Starting running after covid pneumonia - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Starting running after covid pneumonia

natswright profile image
23 Replies

Around 2 years ago, I completed couch to 5k and became quite a good runner, cyclist and did plenty of hiking.

I'm 50 years old.

However, in September 2021 my world was turned upside down when I caught covid and it landed me in hospital, seriously ill. It developed into pneumonia, and respiratory failure. I was in hospital for a month, on complete bed rest.

When I came out I had to learn to walk again, which took a week, and it was 2 months before I could walk 30 meters.

I'm now 4 and a half months into recovery, and managed to do a short jog yesterday.

I walked for 1 minute, then jogged for around 2.5 minutes, walked again for a minute, then jogged, for another 2.5 minutes. I then walked for a minute as a warm down.

The day after, I was pretty tired, although still managed a walk.

I wondered, has anyone else been returning to exercise after illness, and what your experience has been. Do you have any advice?

23 Replies
Instructor57 profile image

Welcome to the forum !Wow, sounds like a tough time . Are you going to re do C25K ?

It would not be a bad idea but it could even take time before you could complete week 1.

Do take your time , be kind to yourself .

This article may be worth a read .

Take care !

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Instructor57

Yep, the plan is to re do couch to 5k, however I have to start small till I get my strength back! At present, I suspect week 1 may be very tricky for me, but in a month, I may be up to it! I'll have a read of that link, thanks

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to natswright

Might be worth building up walking time first before trying the runs .When you can get to a 30 minute brisk walk the that might be the time to introduce a slow jog .

Don't push yourself too hard too early though 👍

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Instructor57

Oh, I've been walking for a while now, and can manage a 20-30 minute walk. The problem is, the walks were not really exerting me or getting me out of breath. A short jog does that.

I remember my physio telling me I need to get breathless, to build my muscles back up!

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to natswright

Sounds like your in the right place to re start then ! 👍

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to natswright

How about going through the first few weeks of Couch to 5K but instead of running when it asks you, you do a very brisk walk? Then when you're happy with that you could start from the beginning again and do the runs as slow jogs?

UnfitNoMore profile image

Welcome back to running. Other than following a plan and not being afraid to break the jumps down and take it slower if necessary, I don’t have much relevant advice. Looking at your recent walking progress and the fact you don’t get out of breath walking for 30 minutes now, you’re at a level where you can deal with c25k by the looks of it.

Enjoy your journey

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to UnfitNoMore

Thanks. While I do not get out of breath, I do still suffer mild post exertional malaise. I can ache after a long walk. I'll keep the jogging short for now, and when I hit another month into my recovery, I may start couch to 5k

Cmoi profile image

Hi natswright , sorry to hear you've had such a rough time, and kudos to you for starting to get back into exercise.

Going by what you posted, I wonder if you might actually be better off trying the structure of the runs in week 1 of C25K, combined with reducing the number of repetitions as necessary, now? That way you'd be doing a 5 minute warm-up walk then alternating 1 minute of jogging and 1.5 minutes of walking for the time you felt do-able, rather than pushing yourself to jog for 2.5 minutes with only 1 minute recovery time.

Reducing the number of repetitions initially would allow you to do a shorter workout to start with, then build up gradually to the full C25K week 1 when you felt up to it. You could apply the same approach to week 2 as well.

Wishing you well.


natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Cmoi

Actually, that sounds like a plan! I'll see if there are any apps that can help me with that..

Cmoi profile image
CmoiAmbassador in reply to natswright

Personally I'd just use the C25K app or podcast, and stop it when I felt I'd done enough! 🙃

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Cmoi

Could do that too!

Cowladyrunning profile image

Sorry you've been so poorly.... I can't give you any advice better than you've had already but just say good luck and well done

nowster profile image

When I was coming back from an ankle injury, my physio told me to do very short jog/walk intervals. 20 seconds of jogging and 40 seconds of walking.

You can do that with a watch, starting the jog at the :00 and slowing to a walk when the seconds say :20, then repeating with the next minute. Repeat for about ten minutes (or a bit longer if you're feeling OK).

Perhaps you could do that for a few sessions?

V230357 profile image

Hi. I also had covid pneumonia. I am 64 and hadn't run since school but did other exercise to keep fit.

After covid pneumonia I was left with a slightly damaged left lung. I don't think my illness was as severe as yours as I could still walk okay but for several months I felt run down and tired.

Along with a friend I started the couch to 5k programme. It was a real struggle but with a lot of encouragement from my friend I got through it. It helped my breathing immensely. I am still running 18 months later..

On xray my lung condition has improved although there is slight permanent damage.

I have recently had covid again but thanks to vaccination and antivirals it was nothing like the 1st time and my lungs weren't much affected.

Good luck with your recovery.. I believe half is having a PMA and determination to recover. It is tough and it takes time but slowly push through and keep at it. Always look back a month at your fitness levels and you will see how much you have improved. Let me know how you get on.

Best wishes


natswright profile image
natswright in reply to V230357

This is very encouraging. I have been told I have some lung damage, however the doctor was keen to point out that I should have enough lung capacity to manage normally.

I'm kinda at that stage, where I do still feel run down and tired, how many months passed before you felt better?

If I catch covid again, I really hope I'm given the antivirals too, they were not ready when I caught it first time!

couchvssofa profile image

Absolutely brilliant progress, well done and all the best

Globojim888 profile image

Well done on your determination to get back up and running again! 🙂 Wishing you all the best! 🏆🏆🏆😀

sigasiga profile image

I'm sorry you've had such a bad time, and I really admire your determination to get back into running again. I can't give you any better advice than others have already done, but I wish you well with whatever plan you choose.

natswright profile image

Ok, so i've invented couch to 1k, to get be back into jogging. Boy did the first run get me breathless!

Stretches then down stairs to warm up

Walk 90 seconds

Jog 60 seconds

Repeat x 3

Warm Down for 5 minute walk.

Rest 3 minutes

Climb stairs

Total distance, just over 1k

I've just caught my breath now! 5 minutes after finishing

Cmoi profile image
CmoiAmbassador in reply to natswright

Well done, that's fantastic! Enjoy your rest day(s).

You might want to add a bit more walking onto your warm-up, if you can - from memory I think week 1 of C25K has 5 minutes of walking before the jog-walk intervals start. :)

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to Cmoi

Yes, after trying this for a few days, the warm up needs to be a little longer, as the first jog is tough, second and third are easier.

natswright profile image
natswright in reply to natswright

Ooops, I did two very long walks yesterday and the day before, yay me. 1.7km. However the aches and pains caused a poor nights sleep. Surprisingly, the following day had less fatigue than I thought, but I still gelt pants.

So The jogging is on hold, while I rest for several days. pacing is tricky and when you make a mistake, you have to take a step back sometimes.

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