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Couch to 5K
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Is it all over before I really get anywhere?

So week 2 run 2 tonight. I'm enjoying the program so far. Early days but running for 90 seconds 6 times is a big deal to me.

However, when taking up this challenge I did have a worry in the back of my mind that my knees may not be up to this.

Due to 3 years worth of abuse to my knees in high impact roller derby, they tend to ache a lot generally but more so after exercise.

I wear knees supports through exercise and they do help at the time but the day after I always find myself in quite a bit of pain and unable to bend, flex, squat etc. And climbing stairs is a bit of a nightmare. Anything weight bearing I guess. They also make a grinding sensation when I flex them.

Tonight after my run I was unable to stretch my leg straight for about an hour as it was too painful. Even now writing this I'm aware of it throbbing.

My mum began with osteoarthritis problems in her knees in her 40's. I'm 36 so not far off and I'm worried I'm genetically pre programmed to develop the same.

I've spoken to the doc about my concerns a number of times and I'm always told it's just general wear and tear.

I don't know if it's just aches and pains to be expected cos I'm new to running and to strap up my knees and live with it, but I also feel that it shouldn't affect me as much as it does at my age.

I'm just feeling a bit down because I thought I'd finally got my teeth into a form of exercise I was really enjoying and now I might have to face the prospect of having to give it up.

I'm just having a bit of a moan really. I'm not asking for answers but any advice (and sympathy) is always welcome. Thanks.

20 Replies

I have problems with my knees so always wear knee supports when I run. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do c25k because of them, but they've been okay throughout and I graduated at the weekend. I wonder if you are running quite fast when you go out? I'm a tortoise(!) which keeps my running very low impact. I also try to stay off hard surfaces, so most of my runs are either on forest tracks or the treadmill. Have you got good running shoes, as these can make quite a difference to your running action and the effect it has on your legs? Have you tried icing your knees after a run and/or taking anti-inflammatory tablets such as ibuprofen? If you are still in pain then it would be a good idea to take an extra days rest between runs to allow your knees to recover. Maybe you could try some or all of these things and see if they help. :) I think (although I can't be absolutely certain) that doing c25k has actually made my knees a little stronger. They still don't like knee bends or kneeling, but they're not quite so unhappy going up the stairs now.

I hope you can continue with c25k as it is a brilliant programme and highly recommended. Best wishes.


Hey Legion. Thanks for replying.

I definitely do not run too fast! I'm a tortoise too. I'm pretty sure I run about the same speed as my brisk walk, ha.

I will take more rest days if I need them. I do think I should've put yesterdays run off til today but I had a running buddy coming along and didn't want to let her down. But as I would agree, I need to do this at my pace and not someone else's. I know this, but I do ignore my own advice.

I'll try icing it too afterwards. See if that helps. But I'm unable to take ibuprofen due to other medication I'm on.

I do run on a hard path but I prefer the even surface as where I run, there's a lot to make you put your foot wrong and result in weird gait or twisted ankles.

My shoes are decent and really comfy. I didn't go through gait analysis but did try umpteen pairs on before I was happy.

But to be honest my knees hurt generally just about all the time. Some days I can deal with it better than others. So I know it's not something that rest will get rid of.

I was hoping that this program will help me get rid of a stone or too that my knees don't need to be carrying, as well as strengthening them. I really hope I can continue with it because apart from anything else I'm enjoying the exercise and the challenge to push myself week by week.

I'll see how it goes after an extra rest day and let you know.

Thanks for all your suggestions.


Maybe you could try an inbuprofen or other anti-inflammatory gel rubbed directly onto the painful area instead, assuming they show signs of swelling (as mine do when they are bad)? I definitely think that losing weight is one of the kindest things we can do for dodgy joints. If your knees are going to hurt anyway, then it's worth giving c25k a try. ;) It might just strengthen up some muscles and support your knees a bit better. Let us know how you get on. :)


I can symphathise, when I 1st went back to exercise after 15 yrs of nothing I had the same problem. My Doc referred me to a physio who advise the problem wasn't my knees (could have fooled me!) but instead the muscles. He gave me some exercises to build up my thigh muscles and much to my surprise after a coule of weeks of watching Corrie on the floor doing leg exercises my knees stopped hurting. I'm only on wk3r2 tonight but so far no knee pain. I'm no expert but the physio exercises worked for me - might be worth checking out?


I found a few weeks into the programme I need at least 2 rest days between runs, i now aim to do just 2 runs a week, interestingly I found that after my latest run, week 6 run 1 the pain was much less! I want to graduate but I think after the programme I will probably stick to interval running. Good luck!


I know what your going through! I got to week 4 run 1 and went home in agony with my hip.

I could hardly walk for a couple of days. I stopped running completely for 2 weeks and felt very depressed and thought i would have to start all over again. But yesterday I went straight into Week4 Run 1 and did it so slowly I was hardly jogging at all, but its fine, my hip aches a little but i'm going to slow right down and leave two days between each run to recover. If I were you slow down even more than you already are and leave a few more days between each run. Good Luck :)


Sorry to hear of your worries. Like Legion, my knees have been getting worse over the last year, esp when climbing stairs. Since starting running they certainly haven't got any worse, they have only twinged (is there such a word?) once or twice when actually running and I think they've improved a bit generally, though I still have ouchy moments on stairs.

I think plenty of rest and recovery days, the programme isn't a race and while I know it's nice to see progress, the progress may be that your knees are getting less painful in tandem with increasing your running. Best of luck, keep in touch!

PS have you tried Laura's new strength and flexibility podcasts? I think they're great, and might help you on your non-run days.


Hey, I completed W2R2 this morning - and actually found it the best one so far. I've got a stupid left knee, agony walking downstairs etc. but doesn't seem too bad running. I'm nearly five stone overweight and know if i got the fat off it would help. My whole family have dodgy muscoskeletal systems, so i'm worried too. Suppose I just wanted to say I know what you're going through, and good luck for tonight. My dad gets lots of relief for his dodgy old knees ( should have been operated on about 20 years ago), by taking glucosamine tablets and honeygar (cider vinegar with honey in water - can get it from Holland & Barret).

Good luck xx


Sorry to hear Hezzabelle. A bit of a worry that your knees hurt all the time, even when you're not running. I would def get checked out with another GP-no offence to yours, but his interest may not be in orthopaedics and you may be doing permanent damage to yourself. I'm on week 2 as well-run 2 tomorrow.

I walked to the shops yesterday after my run-and got a surprise. The walk used to take me 10 minutes going, 11 returning. Yesterday 5 minutes each way! Something must be happening!


Osteoarthritis might just be 'wear and tear' but it is also debilitating in its most severe forms. Ask your GP for a physio referral (trust me, they love having younger patients to help) and the physio can properly assess you. You don't know, your knees might be the ones that a simple surgery or course of injections could help!


Wow! Thank you all so much for all your kind words and advice. Lots for me to think about.

I really want to continue running because I've been looking for some sport/exercise to get my teeth into and so far I'm really enjoying this.

I'm going to give it more rest to start with and try to listen to my body more. I think I've

overpushed myself this week. I've felt pretty much exhausted and under the weather today.

If it does get worse I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and go back to the doc. Though I feel that they've never taken it as seriously as me. I get the attitude of, "well if you do that to your knees what do you expect?"

By the sounds of it I prob need to do some strengthening of the surrounding muscles too so will have a look at the other podcasts. Also fancy getting into some yoga or pilates to help.

So I'll keep at it. With all your encouragement to spur me on. It takes more than that to stop me!

Thankyou all so much.


Have you considered transitioning to barefoot running? Not completely barefoot, but barefoot trainers. I've used them since Week 2 and the theory is that allowing your feet to not be cushioned means that your tendons, muscles, ligaments etc adapt, strengthen and do the job they're supposed to. It puts you much more in touch with your body and is a much more natural way to run. Just a thought.....


Hi Vivwestie, hope you don't mind me butting in... I have supportive running trainers at the moment, and I am about 4 stone overweight and worry that the extra weight is causing the problem. But by running I intend to overcome that and improve my health at the same time.

I keep reading about barefoot running and pose running, which is meant to be better than using heel first method. What made you choose that way, and how long did it take you to really get into the new stride? Thanks.


Hi. I am also 4 stone overweight. I posted on FB that I was starting the C25K and a couple of friends said 'Good Luck' but also that they'd had to stop due to knee and/or hip injuries. So, I was determined that this wouldn't stop me, so I started doing some research and it all made sense to me. Supportive/cushioned trainers have only been around for the past 30-40 years, and they are continually being changed and marketed, but they've done nothing to reduce injury, because they 'disable' the natural functioning of the body and feedback from the soles of the feet. I have to say that I like being barefoot generally and find most shoes uncomfortable, but I ordered some Vivobarefoot trainers and have barely felt a twinge. I now wear them to walk 2 miles to and from work, as they're so comfortable. I realise that they're not for everyone, but I do really think that they encourage and allow the body to operate as it should; to strenthen ligaments and muscles and tendons due to a natural foot fall and so minimize injury, but basically, the key is to wear what feels comfortable. Someone posted a really good docu by the BBC about shoes and sports drinks etc, which is well worth a view.


that's really helpful, thank you. I too spend as much time as possible in bare feet, taking off my shoes whenever possible. (Even under my desk if no-one is looking!)

I think I need to read some more about this and might check out George42's recommendation of Born to Run.

I did run yesterday, squeezing in Day 3 of Week 4 before going out for spontaneous dinner with visiting friends. I ran with a shorter stride keeping my foot fall under under my knee and had no knee pain at all! Not sure now though whether to move on to Week 5, or practice my running style on week 4 again.

Remembering to shorten my stride, think about my knees, keep up my pace to help the shorter stride, and concentrate on my breathing takes a lot of thinking! Tried too hard with my breathing and got confused and out of breath at one point. Then I relaxed and thought less about the rhythm of my breathing, let it be more natural and was fine. Overthinking! lol


Well, that's good news about your Day 3, Week 4 run. It can get a bit confusing trying to remember all the things to do - LOL! But it's a bit like learning to drive, I think. Eventually, it'll all become second nature.

Do read Born to Run - it's excellent, as is Eat and Run by Scott Jurek (I eat vegan so his book was particularly interesting to me). They're good reads in themselves apart from the info and inspiration that they impart.

Whatever you decide to do about repeating Week 4 or going on to Week 5 - have fun and don't give up.


It was the excellent book Born to Run t made me change to bare foot running. I think everyone with an interest in running should read this book, it's very inspiring.


I transitioned because of my knees which after the difficult change of style my knees hurt much less. I actually went out for a walk tonight in my old trainers and my knee pain came right back.

I do think a minimal shoe helps with knee pain.

I do now have foot pain though as the are still being conditioned to bare foot running.


Don't give up or give in love, it need not become a self fulfilling prophecy, just because of what has gone before!! As Laura says, have faith in the programme...and only do as much as you can manage at any one time. Running should be enjoyable, NOT, endurable. Take it steady and believe in yourself, I have and it has made a real difference to my life. xxx


Weird-I had a pain in my right knee before I started the programme (from stopping myself falling downstairs post anaesthetic). It has now gone! I was really concerned as to whether I would be able to do the course at all. Very odd!


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