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Couch to 5K
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For graduates: How did you find the big leap? (Week 5 Run 3)

Started the Couch to 5K programme four weeks ago and, with one exception, have been diligently running every other day. Today, I completed Week 5 Run 2, which took some effort by was accomplished. I must say, though, that I have some trepidation about Week 5 Run 3, as it looks to be the single biggest leap in the nine week programme. Going from an eight minute run to a twenty minute run -- that's an increase of 150% in individual run time! Nowhere else in the programme is there such a leap.

In preparation for this, I thought maybe I should ask the graduates (and those further along than me): Did you find that you were ready for Week 5 Run 3 when you came up to it? If not, what did you have to do to overcome this challenge?

Thanks, in advance, for sharing your experience!

22 Replies

The challenge is mental. You put on your shoes and get out there, and it's really weird, you just kind of settle down into the run and do it. Go nice and slow, you'll be fine! You might want to think about taking your own music, too, unless you're really into Laura's. I make playlists of songs timed to last for however many minutes and then I know, when Coldplay or whoever come on that's the last song and I'm nearly there. (Just back from W9R1)

Good luck!


I failed at my first attempt, but a few days later I set the treadmill to a bit of a slower pace and tried again, and that time I did it. Definitely recommend going nice and slow!


I got through it by being too stubborn to stop and walk when my body said enough ;-)

I'd second Mitts' idea to make you own playlist. I really disliked it when Laura told me I was halfway through the run as I was sure I'd run for longer! I think she gives a 5 minutes to go time check as well. If you feel reassured by these time checks, then fine, but I didn't like them.


It's definitely more of a psychological leap than a physical one. Trust Laura, trust the programme, have faith in yourself and you'll be able to finish with a huge sense of achievement! Like the others have said, take it easy, you can always up the pace near the end if you feel you can. Good luck!


if you check out the tags for week 5r3 you will see how many others find this run daunting and then succeed. I thought of it as 2 runs of 8 minutes(which you've already done) joined with a shorter 4 minute run. Just go slowly. I had to slow my speed twice during the nine weeks, starting off far too fast at first and then slowing down as the runs became longer. Now I'm busy building up the speed again, confident that I can manage to kleep going for 40+ minutes. You'll get there :)


Ah, hadn't realised that there was a tag specific to Run 5.3 -- mea culpa! In my defense, I only joined this site today (and with the goal of asking this question as my intent). :-D

Anyway, thanks for the tip. I've been reading through some of the posts there. It still sounds daunting as anything -- basically, it's both runs that I did today BUT with the rest in-between turned into a run. (Eeeeeep!) Guess we will see what happens on Saturday, huh? Wish me luck!


I'm not a graduate and I have this run coming up on Sunday so I can't speak from experience but for what it's worth here's how I intend to approach it.

I like to know where I have to get to on my course. So I've been working out from my current pace what location I have to reach according to Google earth and memorising that spot so I know where I have to run to (street view is a wonderful thing). It's never 100% accurate but it's within 15 - 20 metres which is good enough.

Since I've been using this technique I've found it easier to keep going.


Just finished it! I don't know, maybe I ran too slowly... but I found it to be much easier than I had expected.

Don't get me wrong, I was feeling it whilst running -- especially around minutes 15 - 18. But the last two minutes flew by, passing before I thought they were even half over, and by the time the five minute cool-down walk was done, I felt fine. Other than needing a shower, I feel okay now -- not like week one, where I would get home feeling knackered and need to sit for awhile to recover.

Good luck with your run tomorrow!!



I've just done Wk5 Run1 today but the big thing playing on my mind is Run3, it seems such a huge leap as you say.

I'm doing mine on Monday, good luck Ironmatt.

I keep adding some extra power walking after the last jog (I can't call it running) to try and build up extra strength. I'm always trying to do a bit extra than Laura asks for as I know she'll push me too far one day and I need something in the bank for that day, which I think is Monday Run3

We can do this!!


Hi, subhyst!

Sounds like you and I are in pretty much the same place right now, which is kinda cool. Advise from those who have already made it through is a Good Thing... but you and I can also cheer each other on as we go.

Congrats on getting through Week 5 Run 1! I approached that one by reminding myself that the runs were the same length as what we did last week, no longer. Then I approached Week 5 Run 2 by noting that it was the same as Week 4 (runs of 3 min, 5 min, 3 min, 5 min), with just the ninety second recovery times removed. That made it seem less formidable. After finishing Week 5 Run 2, though, I reminded myself that EACH of the two runs was, individually, as long as all the running in Week 1 put together. That made it seem like more of an accomplishment over where I was a month ago.

Week 5 Run 3 is still daunting, though. Everyone seems to think that we're ready for it. Guess I'll find out on Saturday, and you on Monday. Good luck!!!


Me too ish, I'm planning to do Week 5 run 2 tonight and then, all being well, I will do run 3 on Monday.

I think it's the "seeing if I can do it" element that spurs me on so I'm quite excited to try these next two. Bet I won't be while I'm doing them!

Good luck.


Looks like a lot of Week 5 Run 3s coming up! I just finished mine today (Saturday), Chewy is tackling it tomorrow, then you and Subhyst do it on Monday.

As I wrote to Chewy, above, I may have been running too slow or something, but it turned out to be much easier than I had expected. Not "easy", mind you, but "easier". Looks like the plan really does work! ;-D

I hope Run 5.2 went well for you, and best of luck with 5.3 on Monday!


Hi IronMatt, Chewy and Mrs42,

Well done IronMatt - I'm trying to believe you honestly!!!!!

I'm off for Run2 shortly but had to have breakfast, I'm dieting and woke up starving and thought I needed some fuel before starting.

Good luck for tomorrow Chewy.

I haven't downloaded week 6 yet, don't want to get ahead of myself.

Well done again IronMatt.


Thanks! Good luck with Run 5.2 this morning! It's a nice step up from 5.1 and, after Week 4, the change from five minutes to eight comes quite naturally.

Speaking as somebody who has been on the other side of Run 5.3 for all of about six hours, I can say that it is doable -- really! It doesn't seem that way beforehand, I know. In fact, even when Laura told me to start, after the five minute warm-up walk, I was skeptical. Just pace yourself and you can make it through.

Laura let's you know when you've been going for five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes, and eighteen minutes. Plus whn you've finished, at twenty minutes, of course. At five minutes, I was okay. By ten minutes, I was tired. By fifteen minutes, I was really feeling it... but then something odd happened. The last two minutes went by really quickly. Laura gave the eighteen minute notice and I was bracing myself for the last bit. I assumed about forty seconds had gone by... and she said we were done! Strange!

Also, one thing that you may want to pay attention to is how quickly you recover when you finish the run. I was amazed to see that by the time the five minute cool-down walk had ended, I was feeling fine. That's a huge contrast to Week One, where I got home and collapsed into a chair after each session. More than anything else, I think that's a clue of how much progress has been made.

Hope you have a good run today! You can do this!!!



I did it and finished it off with a 1 hour power walk!

I had to do the power walk as I owe the Manager of THE BANK OF CALORIES, so had to pay him back some calories and jog for Laura.

Did NOT enjoy the 1st 8 minutes, but the 2nd 8 were slightly better, that's always the way with me, takes me time to get anything near a rhythm, which is why a one off 20 mins is still so daunting.

Anyway my motivation for Monday is sticking 1 finger up to my physio, who said I'd never be able to run again cos I've had 2 lots of spinal surgery with a wire cage tied around my lower spine. If the hospital wasn't so far away I'd run there and really show him my finger. Lols


Go you!! You're ready to tackle the Big One!

However good you may be feeling now -- and I bet it's plenty good -- just imagine what you feel like on Monday, when Laura congratulates you for finishing twenty straight minutes!

I'll be cheering for ya!


Can't quite believe it I did it, 1st 10 mins not so good as I knew would be the case, 2nd 10 was good-ish for me but was glad when Laura piped up with 18 done 2 to go. I even gave her an extra 2 before I got home.

Really pleased I even overcame howling wind and rain, but big cheesy happy grin. High 5 to me.

Like you said recovery was good, can't quite believe it.



Feels great, doesn't it?

I did Week 6 Run 1 today, which was fine. Had to fight the temptation to go too fast; after running for twenty minutes, going for five doesn't feel like a challenge.

It occurred to me that I have only one run left now (w6r2) where there is a walking interval in the middle. After that, it's all pure running! And you've just two runs before you reach the same place. You can do it!!


If you saw me you would not describe it as pure running.

I've worked out my distance on the walk, jog,run site and it was only 2.38k in 20 minutes, which means I have to almost double my effort/speed in 3 weeks.....uhm pauses for thought...good job Laura can't see my pace.

I've now worked out my 5k circular route for wk9. How sad is that.


Ah, but you're being a bit too hard on yourself!

I have not yet mapped out my own runs but, like most of us, I suspect that you and I will both need to work on speed once we have the stamina to run for thirty minutes. That's fine -- if you look at the Couch to 5k+ page, you will see that even Laura the Great was running less than 5k in her thirty minutes at the time that she finished the plan. And that's what the "speed" 5k+ podcast is there for!

Even so, you don't need to speed up quite as much as you think. You said that you need to double your speed because you ran 2.38k in twenty minutes. At the same speed, though, the final runs -- which are thirty minutes -- will take you 3.57k. To get up to 5k in thirty minutes, you will eventually need to move 40% faster. Not an easy task, to be certain... but still not nearly as bad as trying to double your speed!

In any case, don't worry too much about that now. I know that I'm not giving it any thought just yet. For now, the goal is to get up to running thirty minutes straight. After that, I can turn my attention to sustaining a speed of 10kph during that time.

One final comment: You just ran for twenty minutes! Without stopping! That deserves some serious credit -- bet you couldn't have done anything close to that one month ago! (I know I couldn't)


Laura the Great - made me laugh. Loving your stats, who needs a calculator with you on the boards - thanks...... oh the elusive 5k in 30 minutes will have to wait a while then.

So I did the route today of 5.2k (to be precise) and it took 43 mins including my walking fast so there's 13 minutes to shave off.




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