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Couch to 5K
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Week 5 Run 3 - didn’t go so well. What next?

Hello, I’m 44 and a bit overweight (although I have noticed I’ve lost some inches😊) and I’m new to running. So far it has been going pretty well. I’m a REALLY slow runner but I know this is okay and have managed to complete each run so far. Until this morning...

I had been really looking forward to my first ‘big run’ but I just couldn’t manage it. I got to the 10 minute mark but then had to slow down to a walk. Although my breathing felt okay my legs were like lead and just wouldn’t do it. I was so frustrated.

I walked for a minute or so then ran another 3 minutes and then walked some more and managed a further 4 minutes before it was time for the warm down walk. (Sarah Milligan was congratulating me on how well I was doing and all I could think was ‘but I didn’t do it’)

Looking ahead I see that the next 2 runs (W6) are both splits with recovery time in the middle before the longer run at the end of the week. I feel confident I could manage these although given this morning the longer run might be too much.

So my question is, should I carry on to week 6 as planned (and hope today was just a bad day) or repeat week 5 until I can do the full 20mins before I move on?

11 Replies

That's a tricky one

Personally I don't know the answer but I'm sure others will!

Just didn't want you thinking nobody would answer! You are doing great either way, if you struggle with one run it means you are pushing yourself so that's great, maybe try the 20 minute one again but running super slow?

Whatever you decide, don't give up! You can definately do this! You got this far so it's only a little further!

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Thank you. I’ve been lurking on this forum since I first started and the supportive comments and great advice has been a real source of inspiration! What a friendly bunch you all are.

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Hey. Well done for keeping going with the run/walk.

The heavy legs thing could well be a hydration issue. I don’t know if it’s still scorchio where you are but it’s been really hot and that takes its toll.

It could also be a first encounter with the mental gremlins, trying to make you stop running and go back to the safety of the couch. Hits all of us at times and presents in the form of your brain saying “I must stop running NOW”.

Week 6 is actually a tough week - search and you will find lots of posts saying “I sailed through the 20 minute run, why couldn’t I do W6R1?”

My advice is this...

Take a clear rest day. Focus on drinking lots and lots of water through that day. If you run evenings, also through the day of the run.

Work out how your legs feel. If they still feel really heavy and tired when you are due to run, take one extra rest day and keep the water going.

When you next run, re-do W5R3. Start as slowly as you possibly can and still be running. If your pace naturally goes

faster than this, be careful not to speed up too much.

When you reach the point that your head says “stop”, apply IannodaTruffe’s test - has any part of you broken or are you dead? If not, keep running.

Your breath will be your guide in the second half of the run - you sound like you were breathing fine so you can keep going.

If something genuinely hurts, stop. But otherwise don’t.

Good luck with it. Let us know how it goes.


I really love that - are you broken or dead if not keep running! Will take that one with me tomorrow morning!


Thanks for this. Yeah, my legs did still feel a bit heavy, even before my run this morning.

My last run was Tuesday but I also went for an hours walk round the loch on Tuesday night (it was nice night to be outdoors), so maybe that just took a bit more out of me than I expected. 😊

I will redo run 3 next run. I like the idea of reminding myself if I’m not broken or dead I should keep going!

I run at the gym on a treadmill (so the weather isn’t an excuse for me not to go and it helps me with pacing.) Running/ jogging anywhere between 4.2 and 4.7 mph (fastest I can go is 5mph but only for about a minute). This morning though, mindful of pace I only ran (shuffled) at 4.2 - any slower I genuinely would be walking!

Thank you everyone who has responded already. You’ve all reminded me I’m still making progress. If anyone had told me a few weeks ago I would be able to run for even the ten minutes I managed this morning I would never have believed it.





Wise words as allways from Jay.

I agree give your body the rest it needs, there is no rush or timetable to adhere to, keep well hydrated and give it another go when you are ready. Take it as slow as possible.

Many runners find the first 10 minutes the hardest, even after running for years and feel the urge to throw the towel in. Just take it nice a gentle and stick with it.


Yeah, thinking back, in the early runs it was the first minute or two that was the hardest and then it often got easier. I will keep this in mind for my next run. Thanks!


You might find as I do, that after 15 minutes, 18 minutes & 20 minutes you feel exactly the same as you did at 10 minutes and it's just a mental battle against your perception of time.

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I am only on week 7 but I truly don't think there is anything wrong with repeating a run if you need to. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Are you running in the morning? I struggle but always make sure I drink half a pint of water before I go. I have also been taking water with me in this hot weather as it's still warm at 6am! Only you know your body and you have to listen to it. I am 46 and this is the first real exercise I've done since dreaded school cross country runs which I hated, I am also overweight and running with doing Slimming World as I don't want to fat and 50! Keep going, don't give up!


Thanks, I also hated cross country running at school.

I think just getting into the habit of exercising three times a week has been such a big but really good change for me.

I figure it didn’t take a few weeks for me to become overweight and unfit - it was years of gradually doing less and less, and it’s going to take time to reverse that, but I’m building better habits and that will help.

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