4 months in & still can't hit 5K without some ... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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4 months in & still can't hit 5K without some walking


I cannot find any info on web indicating roughly "how long it takes to get fit" - I know, how long is a piece of string! I am a 62yo male, who used to smoke heavily until 10 years ago, but have always been active e.g. taking dogs for a 1/2 - 1 hour walk every day. For past 4 months I have been working my way thro c25k, and I try & run 3 x 15 min or 4 x 10 min runs two or three times a week. I once managed twenty minutes without a break (furthest I have ever run in my life, but that is it!). I am really struggling to turn my "10 minute" runs into longer bouts without stopping. Early on I asked you guys for advice - and SLOW DOWN was really helpful - I vary somewhere between 7.5 and 8.5 minutes per km now - much slower & I will be walking. But I certainly can't hold a conversation - not even with the dog ;-) Would be great to hear from others whose alveoli are probably clogged for ever as to how they are getting on - will I ever manage 5km without a break? Cheers.

16 Replies

How long to get fit depends on what you are doing. Hard to google what google doesn’t know.

You’re running regularly so you’re pretty fit about now.

From what you say I’m wondering if you’ve hit a mental block as 3x15 is harder, a lot harder, than 30. Have you tried any relaxation work? I meditate and it really helps me banish the negative demons. Right now I’m a little concerned about the next run... when I go to run it I won’t be.


Are you actually on the C25K plan.. and which week ? Also.. what are you doing beside the dog walks..:0 Stamina and strength need to build up and you maybe need to up that exercise... longer walks... and some extra non impact exercise in there too... your running times are confusing me.. are you doing that as well as the C25K plan?

SnailRunner71Graduate in reply to Oldfloss

Is it to do with pace? Going too fast so have to keep walking to recover?

OldflossAdministrator in reply to SnailRunner71

Sounds like it could be..and believe me..there is always slower..😊

SnailRunner71Graduate in reply to Oldfloss

I run way slower than I walk!

OldflossAdministrator in reply to SnailRunner71

As do many:)

I may be being a bit controversial here but have you heard of 'jeffing' ?jeffgalloway.com/training/r... This may suit you better. It's how I do all my running now and actually my parkrun time is FASTER doing run/walk than running all the way. Weird I know but may be worth investigating ?


Your slow is my fast pace! If you can't talk it's probably too fast. You honestly can slow down!


If you want to run 5k then you obviously need to run for longer than you are at present.

If you have completed C25K then you will be able to run for 30 minutes, which at your pace is going to be around 4k. If you gradually increase your duration using the 10% rule, as described in this guide to post C25K running healthunlocked.com/couchto5... then by the time you reach 40 minutes you would have 5k under your belt.

As you say, your lungs may not be in the best condition, so trying to push hard may be macho, but actually counterproductive........slow to an easy conversational pace, which will get faster as your fitness improves.

It all takes time and depends hugely on your starting point, but there are no shortcuts.


I think your body has got used to knowing you will stop after 15 minutes, so is telling you it can't go any further. I did the same route a few times on the trot that involved a really steep hill that I thought was impossible, so I walked up it (It came 13 minutes into my run). The next time I ran (on a different route) my body told me at 13 minutes it couldn't go on. It was lying!

So it may be partly psychological - those gremlins again! And the easiest way to defeat them? Slow right down! I agree with Ang33333 - your slow pace is my normal, and your fast pace is the stuff of dreams!


It sounds like your physical fitness is fine if you are running 3x15 minutes. It sounds to me like tartancat says that the gremlins are getting the better of you. Running for 30 minutes is as much of a mental challenge as a physical one. My gremlins kick in at about the 20 minute mark and tell me I can't keep going, I have to ignore them, slow my pace and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I am only 1 run post grad and have only managed to run all of 3 out of my 4 30 minute runs ( the gremlins

Won on one run!) It's tough, really tough but I am hopefully with more runs under my belt it will get easier. The satisfaction I feel at the end makes it all worthwhile. 😁


It is early days for you though 🤷‍♀️ Give it time 💪👍🙂


I'm 43 and currently still smoking (although hopefully not for long). At the beginning of C25K, I could barely breathe, but somewhere around W4 suddenly noticed that my recovery time was significantly improved. I finished the programme a few weeks ago and am still running 30 mins, 3 times a week, though have yet to hit the 5K mark, still hovering around 4k, but happy I'm still putting in the time.

There have been occasions since graduation where I've jacked it in at around 20 mins, but what I noticed was that my recovery, particularly when it came to breathing, was almost instant, which tells me it was essentially my brain that was the problem and I definitely could have gone longer.

Maybe if your recovery is very fast between your 15 or 10-min runs, it is indeed the gremlins stopping you. To be honest, 3x 15 mins sounds much harder to me than a slow 30 :)

Codie2010 in reply to Zutter

Re giving up smoking - I really struggled too, but so glad I did finally crack it. I found using Nicorette chewing gum really helpful in the first few weeks. I also kept at it until I succeeded (I must have tried giving up half a dozen times). Good luck, & go for it!



Lots of good advice above.

You could just add very small amounts to your running times so the increase is hardly noticeable and add a small amount of time each week or every 2 weeks or when it felt comfortable. Adapt it to whatever feels right for you.

For instance add 30 seconds or 1 minute to each run. It might not sound much but if you kept adding a small amount of time regularly in 10 weeks you would have doubled your time. Also the very small increase would not put too much strain on any fitness issues.

In the meantime well done for running regularly. Running for 10-15 minutes has real health benefits. It does not matter if you can't run 5k---that's a goal you can set for yourself in the future.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy your running journey.

Thank you all for your advice & comments. Went out this morning - awful run - no energy, especially in glutes & thighs! I do think I need to supplement my jogging with some strenth exercises, as suggested above. Bu I also tried running more slowly - I just don't seem to be able to go any slower "jogging". Any thoughts/techniques here would be appreciated. I do think gremlins are at play too - I will revise my route so i can get some gentle downhill at between 10 & 20 minutes - I currently hit a slight rise (& I mean slight! - wouldn't even qualify as a gentle hill) at the moment at this section of my route & that adds to my sense of gloom. At end of day though - slow increments and as IannodaTruffe said - there are no shortcuts :-( All your help is much appreciated - thanks

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