Mistake in Week 4: Week 4 should be 12 mins not... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Mistake in Week 4

StephenGetsFit profile image

Week 4 should be 12 mins not 16 mins!!!

51 Replies
nowster profile image

No, you were right. It is indeed 16 minutes of running in total. Week 1 is 8 minutes and Weeks 2 and 3 are 9 minutes. This is by design.

It is a big jump in the activity, but most folks zero in on the 20 minute run at the end of week 5 and miss this.

Instructor57 profile image

There is no mistake in week 4.

The timings are correct

I don't agree. It needs to modified it's not consistent.

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to StephenGetsFit

The timings of the program have always been the same .You don't need to agree , however, they are correct IT IS NOT A MISTAKE

Just because the timings have always been the same doesn't mean they are correct.

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to StephenGetsFit

Yes, it's a step up , but because you don't agree with them dosent make them incorrect

I have presented a strong case for correcting Week 4.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to StephenGetsFit

I disagree that you presented a 'strong case' - where have you done that?

Chinkoflight profile image
ChinkoflightGraduate in reply to StephenGetsFit

You have provided a strong case to do what works for you, you just need a to find the right voice to express that but C25K is what it is.

Instructor57 profile image

There is nothing to correct!

If it's tough then you are probably pushing too hard .

If you couldn't hold a conversation while running then it's simply too fast ... Slow down

Week 4 should be 5 mins warm up walk, 3 mins running, 3 mins walking, 3 mins running, 3 mins walking, 3 mins running, 3 mins walking, 3 mins running, 5 mins cool down walk.

BrokeyNotSoBusted profile image
BrokeyNotSoBustedGraduate in reply to StephenGetsFit

Think the increase in week 4 is for legs to adapt to more prolonged impact and stresses in preparation for the longer runs to come while minimising chances of injury. It was designed as a way to accomplish 30 min runs in a 9 week period.

Personally I found week 3 quite brutal and wouldn't have been able to do week 4 which was why I ended up on this forum. Even though I wasn't going fast it wasn't nearly slow enough and week 4 was much more manageable as I slowed my pace. If you haven't already I encourage you to read the C25K guide especially about going at conversational pace. The link to the guide is:


If you're still struggling in week 4, I'd suggest a 2 day rest, make time to work through stretches and top up on water. Try week 4 again but much, much slower and see how that goes. If still a struggle, can either do week 3 again or even try your plan above but if your pace is still too quick then you're going to struggle later as well.

nowster profile image

So, are you proposing that C25K be a 10 week programme, rather than 9 weeks?


nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to StephenGetsFit

The increase can't go in Week 5 as that's a consolidation week ahead of the 20 minute run at the end of it.

The structure is very clever.

Weeks 1 to 3 are all about increasing running endurance from scratch, by going from 1 minute to 3 minutes, whilst holding the total level of activity about the same.

Week 4 is a "push" in activity by increasing the longer run interval to 5 minutes. If you did Week 3 it shouldn't feel like a huge increase. This is the bridge from the introductory weeks to the later weeks. It needs to be a "gear change" for the scheme to work.

Most people get through Week 4 without even noticing the step up.

Week 5 has two consolidation runs, one with 15 minutes of running, one of 16 minutes of running, and then extends to the 20 minute continuous run.

Week 6 builds on this, extending the session time towards the 25 minute run at the end.

Week 7 is all consolidation, with all the runs being 25 minutes.

Weeks 8 and 9 are gradual increasing of the duration to the target of 30 minutes.

JacksonBrown profile image
JacksonBrownGraduate in reply to nowster

Brilliantly explained

I just think Week 4 should be changed.

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to StephenGetsFit

If you did just 12 minutes it wouldn't prepare you correctly for week 5. The scheme is very well designed. This jump in duration is important.

Week 5 is less running! How can week 4 be a preparation for less running?

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to StephenGetsFit

It's preparation for continuous running

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to StephenGetsFit

It's not at all "less running". It's more running. Week 4 has 16+16+16 = 48 mins of runs in the week, whereas Week 5 has 15+16+20, which is 51 mins of runs.

The important factors are interval length (which gets progressively longer in Week 5) and recovery time (which gets proportionally less the further through the scheme you go).

Oldfloss profile image
OldflossAdministrator in reply to StephenGetsFit

Maybe take it up with Josh Clark, the founder of the programme.

It is as it is, and it has served, admirably, thousands and thousands of runners over the years since it is conception in 1996.

It is, as the other replies have indicated, also, a carefully structured programme. Intended to get us running enjoyably, safely and injury free, for 30 minutes

It is not simply about the running either.

Running uses more than just the legs. We use our brains.

It is about the discipline in our running, whether we realise it or not. C25K starts to teach us skills which will become increasingly important as our running evolves...where increased speed and or distance may be our goals.

It teaches us about running and more than that, it teaches us a great deal about ourselves.

Don't feed the troll

Name-calling doesn't help and doesn't stand you in good credit. Grow up.

Couch to 5k was put together 26 years ago by an astute runner, Josh Clark, who realised that most training plans pushed people too hard, so they neither enjoyed the process, nor maximised their physical potential. healthunlocked.com/redirect... Millions of people have successfully completed and become runners. There is no other training plan in the world that can make this claim.

He could have structured it with a regular linear progression and the anomaly that you have identified is hard to explain, but by asking participants to become aware that there are variations in intervals, as there may be variations in gradients on your run and as there may be variations in your own energy level, makes the new runner learn to be in control and pace themselves.........an easy conversational pace.......to complete successfully. All this needs to put in context of overall training load over any period within the plan.

If W4 is bugging you then prepare yourself for W5 by reading this. healthunlocked.com/couchto5...

It works..........it ain't broke.........it don't need fixing.

Oldfloss profile image
OldflossAdministrator in reply to IannodaTruffe

My sentiments exactly.. expressed so much more succinctly...thanks you x

JacksonBrown profile image
JacksonBrownGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

Brilliant explanation

Still think Week 4 is too much of a step up

Oldfloss profile image
OldflossAdministrator in reply to StephenGetsFit

Maybe as Instructor57 suggests, you could simply slow down a tad?

It worked for me. But we're all different. If you found it difficult just slow right down. It's about getting out there and learning to love running. It's not a race. You can even repeat the week if you need to. Lots of people do. No-one will judge you for it. I hope you enjoy it more next week.

John_W profile image

Interesting StephenGetsFit ...

You agree on not increasing C25K to 10 weeks.

So working backwards from Week 9 (3x 30 mins) how would Weeks 6, 5 and 4 look to you, assuming Week 7 is still 3x 25 minutes ?

I've always viewed Weeks 1, 2 and 3 as gentle foundation weeks.

Weeks 4, 5, and 6 are 'bridge' weeks that get you used to running without walking breaks.

On the other side of that 'bridge' is the home straight of Weeks 7, 8 and 9.

i.e. Week 3 = 9 minutes of running

and Week 7 = 25 minutes of running

How to bridge that gap ?

PS - if you go at the correct pace, then it shouldn't seem like a jump at all. I've seen it with my own eyes as a run-leader for our lunchtime works C25K courses that we've laid on 8 times - beginners of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Week 4 is not an issue because we control the pace :-)

There is only progression at a consistent rate for no gaps.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to StephenGetsFit

Eh? Can you put a bit of detail on that please?

See my previous posts

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to StephenGetsFit

Your previous posts do not explain your last comment

Replies suggest your understanding of how it should be might not be correct for this particular programme.

Just completed week five following the routine as written and have found every step to be well timed

Cmoi profile image

Hi StephenGetsFit, going by this thread you're persistent and don't give up easily. That can be a huge asset during C25K and subsequently.

However, flying in the face of all the advice given by other runners is much more likely to harm than help your chances of successfully completing C25K.

Sybilw profile image

I understand your frustration but if you look you’ll see how many 10s of thousands of people are on this forum. We all struggle from time to time but could you imagine the chaos if everyone wanted to tweak the system?! Trust that it’s tried and tested and repeat runs / slow down as required. It works. Good luck

Liono profile image

I too noticed the jump and struggled, but looking back it was a) because I was running too fast, even though I didn't think so at the time, and b) because I had predisposed myself to an ankle injury by running laps around my garden during isolation.

In other words, it was due to my own particular circumstances rather than a fault of the programme. The evidence speaks for itself - many, many people go from the the couch to running 5k using the programme and so it undoubtedly works. What also works is the wealth of help and advice available to you on this forum. The game-changer for me was the message to slow down - the ideal pace may well be slower than your normal walking pace, as it was for me! Have you tried a slower pace? You will find it MUCH easier to run for longer and can work on pace after completion.

There is also nothing to stop you repeating weeks or adding in an interim week of your own. I have done both. We are all individuals with our own particular set of circumstances!

I will keep repeating Week 3 until I feel fit enough to try Week 4 again.

IannodaTruffe profile image
IannodaTruffeMentor in reply to StephenGetsFit

The technique you need to employ to develop your stamina, endurance and aerobic base is to run at an easy conversational pace. This means that your blood is fully oxygenated, enabling all the cells involved in propelling you to function optimally. At this pace you will also develop greater density of capillaries over time, improving your bodies ability to transmit the vital oxygen. If you just keep repeating at a pace at which your blood is not fully oxygenated, then you will have slower development.

This is outlined in the guide to the healthunlocked.com/couchto5... along with many other tips.

There is also an FAQ Post here healthunlocked.com/couchto5... specifically about how to get faster, which gives a bit more detail.

C25k is a duration based programme, which works for most people. It is designed to be undertaken at a pace at which you can speak aloud, clear ungasping sentences as you run. That is the only pace required.

Try talking as you run.........it works.

BrokeyNotSoBusted profile image
BrokeyNotSoBustedGraduate in reply to StephenGetsFit

Good stuff, wish you well with it.

Seems most of this was centered around the time increase but was there something specifically difficult in completing it... Heavy legs? Ran out of steam? Too painful?

Few things to consider.Try not to think about the times, just focus around breathing more comfortably and going slow. On completing week 3 you're physically quite ready for week 4 but mental battles can throw you way off track.

There is what is known as toxic ten (with ten being a benchmark figure, could be less or more) which is a period where the body is transitioning to deal with the extra demands for oxygen, increase in body temperature etc.... This is not a sign of you being unfit or incapable and is normal regardless of distance and time you can run but it can play havoc with your mind and can put you off continuing so be positive and push on. You'll be amazed once you break through that barrier that you realise you're much more capable than you thought you were. It's another reason for going slow particularly at the start so you're not placing excess extra demands on your body.

On the pace side of things, I felt I was going slow but there is always slower. Think jogging on the spot as the slowest. The speed increase will come later, this slow pace is for improving not just your legs but your lungs and heart so your "engine" becomes more efficient.

Don't forget rest, stretches and plenty of water (2.5+ litres a day.. even on rest days).

Good luck and I look forward to hearing how you get on.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to StephenGetsFit

Do you consider yourself to be jogging or running? Do you know what your pace is ?


John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to StephenGetsFit

OK, so what is it exactly that you're finding difficult with Week 4?

What's happening that making you feel the way you do?

Is physical? Are your legs getting tired? Are you out of breath at all at the end?

I would say out of breath

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to StephenGetsFit

OK, now we're getting somewhere!

Out of breath is the surest sign that you are simply going too fast. You may think you're jogging, but jogging is a pace where you can talk and chat quite easily. It should feel very easy on the legs and most importantly on the lungs.

If you can't talk easily when jogging, then you're going too fast. So... you should slow down and once you find your perfect pace, you'll have absolutely no problems for the rest of the program - trust me. Physically, it's all about pace . You should aim for a pace that means you can finish the session feeling like you could easily carry on if you had to - yes, it IS possible!

This is nothing to do with your fitness - nothing at all.

Another question: are you trying to make sure you reach 5k in Week 9?

Instructor57 profile image

You can of course repeat a week or a run as many times as you like , However if you successfully completed week 3 then you will be physically ready for week 4.

sometimes it's just the mind that needs convincing .

Remember to keep to a conversational pace , anything more is too fast and may cause you to struggle

Just completed another Week 4 run.

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to StephenGetsFit

Good to hear, well done 👍

Roxdog profile image

I haven't quite unravelled the logic here, but the programme works! Good luck with it, if you're finding anything tough, slowing down will help a lot. I haven't heard people specifically saying they struggle with week 4 and I've been on ghe forum for a long time.

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