Some things I found useful

And some things I found useful

It’s a great programme and it works. It’s designed to have you exercising vigorously for the 30 minutes recommended for health and it’s vigorous from the beginning. However, you can do it as slowly as you need because anything is an improvement on what you were doing before!

•Listen to Laura and trust her. When she says “brisk walk” she means it! There’s no set speed to reach but it’s best to make your walk fast enough to be just short of breaking into a trot so that the walking parts are used to build stamina as much as the running parts. The run then has to be just a little faster.

•Exercise on your “rest” days: swim, cycle, walk, dance, anything except run.

•Don’t be tempted to stay on a week until it feels easy. If you’ve done a week, no matter how hard it felt, you will be ready for the next one. The way to improve stamina is to push yourself a little bit more each time and the programme is designed to do that. Trust Laura: she WILL get you through the demands of each week.

• About week 4 Laura will tell you how to breathe efficiently and it’s best to master that as soon as you can. Breathe in by pushing out the stomach to drop the diaphragm and expand the lungs, then breathe out by pulling in the stomach to raise the diaphragm and squeeze the lungs. Most people, when they are asked to breathe in, suck in the stomach and raise the shoulders but that doesn’t increase lung capacity so practise the way described here. Don’t worry about the “four steps to a breath” rhythm Laura mentions. That’s faster than I could do- just go for what’s comfortable for you and fit your breathing to that. Practise “belly breathing” during your walking parts and on your day-to-day walks so your body gets used to it. You will increase lung capacity, strengthen chest muscles and abs, help to avoid stitch and improve stamina.

•Stitch is caused by a diaphragm going into spasm so take control of your breathing to help avoid it. It mostly occurs on the right side because that’s where your liver is and it will be bouncing against the diaphragm causing strain. Although you don’t want to run soon after a meal, try to have something to drink some time before starting your run since that will also help prevent stitch.

•If you are counting calories there are lots of gadgets, apps and on-line calculators which will tell you how many calories you are using. There is not much difference in calorie expenditure between running 5k and walking 5k so make sure the calorie content of any recovery drinks or snacks are taken into account.

•Whatever effects you hope to get, give it time. Nine weeks isn’t very long to build muscle or stamina or convince the body or mind that you have a new hobby and it’s got to become a habit. It will always be vigorous and if it ever gets to the stage when it feels easy, it’s time to increase pace, choose a more challenging route or run for longer so that you can continue to benefit from the exercise value.

•Wear a comfortable pair of running shoes. The price and brand name aren’t important, but comfort is. To avoid wear and tear on joints unused to exercise, try starting in a wet park, canal towpath or on a treadmill and choose a flat route. After a run, take a hot shower or bath to help relax muscles. If you can’t do that straight away, (because you drive to your running venue, for example) then massage your legs and keep them warm.

•Be kind to yourself. Don’t run through pain. Use ice and rest if you are unfortunate enough to get a muscle injury, but don’t go in for cold baths or showers as a matter of course. Warm your muscles and keep them active to avoid stiffness the next day. Refer serious problems to a Doctor.

•Relax when you are running. Don’t have tense knees, arms or shoulders. Don’t hold on when using a treadmill. Breathe steadily . When you have reached your rhythm, focus on relaxing and enjoy the feeling. That’s what’s going to get you out of the door the next time.

•There’s no need to repeat a week even if you think the runs went badly. If you did them, you are ready to move on. Just slow down next time and try the “brisk walk” tips. If you are injured, don’t run. If you have to miss many runs because of injury or illness, where you start again will depend on how fit you were when you were forced to stop. The fitter you were, the faster you will recover fitness when you start again. You may not be able to complete the whole 9 week programme at the same speed you started at. That doesn’t matter. The podcasts are designed to have you running for 30 minutes and you will be doing that by week 9. Keep calm, Slow down and Carry on!

•Run because you want to. There are lots of reasons for starting c25k but it is hard work and you have to want to do it. When it’s over, you might decide running is not for you, but, then again, you might decide that running gives you just what you need and you go on to greater things! There are lots of inspiring blogs here telling of people whose lives have been changed by the programme, and most agree that it took determination, stoicism and tenacity. There will be runs which go well and those which don’t (especially as you get to the weeks where all the runs are long) but remind yourself of what got you going in the first place and put bad runs down to experience and just carry on.

•Use the blog. There are lots of people here to give you advice, encouragement and help.


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28 Replies

  • well done great blog.

  • Fab advice here happierswimming. :)

    I have to say I have always found your advice really helpful. When I was struggling with my breathing in the earlier weeks you came along and taught me how to 'belly breathe' and whilst I have struggled to do that on my last couple of runs (not sure why) I do try and practice the technique, either at my desk, at home, out walking the dogs, on my warm up walk etc etc.

    I hope people reading your tips take them on board, especially in the earlier weeks of the programme, as they really do help.

    Thank you for being a big part of my C25K experience, you are awesome! 8-) :D

  • thank you very much for your feedback :) I've followed your runs with interest and it's lovely to see how much you have progressed . I am so glad you are proud of yourself :) Happy running !

  • Thank you happeirswimming, I am bookmarking this page!!!

  • Excellent tips and advice. Useful for all stages of the plan. Thank you.

  • Very useful - is there a way of highlighting this blog for anyone just starting out ?

    I must also say that I have found your descriptions of the breathing technique very helpful and easier to follow than trying to learn from the podcast - thank you for explaining it so well. I found it most confusing at yoga tonight when we did an exercise that involved pulling our tummies in as we inhaled and pushing them out when we exhaled !

  • Thank you for your feedback - I appreciate it. :) (You can tell I was brought up in an education system which required me to write an essay after a learning experience!) I don't know how to highlight it but I have tagged some of the advice, (breathing, injuries etc) which I hope will be most useful. You could try bringing it to the attention of JR21 at admin and see if he can highlight it, perhaps.

  • A great blog. But I might say that repeating a week is often beneficial; even if it is just 'all in the mind' and the runner just needs the extra confidence; repeating won't hinder and may just help.

  • Great blog, that should be issued to all new starters as podcast week zero


  • That's very gratifying! Thak you ! :)

  • Excellent advice!

  • Great blog, still occasionally struggle with breathing...will have to try belly breathing again. Thanks

  • Thanks for advice :)

  • I shall watch your progress with interest, OliversDad :) Anyone who defines himself primarily as a Dad has my vote! :) Happy running and I bet it won't be long before Oliver is joining you :)

  • Thanks HS. He is nagging to come already!!!!

  • This is wonderful for a total newbie like me. Thanks ever so much happierswimming.

  • You're welcome- happy running! :)

  • Brilliant advice especially on "rest" days. I do yoga or swimming on days between runs which eases aching calves.

  • Great advice, especially about the breathing, will try harder!

  • Well said that lady! Still getting the hang of the breathing, but find I run better when relaxed and go into my own world, if that makes sense? Ignore everything around me until I need to pay attention, cars, dogs people running towards me! Lovely feeling...

  • Great blog, all of which rang true. Not sure I've mastered the breathing but as long as it keeps coming in and going out agaian I must be doing something right (and am now up to 10K !!)

  • Really good advice! Definitely something to think about. :)

  • Fantastic advice as always happierswimming. When I have been down your supportive words have lifted me up again. thank you. If I had that on day one I would probably be further on I havent blogged for a while. I had a few wobbles on week four and again at the start of week five but I am pleased to report that I completed W5R2 this morning (Just before sunrise too and it was a nice time of day to be running)I have only just mastered the correct breathing techniqueand it does it make a big difference. I am planning my 20 minute Run on Sunday evening. Here is hoping I dont fail on this one!

  • Thank you! You are certainly ready for a 20 minute run and I look forward to hearing how you get on- it's 2 runs of 8 minutes (which you've done) joined with the interval walk- no problem! Enjoy! :)

  • Great advice , thank you for this. All relevant and helpful. Thanks again for taking the trouble, happierswimming. I'm hoping to add other days exercise as I've been too busy to fit it in so far. I've been intending to do it all t his week so must deffo fit it inn next week! Sitting at a sewing machine doesn't count I suppose/

  • Wow fantastic blog, really helpful will use these tips :-) xx

  • Very thorough blog and helpful advice, happierswimming. I've been struggling to keep up with Laura's 4-steps-to-a-breath concept and posted a question looking for advice. I was told to look up your blog and will do my best to try the belly breathing technique, though it sounds backwards to me. Thanks for the advice. W3R1 tomorrow.

  • I just left a reply on your question so I hope it helps! I know everyone breathes in by pulling in the stomach but that doesn't expand the lungs so do persevere with belly breathing which will soon give you increased lung capacity and help prevent stitch. Good luck and happy running :)

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