Couch to 5K
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A fresh start

Hi I'm Hayley. Ok so I am battling some pretty horrible demons at the moment and know exercise is great for mental health as well as fitness. I used to love exercise but am so low and out of shape I don't know where to start. I don't know own if running is for me and if it's not then I'll try something different but everyone starts somewhere right? I'm going to start my first run tomorrow and just wanted to say hi and does anyone run with their dogs and what distance do I need for these runs as they're about 30 minutes right, so how do people play. Their route. Thanks

8 Replies

Hi Hayley

Firstly, download the NHS C25K app. All the runs are on there, and you are talked through every one with a coach. They tell you when to run, for how long, and when to walk. The programme builds you up gradually over 9 weeks, until you are able to run for 30 mins without stopping. It works.

Secondly, running has worked wonders for my mild depression. I just generally feel calmer and happier after a run, and it has balanced me out generally. Running outdoors is great for this. As a sideline I have had amazing health benefits. My fitness levels have jumped up amazingly, I have more energy and although I am not overweight, I was carrying more weight around my middle than is healthy. At my annual health check yesterday, my doc told me my waist had shrunk to a very healthy level.

I thought I never liked running before I tried C25k. Now I cannot imagine life without running!

Do give this running programme a try; it just bring so many positives to your life. And this forum is full of good people with good advice and endless support.

Sadie-runs x


Hi Hayley. Last year I had a breakdown and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I had put a lot of weight on due to the medication. As 2017 drew to a close I wanted to set

myself a personal challenge. We all run for our own personal reasons.

If you can download the app you just follow it. Each week will build you up to the next weeks run. So for the first week you will run for 60 seconds and the walk for 60 seconds.

Eventually, at 9 weeks you will be running for 30 minutes.

NI have found running has been beneficial for mental health and well-being. I put my ear pieces in and listen to music while running. I find that running clears my head but also helps with any nervous energy I may have.

You don’t have to run with people, just plug in, listen to the app.

I hope this helps Hayley.

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I am one of many here who can vouch for the positive mental health benefits from running.

As for whether it's right for you...I was convinced for many years that running was totally wrong for me and this programme completely changed that. Even if you go back to other forms of exercise in the long term the sense of achievement and what is possible that completing this programme gives you will stay with you.

The great thing about running is that it doesn't require any special equipment or preparation or fees, just a reasonable pair of trainers and somewhere to run. It's got me going into my beautiful local park on a regular basis and sometimes I feel like I've inherited this enormous country estate.

As for planning, you're going to need about 3k to start with. Remember you have a running commentary in the app--they ring a bell half way through, so you could just set off in any direction and then turn back. I'm lucky with the park, but on holiday I've used Google Maps to work out a rough route and avoid having to cross the road too much.

And remember...this is fun. Seriously, this is the best decision you'll make. The programme was designed precisely for people just like say you don't know where to start, but you could literally walk out the front door right now and do Week 1 Run 1 with no problems at all.

And the dog will love you for it.

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running for mental health here too! no dogs though, but lots of others here do.

I have a very local park that running laps around was fine for the early weeks, if you have a set of streets perhaps that makes a little loop then you could use that just to start with and see how you go. Or the "out and back" where you just go and then turn back at the halfway bell. MickGJ suggests you need 3K roughly but ... my first "week 1" run was muuuuuch shorter I am sure! I've got little legs though :)

Good luck!


This forum is so supportive and everyone has top advice to offer! Good luck for your running journey, keep posting with your progress 🤗👍🏻x


Some on here who were suffering with depression have benefited c25k, me included, and those who have never done any excercise have also reaped the benefits of thier efforts, me also! You should know by about week4 if it's for you, and by that time need to make sure you have a good pair of running shoes if you are to carry on, remember slow and steady is key to you remaining uninjured and willing to carry on.

It's best to do the programme dogless, so you can concentrate properly, it's hard enough without, maybe take it with you on the odd run when you've completed c25k..


I have always combined my runs with the dog's walk, she loves it, but she is a breed built to run. At her last check up, the vet commented on how fit and slim she was. Not bad for an old girl!


Thanks so much so all these responses they are really so supportive and encouraging. My dogs are a crossbreed and need a lot of exercise but my depression often gets in the way of taking them out so they'd love this. I'll update after my first run tomorrow!


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