Is there such a thing as hitting a wall? - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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Is there such a thing as hitting a wall?


I stopped running 2 weeks ago, when i had only 2 weeks to complete. 3×28mins & 3x30 mins. I ran my 3x25 mins but found it really hard to breath. I did complete them but i struggled . I felt short of oxygen and i just couldn't run well, it was the first time this happened & i didnt feel great after. I have since been to docs and had everything checked out and im fine.. I feel gutted and i dont know what to do now ?

20 Replies

You can do this , if your breathing to fast you must be running too fast , go out try again and go slow . I had a few problems with my breathing and I was told to slow right down and it worked 😊😊


I am pretty sure you’re running too fast - I’m fairly certain I’ve read that you should be able to hold a conversation whilst running if you’re going at the correct pace - if your breathing is that difficult then I can only assume you’re trying too hard. I know you can do this but maybe go back to week 7 and continue with your 25 minutes before trying the wk 8 and 9.

All the best and don’t get disheartened - it’s frustrating but I’m sure you can continue With the plan and get to the end.


There is a condition known as exercise induced asthma.

The guide to the plan explains the recommended easy conversational pace, which if stuck to should mean that you can breathe.

Your pace is defined by the ability to speak clearly.

I’ve recently discovered I have this! I always thought my asthma was under control and I wasn’t using any inhalers probably because I wasn’t exercising much. Wasn’t until I started running and literally couldn’t catch my breath at all. Quick check up at the asthma clinic and a preventer and relief inhaler I can now run non-stop for 5k! Last night I ran non-stop for 4.5 miles without a walk break!


There are walls... and there are also sledgehammers!

If you were that out of breath then slowing down is the answer. In my case breathing was an issue and the more I thought about it the worse it got... I had a wall o was building that said I was in trouble with oxygen. The sledgehammer for that wall with me was distracting my brain with a good podcast and allowing my subconscious to take over the breathing, just like it did all day every day.

The wall exists... but it moves. When you started 25 minutes was a few walls of impossibility in to the plan right? You knocked it down. Relax before your run... go slowly.. knock that wall down. One day I deliberately ran as slowly as I could... and I felt like I could run forever! Now I’m upping the distance... at 5 miles I start to feel it... 10 is currently impossible, but one day I’ll run 26.


Try not to be disheartened and maybe if you slow down your running bit that may help you. I used to find breathing techniques quite difficult but now have got a rhythm but it took a while to get used to. I struggle breathing through my nose so gave up on that idea and now look like a puffer fish 😂🐠 but breathe in with my mouth open and blow my cheeks out. It has worked for me (sure this isn’t the proper way) but just try not to think about it too much and slowing the pace will help. Good luck ! Let us all know how your getting on


I’m with all the rest of these answers but with a different example from my experience. I’m a recent graduate, having learned early on to run reeeeally slowly. I always find the first 5 minutes a bit tricky but never feel I can’t go on. Then everything settles & I can keep going and going.... Then I tried a podcast that aimed to help me speed up. 😱 NOT a good idea! Pushing myself to meet a prescribed pace felt awful and luckily I just had a “not going to do this” reaction. Slowed down & presto, no problems. Well, presto is probably not a good word😄. But slow is the key for me. On You Tube there is a video about Japanese slow running technique. Well worth watching. You can possibly run slower than you ever imagined. Hope it settles the problem for you. Join with us, the merry band of snails & tortoises, and enjoy your runs! 🐢

Slow down. Try again.


If you have the all clear from the Dr.. the maybe just slow down... relax and let the legs do the work... slow and steady..:)

Hi, this happened to me on week 7 and I nearly quit to. However, I pushed through it and somehow on weeks 8 & 9 it just clicked. I managed to work out a breathing routine and found that slowing down a bit in pace really helped. Don’t give up! Since graduating I have continued (previous to C25K in october i didn’t run at all) and just completed 10k in under an hour on Sunday. If I can you can!!

Hi. I have had runs like these. Good ones and not so good hang in there. You will have a good run again


I had a similar issue on Week 8 Run 1 I had trouble breathing after 20 mins so slowed down and recovered. week 8 Run 2, 2 days later was my best ever it felt easy and I had no problems. Week 8 Run 3 was similar too Run 1 I had issues breathing after 20 mins so slowed down again and recovered. Week 9 Run 1 is today let’s see how it goes but I know if I start to feel breathing problems I will slow down


I reached wk 8, found it ok for R1 then complete downer when I then found r2 way too hard, just couldn’t do the extra 3 mins. So I went back to week 7 ... for a month ! Then tried out week 8 & it was fine- just needed to build up strength & stamina.

This is prob a rubbish piece of advice but I found singing along (silently!) to songs I was listening to helps as it reminds me to breathe properly! Sure I read it somewhere!

This is what I do to. I made a playlist of mostly pop songs asnthey aren't to fast paced and loads of lyrics to sing along to


I've just completed week 9 run 2 and have found most days that I hit a wall at the half-way mark (this from week 6) - I struggle through it and then it becomes easier to both run and breathe. Actually today I got lost in Peckham Rye (long story) and by being distracted, completely 'missed' my wall. I think it is totally in my head and will try listening to music to distract me in the future

Yes, there is, but it happens when your muscles get depleted of glycogen. Your body refuses to move. What happened to you was probably just a bad day. Lack of sleep, lack of water, pushing yourself too hard. Rest, sleep, drink plenty of water, carb up the day before. Do not eat too close to your run, but you can have half a banana 20 min before you start. Work on your core, so you can stand tall with your shoulders back comfortably. Try breathing deeply through your nose and release in two tempos if it feels good enough and make some noise, like blowing out a bit. It helps you to focus. If you get breathless, slow down, stop for a few seconds and carry on. It will get better. It is not a wall, the wall happens at a muscular level. Don't worry, it happens sometimes.

I’ll echo what everyone else has said, slow down! I ran my first ever non stop 5k last night, whilst my pace was slower than what I wanted, I did it and was so happy. Previously I would sprint after the recovery run and that’s when my breathing would be out of control.

I hated the thought of slowing down but be able to run nonstop is a brilliant feeling!

Wow, I never expected so many replies! Thank you so so much for taking the time I really am overwhelmed. I will make a list, check out the links and suggestions. I am not sure if I can run any slower than I already do though, I'm a bit of a snail but have up to the 20 min mark been able to do the last minute sprint.

I think I will go back to the 20 minute run and just add 1 minute at a time, when I don't feel like I will die before I can complete. I feel my feet and legs can go forever, but my chest says NO..

I will post again when I have a restart after my results.

You're all so fab :-)


Try slowing down. I found the 25 min runs actually harder than the 28 & 30 min runs though, don't know why - maybe just in my mind as that seemed a bigger jump. Go really slowly and see how you get on. Good luck!

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