What's your postgraduate experience been like?... - Couch to 5K

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What's your postgraduate experience been like? (esp. fellow 50-somethings)

Timnewrunner profile image

So it’s been exactly a year since I posted here

saying I’d be happy to keep running my 5ks 2-3 times a week. I thought I'd share how that panned out (short version: not as smoothly as I'd hoped). I’d be interested to hear how other graduates – especially fellow middle-aged new runners - have got on.

For me, everything went swimmingly for the first few months, with regular-as-clockwork 5ks (always with warm-ups, cool-downs and stretches, always outdoors, usually in my local woods). Then last October I did a parkrun at a (for me) fast pace. While not noticing any symptoms at the time, within a few hours my calves were pretty painful, and remained so for the next day or two. Despite this, I did another run 3 days later, which did *not* help. Cue a week off, a couple of 'rehab' interval runs based on internet research (with hindsight, I’m not sure I’d recommend this), more pain, 6 weeks off running altogether, then a restart of C25K.

Things still weren't right so I went to a local physio. She didn't help that much, so around February I switched to a specialist sports massage therapist. At times, it's been painful - and it ain't been cheap - but she has definitely helped. I’m back running 5k twice a week at not far off my old pace. She's honed in on what she thinks is an underlying problem: underactive glutes. And she's got me doing a fairly rigorous programme of warm-ups, glute activation techniques, stretches and strength-building exercises. It’s against the spirit of the age perhaps, but I’m putting my trust in her expertise until either all is good or things stop improving. After initial weekly sessions, I'm seeing her about once every 3 or 4 weeks now.

It's been frustrating at times. I'm hyper-aware of muscle tightness/pains. I think carefully about whether my legs feel ok to run, and about the frequency of my runs. I've also found that cycle rides and long walks (ie more than 4-5 mile) often exacerbate symptoms. Which means I'm having to think ahead about my physical activity more than I used to.

Things are improving. And I still kind-of enjoy the running itself. But the relaxed pattern of last summer feels a little way off just yet.

29 Replies
linda9389 profile image

Hmm. I feel your frustration! I've had a similar experience, and would love to run care-free without constantly checking this twinge or that!

I had a bad knee at first attempt of C25K, but restarted a couple of months later and the knee has been fine. As I graduated, I began with a pain in the quad of the other leg. That had me on stop/start/no progress for several months. When that finally healed, the hip on the other side started to give me grief. More stop/start/no progress. I eventually went to a physio who diagnosed - you guessed it ... inactive glutes! Lots of exercises (still doing them) and hip problem now all but gone. I managed to build up to 10K. BUT having run a couple of speedier 5Ks recently, the troublesome quad is painful all over again! Trying ports massage this time, but it's all so very expensive.

All this, despite the fact that I think I have been quite cautious, careful to follow the sound rules and advice I have found here. I am making progress, I do love running and especially the successes, but boy I would love to be injury free and to stop worrying about injuries!

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to linda9389

Thanks - very similar, as you say. Maybe inactive glutes are on trend? Also, my hunch is that us older runners (and I'm not going to define that term!) just have to be more careful about injuries, because our bodies are less resilient. Anyway, good luck with it all!

linda9389 profile image
linda9389Ambassador in reply to Timnewrunner

You too 😀

I graduated a little over twelve months ago. I have always been dead slow but (touch a massive piece of wood) as yet am uninjured. I believe that there are (broadly) two types of runners here, I will call them (and no offence to anyone) the Driven and the Plodders. There are many who graduated at around the same time as me (and way after me) who are running marathons or 2018ks in a year (you know who you are!) or some other amazing thing and I am plodding on running 5 or 6 k, 3 times a week (unless it's too hot :(

I am 56 and haven't really done much exercise (apart from being a keen walker) for years. I know that I am much fitter than a year ago and I do love to run, but sometimes I can't help but unfavourably compare myself to the Driven amongst us.

I hope that your running goes fabulously over the next year :)

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to helenwheels

Thanks for the reply Helen. I can identify with the idea about making unfavourable comparisons. I didn't set any postgraduate goals apart from carrying on with the 5ks, though I do have vague hopes that I might be able to run a little faster for a while, and for a little longer. Likewise, hope you have many more years of happy plodding!

I’m 53 and graduated a few weeks ago and since then I have completely lost my motivation & I’m floundering! I think the heat has a lot to do with it - I don’t cope well with the heat - I never have. I’m still running but just not feeling it. At the moment I’m just trying to build on running for 30 mins & get to 5K. Luckily I don’t seem to have sustained any injuries.

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to

Good luck with it. The heat’s a tough one. I’ve changed my routes, doing more running under shade, which helps a little.

skeenie profile image

Graduated early june and am still running 3x a week but my pace in the heat is slowing down not speeding up took me 43 mins to do 5 k on sunday at 7.30 in morning w

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to skeenie

3x week - I’m impressed. Good luck keeping it going!

Aw sorry for all your injuries, well done for keeping going, you will get there again I’m sure, you sound determined which is good.

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to Agelesslass


Lydia-jg profile image

Hi 👋🏻 I graduated about a month ago and I’d say I’ve found it hard to keep up the motivation without the plan, it’s really hilly where I live and so I do most of my running on the treadmill. In the heat this has been a challenge. I also have a demanding job that means I work long hours, oddly I think am less motivated on holiday as the running did help me relax.

Have managed about 1.5 runs a week, all 30mins not quite up to 5k yet even with the warm ups Etc. There is a little voice in my head that says” I can’t be bothered “ still. But do feel better when I’ve run and know I just need to keep in touch, I think the v slow pace and rests mean I’m injury free and I’m really enjoy ing the benefits of feeling fitter and slightly slimmer.

I was really struggling with post 50 gloom and I think it’s made me more positive so hope to keep going.

Perhaps we should form an over 50s steady away group 😅

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to Lydia-jg

Thanks Lydia. To paraphrase theoldfellow it's different strokes for different folks. That said, my hunch is that us older new runners may find we have some shared challenges. That group could be handy!

Lydia-jg profile image
Lydia-jgGraduate in reply to Timnewrunner

Agreed, I’m just glad to find some other people out there taking it steady 😊

Sounds like a good group, I'm in (68).

Just to add a few things from my own research.

1) Humans evolved on the plains of Africa as an omnivore (eats anything) running ape. They survived by being able to run for longer than the animals they hunted, not by being faster. So running is in our genes, running really fast is unusual.

2) For most of history, living longer than 40 years was unusual. So our genes don't appear to help us oldies much. But living longer than our child bearing age isn't the issue, it's our usefulness to the clan. Clans whose old folk lived longer, and could still run with the clan, had real advantages in getting the children to adulthood.

3) Use it or lose it is also in the genes. However, it does appear that with care you can reactivate bits you lost. The key here is 'with care'.

4) We are all descended from the survivors. The failures didn't leave any descendants.

5) Being part of a group is a tremendous advantage.

Lydia-jg profile image
Lydia-jgGraduate in reply to theoldfellow

What a great post! I’m definitely rediscovering aptitude I haven’t explored since I was at school!! It’s all v reassuring that there’s life after 50 and a nice bunch of other folks around all pushing through the same challenges 😊

Very interesting post, and also the replies. It shows we can't just expect to progress, and sometimes we have to work off specific issues that are very personal to our own body and mind.

You forced me to finally admit I didn't know what a 'Glute' was..... Bummer!

Thanks you all for the reminder.

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to theoldfellow

Thanks - and congrats on graduating! You're right about it being partly a mental thing. I've realised that my determination to press regardless on can lead to problems. I have found that listening to my body, and reflecting on how it has been responding - not just to the last run but over time - are the key. I've been taking lots of notes! And learnt the names of a fair few muscle groups... When it comes to injuries, having a trusted professional for guidance and as a listening ear has also been very helpful.

mrrun profile image

I did my ‘honours’ for the first time (did the program twice) in January 2017 and have completed half marathon since. Due to my initial injuries l spent, and still do, a considerable amount of time on specific strengthening exercises but also do weights, squats and planks which all helped me stay injury free. I’m 54 and have managed to run 3-4 per week, excluding a self imposed week or so off. I’m a genuine believer in ‘listen to your body’ school of thought, as advocated by many on the forum. Wish you happy running and luck with your exercises. Remember, most things can be fixed with time and patience! :)

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to mrrun

Thanks for stopping by. Not gonna lie: I just read your post on your litany of injuries, and feel I got off lightly! It's salutary tale, for sure. The trip I have pencilled in this Weds for a gait analysis is definitely on. Running and smiling...

I definitely share your frustration, I have weak glutes that cramp really easily! I was seeing a physio who got me doing strengthening exercises, but I got bored after a while. And I was suspicious of doing the exercises only for my "weak" side, I don't need any more imbalances! I graduated a month ago, have just been sticking with 30 min runs. This morning i ran before work, and went out for a 30 min walk at lunchtime, and it's obviously been too much. My right hip has flared up, and i was practically limping by the time i got back to the office! So disappointed. 😔

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to souzie2

I feel your pain. When things have been at their most painful, it has helped me to say to myself and others that running may not be for me. Right now, that's not where I am: I'm planning and hoping to keep on running. But I'm not going to beat myself up if my body ends up telling me it's really not happy. Good luck with it.

souzie2 profile image
souzie2 in reply to Timnewrunner

Thank you! Generally my aches and pains exist AROUND running, and during a run everything blissfully loosens up! I reckon it's the office desk lifestyle myself! Thanks for sharing your experiences, and if you have any good websites for glute exercises, please share! 😊

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to souzie2

Yes I find that on the whole, there's no pain while running. I'm no expert, and as I said above I am nervous about relying too much on online research. All I will say is that I think the following glute activation exercise (recommended by my sports massage therapist) has helped me. And it's easy to do at your desk. I've been doing it for about 3 weeks mainly on weekdays, though I've rarely done it 6x/day - maybe more like 3/4. youtube.com/watch?time_cont...

skeenie profile image

Even in the early morning the heat definitley has an effect . I am slower and my legs feel heavy so needing more effort to get out there. Alternate days I swim and this week the outside pool has been open so its a treat only if i have done my run the day before ! Luckily after really sore legs in week 1 I have had no injuries , no gait analysis or expensive shoes either hope the swim and sauna on alt days is keeping my limbs sorted. I started this in April and am quite hooked now , not bad for a 64 yr old rapidly approaching bus pass Gran.

Timnewrunner profile image
TimnewrunnerGraduate in reply to skeenie

Where I live in London you get a Freedom pass at 60...

skeenie profile image
skeenieGraduate in reply to Timnewrunner

Lucky you here in norfolk we have to be in receipt of our state pension to get a bus pass , roll on november !

Teresa1632 profile image

I'm another of the oldie plodders. I HATE running...but did the C25k a couple of months ago for a bet, and thought it would help with fitness. I cycle but only in fair weather.

(PS: Knee problems for cycling are usually down to poor fit on the bike, so if you are cycling, get a 'bike fit'check)

I still hate running, and am the oldest in my group of local runners, so rather than get further demotivated, just plod round and concentrate on getting to the end.

Oldies are the best!

SmartyArty profile image

I am 54 and finished C25K this summer not having run since my early 20s. I am a very proud plodder. I have had the odd injury but I can now run for 40 minutes and do just over 5K. I have even started adding hills into my run. My ambition is to keep at 40 minutes, increasing my distance gradually and then add more time as I feel stronger and get fitter. I listen to 70s/80s music as I run which helps.

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