Quick march with Laura from your Italian corre... - Couch to 5K

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Quick march with Laura from your Italian correspondent

After three postgrad runs to Maroon 5, The Stones and One Direction, I thought I'd have a go at stepping stones. Well, I did it, and it left me absolutely knackered! I remember reading that several people found it unchallenging. Well, I take my cap off to them all, as I found it bloody hard work.

A bit breathless, and welcome back to that scratchy feeling in my lungs that I put behind me after, what, week 3? Not to mention that nauseous feeling around the 25 minute mark. But the 1, 2, 3, 4 is extremely helpful and it's a question of no pain, no gain. This is certainly doing me good and is a step up from my somewhat relaxed 30 minutes with Spencer Davis, Dexy's Midnight Runners and the like!

Thank you NHS, and thank you Laura!

PS How should I best use this? Alternate with speed and stamina and the Kinks? All suggestions welcome and have a lovely Sunday.

26 Replies

Hi Delia,

Well done on doing your own thing! I think Stepping Stones goes to show how different we all are. I found it a bit "easy" (meaning that 150 bpm is unnaturally slow for my short legs if I want to get anywhere) the first time I did it. Second time was better - couldn't say why. Speed was about right for me speed-wise and is thankfully short - very good in the morning before work! I did Stamina yesterday for the first time - 2 weeks afer graduating and with fewer runs than normal this past week. Stamina is definitely tougher - I got there but is was quite a workout!

My suggestion to you would be to continue as you said, alternating Stepping Stones with Speed and the Kinks, then think about adding Stamina in a couple of weeks. No pain no gain as you say - 'fraid that's how it seeems here too :-)

Have a lovely Sunday -all is much calmer here this morning after torrential rain all yesterday and an incredible wind storm overnight. We finally have blue skies! Why did I run yesterday?



Hi Ann, yeah, I always feel such a twerp when I read about people finding things easy, but right, as you say, we are all so different! The weather here is beautiful, although I run early when it's still damp from the night, but then that's the space life allows ;-P I actually feel tired but great, as though i've done a proper work out, not so much because of the speed, but the tempo, keeping up that 1, 2, 3, 4 and never flagging, that's obviously the key. Buona domenica to you too, Delia xox


I agree - variety is the spice of life and all that! I found Speed the hardest of the 5k+ podcasts. Before I did it I had very conceitedly thought, well, that's very short, I'll carry on to the end of my half hour afterwards... could maybe even do it twice...' Well - let's just say Laura showed me different! My legs stopped running the identical second she said 'that's it' or whatever, and I grabbed the nearest tree and held on for a moment before 'walking' (my Granny in Scotland would have said 'hirpling' :-D ) out of the woods...

Running is very character-building :-)

Glad you're enjoying some decent music for some of your runs!


Morning Mitts! Yes, I have my own playlist, BUT, at first it didn't shuffle automatically so had to do it myself -- not a sight for sore eyes -- redfaced lady in pink fluorescent jacket hanging from waist fiddling about with i-pod while running on the spot. And, being of a certain age and therefore requiring reading glasses, I'd get that woman who sings "call me maybe" twice, whereas I really wanted Queen, but 12-year-old daughter has now fixed it. But am now obsessing with Laura again! Have a great Sunday xox


21 years ago yesterday since Freddy Mercury died :-(

Doesn't time just whizz by...


In fact, I watched their live concert in Canada of n years ago last night -- Sky did a whole day in his honour yesterday. He was clearly ill, as he was frightfully thin, but boy, what a singer ...THE all time Great Pretender


I didn't appreciate Queen when I was younger. I could have seen them. Big regret now.

This is one of my favourites:


What a song! Thanks Mitts (couldn't post this below the clip!)

I could have seen them too, but did npt appreciate them! I've seen the Stones, Geneisis, Stevie Wonder and more, but missed out on Queen.


Hi Delia.... just did Stepping Stones for my 1st PG run (still no badge - grumble grumble!). It was odd because it was a bit slow in comparison to my normal running pace BUT... I was really pleased with it because I was reminded of riding and swimming lessons as a child....:

Yes - by all means get confident on the horse, in the water etc. BUT then... okay you know you can do that so now we get to work and sort out your form. After that it's gruelling repetition of posture techniques etc. which of course means I went slower but eventually it made for more graceful (well... sort of) posture on a horse and speedier times in the pool.

Soooooooooo.... I'm applying the same philosophy to Stepping Stones. It's making me think about how I carry myself, what my feet are doing etc. and I think I'll keep at it for a little while until I really feel I can carry all that I've learned from it into Speed and Stamina - that's the plan anyway.... we'll see.

Schönen Tag noch, Sara :-) xox


Sound advice as always Sara!




Glad to know I'm not the only one that found it hard work! But I wonder if you were running too fast in the slow bits? The first time I did stepping stones I had to give up after 10 minutes and let Laura run on without me. Then I discovered that I had been trying to run at 7 mins per km which was a bit too fast for my wee legs, and that actually she only wants you to run at 10 mins per km at first. According to some of the running websites 150bpm is 10 mins per km; 160 is 7 mins per km. I dont quite get the relationship between bpm & pace as it must vary by length of stride so its maybe not quite right for short ones like me. But if you have a garmin you could maybe monitor your pace as you run to make sure you're not running too fast at the beginning.

I use a mix of the 3 podcasts plus my own music or none to give variety. With Stepping stones I run at my own pace for the first 25 mins which is faster than Laura says then try to up it to 7 mins per km for last 5 mins. I did it this morning - glorious day here in London - and ran 4k in 30 minutes, which by my standards is good! Good luck, Jennie


Wow, that does sound complicated, but I certainly shan't give up! Well done Jennie and good luck to you too!


Sorry, reread what I wrote - didnt mean it to be so complicated. Bottom line is the 150 bpm is a slow pace for most people - rough equivalent of a 50 minute 5k. Running at 160 bpm is equivalent of a 35 minute 5k. My guess is that you are running a bit faster than 150 bpm so maybe slow down in the early part of the run so you can build up to the final 5 minutes. Hope that makes more sense!


Yes it does! Thanks :-)


Hi Jennie,

Thanks for this - you've now encouraged me to "run some numbers" on my own running, and it came out very close to what you said above (4.93K in 35 minutes, the Stamina podcast averages just over 160bpm according to my maths). I'm quite happy that I don't run as slowly as I expected - hoping to get a Forerunner for big birthday next week then I'll be able to track it all more accurately.

I think leg length (and thus stride length) must affect this a lot!


I think it was swanscot that mentioned bpm and pace and it made sense to me as Im hopeless at following a beat. The site run2r.com has a table showing bpm, pace, stride etc tho its based on experienced runners, probably fit young men! So probably best to use as a rough indication. Happy birthday in advance and have fun with the forerunner...


Hi Jennie - thanks for all this - am now determined to try stepping stones again - I did it for the first time this morning - and I know am slow usually - I do 4km in 30 mins when left to myself -so I found the first 150bpm already fast - I thought I had to hit the floor with each beat - so as Laura goes 1,2,3,4 I go Right, left, right, left - I dont have a very big stride but still found this fast. Is that not what I am supposedto be doing? I did keep up- but found it hard (as below) but am going to try to run it through my run app and see what I am doing in terms of km/min....you got me thinking anyways :-) S xx


Hi S, yes thats exactly what you do - 1,2,3,4. Im a 4k in 30 minutes as well. My guess is at that pace the only bit of stepping stones that should be hard is the final five minutes.

I did the podcast again this morning and this time tried to follow Laura's beat in the warmup walk - it was far too slow for me and ditto with the pace at the beginning of therun. I blame my lack of rhythm in my previous attempts when i found it too fast - i dont think bpm work for me so im going to follow the structure of the podcasts, slow, bit faster, faster again. Great to find someone else that runs at same pace. Good luck,Jennie


Well done deliaitaly. Keep repeating stepping stones until you are doing what Laura says. It is a listening cd-so you need to try and fit your rhythm to Laura's beat, not try to out run it-made me feel puffy reading the blog, lol!! Keep the steps small and light-not striding, then it is easier. I would alternate between stepping stones, speed-which I love, as it gives you time to recover before upping the bpm-and free run. Do not attempt stamina until you are finding these two easy! I found that one out to my cost-and I'm now out of the game with a knee injury. The stamina is grueling!!! No rest, as in interval speed, straight on upping the game for 40 minutes non stop. When I go back i will start with stepping stones and speed again. Incidentally speed, as interval running, is short but sharp, therefore must only be undertaken once a week because of the effects on the body. You feel that nothing has been accomplished, until, the following day when you can feel your abs.

Good luck Delia.

Keep on Running :-)

Colette xx


Wow, thanks Colette -- I did try to outrun Laura methinks! I'll try it again tomorrow happy running to you too :-) delia


Hi there - I just did stepping stones for first time - and am so pleased to read your blog- I too am in awe of those who didnt find it a challenge - even the walk was faster than usual!! And when she got me up to155 I thought I was going to throw up!! but I have to admit I do run faster to Laura than to any other of my musical choices :-)

Well done so far - good luck and keep running - and blogging - you are very inspirational :-)

S xxx


Cheers S :-)

I had to skip my run today as I have a stomach bug, but have decided to do Stepping Stones over and over (plus a plyalist 30 minute run) till I have perfected it. Although some people are alternating it with Speed and Stamina, it all sounds very difficult. So it's going to be one step at a time for me xox delia


I struggled with Stepping Stone at first but Collette pointed out it was about developing technique and that if you listen to the instructions and follow them it gets better, and she was right. It has made me slow my pace in the first two sections and so I cover less distance in the 30 minutes, but as technique has improved its also built my stamina so that I can run beyond the 30 mins and stay comfortable. So I now use it in a slightly odd way - I do as I am told from start to finish on a circuit thats 5k, but when Laura tells me to walk I ignore her and keep running at whatever pace I can manage until I hit the 5k mark. I've done this maybe 5 times now and each run I find I am hitting the 5k in faster times and I feel better and better on each run. So it's working for me; I'm focussed on 5k runs and it's nice to see the times coming down slowly, but injury free. I will try speed in the coming weeks as need to shift more wieght if I am to get to my goal of a 5k in under 25 minutes (one day!!!!) and am hoping the speed thing burns more fat :-)


I'm down with a stomach bug today Tom, but tomorrow I intend repeating Stepping Stone -- after all practice does make perfect ;-) The thing is, I am beating the ground to Laura's counting and my perception is that I'm going faster than normal from the start. Again, I didn't seem to go any faster as she upped the bpms. Goodness knows what I'm doing, but , whatever it is works me out better than my normal 30 minute run. My daughter thinks that however dire NHS music is, it's better than our playlists simply because the beat is right. Have no idea how far I'm running as I haven't bought a garmin yet and don't have time to fiddle about with various on-line maps and stuff. See you soon, delia


Hope the tummy bug clears up. I think short fast steps are the key to making this one work. There is no way I could have run for even 5 minutes 3 months ago so these clever NHS peeps must know what they are doing as the 5k podcasts worked, so I put faith in them and hope it will all work out in the end, even if it feels a wee bit odd at times.

I also stick with the music on the podcasts rather than doing my own and actually I don't think I even hear the music in stepping stone. I am so focussed on counting out the pace and my mind just wonders off somewhere which I guess is the point of the music - it keeps me running and that's its job. I do have some of my own 40 minute play lists but I get bored quickly of them so hardly ever play them.

BTW I saw Queen live about 15 times. My friend lives right by Freddies house in Earls Court and people still turn up there to leave flowers or write on the walls - rather annoying grafitti habit but a tribute to his legacy.


Wow! I missed Queen -- saw just about everyone else but don't think I appreciated them at the time! The nearest I get to fame is that I often stay in the house next door to Charles Dickens' abode in Holborn!

Anyway, you are so right a) about the program and b) about the music. No way could I run to the Stones as well as I run to the daft music on the podcasts :-P


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