Couch to 5K
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How to run for fun?

I quite enjoyed running during the 9 week plan as I had a target, run 5k. I achieved that about 5 weeks ago and so my next target has been to hit 5k in 30 minutes. I'm achingly close to that now (30:41 this morning) but it's starting to lose it's lustre.

I'm now only running approximately twice a week (Sunday & Wednesday) and even they are under duress.

I'm quite competitive in pretty much everything I do which is a trait. I keep trying to push myself to hit 5k in 30 minutes so each time I'm running, I'm trying to run faster and on the whole, I am. My average pace is speeding up nicely, but a side-effect to that is that I'm getting tired quicker and have to stop two or three times during a run to have a breather...

and I hate stopping whilst running, it makes me feel like a cheat.

My wife keeps telling me to relax and just run for the enjoyment, Don't try and hit a certain distance in a time, just go out running for the hell of it.

How can I do that? How can I disregard that competitive streak and get back the enjoyment?

Any tips would be appreciated :)

21 Replies

I'll have to disagree slightly with your Mrs. :-)

Personally it really helps me to have a goal, so I can measure and see that I am progressing. Maybe differently from you I don't mind it taking me a while to get there, I have done some of the runs so far for a second or third time if I felt I needed it. But as long as I know I am working towards my goal, that makes me happy.

Are you entering any races? I was on such a high after Race for Life 5k, I have now entered one at the end of September for 8k. So even if I am not really feeling like it, I'll get my bum out there because I know that I need to be ready for September.

Hope you find your mojo back, sorry I couldn't advice on what you were asking for. :-)


uhh, I'm pretty sure that should be Mr ;)

Yes, a goal is great to work towards and it does help keep me motivated, but sometimes, I find that competitive streak takes the fun out of 'just going for a run'. I can't seem to switch off and just hit the road to unwind, it always seems to be 'lets try and beat my personal best'.


I was referring to your wife - therefor the Mrs. :-O :-)

Any particular scenic routes you can take nearby? Maybe do that once a week leisurely and do a couple trying to improve and progress?


Gah! I should have read that a bit more clearly. It's Friday and all I'm thinking about is hometime! My apologies ;)

I think you're right. There's no 'real' scenic routes nearby (I live in London) but there's plenty of countryside less than 15 minutes drive so I may go exploring at the weekend, see what I can find!


Go do the parkrun on a Saturday, you can race everyone and satisfy that competiveness craving.

If you are looking for lovely countryside High Elms Country Park near Oprington (so not that far from you) is goregous!


A park run is on the cards but I'm struggling to hit 30mins running solid. I always seem to stop for a brief walk, maybe 100m or so. I want to get out of that habit before doing a parkrun. Soon though :)

And High Elms sounds good. Looks to be 20mins in the car. Is it a big park? paved or dirt trails?


dirt trails


If you've only been running for 14 weeks it's not very long for your mind and body to think of it as a habit and that's what needs to happen before your body begins to miss not going out. If you want to run faster, try intervals and that will give you something to work on. You don't need to walk, just run at your preferred pace and then speed up for a few seconds- just like you did when you were walking and running at the start of the programme. And if you're competitive, why not join a running club?


I have thought about intervals, it seems like a good thing to do to build up speed. At the moment, if I feel I've got a sudden burst of energy, I do speed up for 15-30 seconds and then wind it down again and I've noticed certainly on my last 3 runs that my average page has gone up which kinda shows the intervals are working. either than or I'm just getting fitter.

The Running club sounds like a good idea and there is one quite close to here but as I said to AliB1 above, I still stop for a breather and walk for 100m or so from time to time so since graduating, I don't think I've run a full 30mins yet. I know I can do it but just having trouble so I want to build on that and make sure I can do 30-40 mins solid before I go see the guys & gals at the local running club.


Hi! I have been doing fartleks (love that word!) and intervals and noticed my 5k speed has really improved! For fartleks, I use the week 9 podcasts and just go as fast as possible and slow to slow jog after 10 minute warm up. Intervals I speed up after 10minutes for 15 minutes then run slow for last 10, really just mix it up a bit? And new post 5km podcasts soon! :)


yeah, really looking forward to those new podcasts, I think they'll help with my motivation!


I've managed to knock 2 minutes off my 5K time but it has taken me about 6 weeks. I've done it by mixing up my running. Still trying to do 3 runs a week but different distances and speeds.

1. short mad dash = 3.5Km as fast as I can do it.

2. Intervals with good 10 minute warm up and cool down and intervals consist of steep ups and downs in short'ish loops which I do 3 off. The overall distance of that run is about 6.5Km but I don't concentrate on overall time as I'm too knackered to jog back quickly, its usually just a trot.

3. 5K which I have been trying to reduce from 34.40, its now 32.40, also did a slightly shorter run of 4.78K this morning in under 30 minutes.

So mixing up my runs is proving to be more interesting and much more rewarding. Give it a try, can be any sort of mix to suit you and your time available. Good luck and keep on enjoying it thats the main thing. :)


That sounds like a plan! I think I'll make the first of my weekday runs a short dash, the second as a 5k and then my weekend run will be longer. I think doing that will take away the monotony of it for me. I've stuck to the same route, same streets pretty much since I started in April.


I'm struggling with this too mrqwest. I'm doing one short run, today it was 3.5, one moderate and one long run with leg strengthening exercises on other days. My 5K test run is next week.

The long run is the more enjoyable as I tell myself "it's distance today, time doesn't matter, you just need to keep going" I still can't help myself checking the time though and if anything I seem to be getting slower!

Try not to lose heart, keep going, keep trying and do what is best for you.


I am with the young swimmer there, what about a local running club?


It's very hard to change your natural instincts when you are a competitive person. It took me 9 months and mainly because of health issues to switch my mind set. Not that I didn't run for pleasure or fun before, but competitiveness would almost always take over. If it was rush our traffic I would pick a slow moving car or van to race or I would pick a person walking in the far distance to take over or if I wasn't happy with my time from the day before I would be back out the next day to try to beat it even if it meant running 10k 2 days in row.

I think 9 months was enough time to get to the stage where I wasn't going to add any more distance and my speed wasn't going to improve much more so the competitiveness finally wore off. So not really any advice there but more, if it is in your nature it can be hard to change how your brain thinks. Running = race is how my brain seems to be wired!

Something that I changed in my routine this year that seems to have made things a bit more fun is going for shorter 20 minute runs. These are not exhausting and after about 4 weeks my speed picked up significantly. I also managed to cut just over 2 minutes off my 5k PB which I set last year getting it to 30:42...not quite under 30minutes, but the closest so far!


I went for a run this morning with a different tactic. Run in the complete opposite direction of what I"m used to. I've been running the same route since I started week 1 3 or so months ago now. I live in a hilly area (I think it's hilly anyway!) but there is a residential area about 8 minutes walk from here which is on a plateau with an odd incline here and there. I tend to aim for that area run around and use the hill there as a warm up / cool down.

The problem there is that now I've run that route 40 or 50 times, I know where the km markers are. I know that when I get to a certain bend, RunKeeper will tell me i've run 5minutes and covered 0.8km. When I approach a cetain junction, I've hit 10minutes and covered 1.58km and so on. The problem is I am always trying to push a little harder so that first 5minute pace message says I've covered .9km and I'm always doing that regardless of whether I want to or not.

This time, I ran in the opposite direction. It's hillier, but it's un-trodden paths for me. No distance markers to compare with, no landmarks to aim for... just me and the road.

... and do you know what? I really really enjoyed it.

I had to stop for a walk after 2.2km which didn't phase me as the last km or so was uphill on a gradual incline (a 30m climb) the next 3-400m was uphill still, but on a steeper incline (rising another 10-15m). The next km was downhill which was a lot easier. I'm getting used to downhill runs now.

I them came across a forrested park space. I've been looking for a forest-type area close by with either paved or well-worn dirt trails and i thought this was it so I headed in through the gates at a slow pace.

After 200m of running on soggy dirty trails with roots and trunks poking out, the incline got ridiculous. I walked up slowly and had to stop half way for a breather. It levelled out soon after but the ground was still in a terrible state so I walked for a couple of hundred meters to an exit and back onto the pavements and started heading home.

By the time I got to my neighbourhood, I was on 4.5km and wanted to hit 5k to remain consistent so took a detour down some avenues and before I knew it, I had clocked up another km and I was at the top of my road.

I felt like I could run further which was great as I've set myself a target of 7.5km by mid-August. I was mindful of my family at home being awake (I head out early when they're asleep) so instead of running another km or so, I walked home.

Total distance was 5.5km, in 36minutes or so, total climb was 63m. Overall, I'm pleased! My new plan as I mentioned above is to run twice during the working week (Mon-Fri). One will be a shorter 3-4km run focusing on speed / intervals. One will be a 5k at normal pace, and then my weekend run will be an 'exploring run' where I go where I fancy, no speed involved.. just going out, experiencing the local neighbourhood, finding green spaces and generally being nosy :)

Thanks all for your help and advice, I feel like I've got my mojo back :D

— A very happy Anthony


Yes a change of route is great to keep things interesting. I try to do a distance run once a week that I don't really worry about pace for. It's fun and I can legitimately slow a little as I know it's going to be a long one (last night 14k). good to see you are enjoying it more!


14k!! That's awesome. How long did it take you to reach those sort of distances?


Glad you got your mojo back. I've been doing 5km on the treadmill (boring personified)... then speed work using loloburn (app), which is about as much fun as you can have on the treadmill, then back to run again, so I've given myself some variety and am still keeping to 30 mins of solid running...the intervals are helping with speed and the long run keeps the endurance. Glad you found that variety spiced things up a bit for you too.



It hasn't helped that the guy (ultra-marathon runner) in our office has planted the '10k race' seed in my head so I'm now contemplating training for a local 10k race which takes place in three months time.

If the weather holds out tonight (I ran yesterday and I don't run on Thursdays), I might pop out for another sharp 20-30minute run and if I'm really lucky, I want to attempt a 7k run at the weekend!


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