Achieved 5K in November, but failed to repeat - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Achieved 5K in November, but failed to repeat

NigelS profile image
25 Replies

OK, this is probably just a mental thing, but I succeeded with the programme and then stupidly decided to have a couple of weeks off. I've struggled to get anywhere near where I was before, then Christmas & NY happened. I'm back at it again now but have dropped back to Week 4 which seems mad.

I do my running on a treadmill (I know!) and am using the backward step to increase the pace. When I completed the 5k last year it was at 6 minutes per km (i.e. very slow), which I am now increasing to 7.5 (which I do find hard).

So this is less question, more observation. I wish I had just kept up the momentum and kept on doing 5k runs, but found the rest really set me back.

Does anyone else have any similar stories and/or strategies?

Kind regards, Nigel

25 Replies
Instructor57 profile image

Welcome back ,

A couple of weeks off won't really make much difference but beyond that you will certainly start to loose fitness (I am in that position myself)

Unfortunately you use it or loose it .....

But I am intrigued to know why you think 6 min/km is very slow ?

I would suggest the opposite.

After a break all you can sensibly do is to have a gentle no pressure jog at a conversational pace but not push it beyond what is comfortable, whether that's 10 minutes, or 30 minutes, 2k or 5k.

The important thing is not to push !

Then continue building back from there from whatever week that equates to using a progressive training program such as the NHS Couch to 5k.

Good luck

NigelS profile image
NigelS in reply to Instructor57

Thank you for this response. I probably think it's slow because if I look up to see what other people on the treadmills are doing, it's easy to see they're going much faster. I realise I'm not competing with them though.

A recent appointment with a cardiologist left me with an instruction to try not to go over 145bpm, so I'm a bit overly focussed on that too at the minute and tend to watch my heart rate like a hawk. Better to be doing it than not though...

Many thanks. Kind regards, Nigel

Parcelrunner profile image

I'm not sure why you think 6 min per km is slow !!! That's galloping through a parkrun in 30 minutes !!!

Take it nice and steady to build up your body, fitness and stamina...... and make sure to enjoy 👍

Cmoi profile image

Hi   NigelS , well done on getting back to C25K!

I know nothing about treadmills, but your post suggests a bit of confusion over pace - how many minutes it takes you to run 1km - and speed - how many km you run in one hour.

A pace of 6:00/km is a speed of 10kph, most definitely not slow! I suspect that you mean you're running at a speed of 6kph, which you've now upped now to 7.5kph, a 25% increase!

Two observations re that: first, and most important,   Instructor57 is right - you shouldn't be pushing. There's no need to try to go faster, it's better for you in terms of building stamina and avoiding injury to stick to a comfortable conversational pace. Second, you mention doing 5k runs, but do remember that you don't have to run 5km to complete C25K. It's three 30-minute runs, usually within about a week, that count.

Maybe re-read the programme guide to remind yourself of all the tips and tricks?

Also, dropping back to week 4 is a good decision, not mad. As I know from experience, it can feel frustrating to build back slowly, but it pays off in the longer term.

Finally - forget what others are doing. Who cares? You don't know their experience or their goals. In any case you can't judge how fast someone's going from the rate at which their legs turn over!

Hang on in there and give yourself credit for what you're doing. Have fun, you can do this!

NigelS profile image
NigelS in reply to Cmoi

Oh, hang on! This is embarrassing... I didn't mean that I am running at 10km/hour at all, but 6 as you suggested might be the case. I was forgetting what actually happened at the back end of the year; When I did the actual last scheduled run, it worked out less than 5k but later that week I ploughed on to the 5k point, which was 50 mins... The pace I was suggesting would have killed me off.... Sorry to mislead. My pace is slow enough to not have to slow the treadmill down to enable the walk phases of the programme... :-)

Cmoi profile image
CmoiAmbassador in reply to NigelS

No need to apologise! 😀

I also agree with Roxdog - as far as possible, ignore the stats and just concentrate on running comfortably for however long that part of the programme asks. Maybe add in some interesting listening if you haven't already, and try an outside run if you can. Hopefully some or all of that will take your mind off other people and the numbers!

NigelS profile image
NigelS in reply to Cmoi

Thanks for that, it's really helpful. When I first started out trying to do C25K (before I knackered my knee and couldn't run for a couple of years), it was outside. At the time though we were living in Crowborough which is the highest point in all of Sussex (hence the name for the region of High Weald). We had a lovely athletic track oriented North to South. Most days one could run in one direction quite happily but then get blasted in the face for the other. That or just getting blasted with high wind and horizontal rain... Anyway, we've moved to somewhere with beaches and miles of fairly flat road surface. I'm going to give it a go...

I'll definitely try having music or podcasts in my ears as I need a distraction from the clock which I tend to watch too avidly. A goal is completing a run of whatever distance and enjoying it.

Many thanks for your help and encouragement.

Kind regards, Nigel

NigelS profile image

Ah, thank you. That's really helpful and has given me the boost to get back to it.

Kind regards, Nigel

MissUnderstanding profile image

I wrote a long post which has disappeared. Luckily Instructor57 and Cmoi have said exactly what I was going to say!

Forget about pace, especially because you’ve been told to keep your heart rate below a specific number. Over time, that sort of lower heart rate training will bring rewards and you’ll be a stronger, fitter runner.

There’s nothing wrong with running on a treadmill-it’s personal preference and if it works for you, brilliant!

Comparison is the thief of joy. You’ve got your own race to run. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing on the other treadmills.

You’re being very hard on yourself and setting some goals that seem incompatible with each other-trying to run faster while also keeping your heart rate low. I’d be focussing instead on enjoying your runs and observing the medical advice you’ve been given by the expert.

Really good luck to you! You’re doing something great every time you get on the treadmill. Perhaps it’s time to start looking for success in different ways from how far and how fast you’re running 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️

NigelS profile image
NigelS in reply to MissUnderstanding

Thank you for this lovely response. I really appreciate your comments.

Kind regards, Nigel

Roxdog profile image

If you finished cto5k and were already running 5k in those 30 minute runs, which is what I'm picking up from your post, then you were not slow at all. 6mins per k is quite fast.The post cto5k phase can be an odd one. I know I struggled with those 30 minute runs after cto5k for yhe first few outings until I started varying my routes.

I wonder if you're unnecessarily giving yourself a bit of a hard time really. A couple of weeks off after finishing the plan is not ideal, and of course it's fine to go back to week 4. But I wonder if your 'enemy' is that you are running quite fast. Maybe if you deliberately slow down you'll be very able to do 30 minute runs.

The thing with treadmills is that the stats are there, staring you in the face all the time. So it can potentially be discouraging,. That said, many people thrive on that personal sense of competitiveness.

I did treadmill running for the first 4 weeks of the programme and did the odd treadmill run afterwards,. On a treadmill I could feel like I was flying along. However, once I moved outside I fell in love with running.

Have you perhaps thought of varying your experience by going outside for, say, a gentle 20 minute run without tracking the speed or distance? Mixing it up might help?

NigelS profile image
NigelS in reply to Roxdog

Yes, I think this is a good point. Many thanks

Roxdog profile image
RoxdogGraduate in reply to NigelS

You've been bombarded with responses I know, but I would forget about 5k completely at the moment. It took me about a month after graduation to do my first 5k as I remember. It still takes me ages to do a 5k, but I can run much further than 5k now, it's just pretty slow!

Sophieatkinson profile image

well done for achieving 5k, you will be able to get there again because you have already done it and week 4 seems a sensible place to start. When you are back to 5k you may find a park run really helps. I find them really motivating and all speeds and all ages have a jog out on a Saturday morning.

OldManRunning profile image

Hi namesake you're doing brilliantly. Plenty of great advice, sense and encouragement above. I think a set of those blinkers the horses wear to stop them seeing the other horses in the race and distracting them are what you need 😂 Remember it's not about what the others are doing it's only about what you're doing and, to be fair you're doing good 😁

Andy6659 profile image

I try to carry on the running at times on treadmill but find it to slow or to fast so have gone back to doing it out in the air but at my own pace as found out now its arthritis in right knee. Oh and my dog thigs the treadmill is for him as well

Bobbydazzle profile image

I was running 4miles 3 times a week in November then I got a calf strain which meant I couldn't run for 2 weeks then the frost came so no running for a week then Xmas etc where I only ran once a week! My first run this year was a disaster! I only managed to run 2 miles and had to walk 2 miles back home lol happy to say things are definitely improving after a couple of hard weeks and I'm loving running again now

My view is that the most important thing about running post graduation is discipline. Getting out there regularly will see a habit established and then you wont be able to bear lolling on the couch.

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to

Habits take a few months to establish, and they're only formed if you do something regularly and consistently.

I've been running now for 2½ years. I still enjoy a flop on the couch from time to time, but I try not to go without a run for more than a few days unless I'm ill or injured.

Duckaroo profile image

i’m intrigued to know what the backward step on treadmill is …and you’ll get there just keep going

javo123j profile image

Nigel. Great that you're back running. I always think any run is a good run no matter how long or how slow. If you keep it up you will improve. Good luck

MrBassmanjazz profile image

Hi Nigel

I was six weeks out after a hip injury last Feb. (Pushing too hard too soon). Physio recommended going back to week 4 and rebuilding. (He's Tri-athlete or Iron Man).

Then, in October, I had a 'Bad Cold'. (Didn't test for Covid - just stayed in for ages). Tried to run after three weeks - nearly killed me. I was doing 3x5ks\week before. It's January and I just completed my first comfortable 4k yesterday.

Don't rush it. I don't think 6 minutes per km is slow. I am about 7.2

NigelS profile image
NigelS in reply to MrBassmanjazz

Thank you. After being challenged on that I realised an earlier comment was quite right and I had misread the machine. It's 10 mins per km and 6km/h rather than the other way around. So it takes me about 50 mins to do 5k, which is not at all easy.

Many thanks though. I do remember when the 1 minute runs at the start were hard... :-)

Kind regards, Nigel

Run5000m profile image

I've just gone back to Wk 4 to start again because in my mind I dont feel guilty for walking, which I know is stupid. I graduated 3 yes ago and every time I have a break of longer than 3 wks I follow the programme. Keep remembering why you started it, you know you can do it, don't beat yourself up. I love the feeling of achievement when I've got up and been for a run. Dont ever watch anyone else, it's your run.

Gildamonster profile image

Hi Nigel,

I’ma new graduate of c25k and in my second week of consolidation. I have been doing my runs outside, but in the past I have run on a treadmill. The treadmill is great for a lot of reasons, but I find that the time passes more quickly for me outside and that I’m also not able to compare myself to anyone. I kind of miss the sense of accomplishment that completing each week of c25k brought. I am finding that listening to music I enjoy, focusing on a comfortable pace, and varying my route a bit are helping me to enjoy my consolidation runs. I like the suggestion above to try a 20 minute run outside without regard to distance or speed. Right now I’m just running the 30 minute time with 5 minute walks before and after without minding the distance while trying to run at a comfortable pace ( though sometimes I do enjoy speeding up the last minute if I have the energy), and I’m finding that I’m actually enjoying my runs and looking forward to them! The most important thing for me right now is that I enjoy the running so that I will continue doing it.

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