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Couch to 5K
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Where has it gone wrong?

I started c25k at the beginning of May and made good progress. I got to Week 4 and although it took a few attempts i actually did it a few times (go me!) which felt great.

Then the UK heatwave struck - my energy and enthusiasm was zapped and didn't run for the best part of a fortnight. Tried this week to get back into it and my body just doesn't seem to want to do it. I seem to get to the second three minute run and 30 secs from the end my body just says NO! Sometimes i do get about three minutes into second five minute run and my body just gives up....

The shin splints appear to have returned and i get a cramp-like sensation across the bottom of my back, as if my back is pulling tighter and tighter... its weird.

Anybody know how to get of this rut.....? should i go back to Week three to build my confidence back up or should I go forward onto Week 5. A little unsure what do....

I've read on here that Week Four is a killer week just by the sheer increase of running minutes you are subjected to all of a sudden.

Any help and advice would be appreciated as its frustrating me a little :)

9 Replies

Humidity and/or heat are the athletes worst enemy. Running early morning or late night will help.

Time out when starting would make me jump back a week if I couldn’t resume.

In my youth I used to do 3k daily... it does start to be fun, and then addictive and then you look forward to the rain.

You got this far, you will succeed.


I’m wondering if your backache is coming from a lack of core strength? Might be idea to do some core strengthening exercise (if you’d don’t already) to try to help with this. Also...it could be mind over matter? Maybe your mind doesn’t think you can do it so won’t allow you to push through to that 2nd 5 mins? It might be as we’ll go back a week or so to where your mind knows you can do it no problem and then build back up from there. Hope this helps a bit- good luck😊


You may be going too fast. Slow down and then slow down some more. And then slow down even more.

It also might be an idea to repeat the last week you fully did. That’ll get you back in to the swing.


Also avoid all sun. I run only in the shade. It’s a rule of mine. If I see sun light up ahead I turn the hell around and run back through the shade. Nothing good ever came from baking yourself!


I always find if I drink plenty of water the day before a run as well as the day of a run I have much more energy especially in this heat.

Your back issues could be core strength although I find if I'm tired on a run i tend to lean forward a lot more and have to really concentrate on staying upright so my back doesnt ache later on.

Keep going Rob, but do it at your pace... and then slow down a bit


Well done for the attempt - so you know now that the body needs a bit of TLC and that is more than you’d have known on the couch :) I’d invest in a good physio roller if you can cope with ‘good’ pain / massage. Transformed me. Also hydration helps from the day before the run. Make sure your landing leg isn’t heel-striking - and your head is up, shoulders open. Perhaps forget specific times for a run and start playing with different running postures to find what is most comfortable eg. shorter, more rapid strides - where your feet keep more underneath your body? I found that I gained confidence in my ability through adjusting the way I ran, temporarily or permanently, to alleviate knee pain and hip pain and use different muscles. Be curious, rather than frustrated. Have fun exploring your body :)


Rob, you have given this a good shot, I think it is time for you to get expert, and not amateur advice. You could start with your GP, since that will be free-at-the-point-of-use, or a sports physio who will probably know more about your actual issues. Even a good sport shoe shop might help with a gait analysis. My GP was so stunned that I was actually trying to get some exercise that he spent nearly 30 minutes checking everything.

The advice to slow down a lot is also good, but since we don't know your pace now we can't tell. Good luck, and do report back.


Thanks for all your comments - i will take it all on board.... I think i'm going to go back a week to w3 and build my confidence back up, as Imoutsiderunning said it could be a mind over matter and need to get my morale and determination back up.

Interesting thing about the time of day to go running.... Some of the recent attempts have been in the evening when it still is quite warm, when i was on a roll with week 1-3 they were all done early morning - plus i do quite a long commute to work so by the time i'm back home my energy is depleted after spending an hour on a sweaty train. Mind says let's do this, but body says 'you must be joking!' hahaha.

Living near near the sea, i have the advantage of running along the beach side where you can get a cool breeze but they offshore cool breezes have been minimal recently with the heat - i long for a cool foggy day!!

Week 3r1 early tomorrow morning it is! Lets do this!

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So.... did w3r1 again this morning on my local seafront and pleased to say i powered through it no problems. the first 90 secs seemed like nothing.... I even did an extra 3 three minutes after the final repetition.

I do think its because i have changed the time i have running, it was soo much cooler at 6am rather than 8pm. However as i got nearer to the end i could feel the heat in the sun starting build. I was starting to get the twinges in my back again, but no way as bad as previously - i think a few hot baths and bit of freeze gel will sort that out eventually.

I think i'm going to continue with w3 a few more times and then i will move onto the dreaded w4.


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