Do I need to run faster?: I completed C25K in... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Do I need to run faster?

Missmeadow profile image
29 Replies

I completed C25K in January running laps on a field. Since then I have continued running for 25-30 mins 2-3 times a week on footpaths and lanes. Yesterday I ran for 30 mins at a slow manageable pace but my Garmin registered my run as ‘unproductive’ which I took to mean ‘not fast enough to increase fitness’. I am not finding running for 30 mins easy. When I run for shorter lengths of time I manage to include some sprints which my Garmin judges as ‘maintaining’. I have been trying to follow the advice on here for graduates of C25K by running for 30 mins until it feels comfortable before running for longer. I certainly haven’t got to the point where it feels comfortable. Any advice welcome, please.

29 Replies
MissUnderstanding profile image

Congratulations on keeping up the runs! The only thing I’d be asking myself was whether I was enjoying it or not. “Unproductive” or not, it sounds like you had a great run. Sometimes I think Garmin and the like are really unhelpful!

What does a thirty minute run feel like to you at the moment? I actually find it one of the worst runs for me-I much prefer shorter or longer! Perhaps you’re further along that you think you are!

Have you thought about coming over to Bridge to 10k? It doesn’t commit you to running longer but there are lots of us posting about the different sorts of runs we’re doing post graduation/consolidation. We also run a quest each month where you set your own goals and chat about them. I get the impression you’re at the stage of thinking about how you’d like to continue with your runs going forward?

You’re doing great. Don’t let a grumpy garmin knock your confidence!

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to MissUnderstanding

Ok, I've now read it all 😁Your enjoyment while running is the important thing here !

Do what you find fun .

Do not feel like every time you go out that you need to run for 30 minutes , you don't !

I used to love the NRC (Nike run club app) 15 minute recovery runs (I know MissUnderstanding will be on the same page here )

They were great !

Just enough to keep the legs moving which then left me feeling ready for a longer run next time .

Again as MU has said, come over and join us on the Bridge to 10k forum .

Oh, and maybe leave Mr Garmin in a drawer somewhere untill he learns some manners 😁

MissUnderstanding profile image
MissUnderstandingAdministrator in reply to Instructor57

Absolutely! 15 minute runs are great!

Health2020 profile image
Health2020Graduate in reply to Instructor57

I especially like the comment “leave Mr Garmin in a drawer until he finds some manners!”

Instructor57 profile image
Instructor57Administrator in reply to Health2020


Instructor57 profile image

NO !

Well that's the important bit .... Now I'll read the rest of your post 😁

Beachcomber66 profile image

I found the Bridge to 10k pattern really helpful. Separating out increasing pace and increasing distance really helped. I wouldn’t claim to be an expert here, but I found that having one short slightly quicker run each week, helped me build up my overall running and fitness without stress. My forerunner 35 doesn’t do messages, and neither do I 🙂. I would have to switch them off…..but that is just me!

nowster profile image

Mr Garmin is a fickle master. I've been stuck in "maintaining" for the last three months, with only two days at the start of the year when it said I was "productive". It's not particularly helpful.

Garmin's stats love you to push and push and push. That's not good.

However, doing only one type of run is not good either. It's better to have a mixture of short "sprinty" type runs (which the watch will like), a longer more sedate run, and something in between.

The Magic Plan(s) on the Bridge to 10K forum may help with structure.

And to answer your original question: no, you do not need to run faster. You can if/when you want, but you don't need to.

Reggit profile image
ReggitGraduate in reply to nowster

Mine’s exactly the same, I’ve not had anything other than maintaining or recovery since October, despite its VO2max counter increasing.

I’m not progressing, but I’m am….

Missmeadow - ignore that ‘unproductive’ comment, that’s an unhelpful field. Sounds like you’re doing well and ready to peel over the bridge.

Missmeadow profile image
MissmeadowGraduate in reply to Reggit

Thanks. Starting the Bridge today.

John_W profile image

What aspect of your 30 min runs are you finding not easy? Is it physical, in which case, how so? Is it mental ?

Missmeadow profile image
MissmeadowGraduate in reply to John_W

it just feels like a hard slog.

John_W profile image
John_WAmbassador in reply to Missmeadow

So if you try it like this ... maybe a different, better,, more enjoyable experience?

PS - Ignore your Garmin!

Missmeadow profile image
MissmeadowGraduate in reply to John_W

This was a wonderful revelation early on in my C25K journey. Run slowly, landing on balls of feet wearing thin soled, wide in the toes shoes. I’d be struggling even more without this info but thank you anyway.

nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate in reply to Missmeadow

Another convert! 😆👣

backintime profile image

I hate watches and apps, I think they have their place but I don't want them telling me what to do. If you can run 30 mins now and you couldn't before, then that's marvellous. If you are enjoying your run, that's excellent. A watch has no knowledge of your personal fitness, your wishes or desires, or your personal circumstances. My personal opinion is that they should be used as an overall, general guide and trend and not fanatically checked on each run. It doesn't know if you've got the sniffles, getting a cold that hasn't come out yet, whether your heart rate increased because you saw Jason Momoa in the flesh (ok, maybe that's just me :D ), whether you were walking normally along a road or whether you were laughing hysterically with a friend or carrying something heavy, thinking about something that annoys you....

My doctor would need to do more than a blood oxygen and a pulse check to decide how my fitness was improving, so I'm not sure how a watch can do more than offer an opinion. When my son had to have his heart monitored, he had to wear a monitor and pads over his chest for 24 hours and then have those results interpreted by a doctor. A watch is just a watch, albeit a very high tech watch that only measures in one place on your body, not stuck on and can be even affected by sweat and dirty contacts, etc.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now :D Maybe I'm just too old, but I cannot believe that running 30 mins is unproductive for your body or improving your body in any way if it's part of an exercise routine...

To your other question, I only found the previous distance easier when I progressed to doing just a bit more distance, but that's just me. If I'd stayed running 20 mins then it was harder than it being the first 20 mins of my 1 hour run, if that makes sense, but it's all a very personal thing as I see it.

Cmoi profile image
CmoiGraduate in reply to backintime

A watch has no knowledge of your personal fitness, your wishes or desires, or your personal circumstances.

So much this backintime ! I like playing on hilly trails in muddy forests. Mr Garmin does not approve. What a silly-billy!

backintime profile image
backintimeGraduate in reply to Cmoi

Maybe Mr Garmin doesn't like mud? maybe he needs some wellies?

Cmoi profile image
CmoiGraduate in reply to backintime

No wellies! He just gets left at home on the naughty step when he's rude. He came out to play today and didn't seem to object too much to the mud. I could hear him tutting at the fallen trees and branches though. He has no soul.

5krunnin profile image
5krunninGraduate in reply to backintime

Please can you tell me where I need to run to bump into Jason Momoa? Would definitely help with my motivation! 😂

CocoChannel profile image

I have a Garmin, and if I go running three days in a row it says “unproductive” as I’m doing too much 🤣

I find the heart rate feature useful (as a guide) and the cadence (mine is too slow which means I’m overstriding and that puts strain on my Achilles), but I wouldn’t take the readings too seriously. If you’re running and not hating it, you’re doing something right.

Missmeadow profile image

Thank you for all the reassuring and helpful responses. I will look at Bridge to 10K. A local running club is running an 8 week course for beginners and people who want to improve so I think I’ll give that a go to. I definitely want to improve my fitness rather than just go faster for the sake of it.

Cmoi profile image

Hi Missmeadow , I'm with backintime - personally I've never let my Garmin tell me whether my run is unproductive, or maintaining, or productive, or world-shatteringly brilliant, or the direst thing in the universe.

nowster 's right - the algorithm rewards shorter runs when it calculates you're pushing harder. My watch decided I was fitter when I was coming back from injury and only able to run flat 5Ks on roads than when I was able to complete a 46.5km, 1835m elevation trail event. Yeah sure. So nowadays I leave my watch at home when I don't feel like having its verdict, and I don't even track all my runs.

I'd also add that I'd be bored out of my skull doing the same type of run all the time, so I admire your persistence. Mixing things up would, I think, help both physically and psychologically. So do give the Bridge to 10K forum a try!

Most of all, remember that running is supposed to be something you enjoy. For me, improvement and enjoyment aren't defined in terms of running faster - fun is key!

sandbob profile image

I have found that having a sports watch or tracker can be quite un motivational at times. As long as you are putting one foot in front of the other faster than walking pace then you are doing well.

Well done on carrying on with the running and keep it up.

Missmeadow profile image
MissmeadowGraduate in reply to sandbob

Thanks for the encouragement. I am just about going faster than walking pace. Now going out to do some intervals as the rain has stopped.

Kiai profile image

Not sure if anyone has mentioned it above, but running within your Zone 2 HR (aka where you can hold a conversation) is I understand meant to be very good for building endurance (and for indirectly speeding up your faster pace too), so there are benefits to be had in not running faster in all your runs. It’s also a very enjoyable pace because it’s so relaxed (and it’s the fat burning zone so win, win for me!). I normally tend do progressive runs but I’ve been adding lots of slow running in zone 2 (with just a few faster strides at the very end) this year and i’ve found I can keep going and going at that slow pace (for me that’s between 9-10min/km, so what I’d call a slow jog). I’ve kept this going comfortably for 1hr 15mins so far and am slowly building it up. The running club you mention may have some good suggestions on incorporating zone 2 running. Good luck with the running and go at whatever pace you enjoy :-)

Missmeadow profile image

Thank you.

DesertTrailRunner profile image

If I were you I’d ignore all that advice from Garmin. The Apple Watch/activity app, and the polar watch, and the polar apps are similar.

They assume everybody is competitive and wants to run to win races. You get all the health benefits, running at any speed that is faster than you can walk.

The first book I ever read about running by author, Joe Henderson, “jog Run race“ had the excellent advice to keep track of either distance or time, but not both if you want to do it on a daily basis for the rest of your life.

He said the important thing is to cultivate a positive addiction to running. I bought that book in 1976.

I am still running.

Very slowly.

And the last I checked Joe Henderson is still running and still writing for runners publications.

He’s following his own advice.

The Garmin comment of “unproductive“ is if you’re trying to get faster and faster and faster. I assume you’re only doing it for the sake of health, so disregard it.

Missmeadow profile image

Thanks, you’re absolutely right, I want to get fitter rather than faster. My question was really asking whether I need to go faster to get fitter. I’m going to concentrate on mixing it up a bit by including some interval training and gradually extend how long I’m running for on other runs. I’ve joined Bridge to 10K and am also looking at Nike Run Club.

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