Value of running for the less able: I’m sure a... - Couch to 5K

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Value of running for the less able

I’m sure a lot of people do C25K for the potential health gains, the most important of which is a longer life. The problem is that these added life-years are only averages. Some runners die early (remember Jim Fixx?) and some couch potatoes live for (almost) ever. Are there any predictors? I’ve read a lot of the scientific literature but the answers aren’t clear. Having a high aerobic capacity (VO2max) is an indicator of health, but is regular running without athletic prowess a good thing? Of course there is a personal angle. I “graduated” in August, and have done about 30 post-graduation “runs” of 30 minutes. Each was the same as W9R3 – about 3.2k. It hasn’t got any easier and the idea of a weekly 10% increase is laughable. Am I wasting my time?

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You're not wasting your time - you are out performing all those who are sat on the couch! 3.2k is not to be sniffed at, remember when you would have laughed at someone saying that you would be able to do that?! Have you tried the C25K+ podcasts. They are designed to help you move on after the C25K programme has finished. I've had a go at them & they seem tough but then running always does - but slowly you go further/get faster as you push yourself without realising. Have you a local parkrun that you could go to? They are 5k but you don't have to run it all so you could use it to help build up your distance. Good luck :-)

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Thank you for your reply. I don't want to "move on". I just want to help my health . Please don't mention the 'p' word. I don't want to experience one of the deeper circles of hell that parkrun would be for me!

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I was loathe to go parkrun once - if only cos my sister was sooo evangelical about it, was practically forcing it upon me.

But ... :-)

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Every time you go out you are helping your health. At first I didn't see much improvement but over time it is nice to notice that going up stairs is easier, if I have to run a short distance for any reasons I can easily & I sleep better. Don't give up, being sat down is more of a problem! Good luck & keep smiling!

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I think you’ve misunderstood the 10% increase. The increase in distance does not come from running faster but from running for longer. I recently ran my first 10k: however my PB for 5k is still a bit over 30 minutes and I graduated back in June. I ran my first 5k by increasing my running time (to 36 minutes in my case) not my speed.

As for the health question, unless you have been warned by a doctor not to run, you can be confident of health benefits. Even if you stick to 30 minutes and even if you never get faster, 30 minutes of cardio exercise three times a week will make a big difference to your wellbeing.

Healthy living isn’t just about living longer, either. It’s also about living better. It’s about being able to do more with the years you're given, at least as much as increasing the number of years.

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Thank you. I fully understand the 10% rule - I am physically, not mentally, feeble. Even after 30 consolidation runs I am too exhausted after 30 mins to run any longer or further.

"You can be confident of health benefits." How would I know I had accrued these?

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"You can be confident of health benefits." How would I know I had accrued these?

See my reply below - plenty of measures.

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Ah, looks like I read your comment differently from you intended. If you are totally spent after thirty minutes try slowing down - even though you may think you’re slow enough already, that’s the way to increase distance if you want, or at least to be less exhausted after you finish. It really is surprising how much difference even a modest reduction in pace can make. At least it surprised me.

As for health benefits? Well, the very fact you can run for 30 minutes when you couldn’t before is one indicator. In my case, because Ive always been a walker and had a Fitbit for a while before I started running, I know that my resting heart rate dropped by ten points within a few weeks of my starting running and it has stayed at the lower level since; but it creeps up a few points if I don’t run for several days in a row. Bear in mind that’s compared with walking 40-50 miles a week, not with being totally sedentary. And you are getting the recommended amount of cardio exercise - unless of course when you self-described ‘physically feeble’ you are talking about a heart condition in which case the recommendation may be different for you and you should go by what your doctor says. But I’m sure you wouldn’t run against medical advice anyway.

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Definitely not wasting your time, if all the general advice about exercise is correct. Of course, everyones lifespan varies, but generally a good varied and balanced diet and some regular exercise gives us the best chance of staying healthier for as long as possible. And thsts the main thing - its not just how long you live but how long you stay healthy and fit for. If you run 3 times a week, thats great. If you never run any faster or further, its still got to be better for your body than sitting on the couch. I've just graduated for the second time - I used to do about 5k and 8k regularly and the odd longer run. I did start training for a half marathon but quite quickly realised I wasn't enjoying it, I found it a bit tedious, so I just stuck with 5s and 8s. I don't know what I will do this time, I'm just short of 5k in 30mins at the moment, but there is no agenda. Keep at it if you enjoy it, and if you never get any faster nobody cares but you.

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Jim Fixx had an underlying medical condition. Some runners do die early... more people who are couch potatoes die early. Two runners died running in Cardiff recently, and that made headlines... I’d hazard a guess that more people died that day of a heart attack sat in the armchair watching sports instead of doing them... that’s not headline making though. Go see a paramedic and ask where they administer CPR the most... I don’t think you’ll find it’s anywhere near sport.

There are many papers published that show lots of benefits from non life threatening things like needing knee replacement 18 years later on average, to extra resilience against some types of cancer.

Some doctors have been anti running, that’s changing, but find the most anti running doctor and go see him... ask if running is better than sitting on the couch and I‘d put my house on them saying yes.

All the health benefits in the world won’t stop you getting hit by a bus tomorrow... they only increase life expectancy.

Running the same run at the same pace daily will possibly reduce time or increase distance slightly. Consolidation was about making the run more comfortable. The only way to get to 5k, unless you’re very close, is to go to 5k... it’s much less likely to come to you. 10% increase in weekly mileage is laughable why? C25K pushes a little more than that at times. You’re at 3.2k 3 times a week, let’s call that 3... so that’s 9... next week you could run 10. You could go 3, 3, 4... that 4 builds endurance. The next week you could go 3, 3, 5. The long run builds endurance and that’s like fuelling a car... you can go faster and burn the fuel in less miles or slow and long... so you could use the fuel the 5 gives you the week after that and go, 2 faster, 3, 6. Now you’re building endurance and getting a new pace into your legs.

In all athletic distances, apart from marathon and 400m, all athletes train way above their distance to achieve speed. 100m runners do 400, 5k runners do 16k, half marathon guys go 18-20 miles.

You have choices... what you are doing is making you a lot healthier... or you can extend distance (which means running longer) or speed (which means running longer) or you can stop running. Only one of these choices is a negative.

Having high VO2 Max is an indicator of athleticism, that’s not necessarily a measure of health.

Now read this medicaldaily.com/life-expec... 3 years for 2 hours a week... even if you have a bad diet, smoke, drink too much. I’ll take that.

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Wise words🦉🦉🦉

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Any increase in life expectancy as a consequence of exercising is purely statistical and certainly not guaranteed, but we are often participants in the creation of those statistics. As part of my cancer treatment I elected to join a clinical trial, and even though I am on the control wing of the trial I know that my statistics will be adding to scientific knowledge which may help future treatment plans.

My oncologist, GP and specialist nurses have all agreed that my good physical fitness has been a major contributory factor to the fact that neither the cancer nor the treatment have had a huge impact on me........I have continued running with only a three week break a year ago.

You don't have to be fast or run marathons to be fit and in fact this report implies that running too much is counter productive. womensrunning.com/2016/07/i...

Personally speaking, running has proved its worth in my life, making me fitter happier, better acquainted with so many beautiful running routes that I never knew existed and made me part of the wonderful world wide running community.

Is it worth it?

The question does not arise.........

Keep running, keep smiling.

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Good article, thank you.

It’s clear on the benefits of running and is specific on how often and for how long: 2 to 3 times per weak and covering a distance of 1 to 2.4 miles. However it describes the optimal speed as slow but what is slow? I understand that slow is a relative term and varies from individual to individual but is there a range?

Lots of graduates advise taking it slow and steady but I’d love some pointers on what the optimal slow really means. I’ve completed W6R2 at a jogging speed of between 3.5-4mph. As I focus on the longer runs from now on should I speed up or slow down to achieve optimal endurance training?

I realise my post is more about the article than the thread topic but I’d be interested in your response.

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"Slow" is best determined by your heart rate and for most people, that means somewhere around the 120-130bpm mark.

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Thank you, that’s helpful. I should probably put more into this as my heart rate is typically around 95 when I jog. I have been holding myself back to ensure I complete the run!

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Are you sure it's 95? How are you measuring it? The most accurate way is via chest-strap heart rate monitor (you can find for about £15-30 on Amazon).

As rough guide, you want to be a bit faster than your brisk walking speed. Brisk walking is meant to get your HR up to about 100bpm.

A simple way to determine what you should aim for is this: subtract your age from 180 and then adjust thus:-

"- If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation, any hospital stay) or on any regular medication, subtract 10.

- If you have not exercised before, you have exercised but have been injured or are regressing in your running, or you often suffer from colds or flu or have allergies, subtract 5.

- If you have been exercising for up to two years with no real problems and have not had colds or flu more than once or twice a year, subtract nothing.

- If you have been exercising for more than two years without any problems, making progress in competition without injury, add 5

"

This is the Phil Maffetone Method - all very interesting stuff!

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It is recommended that C25K is undertaken at an easy conversational pace.......one at which you can speak full ungasping sentences, while running, as described in the guide to the plan healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

Once you graduate it is common practice across the running world to maintain that pace for 75- 80‰ of your running, only pushing pace for the remainder.

This training pace calculator may help you realise just how slow that often is runnersworld.co.uk/rws-trai...

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Great, thanks for this, learning all the time 👍🏃‍♀️

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Personally I didn't start this to gain a longer life, but to be fitter now, and for the foreseeable future.

None of us know what's ahead.

I can say with certainty that I am much fitter.

I expect if you compared the you, pre programme, to the post programme you, you will see that.

An easy way to assess is to run week 1, I had to following injury, the difference was amazing.

Not science based I know.

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Oh my word, it is worth it! Have you tested your blood pressure recently or checked any other health parameters? You’ll have been creating metabolically active ‘brite’ fat that burns blood-sugar and triggers white fat stores to melt and replenish triglycerides in skeletal muscle. Your liver will be healthier, your joints healthier and you’ll be less at risk of mental health problems. If you run outside you will get more vitamin D to help with bone density and stave off ‘winter blues’. You should be sleeping better, which aids brain function and memory. So keep running, keep smiling, and finding new things to try with your running. Very very best of luck 👍

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My sincere apologies. I made a reply two days ago which hasn't materialised online, and now others are asking to see it. So here we go again!

As it happens I went for my annual hypertenion review last week. My BP remains fine, but no lower, and there is no quesion of reducing medication. My weight and waist circumference are unchanged. My fasting blood glucose. HbA1c, and liver function tests remain completely normal. My cholesterol is 12% HIGHER, but at 4.8 remains absolutely fine (I'm not on statins). I do hours of gardening so I'm confident my vit D is fine. Clinically and lab wise I'm fine. Just a useless runner!

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Oldman51 What makes you think you're a useless runner?

Are you questioning the benefits of running or *any* form of exercise?

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I can't quite understand your interest in my health! Why do I describe myself as a useless runner? Because, by the standards of this site, I am! Compared with many other 67 year olds I'm doing ok. I just don't know how much benefit it is conferring to me personally. Of course in population terms exercise is good and to be encouraged.

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I'm interested not so much in your health but your mindset, your attitude. You're obviously a fit 67 yr old and questioning the point in whether you should continue running. I'm a research scientist so questioning stuff is what I'm about

Despite loving my running, I'm not going to evangelise about it to you. There are plenty of other forms of exercise (like your gardening) that are good for you in many ways (some measureable, some not so).

Re: your running, I repeat, if you're not enjoying it, stop. Otherwise, what's the point in wasting valuable time in your retirement (I assume you're retired?). I derive happiness and purpose from my running - if I didn't, I wouldn't do it.

Having said that, I may want to vary the type of runs you do - doing the same run EVERY time would bore me senseless!

Did you watch the BBC documentary last night about menopause? One obvious and measurable benefit from running (for women) is an increase in bone-density - very important for post-menopausal women who are at risk from osteoporosis - but it's also beneficial for men (less at risk).

I'd also point you in the direction of Dr Michael Moseley who has done numerous progs for the BBC ('The Truth About ... Getting Fit' is a good place to start) about exercise and it's benefits - he LOVES brisk walking and HIIT (High intensity interval training) ... and he's heavily promoted the 5/2 diet (look it up). He's very motivated by wanting to live much longer than his father who died in his mid-50s. In my opinion, Dr Moseley is the best science communicator on TV and his progs re: the benefits of exercise and (an improved/changed) diet are done in brilliant evidence-based manner.

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Hi Oldman51! I’ve read through some more of the thread, and thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment. I was just suggesting those markers as an example. Bone density, mental health etc etc. Lots of benefits. But it seems you’ve been struggling to find the pleasure in running as well as the physical benefits. Sorry to read that you experienced some negativity on your non-responder post. You’re clearly not lazy if you’ve hung in there and kept running when you weren’t enjoying it. The person that claimed everyone should progress the same was wrong. Our metabolisms are all different and skeletal muscle is made of different proportions of 3 types of muscle fibre. We have different amounts of muscle and metabolically active fat. One thing that gets constantly overlooked is the physical havoc caused by chronic stress, and the importance of sleep. And that’s before we consider the impact of other life events and history. So, there are many reasons why our experience of running is individual. It’s soul-destroying to start comparing on a simple parameter such as pace or distance.

For me, the biggest surprise has been that I enjoy running. I’d tried before and felt it was too hard and absolutely exhausting. I labelled myself a ‘non-runner’. I didn’t start this programme with any expectations of completing it, but I had reached crisis point and I had few other options.

I think this low expectation meant that when I realised I could run for 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 8 minutes and so on, it was immediately rewarding. I do a bit of neuroanatomy and there is an area in the brain that lights up with unexpectedly rewarding experiences. Even though running felt tough at the time, and there were a few aches and pains, I’d done enough sports previously to understand that this was part of the process. People on here made me feel good for taking my time on my runs, and just keep plodding for more and more minutes and almost before I knew it I could ‘run’ for 30 minutes. And during that process I found social Park runs, a buddy to train with and some great new upbeat music. My performance stats were not the reward. I hadn’t lost much weight but my BP had dropped and I was feeling happier and less anxious. Then I found training towards a 10mile Run in October motivational and building up distances I never dreamed I’d achieve. Then there were times that I surprised myself with a Run feeling easier than I expected, or feeling like I could carry on for longer. Of course there were also runs where I felt absolutely terrible but I tried to find something positive about the experience - even if it was just that I had given it a go and would learn from them. Also, there is a neurological reason why a few bad runs actually increases motivation, so long as there aren’t too many in a row when we are a beginner.

My experience of C25k and on this forum has been very different to yours, by the sound of it. It’s only recently I’ve come across the minority of runners that are hyper competitive or grumpy - less than 10 in total (including when I did a volunteer stint as car-park Marshall at Park run when people are most likely to be miserable!) - from the hundreds of people on here, at Parkrun, Junior Parkrun, or the thousands at the Great South Run since I started running in May. The community is overwhelmingly supportive, in reality and in the virtual world. I don’t use stats to beat myself up with (which is my default, and I had to work on that aspect of my mindset) so when I see other’s times and paces I now find it inspiring.

I hope you find something rewarding about running. You are doing the right thing by trying to find the benefits of it! One of those benefits might be the suggestions, support and help on this thread 😁👍

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Agree with previous comments...u r doing more than someone on the couch..... Enjoy it,have fun and happy running.

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So... Oldman51 ... why did you start and and then complete C25K? What is it you want to achieve?

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I started because I was being told that I would lurve running and feel SO much better. I completed it because I'm a stubborn old b****r and it became a bucket list thing. I didn't enjoy it or feel any better. Then the goalposts changed and I had to do consolidation runs to become "comfortable" with regular jogging. That hasn't happened either so I am left with the longer healthier life prospect. That was the purpose of my post. Does anyone know why some people get a lot of benefit and others less? As I might have predicted, the replies are from from running enthusiasts for whom increased longevity is just a nice bonus.

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Is it maybe your mind set? If you start a run hating it and tell yourself it’s awful all the way through you’re not going to have a good experience and you’re going to associate running with a negative experience

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Oldman51 "Does anyone know why some people get a lot of benefit and others less?" Wow, what a question. I guess genetics, personality, environment are all factors in that. That's like asking why some people like pasta and some don't. Or why some people benefit from a certain medication for e.g. cancer, and others do not. Or why some people find Jimmy Carr funny and some ... You get the picture.

But the running.... You must be extremely bored if you've done nothing but 30 x 30 mins runs since graduation, no wonder you're not enjoying it! There's endless possibilities to mix up your runs but ...

.... running clearly is not for everyone... If you don't enjoy it and you're not feeling the benefits, then I'd suggest stopping before it makes you any more miserable. Otherwise, what's the point?

It's simply another form of exercise that along with many others, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and relieves stress and can release endorphins (happy hormones!). It's certainly changed my life in the last 4 years (I'm 50 next month) - I love it.

If increasing or sustaining your new-found improved fitness is of interest to you, then maybe cycling or swimming or walking might be better for you.

As it is, you've made yourself considerably healthier in the last 6 months and that alone is to be applauded.

You shouldn't feel compelled to carry on - do something you enjoy!

Good luck

John

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Thank you for your reply. It is indeed an important question. Perhaps I did not phrase it well. We know why some people get less athletic gain from exercise than others - they have a different genotype. That is not accepted by some on this forum who say that non-responders are just lazy. My question was asking if anyone had read any research which had looked at varibility of health response - especially whether it was linked to athletic prowess. I suspect it is, but don't know.

You mention "new-found fitness" and being "considerably healthier". How would this be judged? I don't feel any different and, as described above, clinical and lab review has not shown any change. I am left with my original question - will this help my future?

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I have to respond to this: I have not been using his forum very long but I can honestly say I have had nothing but wonderful support and really useful advice here. I have never seen anyone labelled as ‘lazy’, and if you have seen this, then the comment or user should be reported. All I see on his thread are a lot of very supportive people trying to help to answer your question, or perhaps give other perspectives. I also agree that if you really aren’t enjoying running then try something else. If you have no evidence of change in fitness after completing the programme and more then you must have a good baseline level of fitness, so I really think the most important question should be ‘what do I really enjoy?’. It’s important to care for our wellbeing too through enjoying what you are doing. Good luck in finding your answers.

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What was said was "We all as standard improve in the same way, if we put in the same effort, at the same exersizes.....It's not a case of that people can't do things. It's that they won't. " You can see this if you look up the Exercise non-responders thread started by me. I responded rather sharply. The moderators removed my post but not the one implying I wasn't trying. I apologised for my reply, but the post which riled me is still there.

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I see. I would have taken that to be referring to those still on the couch, but these things are often interpreted differently by different people. Clearly you are not lazy but I’m also not convinced you have made no improvement, perhaps just not the improvement you were expecting. Equally, this is my interpretation of the whole discussion here. Currently my bucket list involves not dying before I’m 48 as my brother did: he had pancreatic cancer though, so not a great deal he could have done about it. I hope you either start to enjoy running, or find something that you do enjoy which gives you the vigorous workout you’re looking for. I really believe it shouldn’t be a chore.

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"How would this be judged? "

2 fitness metrics for example:

- resting heart rate

- recovery time (how quick your HR comes down after a physical effort)

4 health metrics:

- lower blood pressure

- lower cholesterol

- increased lung capacity

- lower weight

All 4 are well-known 'markers' used by health professionals to advise on general health.

"clinical and lab review has not shown any change"

Do you mean any change in you or people in general?

"will this help my future?"

- are you referring to running or *any* exercise?

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I refer to my reply to Equi-geek above.

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Oldman51 I couldn't work out what your reply to Equi-geek was to be honest.

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Well that's ok, I can't even see a reply to Equi-geek.

But I think all has been said.

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Sorry - it's there now!

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Sorry - it's there now!

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I'm intrigued now...

What else is on your bucket list that others have convinced you that you'll absolutely love?

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Nothing is guaranteed - life is always a game of percentages - by being active, you give yourself a better chance of living healthier for longer. By coincidence that was put into stark relief for me yesterday when I realised that my 68 year old father in law, who is frankly a wreck healthwise (overweight, heart problems, back problems, struggles to get around, aches and pains etc), was the same age as I am now when I first met him when my wife and I got together. At that point his eldest child was 22/23 - my eldest is currently 13. So if I want to live to see and enjoy my grandchildren, its going to be nearer to late 60's for me, which means that I need to keep in better shape. Actually in any event having started this off the back of various attempts to take up running and always hated it, I'm now finding this a positive experience. I can go out for a run on a Saturday morning (7.5km last weekend) and when I get back feel like cracking on with the day. If I have tasks to complete like the 30 metres of hedge I need to cut, my stamina is far better. Even walking into town now takes less time because I can walk faster without getting exhausted. Am I definitely improving my health for the future - can't prove that. Is it better now - definitely.

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I’d rather have a slightly shorter life healthy than a longer life sick or frail. I don’t fear death I fear illness. I’m gaining stronger bones (who wants to break a hip?) stronger heart, lungs, muscles and better mental health, which means the time I have will be more fulfilling. Yeah it’s worth it 👍

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You're definitely not wasting your time. If nothing else you'll have more energy, feel fitter, and your runs will give you some valuable 'me' time. Enjoy it for what it is, and stick with what you feel comfortable with. I've done a few 10 minute runs since graduating, just to get out of the house and get my head cleared. Will you live to a ripe old age? No one can answer that, but at least you'll have the satisfaction of feeling good thanks to your own efforts 👍

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Hello Oldman51. I haven't read all of the posts so Im sure you have a wealth of knowledge to tap into here.

But I just wanted to say I graduated frpm c25K some time ago and am still nowhere near 5k in 30 mins! And at 52 and with Crohn's Disease and a spot of arthritis I dont think I ever will be.

What I can do is jog 5K non stop and not collapse afterwards. I am much stronger all over my mental health has improved and much more flexiable too.

I would be lost without my jog three times a week.

Good luck and keep going with the fitness goals that mean something to you. ☺

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