short distances with recovery jogs, which is what I do anyway and have found it to be really effective.

Mostly though, I'd just enjoy yourself for a bit and consolidate for a few weeks which is just doing your 3 x 30 minute runs a week. It's been a long time since you've not had to push yourself to the next level, so enjoy staying at floor 9 for a little while!

When/if you do decide to increase your distance however, remember the 10% rule which is to not exceed a run by 10% of the weekly total from last week. ie. if you do 3 x 4km runs, that totals 12km, so you can add on 1.2km to next week's runs. If I understand it right, you can either add that 1.2km to one run, or separate it over three.

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Thank you and the 10% rule sounds good. I will consolidate for a couple of weeks then start to increase the mileage, gulp.



Your situation is common to many C25K graduates. Depending on how far off 5k you are, just trying to increase your pace may or may not work but gradually increasing duration almost certainly will.

We always recommends that you consolidate at what you have achieved for a couple of weeks after graduation, playing with pace, maybe running somewhere inspirational (which may not be possible on the treadmill) and becoming comfortable with it.

Most graduates have one run per week which is their long run. This run should be increased by no more than 10% of your weekly total mileage. This is a sure way to gently increase duration until you hit the magic 5k.

Bear in mind that only 20-30% of your running should be at your fast pace, the remainder being at a comfortable conversational pace.

It won't take long.


Thanks for the advice.

Inspiration can be difficult on the treadmill and you can easily end up watching the clock! I have found some good videos on YouTube following a runner through various trails and paths which helps.

1 like

That's a good idea, I've never thought of that! I do 2-3 runs per week on the treadmill and one in the great outdoors, and find when motivation is lacking, the only thing that helps me is making unwitting competitors out of my fellow gym members!


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