Not getting any easier: Sorry for the long post... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Not getting any easier

Bruuuce profile image

Sorry for the long post but I’m feeling really discouraged and I need to get it out!

I graduated in July ( 30 min running not the 5k distance) last year for the second time. I really thought I’d cracked it this time but six months later I’m no faster and I still don’t enjoy running.

Last July I was running 1k in about 8.30. I’m still running 1k in 8.30. I can run 5k and I can run for an hour all at that same pace.

Given that I don’t really find it fun I cut down to 3k to see if I could run faster over a shorter distance but no.

Hills are my nemesis. In fact I can barely walk up a hill without getting slightly breathless. So to change things up a bit and challenge myself I decided to do a really short circuit - only 2k round my block - which finishes with a slight hill. I was hoping to find this easier as time went on, even if I didn’t get any faster, but the hill just kills me 😄

Any suggestions as to why I don’t seem to be making any progress.


34 Replies
Instructor57 profile image

Hi, I have just read your previous post where you said you had slowed down and we're enjoying it ?Now your not ?

What is it you are wanting from your running?

Are you wanting to go faster or further or something else ?

How often do you run ?

It's difficult to make suggestions without knowing a bit more 😁

Bruuuce profile image
BruuuceGraduate in reply to Instructor57

Hi. Thanks for your reply. You are right. I slowed down and for a week or two I thought this was going to be the thing that actually made me love running but it wasn’t a long term thing. I ran 5k three times a week religiously for a while. Then I found I really didn’t want to spend 50 minutes running when I could be doing something else. That’s why I cut down to 3k.

At the moment I’m doing this 2k circuit most days.

What do I want? When I started I wanted to be that person who ran along looking completely relaxed and seeming like they were enjoying the experience 🙂.

At the moment I would like two things 1. To conquer the hill thing. 2. To speed up a little. It would be great to be able to run comfortably at 8 mins per k as a starting point.

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to Bruuuce

When I first graduated I also ran 5k religiously 3x a week .Guess what ? I got bored !

5k used to take me between 32 and 38 minutes.

I then decided I wanted to do 10k and looked at various ways of getting there but settled on my own route .

I used to run 1x steady 5k (at my usual pace)

Then 1x 3 or 3.5k at a faster pace or a Fartlek run

Then 1x longer slower run gradually increasing the distance each week until I hit the 10k.

I remember that first 10k felt hard , I was so glad when it was over .

But what did happen was my 5k's became easier , not necessarily much quicker but easier .

And the hill I used to dread on my 5k route became easier !

I carried on with this routine for some time then of course the 10k's became easier.

Mixing my runs up like this got rid of the boredom as I knew my next run would be different.

You are very likely to improve your stamina and possibly your pace if you follow a similar routine but I would suggest you would need to run at least 3 times a week .

If you were to drop down to a couple of times per week you would be more likely to maintain your present fitness but probably not improve on it .

This was why I asked what you wanted and how often you run .

Kirst13 profile image
Kirst13Graduate in reply to Instructor57

Mixing up the runs definitely makes it more interesting for me. I'm not interested in the speed really, so trying different spots and seeing it as an alternative to a walk in the countryside, with sightly more health benefits and I see more scenery in the same time (not much more as I run slowly😂)

roseabi profile image

How do you feel when you run DOWN a hill?

Bruuuce profile image
BruuuceGraduate in reply to roseabi

Amazing 🤣🤣🤣

roseabi profile image
roseabiPartner in reply to Bruuuce

It's fab isn't it!

If you were to walk up hills regularly you would start to find that it gets easier to breathe - this would be because you are getting fitter! SO I'd like to suggest a workout for you that you might find fun. It is a sort of reverse hill repeats:

Walk briskly up the hill, when you get to the top stop for a quick breather and take in the view, then turn and run down the hill!! Repeat a few times.

After a while, you might like to try traditional hill repeats where you run up the hill and walk/jog down.

Hills are brilliant for building strength and speed!!!


Bruuuce profile image
BruuuceGraduate in reply to roseabi

Thank you

GoGo_JoJo profile image

Only you can find your "why"

You like running down the hill, but you can't have that without getting up you either walk up it and run down or keep at it until you get better.

Most people don't like running up hills. I do, but I'm more than a bit crazy. 🤪 I really only like them for the satisfaction of getting up them. I don't really like running down them, that's harder on the knees but I like cresting them, that final stretch as it starts to flatten out and suddenly... you're there and there is hopefully a view that makes it worth the effort. 👍🏻

Sadly, as with anything you only get better with more practice, but it does get easier.

There's many tips on here about hills, but for me it has always been smaller, shorter steps but a little faster turnover and ease back to normal at the top. 👍🏻

Cmoi profile image
CmoiGraduate in reply to GoGo_JoJo

Your sort of crazy is ace though GoGo_JoJo!

John_W profile image

How often do you run? What does your running week look like?

Bruuuce profile image
BruuuceGraduate in reply to John_W

I was running three times a week regularly but then I fell off the wagon and it became two. I’m now trying to conquer this hill phobia and I’m running 2 k most days. I think judging from other replies I’m not being consistent enough - must do better but it’s hard to get myself out there when I find it such hard work 🙂

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to Bruuuce

What exactly are you finding hard work? If you jog slowly, then it should *physically* feel comfortable and you should be able to go for a long period of time. Mentally, maybe different but that's down to mindset and how motivated you are and whether you need the likes of music to distract you.

I think you're suffering from I-Did-C25K-But-5k-Takes-Too-Long-And-I-Dont-Like-It-Much.

And now you're equating your pace (and associated discomfort) with your happiness as a runner.

This is very normal, so you're in excellent company.

In your replies above, you consistently mention your distance (eg. 5k, 2k, 3k) and that you didn't enjoy running 3x 5k a week when it was taking 50 minutes each time. So now you do 2k most days but you're still not happy cos you struggle with hills and want to be quicker.

There's a fair bit of technical advice in the other replies, so I'll keep this as simple as possible.

For anyone to improve their pace (for any distance over 800 metres), there's generally only 2 ways to go about it.

(1) increase your running time and/or frequency, AND/OR ...

(2) vary your running paces (ie. switch things up a bit)

[there are other things, but they aren't important or applicable in this case]

If you keep doing your '2k circuit most days' thing, you won't improve, if that's important to you. So you have to be prepared to change things a bit and then STICK to it for long enough so that you start to see the benefit.

If you decide on #1 above then do that 'slowing down' thing that you tried and stick with it. It takes a lot of patience but running slowly actually makes you faster - weird but true - it works. But it requires you doing about 3-4 hours per week of it.

"I don’t push myself at all."

You'll need to push a little either by running for longer (so more time commitment) or actually pushing yourself effort wise and doing stuff like 'fartleks' or the hills that Abi has mentioned and being comfortable with being uncomfortable for short periods (say 10, 20, 30 seconds, or 1 minute).

Having said all that, it's perfectly fine to admit you don't enjoy running if that's where you end up.

The best exercise is the one that you enjoy and end up making a habit out of, whether you're in the mood or not - whatever that may be.

Good luck and keep coming back with more questions if you feel the need.

Can you speak aloud, clear, ungasping sentences as you run?.........if not, you are going too fast.

Slowing down to the recommended easy conversational pace makes it more achievable and for most, more enjoyable.

Counterintuitively, it is an easy conversational pace running that builds your stamina and endurance, not fast running.

Try reading this FAQ Post about getting faster and the penny might drop.

You will never look like a relaxed runner if you always run hard and faster than your breathing can keep up with.

Bruuuce profile image
BruuuceGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

I followed this advice when I started. I ran and still run slowly enough so I don’t get out of breath. If I feel in the least bit breathless I slow down but I think this is why I’m not getting any faster. I don’t push myself at all.

IannodaTruffe profile image
IannodaTruffeMentor in reply to Bruuuce

Read the linked post about getting faster.

I suspect you are doing as most do..........pootling along at a middling pace.

Slow right down for 80% of your running (use the pace guide in the post) and then use intervals or fartlek for the remainder.

Roxdog profile image

I've been running for ages and that's a pretty good pace for me! Occasional bursts or runs a bit faster, but I don't care.Please don't be discouraged, you can run for a long time. Just enjoy running, unless you want to run races, why worry?

I think tracking pace is a really mixed blessing and I suffered from feeling disappointed with my runs when they were slow because I constanty looked at my stats.

My advice would be to stop tracking for a while to remind yourself of the joy of running.

I do understand we're not all wired the same and some forum members like a new target etc, but when I started getting rather competitive with myself I experienced that as a negative.

Good lucj

Bruuuce profile image
BruuuceGraduate in reply to Roxdog

Thank you.

MarkyD profile image

I agree with the other respondents: you are just bored with your running.Personally, I think that getting to W9R3 and running for 30 minutes is a real achievement. But then people move on to 'consolidation' and continue to slog out 30 minute runs, 3 times a week around the same route. No wonder it gets boring. Also, it is common to get physically tired after weeks of running 30 minutes, 3 times per week. "Falling off the wagon" gets reported... I just interpret this as "my body simply needed a rest and I had a week or three of not running".

What to do?

Mix it up... continue to run three times per week.

One run is a long, slow run. It can be as slow as you like, for as long as you like. Try and go somewhere different each week, ideally with a view or something interesting, maybe at dawn, or in the snow. Beachfront, river, canal, "past the field of llamas", cross-country, anything and anywhere to take your mind off the running. Yesterday I passed someone out for a walk, with two young goats (yes, goats) off the lead. Memorable & I forgot about running. But always as slow as you can manage. This is important to build stamina.

The second run is a short, 20 minute run, perhaps on pavement or somewhere easy to run without loads of corners and jinking around. And, again: as slow as you like. Sometimes, this is named a recovery run.

The third run is where all the hard work is done. Look up fartlek, or follow Roseabi's guidance above. Intervals is your friend for improving your speed. One approach to intervals is to restart C25K... when you run W1R1, continue to walk the sections, but run *just a little faster* during the running section. Aim to complete all of the runs at the same (slightly faster) pace. Don't be tempted to sprint the first one and then be too tired to run the 8th one. Just a little bit faster is all that matters.

If you don't have one, now is the time to purchase a cheap running watch. Something to record your pace whilst running, and to give you a guidance on your pace whilst running. You said your pace is about 8'30. If you repeat W1R1, aim for a 8'15" pace during the run, and see how you get on. Review your runs after the event, and try to aim for a consistent, slightly faster pace. As you improve, maintain the walk/run intervals, but very gradually, increase your running pace. But if you cannot run the 8th section at the same pace as the 1st section, then slow it down. Ideally, you want to run the same pace on all 8 running sections.

I've not mentioned hills... hills will come easier as you improve your stamina with intervals.

Good luck!!! Let us know what you see on the long, slow runs and where you've been.

Well done on all your fab efforts. If there's a running club nearby and you're up for company, in the past I've found running with others to be a fab motivator. I'd moan every week, turn up every week, get round every week and be smiling at the end. Good luck. There's loads of amazing advice above that I hope you find helpful.

A whole lot of great comments on your post but….. have you tried something like Zombies run? or Nike Run Club guided runs? I’ll tell you now, the first time I played Zomvies run and a pack of zombies started chasing me I ran like the wind then laughed and laughed when i evaded them, and one day someone ran near me coughing!!! it was at the beginning of Covid and I ran to get away from them, then there’s the coach in Nike Run Club, he makes me think, sometimes giggle, really passes the time and makes a run more fun

Oldbadknees profile image
OldbadkneesGraduate in reply to WillowandSola

A second recommendation for Nike Run Club. It's free and there are loads of guided runs. The different coaches have different personalities eg some of us love the way Coach Bennett rambles on, others find him supremely annoying. Try a few and, as everyone else has said, don't do the same run every time. It's boring!!

My speed increased when I switched from doing 5k nearly every time to doing a shorter (recovery) run, a speed run or intervals or fartlek and a longer run (5-7K). I also did some runs with my husband and his friends who, being men, are much faster than me. They slowed down and I sped up. Maybe try running with a friend?Another tip - try smiling or saying 'I'm really enjoying this' if you reach a point where either of these things isn't how you're feeling. Somehow it breaks the mood and if you say it often enough it may even come true :)

Good luck and well done

Cmoi profile image

Oh Bruuuce, you sound very down on yourself.

Sadly, I don't have a magic recipe for turning you into that person who runs along "looking completely relaxed and seeming like they were enjoying the experience" because, guess what, I've not cracked that for myself. Sure, it happens - mostly when I'm running down hills - but definitely not all the time.

Many of us, I think, have an image of an ideal runner that we'd like to be, or think we should be, and I suspect that only a very few of us will get there. To complicate things further, that image is different for everyone, as is what you might do to achieve it.

As I live in the countryside where it's hills all round, I've lots of experience of those. I'm good at getting muddy and running (read scrambling, hopping, skipping, jumping... or walking) in the forest. However, I'm dire at things that many runners love, such as training, guided runs, apps, running at a specified k/m pace, running fast, running with others, routine, and more. Even now, after almost 20 months of running, I have to tell myself that my kind of running is good enough.

I'd encourage you to give different types of runs - pace, terrain, distance - a go. It should alleviate any boredom and hopefully give you the chance to discover what you enjoy the most. Also, as others have already mentioned, if you always do the same thing at the same middling pace, you're unlikely to get faster.

I hope you find your way to run. Frankly, nobody else's (including mine) is good enough for you.

Anasta profile image

Hi. Can I ask why do you need to be faster ?? I’m a 13min miler- back of the pack runner - I run to clear my head not win any races. It’s my zen space , Why are you running ??

Try and think more positively. At the top of this hill my run is finished.

I have done 3k.

6 months or whatever I couldn't run but now I'm doing x k

Perhaps join a running club that at encourage you to go further or faster.

Keep going for the healthy bit.

GoldenGirly profile image

Hi Bruuuuce!I would say firstly you’re so hard on yourself! You can run and that’s amazing! You can run 3 5Ks a week? Some of the people on here can only dream of that!

I graduated last Feb and like you was starting to get a bit bored so I signed up for my first 5K race and it was absolutely incredible. I loved it and got the buzz back.

I’ve since signed up for a 10 and am following a new program which is both varied and fun. It’s given me a new purpose and focus.

Do you have a local park run? Sometimes running with others can show you how far you’ve come.

I think you’re amazing!

hamit profile image

Stop beating yourself up. Get rid of the pressure and just run. Don't over think it therein leads to the dark side. I know I have been there.. I use Nike Run club to structure my runs, bit chezzy but does the job. Good bit of coaching and wiles away the miles. Enter an event its goal setting, for example I am doing a 10k on my 75th Birthday this year, no pressure just run.


Lonmayloon profile image

Two things that worked for me:-1. Try “Jeffing” the hills, eg run for 90 seconds then walk for 30 seconds (or any combination that works for you) Results noticeable on first run.

2. Look up MAF 180 training. Running at low heart rate eventually leads to increase in pace. This one takes a longer period to show results but it’s worth it.

Wavy-chick28 profile image

Why do we all have the image of these gazelle like creatures running without effort? We all know running takes effort and requires us to put in the work.Some people have said to me why are you running, runners never look happy !

I run for the tranquility and the fitness to keep me healthy as I age, I am nearing my one year anniversary and can say hand on heart this C25k has changed me and made me realise that there are things I can do if I put my mind to it, I’m also the fittest I’ve ever been.

Find your happy place, listen to a funny podcast and just run laugh and smile.

Good luck

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to Wavy-chick28

Absolutely. "Runners never look happy." That's a stereotype I try to break. I make sure I say a smiling good morning/afternoon/evening to anyone I pass whilst running, regardless of how I'm actually feeling. When people reply in kind it gives a little boost.

Bracken2018 profile image

Hello Bruce,I’m a complete novice . I graduated two years ago.

Loved the day I ran 5K and then 7K. Both were great runs and I felt good too.

Then I had an injury and took time out.

For many months now I have stopped and started just trying to get back on track and I noticed many difficulties.

I was not improving at all , I was struggling :( then a person asked about my HEART rate ….

I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, it’s not something I had noticed or seen/ heard of really , and if I had - I dismissed it as I was not a real runner.

A spoke to a trainer , he worked out my minimum ,medium and max heart rate (zones) when running . My resting rate is between 60-64.

I learnt about the zones and what it meant for me and at my age of 71.

I’m restarting to day. There I’ve said it. I will repeat W1R1 many times

until my heart rate becomes steady and I can jog for longer and my heart rate remains in cardio zone. It’s going to be a very slow program for me because I still work and sometime home to late to go out.

I’m aim to achieve 5K by the end of summer and without a struggle once again, no matter how slow , whether I jog nonstop or walk run from now on.

Maybe you could take a step back and be proud of what you have gained since your started.

With all the incredible advise on here you will achieve your final goal

All the best and enjoy your own achievements no matter how slow or fast short or long 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️

You HAVE made progress!!!! Its not about speed-my aim is to be able to run for an hour so im envious of you!! The fact you can run for 30 mins is brilliant. Whenever i feel despondent about running i think back to when i couldnt even tun 30 seconds never mind complete the couch to 5 k.

nowster profile image

Hiya Bruuuce. It sounds like you're bored.

Variety is the way to make things less boring. Don't do the same thing every time. Stuff the hills for the moment. It took me a year or more to get used to running up the swines, and even now I don't particularly like them.

There are points in many runs when you'll ask yourself why you're doing it. I still do.

There is no stigma attached to walking a part of your run. When things get hard even elite long distance runners do a bit of a walk. In fact, some running techniques specifically use run/walk intervals (eg. Jeffing).

Vary the distances and routes you're doing. The sessions I'm currently running span from just over 10 minutes to a little over two hours (very occasionally at a weekend). I have about four routes I regularly run, and a few I occasionally run. Some are harder than others. One is pretty much just a warm up walk to the top of a hill and a run down it by a different way.

Vary what you listen to. Do a run with nothing playing at all. Listen to podcasts. Listen to music you like. Use the time to catch up on a radio programme you missed, or follow an audio book.

It's up to you what you do. This is your "me time".

Lezlie profile image

Hi Bruuuce,

I also don't like hills! They're always killing me. Even if there are no real hills, it's just going a little bit uphill my heart rate increases. As I now read all the other posts I realise that I never tried to do anything against this 'issue'. All of my routes have a 'hill' at the end of my run - and there is always one other 'hill' during the run. So I would need to do those 'hills' better.

You did really well to slow you down in the past. I always try slowing me down - and especially when running uphill - but it does't work! If I say to myself, this run will be a really slow run, it feels slower but often in the end I had been running faster! 🤷‍♀️ I really would like to lower my heart rate during the whole run ... Mentally I now know that for me only the constantly 3 times of running during the week is important, not speed and not really the distance. Long time ago a lot of people told me that I had to increase the speed, but I think everybody should decide for himself which aspect of running you would like to change.

Now I talked enough about myself. I don't know if you are running with music. I realised that music can push me and I always try to run to the beat. Maybe you could try this?

Did you try the C25K+ SPEED intervals?

And about the fun during running. During my run it's also not feeling like fun but afterwards I'm always feeling good and I'm happy been outside and did that run. And therefore I do my runs 3 times a week.

All the best for you.

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