W5/R3... approaching the quickly! 20 mins Nons... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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W5/R3... approaching the quickly! 20 mins Nonstop from 8 mins..UNREALISTIC IT SEEMS.


Hello all! So here I am facing down week 5, the most dreaded in my opinion. I remember starting out on Week 1 getting ready to jump in to the 90 seconds on Week 2 and thought that was impossible, but somehow this plan seems to set it up that you can push through it.

Now I feel a little bit skeptical about running for 8 minutes and then jumping in to 20! How could this be possible.....When I’m struggling to get 5 minute runs right now at the slowest pace that I could possibly go?

I do know half the battle is within your mind. But has anyone or most people complete the 20 minutes the first time? I could see maybe pushing for 10 minutes straight from eight but that seems to be a very large gap to 20. Or is this mainly to test where you are at? I would love any feedback, because I do admit that I feel very nervous knowing that this is two runs away!😬😬😬


41 Replies

Week 5 run 3 is 1 less minute training session than run 2 There is NO big jump 😁

Thanks for your reply😊. I feel I need that rest (recovery) time because I do not have very much endurance at this point. So even though there is only a minute difference, having no breathing breaks has been a real challenge for me. I can’t seem to get my breathing down even after reading many posts on here and watching many videos. Thanks for the encouraging words.

Instructor57Graduate in reply to Getnoffmycouch

Try to keep it at a pace where you could speak full sentences without gasping for breath. .This might not be any faster than a quick walk !


You've actually done the hardest part by completing Week 4! Enjoy the little oasis that is week 5.

Thank you for the encouragement and for me to look at seeing the week 4 that WAS so tough is now behind. ❤️😊


"bit skeptical about running for eight minutes and then jumping in to 20"

Incorrect. As teacher might say... "show your workings please" :-)

And, look at the post right underneath yours by Slushsteph . In fact, look at the Related Post section. I'll make another post outlining why W5R3 is not the big jump you think it is.

Also, a few words from your post that spring out me:








... Are you not enjoying C25K ??

Why are you 'dreading' the runs?

I totally get what your thinking. I was exactly the same. I couldn’t get my head round how I could do without that little breather in the middle, the walks were so needed to regroup and keep my motivation high...or so I thought.

I completed wk5 R3 last week, I put it off for a day and then, from the advice I got from this group, I lay my clothes out that night and sprang our of best next morning and straight out of the door without giving myself the time to dwell in it all day.

It was totally doable, I even had some in the tank at the end. The hardest was the first 5 minutes, I made sure and really slowed down my pace from the the very beginning. It just got easier and easier...the last 5 was the easiest of all as I knew I had so little left to do compared to what I had already done.

This is all coming from me..I’ve never been a runner not even in my super fit spinning/netball days. I’m about 4 stone over my ideal weight and my week one just 5 weeks ago was a struggle.

You will do great! Can’t wait to see your celebratory post ♥️

Awe, thank you. I truly mean that! That is true encouragement and to know that you have been there yourself. Congratulations on making it on that run!! How amazing. I enjoyed your words of not giving yourself “time to dwell in it all day”. Thank you for that uplifting support 😊❤️❤️

Thanks for your insight. I am “dreading” this 20 mins because I have never been a runner and struggle so much with endurance and breathing that I had to stop every time that the times were combined on the first runs for previous weeks. I have spoken to other people that run and because I’m a beginner they tell me that 20 mins is a lot for a new runner. So, yes, I’m a little concerned of completing it. Do most make it on this first attempt?

Hello!! I think I’m the definition of never being a runner. I actually don’t think I had EVER run for more than 3 mins (bus stop run!) in my life. I genuinely think I told my mum I was sick at school when the cross country run was planned. I’ve also found this programme a real challenge for me!!! I’ve got SO unfit, particularly this last year. And I just did it- first time!!! So yes, absolutely achievable!! I found the other runs (particularly week 4!) much more challenging. And if it takes you a couple of goes to nail it, that’s STILL winning!!!! Can’t wait to hear how you get on, and will be virtually running (puffing away!) with you!! ❤️

John_WAmbassador in reply to Getnoffmycouch

You seem to be having a problem with what you think is 'endurance' (" I do not have very much endurance at this point") and your breathing.

A couple of issues that need addressing: you THINK you lack endurance but actually... you don't. That is your perception based on you having stop every now and then. And the reason you're doing that is because you're going faster than you think you are. What would really help you, from a practical point of view, is to run (JOG!) with someone who is slower than you so that you could regulate your pace better.

As for 'endurance' - C25K is designed to be achieved by almost anyone coming from the proverbial couch... i.e. with NO endurance or fitness. You don't need endurance ... it is built along the way, with every run that you do. EVERY RUN YOU'VE DONE , PREPARES YOU FOR THE NEXT RUN - yes, your body is always ready, but the mind is a different case.

Just because you have never been a runner, doesn't mean that you can't be now. Tell yourself that "I AM A RUNNER" - make yourself believe it! You seem to have a lot in your head that is holding you back mentally.

As for "other people" who've told you that 20 minutes is a lot for a beginner, it sounds like you were looking for confirmation from them (anyone!) that you're right to 'dread' it. Do 'other people' know how C25K works? Do they know how many millions of people around the world have done it?

Did you tell these 'other people' about how the C25K program has progressed you to this point? Did you tell them that you ran not 8 minutes last week but 16 (SIXTEEN) minutes and ... you did that 3 (yes, THREE) times last week in Week 4 ?

Did you tell 'other people' that by the time you come to the dreaded 20 minute run you will have run for a TOTAL of 157 minutes in the previous 14 runs since starting? That's over 2.5 hours ...

Thank you John for giving me some clarity in this thinking thing. Yes, I have expressed to these others about how each run is building and what I’ve accomplished so far and they’ve given me the 🙌 for making it this far. One of those is my closest friend and she did the C25K and suggested that if it’s too much, just repeat the week. I laugh a little when you suggest to run (jog) because that is what I am doing. There is no pep in my step, more of a glide near the ground. In Wk1 & 2 I realized that even though I was jogging, instead of running, I WAS going too fast. I slowed WAY down.. barely moving BUT I was able to keep going at least.

I think that is wisdom of think and say “ I AM A RUNNER”.... well put. I will try to make application to this advise. You’re right, it’s easy to hold yourself back with these thoughts of “I can’t “ or “dreading it”. I will let you all know how it goes 😊

Thanks again!

Hello. I only found this site today and totally understand your concern. My next session is, you've guessed it W5R3 on Thursday. I would be very surprised if anyone was jogging slower than I am, but I don't care. Will 20 minutes be a challenge? Yes it will, thanks to the significant excess weight I am carrying, but I will do it and so can you. As others have said, go as slow as you need to, the important thing is that we are doing it. When I got home from W5R2, I used an app to see how far I had actually jogged at my tortoise pace. I was shocked to see it was over 1.5 km. If someone had told me a month ago that I could jog for that distance I would have thought them mad. Celebrate what you have achieved so far, and know even more success will come in the future if you do not give up!

Thank you for that motivational encouragement. It is nice to hear when I hear that others too have been where I am and have overcome these challenges. I will be thinking about you on Thursday and cheering you on from here, while I’m hugging and puffing W5/R2 on Thursday, looking forward to hearing that you made it😀. Please keep me posted. You got this🙌


"struggling to get five minute runs right now at the slowest pace that I could possibly go"

I bet you it isn't ...

I think John is right - if you feel negative going in you're unlikely to complete it as you'll want to stop at the first signs of tiredness. You CAN do this (and if you don't do it the first time, it's just practice for the next try), and you need to go into it with the thought of how amazing it will be WHEN you complete it. If you are breathless, you need to slow down some more, even if it feels like you're barely moving! And be aware of the 'toxic 10' where it takes 10 minutes or so to get into the run properly - I've had many runs where I think there's no way I can keep up this level of discomfort for 30 minutes, only to find that around the 10 minute mark it all seems to get a little bit more manageable, and you don't get that with the interval runs as you seem to need to get through those first 10 minutes again each time!

Thank you for the positive encouragement ❤️

I think most of us found the thought of W5R3 daunting. I gave myself a get out of doing two ten minute runs if I really couldn't manage the straight 20 minute run.During the run I made the point of every few minutes making sure I really could talk without gasping to keep my speed in check. When the Jo said I had run for ten minutes I was pretty confident that I would be able to manage the full twenty minute run.

Most of us manage to complete that run without too much trouble.

Its the first real run of C25K. Go for it!!


Nothing to dread about that run as all the previous runs have prepared you for it, take that run slow and steady, once you have completed it you will be very proud of yourself, good luck.

Thank you❤️

Yes.. you were right.. I felt very accomplished! Thank you❤️

AlMorrGraduate in reply to Getnoffmycouch

Congratulations 🎊 👍


You can do this! You body was designed to move so it is all just in your head. I had exactly the same thoughts but I did it first go and I'm 43 and 14.7lbs so very overweight. Today I did week 9 run 1 and again I never thought I could do 30mins but you can. Think positive, take it slow and upload yourself a decent running playlist. The time will whizz by and thd feeling you get after is just fantastic. Look forward to hearing you achieved it x

Thank you... I am your age and over weight by that or more. Thank you for the encouragement and congratulations on making it to week 9!! Wow that’s fantastic 👏🏻😊

I’ve just completed this run about an hour ago. Like you I had exactly the same thoughts, but don’t, when you are out there, take it slow even pace, I had to reinforce to myself I can do it at 5,10 and 15 mins and then after that I thought I have come so far I am not going to stop now. So if we can all do this so can you and the feeling afterwards is fantastic. Also helped with another runner passing me saying I was doing great, keep it up😀

I think everyone feels like you on this one .. I didn’t think I would be able to do it but surprised myself in doing it first time.. as many will tell you, trust in the programme because it works .. bet you will surprise yourself! Happy Running 🏃‍♀️ 🏃‍♂️


So Getnoffmycouch , here's what I replied to Oilandwater with, when they were having similar concerns. It's a long one, so strap yourself in and DO please click on the links in the post:---------------------

Aah... the old "big steps up" and W5R3 thing ... OK... let's dive in! Grab a cuppa and make yourself comfortable.

If you haven't already realised it (most beginners don't to be fair), C25K is, like any progressive exercise program, a mental test, NOT a physical one. That's because it's been designed to be achievable by almost anyone. It should be easy enough (ish) to start, and then it's about whether you've got the *mental* strength to see it though, despite the apparent physical hurdles in the way, when in fact they're not physical but mental.

The key lies in your head. So instead of fearing what lays ahead, change that mindset. EMBRACE what's ahead. You've chosen to do this.

This might help with the mental side: bbc.co.uk/ideas/videos/four...

Week 5 and W5R3 are not the "big steps up" that you think. Week 4 was the big step up but you didn't realise it - very few do. Week 4 sees the biggest increase in *total* running time in the whole program - from 9 minutes (Week 3) to 16 minutes in Week 4 - that's a 75% increase!.

W5R1 is 15 mins, W5R2 is 16 minutes... and W5R3 is 20 mins... a modest 25% increase.

Week 5 can look daunting, but really, you're physically ready for it. Your posts highlight, like so many before you, that C25K doesn't train the mind, only the body.

Lots of folk get worked up about W5R3 but start looking at your runs a bit differently... like this:

Week 1 - you ran for 8 minutes (3 times - so that's 24 minutes )

Week 2 - 9 minutes, 3 times (27 minutes in the week)

Week 3 - 9 minutes (another 27 minutes)

Week 4.1 - 16 minutes

Week 4.2 - 16 minutes

Week 4.3 - 16 minutes

coming up:

Week 5.1 - 15 minutes

Week 5.2 - 16 minutes (should be easy by now, right?)

Week 5.3 - 20 minutes (with 157 minutes of previous running in your legs).

To illustrate that Week 5 is just another week and that Week 4 was actually the 'big jump' that many claim Week 5 is, have a look at this:




Is it sinking in?

2 mantra's for you:

Mantra #1: every run you've done prepares you for the next one . (Yes you are always physically ready for the next run. You accumulate fitness with every run you do. So that the fitness you've accumulated in the 14 runs before W5R3 (157 minutes of running!) mean that you're more than capable of completing the next run - that's how a program like this works.)

Mantra #2: the body is ready but the mind less so . (The mind says "OMG, are you serious? 5 mins? No way! 8 mins? You're kidding! 20 mins? Don't be stupid." But you're here aren't you?)

You don't need luck, just confidence.

Your body is READY .

Do it.



This breakdown of W5 may help allay your fears healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

Relax and enjoy it.


I felt exactly the same but it will be easier than you think! One thing I have found is that the first 5-8 mins of any run are actually the hardest part by far, you feel out of breath and tired etc but it takes that time for your breathing to settle down and for you to find a rhythm and I know it’s hard to believe but the second part of the 20 min run actually feels easier than the first half. Trust me the buzz you will get when you do that 20 minutes will be totally worth it

You were SO right as for the first half was very difficult. I found that between the 10-15 mins seem to get easier. The last 5 mins I wasn’t so sure physically if I would make it with my right calf that I tore years ago, but mentally I knew I would... and I did! I kept what you said in my mind and had an “ ah ha!” moment in the middle of my run. Haha. Thank you.

LolaBobsGraduate in reply to Getnoffmycouch

Awe well done. I knew you would smash it. I found this run such a mental hurdle for me having always told myself “I can’t run”. Your head now knows what your body is capable of and there’ll be no stopping you now! I hope you are feeling proud of yourself for doing it 👏

Excellent.. keep going 😀


You’ve had some great advice already... so here’s my 2p’s worth.

You know what worked for me....

Not over thinking it, not wondering if I could do it or not, not putting pressure on myself or wasting my energy worrying about it. I just thought that I would either do it or not, and if not I’d just try again another day.

I just treated it like any other run day and did what the voice told me to do. (Jo’s voice, not the gremlins)

I felt that if I’d been ok on the programme until that point why would this run be any different and do you know what... it wasn’t.

I did get up a little earlier to complete this run, just so I didn’t have time to overthink the whole thing, I also found it useful to clear my mind on the 5minute warm up walk.

Apart from my graduation run, WK5R3 was my favourite!

(If nothing else works, bear with me here, try thinking about this.....

If someone offered you a million pounds to complete the run would it change your mind about whether it was possible to achieve on your first go?)

Most things are possible, if you look at them from the right angle.

I know you can do it, everyone that’s posted a comment on this post knows you can do it. I’ll look forward to seeing the post that tells us that you did do it!

Thank you Sassy. I did keep that in my mind as I were running.. someone giving me money and would I complete it. I knew no one would 😂 but it DID make me think about how I might push through the discomfort that I was feeling. I did just as you suggested... don’t think too much on it.. just get out there early and go for it. Thank you.

SassyFGraduate in reply to Getnoffmycouch

Motivation can come from different angles... cake is mostly my motivator 😂Well done 👍🏼

Haha! I love it! You would love my tank top I wear for running,.. it says “ I only do this for the cupcakes later”. 😂

SassyFGraduate in reply to Getnoffmycouch

I need that that top in my life! 🧁 🤩

Hi. I managed to follow the plan. (Unfortunately I’ve had to go back to the beginning following a sprained ankle). I had the same thoughts about the 20 minute run. But keep the faith. And hey, if you don’t manage it first time, repeat the week. Just don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re doing amazing!


Hi Getnoffmycouch, for what it's worth, since joining the C25K forum just under ten months ago I've lost count of the number of "Dreading the impossible Week 5 Run 3" posts that I've seen. I've also seen countless "Go me, I conquered Week 5 Run 3!" posts. I have seen far, far fewer "Tried Week 5 Run 3 but didn't make it" posts.

So, on this anecdotal basis (for which my late research scientist father would undoubtedly shoot me down in flames) I conclude that the majority of people complete Week 5 Run 3 first time round.

Honestly, if you've completed the previous runs you're physically prepared for it. It's much more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I reframed it as four five-minute runs, as that gave me the confidence that I could make it. I still use the same reframing technique now, for much longer runs, when I need to.

You can do this.

I felt exactly the same before doing it! Definitely a huge step mentally. But I surprised myself so much. Did it first time and actually preferred not having the interval. Genuinely shocked me how well the programme does equip you for it! I took it at a slow pace and made a playlist that lasted exactly 20 mins so I was ticking off the songs. Good luck you can do it!!

As a follow up as I said I would... somehow, someway (thanks to this program & all the encouragement on here) I made it! Just posted a new post with me stating I was wrong with thinking and fearing failure. I did my best not to think too much into it and just went for it. Thanks to everyone ❤️

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