Not getting past 20 minutes - what's wrong with me?!

This is my second attempt at Couch to 5k, and I was doing so well this time - got to Week 6 Run 2 successfully. However tonight I went out to do my 25 minute run, and it just wasn't going to happen. I was dying by 15 minutes, and just had to stop at 19. I was about to collapse! Sharp pain in my upper abdomen, overheating, gasping for air... I'm only 24, and not overweight - BMI of 22 - so I'm disappointed in myself that I'm just running out of energy completely.

My 20 minute run on Week 5 Run 3 was pretty horrible - lots of people have been saying they felt they could go on but I was about to be sick by the time Laura said I was finished! Any suggestions, or anyone experienced the same thing?! I haven't had the usual post-run buzz tonight, and my chest is feeling really tight now - two hours after my run and it's still a bit painful when I do a big breath in..


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16 Replies

  • Forgot to add - I'm going as slow as I possibly can!!

  • Hi Louisera,

    Have you ever had exercise related asthma? Is it the very cold windy air that is irritating you do you think? This whole "tight chest" thing is what is pointing that up to me. I struggled yesterday evening when I got home from my long run, coughing and spluttering and I've never had asthma before but I found it hard to get air into my lungs with it blowing a gale past me.

    I know you say you are going as slow as you can - do you actually know what pace you are doing? Can you borrow a garmin before your next run to try it out?


  • I'd suggest repeating week 5 until you're more comfortable, maybe even dropping back to week 4. Don't be afraid to repeat a few runs until you're happy with how you feel.

    Don't worry, it'll come. Progress isn't linear, sometimes is seems like you're getting nowhere, stick with it.

  • cold air in the lungs sounds like a plausable explanation.

    also, what you eat & drink the night before/day of the run can make a huge difference. I normally run in the morning but if Ive had a glass of wine the night before I get really hot.

    good luck. Im sure you'll get over this. sometimes you also need to have a strict word with those "running demons" X

  • Thank you for your encouragement and advice lovely people! I suppose there are a few reasons why this might have gone all wrong... It was VERY cold out there tonight, and the wind was blowing right in my face - does cold air affect your lungs then? I've never heard anybody mention it but that would certainly make sense...

    I think I also need to realise that it might take me a while to make some of the bigger jumps - perhaps I just need to keep running for twenty minutes until I genuinely feel that I can go on further.

    When I started the programme again this time, six months after I quit before at week four, I was blown away by how much fitter I was this time round. I need to keep this in mind I think - there was a time when I thought I'd never make it past 90 seconds without collapsing in a heap... Twenty minutes back then seemed laughable.

  • It does sound as if your lungs are battered, go and make an appointment with your gp, they will help if it is asthma. You need to check like peak flow etc.

    Also I found the long runs a mental challange. My body could do the run, it was convincing myself that I could do it.

    I'm 37, BMI 31 and asthmatic. you can do it.

  • Thanks, I may mention to my GP next time I visit as it's always best to get these things checked out - and I don't want to keep on struggling through if I can get some help from them!

    CaroleC, to answer your question about pace, I'm not quite sure but I think I do roughly 3km in 20 minutes - have marked out the route on Google Maps, I'm not sure exactly how accurate this is. Can I work out my pace from this? I am very slow toward the end but perhaps I'm starting off too quick..?

  • It doesn't sound like you are going too fast altogether, but you could be going out too fast as you say. Try for a reverse split, where you run the first part of the twenty slower than the second?

    Also, yes, you can repeat runs till you feel comfortable to go further.


  • i like this tip - hadn't thought of trying the first half slower and then speeding up a bit but if it gets me further past the 20-minute mark definitely worth it - will have to try it out on my next run. thanks!!

  • Wat Andy said!

    Nothing wrong with you at all don't even think it.

  • I have mild asthma and the cold air definately affects me so I would go get your lungs checked out. Great tips from everyone, I have just completed R2 of week 5 and have the scary 20 minute run at the end of the week!!!

  • The scary 20 minutes run is on Sunday for me. All the best to you!

  • 3km in 20 mins sounds very fast compared with mine - I did 2km in my 20 mins and now I'm up to 25 mins I'm struggling to get to 3km.

  • I find the cold air makes a big difference to how well my run goes, I have mild asthma and always have a puff of my inhaler before I go. But it does get easier with every run. I've just finished week 7 and each run gets easier especially now the weather is nicer.

    Good Luck to you!

  • thanks you guys, this has all been really encouraging. i decided to go back to the beginning of week six and have another shot - i've just done W6R2 tonight and it went so well. i've changed my route so that it's flat, and an open heath rather than dull residential roads, which has made a big difference, and am consciously keeping to a slow jog until i feel confident enough to speed up. tonight i could definitely have gone on for longer and i've never felt that before - usually absolutely dead by the end! wednesday i'm going to attempt 25 minutes again, but if it doesn't happen it doesn't happen - i'm happy to keep doing W6 until it works for me. feeling much better about C25K now - i guess we all have blips at some point!!

  • You will get there. I had a bad week but I know I can do it and you will too. Just keep at it.

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