Week 4 Run 1 - gave up: I went out this evening... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

124,061 members153,558 posts

Week 4 Run 1 - gave up

ClutchingAtStraws profile image

I went out this evening to do week 4 run 1 but the step up to 5 minutes jogging is far too much. I struggled last week with 3 minutes. I did the fist 3 minutes, but only managed 3 minutes of the first 5 minutes section. I tried to do the second 3 and 5 minute sections but did even worse! Before anyone says I must be going too fast or am I going too fast, the answer is no, I have seen all the slow running videos that have been posted and I am definitely going very very slowly, about walking pace at best. Sometimes at the start a little faster than that but often slower, to the point where I am dragging my feet as I am too tired to pick them up properly. Any chance of holding a conversation is totally out the question even going that slowly. My GPS smart watch shows that I am going the same speed or faster when I walk! I have tried going even slower but that is just walking. I have a couple of Border Collies so walking long distances is something I already do and is no problem, often between 3 and 5 miles (5 to 8K). It is the jogging I am struggling with. I have decided to go back to week 2 and keep doing that for a while (a couple of months or something!) until I am comfortable. I can see that this is more likely to be a 9 month programme not a 9 week programme.

63 Replies
AlMorr profile image

You can repeat any runs or week's if you wish to, perhaps you have not been hydrated enough, you must drink plenty of water even the days you don't run, I am sure you will get through the course eventually, good luck. 👍 🏃🏾

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to AlMorr

I am sure that I do drink plenty but it does vary. I am not at the 3 litres a day as I saw on one post somewhere on here!

AlMorr profile image
AlMorrGraduate in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

No, you don't need to drink 3 litres a day, that's only for those runners who run 3 to 5 times a week, usually they run several 10K's, 10 miles or a half marathon as well, perhaps 1 litre a day is sufficient for you.

WeavingWonk profile image
WeavingWonkGraduate in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

If I drink less than 2L of water (plus coffee) the day before a run, my legs are leaden and it's much harder. I think water needs are quite individual, but the general water guidelines are 8 8oz glasses, which is about 2L.

I am going to say..........YOU ARE GOING TOO FAST!!!!!!!!!

Can you speak out loud, clear, ungasping sentences as you run?

If you cannot, then you are going too fast.

An easy conversational pace equates to approximately 75% of your maximum heart rate, which is the perfect zone to build the solid aerobic base required to run faster and further, which is why it is the pace at which elite athletes spend up to 80% of their training time, as mentioned in the guide to the plan healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

It matters not whether you can walk faster, but if you keep up the running action, you will develop your cardiovascular system and appropriate muscles and, in time you will get faster. Don't compare your pace to anyone else's, whether on video or in the real world. You need to build your aerobic base and there is no better way to do that than to follow C25k.

You can do this..........but just do it slower.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

Any slower and I am walking. I have tried it. Holding a conversation while walking briskly isn't possible so I have never understood that one.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

I forgot to say I checked my heart rate stats. It is wrist based so they aren't the most accurate but apart from a couple of anomalies my heart rate was at 75 to 80% of my max heart rate which is 170.

Unless you have accurately ascertained your actual maximum heart rate by testing, the max HR derived from formulas such as 220- your age, are crude, often inaccurate and only return averages .........you may not be average (by definition most of us are not). The ability to speak clearly as you run is the best guide to the correct pace.

How is your diet and hydration?

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

Yes I just used 220 minus my age

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

You're judging yourself by your previous high-standard sporting achievments. 75%-80% of max HR (your max HR is probably higher in your case) isn't a bad place to be. As for holding a conversation, it's called in the running world, the 'talk test' - carried out to check that a runner (JOGGER!) is going at the correct (slow) intensity. You should try it. The JOGGING is meant to be feel easy - NOT like you are 'working out' - the aim is NOT to break into a sweat.

ShadowsEmber profile image

I “run” at practically a walking pace at the moment... You can take as much time as you need to with the plan. But i keep remembering the go slow advice as difficult as it is to swallow at times x Hope you keep it up and at your own pace xx

It took us longer than 9 weeks, and week 4 was the week I hated, i can’t tell you why but it was misery from start to finish and i was so glad when it was over, week 5 felt easy by comparison

As to walking faster than running, yup we did too but keep at it and one day it will be a bit faster

Good luck

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to WillowandSola

Week 4 is when things heat up.

Week 1 has 8 mins of running, week 2 has 9 mins of running and week 3 has 9 mins of running.

Week 4 ups that to 16 minutes. That's why it's harder than the transition from week 4 to week 5.


ClutchingAtStraws, I'd suggest you rest a day or two, run W3R3 once again, rest a day, then try W4R1 again. This is just a practice run.

On the last 3 minute run of W3R3, try to run a bit faster than the other three runs, and run those first three runs even slower than you have been. Make sure you're doing as fast a walk as you can do when you're walking.

WillowandSola profile image
WillowandSolaGraduate in reply to nowster

That’s good advice, mind you our fast walk was a slow shuffle in week 4 but it was also when we started to feel fitter

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to WillowandSola

If I don't run regularly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I will end up slipping the schedule and therefore motivation will quickly disappear and I will end up doing far too much couch! I don't feel comfortable with week 3 so I will do week 2 run 2 on Wednesday and carry on from there. Maybe repeating week 3 next week will help. 15 to 20 years ago I was a major squash and badminton player as well as doing a lot of swimming and generally I was mega fit. I'm shocked at how much things have changed! Isn't getting older crap!

WillowandSola profile image
WillowandSolaGraduate in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

Yes it really is, good luck and keep posting, we will be here cheering you on

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

Best of luck! I'm a couple of years older than you and I took three attempts at starting C25K. You're in charge of how you do this. 👍

Incidentally, my least favourite run was W4R3. Horrible weather and I really struggled to finish it.

Couchphoenix profile image

Stick with what you feel comfortable with until you feel ready to move on, there’s no rush or time limit to the programme, you’re doing great by sticking with it and getting out there 👍

Slowstart profile image

Have you considered trying to run at different times of the day? I'm a morning runner, a few sips of water and I'm off, can't eat anything without feeling sick. Other people find running later in the day easier after they have "fueled up". Also think about what you have eaten the previous day as this may make you feel sluggish. Play around and find what works for you.

Mental attitude is also key. Go to bed knowing that you are going to conquer your next day's run, be determined and keep reminding yourself that you got through week 1 even though it was difficult at the time. I bet when you did your first run you didn't think you could possibly manage week 2, but you have. You can do this, but you do need to believe in yourself and the program. Whatever you do, dont give up, if it takes 9 months to graduate so be it.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to Slowstart

When I was furloughed I had the luxury of trying different times of the day. I found first thing in the morning wasn't for me. Any other time didn't make too much difference. Now I am back at work I don't have any choice. I set off about 5pm or just before and now it is dark I am running the streets and not the park which is muddy and slippery now anyway. The streets where I am (South London / north Surrey border) are lit so that isn't a problem.

John_W profile image

Maybe I'm clutching at straws here but a couple of questions for you:

- what are your exact physical symptoms at the point you want to give up? What hurts? What's in pain? What's going on in your head? How is your breathing rate?

- for clarity, you're saying that a pace that is fractionally above your walking pace, you are out of breath, exhausted and struggling, yes?

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to John_W

Nothing hurts. I am just so out of breath. I feel like my heart rate and breathing rate is going very high. I know not entirely accurate but it would seem my heart rate is not going excessively high. My pace is slow, maybe fractionally faster at the start and my Garmin supports that but after sustaining that I get to a point where I need the rest and at the moment that seems to be after about 2 to 3 minutes of jogging, hence why I managed week 3 just and week 4 was a step too far.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

OK, good info. Being out of breath is the NUMBER ONE indicator that your are going waaaayyy too fast. Either that or you have a, as yet, undiagnosed, undetected, or undeclared medical condition. Not being able to sustain more than 3 minutes of jogging is a pacing issue - that's all.

I'd be curious to see/know a comparison (Garmin?) of your brisk walking pace and your starting pace in Week 4.

John_W profile image

I think you should have a chat with Rising60 - your case sounds very familiar. Someone who was struggling with Week 4, a keen walker, insisted they were going as slow as possible, had seen all the videos ... but turns out ...


ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to John_W

I do need to get some music sorted. Currently without earbuds as my previous set were donated within the family for someone else to use! I am hoping to get a new set in a few weeks time. In the meantime I only have huge headphones not suitable for running! When I do get it sorted, considering my username, I will leave you to guess who I might listen to, although it may not be well known to a lot of people even from my era!

Maybe you could also get your iron/Hb levels checked at the doctors? I remember when I was anemic that it was 3000% times harder to walk without being out of breath, and running was impossible. There could be a simple reason that this is happening, which is not to do with technique or fitness, but a medical issue. Might be worth checking, anyway. If you explain to the doctor the ways in which you are struggling, they will know which tests to do (am thinking also: peak flow).

John_W profile image

"15 to 20 years ago I was a major squash and badminton player as well as doing a lot of swimming and generally I was mega fit. "

Therein lies the biggest clue to your issue. You have a sporty background.

You therefore probably have an idea of what 'running' should feel and look like - I'm making an educated guess that your idea of 'jogging' is probably most people's idea of 'running'.

However slow you're going, trust me you can go slower. That gap between your dog-walking pace and your jogging pace is bigger than you think. In fact, that jogging pace MAY be slower than your brisk walking pace. True story.

There is a pace - your 'happy pace' - that is possible right now - it may feel unnaturally and unfairly slow to you, especially with your sporty background, but it will be a pace that feels like you could carry on for hours and hours...

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to John_W

Yes that is probably true. I was always a sprinter rather than a distance runner anyway.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

Now we're getting somewhere.

Do you have access to a treadmill before everywhere closes on Thursday?

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to John_W

Unfortunately not.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

Ok, no problem.

FWIW, my current jogging heart rate (easy breathing, no sweating , very comfortable) is around 125 bpm. I'm 51. That's a pace of around 11 min/mile.

For you, I suggest targeting a heart rate (get your Garmin to display current HR, not average) of around 140 and try and stick to that. I'm guessing your brisk walking HR will be around 100-110.

It's perfectly possible... You can do it too.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to John_W

I can't count yesterday because it was a disaster, but Friday, which was Week 3 Run 3, I averaged 132 bpm and a pace of 16.46 min/mile.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

Nice one. 132 bpm is perfect but don't be afraid to go a bit higher so that you jog at a speed of around 13 min/mile - that apparently is the natural pace at which people transition from walking to 'running' (jogging). Try it and if it feels too much, back to Option A, and your 16 min/mile.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to John_W

16b was my average for both jogging and walking, but I think they are about the same... but I may be wrong. I went out this evening. I will post an update at the bottom.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to John_W

Sprinting - anaerobic - lung busting!

Jogging - aerobic - nice , easy, relaxed.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

Your issue can by summed up simply as

"I need to learn how to jog" :-)

Jell6 profile image
Jell6Graduate in reply to John_W

John, I feel I must comment on the fact that you really look at these posts including following up.

I hope people appreciate the work and time that you give to this forum.

Yes when I started I really thought running meant running, I have now embraced my inner snail 🐌

Thanks so much 😊

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to Jell6

Thanks Jell6 , nice of you to say so. I'm always interested in why people struggle and trying to help them. And quite often, there's a logical reason! As one of several run-leaders for our lunchtime works C25K courses, I've seen enough people, all shapes and sizes and fitness levels to know that almost anyone can do it - it's just getting the pace and mentality right.

Some disagree but I think that doing C25K with people who are controlling the pace (eg run leaders) is a much better formula for success than doing it solo, with no reference to observe.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to John_W

I wish I knew someone in the area who would do it with me. I think it would help a lot!

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

Sprinting - the biggest stride possible.

Jogging - tiny tiny strides - a pitter-patter. Nice and quiet, no effort at all.

Rising60 profile image

Hi there, I really struggled with week 4, but I did get there in the end. I don't have your sporty background, but nonetheless I think my mental image of 'running' was spurring me to go too fast. Having said that, it is also taking me a lot of repeats to get through week 5. This time, though, I am more relaxed about the number of repeats. I too, got a little fed up with the advice to go slower and to watch the Japanese video again and to hydrate (all that happens if I drink more is more visits to the loo). I think the main thing is not to be discouraged that you're going to take longer than 9 weeks to complete the programme, and to see every small gain as a win, even if you don't quite meet an arbitrary target. I'm definitely recovering more quickly from my runs, which must indicate some improvement. Good luck, and keep us posted.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to Rising60

Thanks. I must admit before I started, and even after I started, I presumed and thought it was a 9 week programme and nothing else. Colleagues from work who I know have completed this gave the impression they completed it in 9 weeks. I now realise that, certainly for me, that is not going to happen.

Rising60 profile image
Rising60Graduate in reply to ClutchingAtStraws

Yes, a lot of people do manage it in 9 weeks, but I've learned to ignore that and focus on the fact that I am still achieving better fitness even if it's taking me longer. You don't tend to hear on this forum anything from the people who give up completely, so it's hard to know what proportion of people who start c25k actually finish, or whether a significant proportion fall by the wayside.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to Rising60

Fully agree. To me it doesn't matter if I have to do week 2 3 or 4 times and week 3 3 or 4 times and so on. That has got to better than doing nothing!

I understand completely - but don't give up! I've just completed week 6, but week 7 was a step too far, so I'm repeating 6 again. I've always been a good walker, but never been able to run (jog). My legs cope well, but my breathing is terrible and I'd never be able to talk at the same time! Keep persevering, concentrate on your breathing, not the speed. Slow deep breaths in, counting the steps and then slow breaths out, counting the same number. Four in and four out is good, but I often have to reduce it to 3! You can do this - just keep going!

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to G2-5K

Thanks. That sounds really familiar! 😁

Legsache profile image

Started this programme six weeks back. I was exactly the same.

To be honest, it kills me!

I am slow.

But I am determined!

I actually found the longer runs easier for breathing. It takes me ten minutes to find the right rhythm in breathing..

As for the legs....I drag them. The only thing that keeps me moving is knowing it will take more energy to restart if I stop.

I walk faster than I run!

But....and it is a huge BUT........I keep moving!

You can and will do this.

You are fab!

Well done for getting to this stage x

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to Legsache

Thanks. This also sounds really familiar. I will keep going but I will step back a bit and repeat some runs.

Hi , I'm 82 yrs old with Asthma and graduated last month, with your past history of sporting activities you had a better start than me. YOU CAN DO IT!! I suspect the battle is with in the mind and not the body. Iannoda Truffe is right your going too fast. try and imagine you are racing me (without my Zimmer frame) and I'll keep you company to get you there. You are experiencing all the things that I did so good luck and I look forward to see your entry to graduation how ever long it takes. Good luck and cheers!.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to Newbirunner

Congratulations on your graduation. I can't give up now can I, after a story like that!!! I wasn't going to anyway, but this is real encouragement.

Hi ClutchingAt traws that is wonderful news, go for it my friend. One thing I might add and that is, it takes about the first 10 mins of jogging to get warmed up and in that time frame I still struggle with breathing and my body shouts Stop! however being old makes me also stubborn so i keep going and then i giggle. Cheers!

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to Newbirunner

🙂 I went out this evening... I will post an update at the bottom.

jimytwo2 profile image

Hi , it’s been a longer process for me as well , with two complete restarts and multiple breaks . Plus I often have more than one days rest . BUT, eventually I’m now at week 9 running (slowly ) for 30 mins ! Listen to your body , but keep it moving

Irish-John profile image

My very first post nearly five years ago was a plaintive and honest question - "Is it even possible I run slower than I walk?'

And the answer was - "Yes".

For starters, I take much longer strides when I walk, and back then I had never really used my "running muscles" anyway. :)

It took me around 16 weeks to graduate, and that with a 49 minute 5k on very even, level and paved pathway. By that time "speed" and even "successful running" were far less important to me than the discovery that I totally enjoyed MY running :)

I'm still slow. And as a former heavy smoker, and even though haven't needed asthma inhalers after my first year or so of running but I do have two forms of asthma lurking in the background, my lungs are very compromised and I still cannot hold a conversation while running.

I lurch and weave and wobble when running - bones in my feet are screwed so I have to wear steel inserts, I run like a knackered bulldog - certainly not like a graceful gazelle :)

But - I love it. Running not only is good for my physical health but also a hell of a lot of fun. Overcoming the challenges, being part of the excitement of running events - you see all sorts of people and behaviour, better than any TV show :) - and having the "me" time while out running that surprised me by how much it helps me relax mentally :)

I genuinely did not believe I would ever graduate. I only tried the programme because I was desperately bored, and got curious as to how far I could get in the "stupid premise" it proclaimed. I honestly believed that, like singing say, you either could or could not run and I "could never run".

Comparison is the thief of joy. If I put my times and distances beside others, it's farcical on the face of it. According to the stats, I am in the lowest three percent of runners in my age group - 60 to 69, and I'm only bloody 60 😂.

But - I would rather lose an arm than give up my running. It opened up a whole new facet of life for me and I dread to think of how mundane things would seem these days if I hadn't simply kitted up and gone out the door every second day until it dawned on me - "This is nuts! - I actually love this!"

Even though I'm "useless" at it lol.

I quit a LOT of hobbies that I was far better at, but they just didn't offer the many levels being part of the running world gives me. I hope, if it's for you, that you don't quit before it also kicks in for you.

Wishing you many happy miles in your future. :)

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to Irish-John

Thank you. Another great story and great for my motivation to keep going, which I will!

TotalNewbie1 profile image

I would just say keep repeating the week until you are ready to move on, it is your journey and no one else’s. And keep going, it will happen.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to TotalNewbie1

That is my plan I think.

Update: I stepped back to week 2 and went out this evening and did Week 2 Run 2 (I set my Garmin to start from that run). I picked week 2 Run 2 so that if I do Week 2 Run 3 on Friday then I am starting Week 3 at the beginning of next week (my OCD likes it that way!).

I cruised it! I absolutely admit I went fast. I started very quickly. I realised very early but I felt comfortable so I continued and finished the whole run feeling very comfortable. I wont do it that quickly again but what it tells me is that the last 3 weeks have definitely made a huge difference. I will do it again on Friday (much slower) and continue with week 3 starting next week. If that goes well hopefully I will have another (hopefully successful) crack at week 4!

Now I have seen that it has made a difference it has given me hope. I will take it steadily. Maybe not progressing every week to the next week's schedule and definitely taking it slower than I did this evening! Fingers crossed!

Your on your way, can't stop now!

John_W profile image

" finished the whole run feeling very comfortable"

THAT is absolutely key. That is the pace to aim for - can be difficult to judge. It's finding a pace that feels like you could on for long long time at. Think of letting the air out of balloon at a controlled but constant speed - that control is similar to what you're looking for.

So, it's going at a pace that means you finish feeling you could carry on at the end. NOT being bent over double, wheezing , exhausted etc.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to John_W

But at my own admission I did go too fast. I would never have been able to do that 3 weeks ago! I felt great at the end of it though and still do! I will definitely have to slow right back down moving forward.

RedheadedOne profile image

Forgive me if this was already mentioned but I haven't read through all of the comments. Is it possible you have an underlying medical condition?

I ask because years ago when I began my first journey with running, I found I would get EXTREMELY out of breath without exerting myself too much. Turned out I was anemic and the lack of red blood cells meant I didn't have enough oxygen.

Something to consider.

Best of luck on your journey. As others have mentioned, it definitely takes longer than 9 weeks sometimes and that is okay. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

ClutchingAtStraws profile image
ClutchingAtStrawsGraduate in reply to RedheadedOne

I will monitor it. My Pulse Ox reading, taken overnight, don't suggest any issues with not getting enough oxygen but all worth knowing and considering.

You may also like...