When Couch to 5K isn't 5k: Hello. I just... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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When Couch to 5K isn't 5k


Hello. I just finished W9R2, so I'm on the verge of graduating! Hurray! But my 30 minute run barely makes 4k. In other words, I'm slow. I've tried to go faster during my last minute, and it's a challenge. What is the recommended strategy for picking up speed? For reference, I'm 60 years old. I'm also intruding here a little bit as I live in the US at 6000 feet in elevation. Should the thinner air impact my goals?

25 Replies

Then you are in good company with many others, ( including me) who don’t manage 5k. It’s running for 30 mins that counts. 😄

You are not intruding, plenty of others are not in the UK - so welcome! 😃

Welcome and no your not intruding here, As for not making the 5k I think it’s more about getting out there and moving so I think your fabulous 🤩

Welcome, I think it’s more the merrier here than saying no as your not in uk, myself think at least your trying to improve your health so why not use every means you can to achieve your goal, I would!


Welcome! Well done you can see the podium! You are not intruding nor alone! I graduated weeks ago and still can’t do 5k in 30 minutes! I either do 5k or I run for 30 minutes 😃 good luck with your graduation run 🎓

What do you use to measure when you do the 5k rather than 30 mins?

Bridget007Graduate in reply to Lucyassistant

Hi, I use either Strava or my Garmin watch and two years later the fastest I have ever done 5k is 33 minutes 😃


Oooh move down closer to sea level to run! You should improve that way; look at the Ethiopians!

BTW I graduated in April and I still take 32 minutes for 5k 🙄


I think you are doing great 👍🏻 xx

i Hope that when I’m 60 I can run for 30 minutes. Hats off to you. Oh and a little secret the program is about being able to run for 30mins but couch to 30 minute running don’t go as well as couch two 5k

Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement. I guess the bottom line is that I should be proud of what I have accomplished. I am! I would really like to get to 5k, though, and I realize that I can do that by either increasing speed or increasing time. I think I'm more likely to get there by running longer, so that's my next goal. Knowing that others finish the program and aren't running 5k in 30 minutes helps.

Ripcurlrana71 in reply to sshore

Hi and welcome! By graduation the aim is to just run for 30 mins. Post graduation is your time to do what you want to achieve.

I did do 5k by graduation BUT NOT in 30 mins. I still haven’t! Please don’t bust a gut over it. You have done brilliantly on your own and you are so near to the end now. Well done!


Well done you- it is a huge triumph. I graduated at the end of May and today for the first time I ran 5k- it took me 39 mins and 50 secs. I am elated both about the 5k and the fact I ran for almost 40 mins, a definite personal best. I think increasing the distance is the best way to go. I tried increasing the speed but it is beyond me at the moment to do 5k in 30 mins- one day, one day!


Seems to me you’re doing great! I haven’t been measuring my distance regularly as I found it made the runs less enjoyable, but on the couple of occasions I did I was nowhere near 5k. See you at the finish 😀


Meh! Speed is overrated anyway!

Congratulations on reaching week 9 with only one more run to go!

Lots of people on here from all over the world, so you are not intruding. I'm not in the UK either.

As for the elevation, I think that if you live at that elevation then you are accustomed to it and I would not have thought that it would impact you. If I went from here on the shores of Lake Ontario and came to you run with you then I would be impacted because I'm not accustomed to it.

I've decided that I could probably run 5k in 30 minutes if I can find a route that is 5k in length with a gentle downhill all the way. Have you one of those near you???

Keep smiling, enjoy your views from 6,000 ft elevation and happy running. Good luck on your last run, hope it's a good one.


I really think the name of the programme is so misleading and causes many people to feel they are failures. I've being trying to run for 14 years and the best I ever managed (several years ago) for 5K was 37 minutes in a year when I trained for and completed two half marathons and several 10k events. On the other hand, when I was managing Parkruns last year, before life got in the way and forced me back to starting from scratch again, my slow times of 40+ minutes for a 60+ year-old female were, on the age weightings Parkrun supplies, equivalent to times of under 30 minutes for males aged 25 years or so. That just goes to show what a chimaera simple time and pace ratings are.

Having 5K as the aspirational goal implied by the title is ridiculous when 30ish-minute sessions are involved, because while reasonably fit 20-somethings and perhaps some other exceptional people may hit 5K in that time after 9 weeks away from the couch, the vast majority will not. I don't understand why it was not called C230, the 30 referring to minutes, since that is actually what the programme is about.

Yes, the name is catchy but misleading. When I started, I didn't tell anyone about it because I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to do the whole program. As my confidence grew, I told just a few people. Everyone reacted the same way, and asked if I was going to do a 5k race. I began to think that should really be my goal. Now I'm almost at the end, one run to go, and I don't feel I'm ready for a 5k race, even if I'm only trying to finish (not go fast). I'll keep plugging away, but I can't help but be disappointed. At least I know that my experience is not unusual. Thanks, everyone!

GoforitmamaGraduate in reply to sshore

When looking for a 'race' my advice (for those of us outside the UK) is pick a 'run' not a race. Avoid a 5k race that is a time qualified for the Boston marathon. I did that once, they were nice people, but it made me feel out of my depth. I was just there because I could and because I wanted to take part. They were all in it to win it for their gender and age group.

Also be a little wary of night runs, there is often alcohol and a party afterwards. (enough said!)

Good ones around here for newbies are the Run For The Cure in late autumn and the Terry Fox Run.

A good idea is to ask at your local running store and see what they suggest. I think that therunnungroom.com lists runs for the US and Canada.

Good luck.

sshore in reply to Goforitmama

Thanks for the tips!


I am a week after graduation and am consistently doing 4k in 30 mins. I definitely cant go much faster right now and would probably risk injury if I did. I do about 5 k incl the warm up and cool down walks. Seems to be normal for those that post on here. Good luck with the rest of the programme and enjoy your new found skill but don't worry about hitting 5k yet! 😊🏃‍♀️

Search this forum for age graded 5k times. (The post is about 4 years old and gives a list of age adjusted times for 5k). apparently a 60 year old women running 5k in 39 minutes is equivalent to a 25 year old women running 5k in 30 minutes. I’m not sure how accurate this is but it seems a much more realistic target.

If it's any consolation I graduated weeks ago and I'm averaging 3.5k per 30 minute run at the moment.

I can speed up but I end up with hip stiffness pain badly in no time after running so I'll stay slow 😊until that stops

Enjoy your graduation run 🏃

Hidden in reply to Kar43

Glad it’s not just me! I do it all on a treadmill and I clock up 4.72 or so km. That is with a ten minute warm up walk & the same for the cool down walk - so approx 20 mins of walking all in all - I run very slowly. Now I’ve graduated I want to build up to actually doing 5k. Then I will worry about everything else!


I'm not sure if you are slow! Or fast? Or slowly going fast? Or one of those potentially fast people that go slower?

I do know though that you can run for 30 minutes and that's what counts here. Hats down to you! You from the States? Can't see your name on the list of their Olympic runners so you're the lucky one, you call the shots and live in the world where pressure and speed are irrelevant and people run for joy, which counts the most!

Most of us WILL become faster with time as we get stronger running legs, and that will bring satisfaction. You know what speed is? Speed is 5 K in 12:37.35 minutes by Kenenisa Bekele. What we do is just great fun and we should be grateful for that! :)

Thanks for sharing this. I thought I was the only person who does not manage 5k in 30 mins. There’s a Coach to 5k plus app from NHS, which aims to bring up speed. Even I follow that pace, it’s still less than 5k. However, I have to admit that I am shorter than average and that’s why it’s slower.


I am not close to 5k after 30 mins and although i am speeding up a tiny bit unintentionally, i will nwver run 5k in 30 mins! A snail forever. But i WILL run 5k soon. It will just take a little longer!!🐌🐌🐌🐌🐌

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