Things I wish I'd known/done/been bothered to ... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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Things I wish I'd known/done/been bothered to find out before starting C25K

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate

I have just done my 2nd PG run tonight and am doing them without MJ - just a running app and my music. I'm also slowing the pace down a little and have found that I'm thinking more about stuff such as the title of this post - all the things I wish I'd known or done before starting out on this mad adventure.

So in no particular order:

1) I should have read a bit more about what this program was about. There are some great pinned posts to help novices such as:

healthunlocked.com/couchto5... (sorry doesn't seem to hyperlink)

2) I started out running in old trainers and didn't want to buy new ones until I was pretty sure I was going to continue - and then I wonder why I had ankle and calf pain!! I have since bought new running trainers and they are wonderful - I should've bought them sooner.

3) This forum is a great source of support. No matter if you are just starting or nearing the end - there is a whole group of people who are in the same position as you or have been in the same position. Following others' experiences can be a real source of support to make you realise you are not on your own - you don't have to post yourself (its not everyone's cup of tea) but check out the posts here regularly. There's a section on the right of the web page called Topics - and you can search by the relevant week.

4) It runs the risk of being a cliche - the advice to take your running slow and steady - but it is absolutely true. If your breathing is not right - slow down and keep it steady. If you have some little tweaks and aches - slow down and keep it steady. If you're struggling to finish - slow down and keep it steady :) :)

5) The only competition you have is with yourself. Many others will be able to run faster and longer than you, many will run slower and shorter distances than you - but that is not the point. The point is that you are running and by following the program week by week YOU WILL IMPROVE.

I remember (to my shame) looking a people who were running slowly and ungainly and thinking 'Why on earth are you bothering'. And then it struck me - they ARE bothering but it was me that wasn't - at least they were getting out there and doing something. So to everyone I thought that about - you have my sincerest apologies and my utmost respect.

6) Trust in the program - it may seem daunting and difficult but it has worked for many many people.

7) Most of the difficulties people have are due to the mind and not physical capability - you are training your mind as much as you are you body.

8) Running apps have been great for me - I've enjoyed the stats the give you and I wish I started using one sooner than W7

9) I think I would have benefited for looking ahead at what upcoming weeks held in store - I could have addressed any concerns I had much sooner.

10) Anti chaffing gel is a must :)

11) W6 is a bugger!! (as is W7 - for me anyway)

I'd be interested in hearing what others wish they had known and hope that at least one person starting out on this mad jaunt finds this useful.

Happy running one and all!!

60 Replies
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Peet999
Peet999Graduate

A lovely post! Congratulations on your hard effort at running. My I ask what running apps you used? It only occurred to me today to query whether I was actually running 5k in total. I know I’m slow but do wish to get 5k level. Good luck with the rest of your running.

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Peet999

I’ve tried a few Runtastic, MapMyRun and Strava but didn’t really like them for one reason or another but for the past 2 weeks have been using Runkeeper. It’s a bit quirky in that you can have different voices coaching you drill Sargent, sports coach and you can set voice prompts at km and/or minutes - a nice touch

Fabulous450
Fabulous450Graduate
in reply to PaulBrad

Thanks Paul! I haven’t done any tracking except for the C25K app. I have to find a new coach as MJ keeps telling me goodbye now! 😰 But you have come to the rescue, I like the sound of Runkeeper! A lot!

I wish I had known that my own mind would be the biggest challenge, be told it’s going to go to work on you, big time and prepare me to “don’t care what it says, for just 30 minutes. Go back and listen after that if you wish”. Thankfully it seems to change the conversation after that. You’ll slay some gremlins who definitely enjoy trying to trick you into thinking they’re looking after you. No matter how far you are on the programme! They show up! Heck...life shows up, but we all deserve to give ourselves just 30 minutes of not caring what is going on anywhere in this world, except yourself and the present moment for that short time! It’s life changing!

Definitely don’t care about the people you will see if you decide to run outdoors! Honestly, they really don’t care about you or your running techniques. That major fear was faced full on and in rush hour (a bit of a now or never moment in week 1😬). I have never been so scared to go out in public, but I was claiming my right to take care of me. That was a massive phenomenal experience, I imagine it’s like a parachute jump! The fear got well and truly slayed. Now my mantra is “Out there, don’t care”! And I genuinely don’t. As long as I’m running. This is for me.

Most importantly do it your way. You can get really hooked up on whether it’s the right way, wrong way, loving and fearing others experiences, but it’s ok to do it your way. There’s so much encouragement and support. I’ve done some things like others and not done some things (like tracking distance etc). Just do what feels right for you! It’s your life change. You own it! The best thing is that it feels so good after you’ve done it! 😁❤️

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Fabulous450

Great point about doing it your own way. We all have our own stuff going on that impacts on what we do and when we can do it - so there is no one way to succeed with this program.

I really like Runkeeper - one of the voice prompts you can have is 'Your Conscience' and it told me last night that 'I run like a hippopotamus - but don't worry they are fast' :) :0 Really made me smile. Also told me that after the run I deserved to sit down on the couch and have a bottle of wine :)

Boo43
Boo43Graduate
in reply to PaulBrad

I also have Runkeeper - i have drill sergeant on at the moment - it reminds me of my gym instructor who is ex army and does not suffer fools gladly! I also struggle running in public and have done most of my runs on a treadmill in the safety of the gym! But yesterday i did W7 R1 out on the prom and actually got lots of encouragement from people smiling at me as i lumbered, breathing heavily and sweating past them!

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Boo43

I have tried Strava but one of things I didn't like was the fact I could only get notifications per km or half km. However I wanted to be able to know how long I had run for and Strava didn't seem to support this (unless someone knows different).

With Runkeeper I can set it to prompts for distance or time - or both at the same time. I did this last night and it was too much to have it set at both. So far I have found it reliable and consistent so will stick with it I think

Kamia
KamiaGraduate

1 go to the loo before you run! 💩

2 plan your route, avoid hills on your first ever run

3 if Laura isn’t talking to you you’ve somehow once again paused the app, this is becoming a bad habit 🤪

4 you don’t really need water you can do the runs without it. I think I took water for the first 7ish runs before I dared try running without it.

5 while running you will see loads of things you want to take pics of and can’t but when you’re walking you won’t.

6 if you don’t believe in yourself believe in the app! It’s not asking you to do things you can’t do. I question all my runs and then I get through them.

GG63
GG63Graduate
in reply to Kamia

This is sooo true! Sound advice 😆

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Kamia

I heard number 1 described as drop before you trot :)

The water one is interesting - I don't take water with me at the moment - is there a distance/time when it is recommended do you know?

Sutsha
Sutsha
in reply to PaulBrad

I'm sure they say don't bother under 5K, you don't need it, you should be well enough hydrated from drinking lots of water the day before and on the day. Up to 10K it's up to you - I don't, don't feel I need it even in this weather and it would get in the way. If I was running mid-day I may feel very different. 10K onwards I'd think it would be a good idea to start carrying a small bottle. You get specialised running belts and vests for carrying it.

For me, it's easier to carry a couple of quid and stop at a shop on my cool-down walk!

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Sutsha

Thanks for that :)

Couple of quid for chips more like!! 😂😂

Jangie14
Jangie14
in reply to Kamia

so true

Brilliant, and very accurate! (But oh why did you have to mention the dreaded W6 again - I’m embarking on it next week and have had the heebeejeebees firmly planted in my psyche now as so many people have said how vile it is!!)

This forum is fabulous, I agree. Such a wealth of information and friendly tips - and loads of funny anecdotes!

Happy running to you, and thanks again! 😀🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️👍🏻

Equi-geek
Equi-geekGraduate
in reply to cheekychipmunks

Don’t worry - I found W6/7 ok and the best thing to do for the last 2 interval runs is a very very slow first interval and then after the walk in the middle you’ll still feel fresh enough to do the second one - and a bit annoyed that the walk broke your rhythm (PaulBrad has admitted he is only now learning to slow down - I learned that in week 5 thanks to knees and hips 😂)

cheekychipmunks
cheekychipmunksGraduate
in reply to Equi-geek

Thank you! Always good to hear positive reports too! 😀🏃‍♀️👍🏻

Shazamie
ShazamieGraduate
in reply to cheekychipmunks

I’m in the minority with this but I enjoyed week 6 and found it easier than week 5. Keep positive and you will soon be through week 6 🙂

cheekychipmunks
cheekychipmunksGraduate
in reply to Shazamie

Yay, another nice thing to hear! Thank you! 😀😀

Fabulous450
Fabulous450Graduate
in reply to cheekychipmunks

Don’t worry cheekychipmunks, it’s doable. I think it’s just the mindset that seems to shifts gear in W6, but it’s to your advantage. Going slower isn’t what you expect to be the challenge, so that was a little just disorientating for me. But the answer seemed to be just that. Maybe knowing that could happen might help. Everyone’s experience is different, so adjust as you need to, but know that you can do it! ❤️

Kamia
KamiaGraduate
in reply to cheekychipmunks

My daughter runs with me, well she kind of runs with me. She’s 14 and said she can’t run that far. She runs, walks, skips, does rather rubbish long jumps and those jump side kicks that Bert does in Mary Poppins. I think she must use more energy doing that than if she did a slow jog.

I have really enjoyed week 6. It’s such an achievement and remember when you started week 1 you felt the same way and look where you are now.

cheekychipmunks
cheekychipmunksGraduate
in reply to Kamia

Ok, now I’m looking forward to it hearing all the good reports! Thanks! 😀😀

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to cheekychipmunks

Sorry! Someone described W6 as having knocked the smug out of them and that really resonated with me. Despite the peaks and troughs of the course - there are 2 underlying messages I think:

1) slow and steady (not sure if this has been said before :))

2) if you have followed the program - there is nothing in the following week that you can't achieve - just don't be surprised if it is a little harder than you thought.

Good luck with next week - keep us posted :)

cheekychipmunks
cheekychipmunksGraduate
in reply to PaulBrad

Thank you, I will. Slow and steady? Never heard it before (😀😀😀😀) It definitely works though doesn’t it? I’m looking forward to W6 now!

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to cheekychipmunks

For me completing W6 was the point at which I really began to believe that I would complete the program and that I was becoming a runner :)

cheekychipmunks
cheekychipmunksGraduate
in reply to PaulBrad

Excitement building now! 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️

O505k
O505kGraduate

Great post. The only bit I disagree with is reading ahead. I found just doing what I was told (not something I do very often) when I was told worked for me. Getting worried about something I was not yet ready for didn’t help. I’ve found the same with the plan to 10k.

Fabulous450
Fabulous450Graduate
in reply to O505k

Didn’t dare do that myself either O505k but because I didn’t want to scare myself into not going out there. I didn’t even look very closely on the start of each run! Just chose my mood and tucked the phone away. The only thing I knew was what MJ told me. So I guess I do what I’m told sometimes! 🤣! I’ve absolutely loved the adventure and mystery of not knowing it! I have never planned a route either! I want to be able to run anywhere, no matter what, without too much discipline involved! Now, that’s the rebel in me coming out! 😉❤️

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to O505k

Hi there - I wasn't thinking that these points were necessarily valid for everyone but looking back at my own C25K - what would have helped me - trouble is hindsight is 20:20 :)

Great post. Just one addition:

C25k is NOT a weight loss plan its a running plan. You need to ‘enjoy’ the running firstly. Anything else is a bonus.😊

Fabulous450
Fabulous450Graduate
in reply to Ripcurlrana71

Yeah!! 🙌🏽 I totally agree Ripcurlrana! I had a raised eyebrow moment very early on when feeling great I decided to get on the scale! Weight gain! So I decided not to pay any attention to scales I never used anyway and it’s with the scrap metal merchant. There’s been no focus on weight loss during this programme for me. I’ve loved and laughed at my giggles too. After tomorrow’s graduation I will set a dress size goal, but I didn’t want too much drama and no measuring in these 9 weeks. Still don’t plan to get on a scale either. Just change of portions and regular running and exercise. ❤️

Absolutely! You can’t get through this program if weight loss is your only goal. Plenty of other plans out there for that. Looking forward to reading your graduation post tomorrow! Enjoy Fabulous450!! Xx

Fabulous450
Fabulous450Graduate
in reply to Ripcurlrana71

Thank you! 😉 I’m excited already! ❤️

Sutsha
Sutsha
in reply to Fabulous450

Good luck with you dress size goal! I noticed my shape started changing around graduation and the weeks after, for the better. Thought it was strange until I realised that weeks 1 to 5 had lots of walking breaks, after that the running segments really come into their own.

I'll look out for your graduating post tomorrow. Won't wish you luck - you've got this! 😁

Fabulous450
Fabulous450Graduate
in reply to Sutsha

Thank you so much Sutsha! I absolutely never take a run for granted, as it means so much to me, but I'm determined. I’ll be slow but I’ll be out there! 😁❤️

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Ripcurlrana71

Really good point. I think it was a previous post by Fabulous450 who said something along the line of not loosing weight but finding your body shape changing - that's just beginning to happen for me. Although I have lost a little I find there is a general firming up of the bits that wobbled at W1

Fabulous450
Fabulous450Graduate
in reply to PaulBrad

Yeees! 😁 My jeans are the same size, but they feel much more comfortable. Loving that! ❤️

Oldfloss
OldflossAdministrator

Thank you for this post.... I would like to put it on a billboard with flashing lights!

A positive, honest post which highlights, many many of the key points of this whole wonderful running programme.

For me... the key points which you have highlighted are of course, the slow and steady, ( yep ....we knew that didn't we?.) and... the finding out a bit more about it before you begin...

healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

Even your mention of the runs you found tricky... and that some folk may find them not so. But that helps folks to know they are not alone:)

This post has brightened my forum day!

Carry on with your consolidation.. enjoy those beautiful runs for pure joy...you are doing just fine :)

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Oldfloss

Cheers Oldfloss - the post was intended to be a personal reflection on the past 10 weeks and if I had had my time again what would I have done and the big one would be to find out about more before starting. I didn't at all - and would have benefited I think.

What a great post!

- I use talc rather than gel. Johnson's baby powder in fact and it does the trick.

- The speed thing - unless you are the fastest runner in the world, there will always be someone faster than you so you're right that comparisons are meaningless.

- Am thinking I should bring forward my running shoe purchase - am saving up for W9 but maybe not so clever. I don't have spare cash lying around though!

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Robert_IS_a_Runner

Not come across using talc - does that work then? the gel was a little pricey.

I had constant tightness in the my calves and achilles that did go after a day or two - but when I changed to proper running shoes - it went almost immediately. Some of the running shoes can be ridiculously expensive (I think). The ones I got were still pricey at around £70 but this was much less than some that were around £120

Julessn
JulessnGraduate
in reply to Robert_IS_a_Runner

I think everyone on here is doing an amazing job in mutual support and I’m thrilled to have become part of (albeit intermittently) this community. This whole thread in particular has regalvanised me.

One small thing, there may be ethical issue with using talcum powder. I can’t judge it for myself as I’m not a researcher but this recent article makes for powerful reading theguardian.com/global-deve...

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Julessn

Gosh - makes for interesting reading!!

Julessn
JulessnGraduate
in reply to PaulBrad

Oh and there’s this today (again I can’t judge its worth as I’m not a lawyer or a research scientist) theguardian.com/business/20...

Designbod
DesignbodGraduate
in reply to Robert_IS_a_Runner

Guys, avoid using talc, very dangerous stuff. Look it up on Google. Class action claims being made in the US.

Equi-geek
Equi-geekGraduate

Great set of tips PaulBrad! I would add

1) This is not a weight-loss programme. You can’t out-train a poor diet. You will be causing micro-tears in your muscles, which is what allows them to become stronger, but this means fluid will pool in your muscles (oedema). But you will look leaner and more toned and lose inches - and we don’t walk around with our weight on our foreheads so this is what others will notice! Your new muscle mass will weigh heavier but also burn more calories at rest, and the weight loss will happen, if your diet is sensible. So forget the scales, eat healthy and keep running - you are doing the right thing.

2) Run for tomorrow. From W5R3 (the first 20 min run) it is all about staying sound enough to be able to run for an extended period, 3x a week. It isn’t about individual runs any more, it’s about the cumulative effect on your body - don’t underestimate it!

3) Stats are really helpful, but don’t let them ruin your day. I have gotten slower and slower, but I have been nursing myself along since one event of over-exertion at the end of week 6 and this heat hasn’t helped.

4) the improvements to health happen fast! My blood pressure and resting heart rate have improved enormously!

5) find some music with a beat that matches your running - amazon prime subscribers can download a lot of music for free, or use Spotify. If running feels tough just listen to the beat and ‘dance’ along in your head.

6) A post-run physio roller! Such pain but OMG what a revelation!

7) gait analysis, before you get an injury, is less than half the cost of one physio session once you’re injured. It’s a no-brainer. Reinvest what you might have spent on food or alcohol in yourself instead - you are worth it.

8) if you’ve been struggling to sleep, you should now find this is a heck of a lot better. And lots of other areas of your life will improve because of that.

9) if your job involves writing you might find this forum is a huge distraction! The support and positivity makes it a really super place to hang out. I’d have started a lot sooner if I’d found this forum when I downloaded the app after Christmas. But it just sat on my phone until 9 weeks ago!

Anggrrr
AnggrrrGraduate
in reply to Equi-geek

My pal is sick of me telling her she needs gait analysis doing. She complains every run about knee pain but will she listen!

Berksrover
BerksroverGraduate

Would echo all the comments above plus maybe one more, if your aim is weight loss then you may well be disappointed if you don't also change your diet, but you are likely to see body shape improvements so take those vital statistics before you start so you can measure the improvement as you progress

I wish I'd known

1) that other people WILL NOT stand and point and laugh at me, in fact it's almost as if I'm just another runner 😉

2) that if I don't try to break speed records, and listen to my body, then running doesn't HAVE to mean I'll b#**er up my knees/back/what-have-you

3) that the program really really works.

Millsie-J
Millsie-JGraduate

What a terrific post Paul! Love it all, written from the heart!

I have one to add please.......

- be aware you may develop a liking for running clothes/gear...... and yes it is likely to be lycra...... and may be in bright colours!

Happy running everyone 🏃🏻🏃🏻‍♀️

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Millsie-J

:) If you're not careful this can also have a detrimental effect on your wallet!! Have you seen the price of running socks!! I have bought my self a couple of pairs from MandMDirect at a vastly reduced price - not tried them yet though.

Jay66UK
Jay66UKGraduate

Lovely post, so motivating.

The biggest surprise for me was realising that my mind was stopping me doing what my body could manage. And that helped me recognise other ways it holds me back.

Even if I hated running (I don’t) or hadn’t got fitter (I have, much), this one thing was worth all of those 27 runs and more.

I’m glad I looked ahead and knew what was coming. I know that doesn’t work for everyone.

I wish I had varied my routes more and I wish I could get my act together now to find new ones. Work in progress.

I wish I had done this 30 years ago.

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Jay66UK

I don't think the mind aspect can be underestimated.

I never varied my routes until I had finished - there was almost a superstitious thing going on with me. However - although I have only done 2 PG runs - these have been over different routes and it has been a revelation - the new environment seems to make the run go so much quicker.

Couldn't agree with you more about starting earlier!!

Designbod
DesignbodGraduate

Really great post (and thread) and a lot resonates for me. I too started off totally 'blind' with no research or planning and came to this site late and also running outside late, which has been a whole new (slightly scary) world. Lots of new things being cracked so all very satisfying for an older dog to still learn some new mind tricks. 🐶 😊

One thing I would add is not to beat yourself up if you can't quite make it in 9 weeks. I took a few extra rest days in between and repeated two runs due to the heat, but I felt better going back and redoing them 'correctly' rather than moving on when I'd had to walk for a few seconds when I should have been running.

Also, I wish I'd got the right size of Fitbelt sorted out sooner!

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to Designbod

The point about not beating yourself up is really a good one. I remember one run I did that was truly awful on a monumental scale - I had to give up half way with all sorts of aches and pains.

When I analysed the reason there were just too many toos - too hot, too tired , too dehydrated, too much alcohol the night before.............. As you say a couple of extra days rest then nailed it the next time I went out

Ang33333
Ang33333Graduate

Great post! And well done! 😀😀

Designbod
DesignbodGraduate

Exactly, we can't be on top, or even good, form every single time (look at Federer going out in the Wimbledon quarters to someone who'd never beaten him before - just a bad day at the office).

It's really important to listen to our bods to avoid injury as all this pounding can be quite intense.

As others have said, there's no race, it's just about improving, and enjoying, ourselves 😊

Really well written post. Thank you for all your brilliant advice, it’s really helped a newbie like me. Point 7 really resonated, it’s all in the mind really.

Jay66UK
Jay66UKGraduate
in reply to LPTT

Even the bits that you think aren’t...

PaulBrad
PaulBradGraduate
in reply to LPTT

Cheers LPTT. I’m no expert but I think that the mental side, just believing you can do it, is just as big/important as the physical with this program and it is very clever how it guides you to the 30min point. Good luck with the running 👍🏻

Dexy5
Dexy5Graduate

Definitely a post for newbies to read.

I’d add just one point - Don’t feel you have to run 5k to do a Parkrun. They are fun and supportive and many people do it as one of their c25k runs and walk the rest.

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