Couch to 5K
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Do you need a certain level of fitness for this?

Hey, I'm trying to turn my lifestyle round and after seeing this thought it would be a good thing to try. Unfortunately terrible eating habits and absolutely 0 exercise in like 6+ years has lead me to being pretty unfit and over weight.

As I have no experience with running I was wondering if this is something for people as out of shape as me or should I start with something else and build up to this?

16 Replies

The short answer is "no" dodgerzz, the programme is quite literally designed for people who sit on the couch to get them to 5k. Some people find it more difficult than others, but there is a whole range of ages, abilities, weights, heights, food habits, nationalities and previous levels of fitness. Some find they need to repeat weeks to help them move on to the next week more comfortably, whereas some can complete the programme in 9 weeks.

I would strongly recommend reading blogs on here - the community is fantastic and you'll get a real sense of some of the personal struggles people have had to get here, and stories of great achievements!

I am about to start week 6 and would thoroughly recommend it. The podcasts are great, the online community are even better, and though it is challenging, it is do-able. The feeling you get from reaching the goals is immeasurable :)

Good luck with starting!


it's a great program go for it. i was totally unfit and did 6 weeks with relative ease - i have now broken my wrist and am in plaster si i can't run for 4-6 weeks, but i can't wait to get back in the saddle. you can do it.


Several weeks or so ago I hadn't done any exercise (apart from lifting up a meat pie) in nearly maybe 20 odd years. Due to a previous back injury I was officially "morbidly obese".

I started this program (after checking with my GP) and thought I'd never do it. I "graduated" about 3 weeks ago and now do around 5K three times a week (along with the gym and cycling on other days).

With a radical change in my diet I have also lost around 55lb in weight (and am just "overweight" rather than "morbidly obese").

I can honestly say that the C25K program (and particular the NHS podcast version) is a life changer.

I would also recommend a site like to keep a track on what you're eating and the progress you're making. (It's free and very, very supportive just like this site).

I never thought that I would be "a runner" but I'm beginning to realise that I actually am and loving every minute of it!

So, in answer to your question dogerzz, just start slowly, listen to your body and don't be afraid to repeat a run/day/week if you feel necessary - but give the C25K programme a try!


I agree with everything that has been said above. 6 weeks ago after the first run I thought I would never be able to run 5k, and although I'm not yet there, i have come so far and am now on wk5, r2 and loving it! The sense of achievement is amazing and if I can do it, anyone can. Don't worry if you have small setbacks, I had to rest my knees for 10 days at the end of week 2 as they were really sore and after doing that, they are fine.

Go for it and enjoy (this might take a couple of weeks, but you will!!!)


Hi I am 73 years old, graduated on Saturday. Check with your doc and go for it . Pat


you can do it no matter what level of fitness you are currently at because there's no set speed to be reached. Just go at your pace. Take a couple of days rest when you need to; you don't have to go out every other day, but do get active on the days when you aren't running. Walking, swimming, cycling, dancing will all help your running. Make your walk brisk enough to be just short of breaking into a trot and then your run is just a little faster. Brisk walking will go a long way towards building fitness and stamina. Good luck and keep blogging :)


I thought that having done 5 weeks of brisk walking 3 or 4 times a week would be a bonus. Couldn't believe how hard I found the first C25K session the other day. After the first 5 runs I wondered how I was going to manage to walk the rest of the way home. Today was better. Kept the walk below my natural walking pace and concentrated on keeping the legs as relaxed as possible during the run stages. Managed 7 of the 8 runs (skipped number 6).


Hi,No exercise since leaving school in '85, Tow kids and a very comfy sofa... currently on W4R3 and loving it, i'm not saying there haven't been tough times but there's something about this that makes you want to keep going.


I agree with everything said by everyone! It's not just the physical benefits but the amazing realisation that you can do something that you never thought would be possible. Instead of being a 'can't do' you become a 'can do'. The programme is very well structured and at the end of the day, you don't have to run a marathon, or change the world, all you have to do is 3 x 1/2 hours of structured, guided exercise per week - that's only 1 1/2 hours per 168 hours - not too much, BUT it makes the world of difference. You can do it. And you will gain much more than physical fitness - you'll realise that you don't have to accept and believe self-limiting thoughts - that you can make big changes by taking small steps.


Brilliantly put, Vivwestie. :)


Where I'm still needing to work on fitting it in with life is that it's around 40 minutes out doing the exercise then recovery, brew, shower time. Skip the cuppa and reduce resting and it's still at least an hour's worth.


I was/am incredibly unfit, disgusting really as I'm only 26 but I'm on week 4 run2 and am realising I might actually be able to do this! Week 1 I could not breath, I thought I might have to go to docs for asthma pump or something, my chest was so tight then week 2 my calfs were burning, I thought they were going to explode but my husband pointed out what a shock it must be to my body so with lots of neurofen I've perservered and *touch wood* this week my breathing has been ok as have my calfs....although after run 1 of wk 4 I was so so red. Just got to work on my eating habits!!


You do need a certain level of fitness, it's zero.

I would simply endorse what everyone else has said, speak with your GP if you're concerned and then go for it.

I'm 51, hadn't exercised in 30 years and I'm loving it (did I mention overweight, yes, I have that too).


Hey dodgerzz, I think you have just described me as I was nine weeks ago! :O

Bad back, bad knees and bad feet combined with eating badly had got me into a vicious cycle of not exercising and gaining weight, making all the painful bits even worse! When I started c25k my BMI was well above 30 (still is, but I'm working on it) and I could barely run for a minute. I didn't really think that someone like me would be able to run for 30 minutes in just nine weeks time, but I found a lot of inspiration and encouragement in the blogs on here and I went for it. Nine weeks later and I'm a c25k graduate! :O

I run very slowly to keep it low impact - maybe one day when I've shifted the rest of this 'excess baggage' I'll be able to go faster. Some people manage to run 5K in 30 minutes by the time they finish the programme, but most don't. I ran 5K for the first time last week (a week 9 run) and it took me nearly 50 minutes, but that's something I have never done in my life before and never thought I could before I discovered c25k.

Take it at your own pace. You don't have to run at any particular speed, just whatever feels comfortable for you. In the early weeks, the walking is really important for building stamina, so try to make sure you walk at a brisk pace. Your run doesn't need to be much faster but you will feel the change in action. Repeat runs as/when you feel the need and always take an extra rest day or two if you are very tired. Your body needs time to recuperate and repair.

The weeks fly by and two months is such a small commitment to something that WILL change your life for the better. What have you got to lose? Get out there and give it a go. The amazing boost from completing a run is something you have to experience for yourself. :)


Hi there, I have just done Wk 4, Run 1. My BMI is 36 so I am classed as obese, but I've done it and so can you! I still get bright red in the face and I mean BRIGHT red like puce, but it's worth it. You will feel much better in yourself. My calfs were absolutely killing in week 2, but they're getting better. If I can do it, you can! Go for it!!


Thanks a lot for all the replies, think I'm going to have to give it a shot and see how I do :)


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