Couch to 5K
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Finally! I graduated the Couch-to-5K programme about six weeks ago. As I got into the last three weeks, I started timing my runs -- as so many of us do -- and found that I was consistently averaging 8.6 - 8.7 km per hour. Consequently, on graduation, I could not actually run 5km; a more accurate name for what I did would be the "Couch-to-4.35K plan".

About a fortnight after graduating, I took the very common step of mapping out a 5km course and running it. That "second graduation" of actually running 5K took me 34:27. Again, this works out to be 8.7 km/hour. More distance; same speed.

Tonight is four weeks, to the day, since that first 5km run. In that time, I have continued running three times a week. I have done my first two ParkRuns. I have enlisted further aid from Laura, in the form of the "Stepping Stone" and "Speed" podcast. And I have received a most welcome boost from investing in a proper pair of running shoes.

Tonight, all that work finally paid off! Tonight, for the very first time... I RAN 5K IN ***LESS** THAN THIRTY MINUTES!!!

(Okay, I'll stop shouting now. Sorry -- I get excited!)

That's right, my dear fellow runners! I've been creeping towards the magic mark for awhile now. When last Sunday's run clocked me in at 30:17, I decided to go for it. I mean, c'mon, that's soooooo close! Getting from there to under thirty minutes just requires and extra 1% push -- shaving a mere 3.5 seconds off of each kilometer.

In preparation for tonight, I used the "Speed" podcast for my next run. Then the big day arrived and I went out tonight with the goal of finally completing my "third graduation" -- 5km in under 30 minutes. I used the Week 9 podcast to get Laura's time checks every five minutes. Such a strange change of situation -- when I was finishing up Couch-to-5K, I was eager for each time Laura touched base with me. Every time she spoke up, I knew I was five minutes closer to my goal. I wanted the time to pass as quickly as possible! Tonight, I welcomed every moment that passed without an update from Laura -- now I wanted the time to pass slowly, allowing me to cover as much ground as I possibly could before the next five minute mark.

Right from the start, I gave that extra little push all the way through my run. When Laura announced that there were only five minutes left, I started to speed up even more. I had started when Laura said "Off you go" at 05:48 into the Week 9 podcast; I crossed my finish line as she said "Push on through the pain" at 34:59 minutes in.

Crunching the numbers, that gives me a total 5K run time of 29 minutes and 11 seconds! SUCCESS!!!

Oh, I am sooooooo very chuffed right now! (Can you tell?) Not only did I come under the thirty minute mark, but it wasn't even close!!

Looking at the figures, this means that I had an average speed of 10.3 km per hour (or, for those who prefer Imperial units, 6.4 mph). That's an increase of over 18% from when I started running 25+ minutes at a time. Wahoo!

I'm keeping fingers crossed that my local ParkRun isn't flooded out this weekend. I would dearly love to have a more "official" record of this milestone. Meanwhile, I should try to get some sleep... but it's going to be difficult when I'm this excited!

Thanks for listening, all, as I share this oh-so-excellent milestone in my running!

23 Replies

Well done. Can only dream of this at the moment but good for you!


You will get there! I just popped over to your blog and see that you conquered the dreaded Week 5 Run 3. If you beat _that_, I'm sure you can do the rest!

(My own Week 5 Run 3 was in late September. Just over two months ago, so I can easily remember the trepidation I had and the doubt that I could accomplish it.)

Earlier this year, I hit 37 and also reached a personal high of 15.5 stone at about the same time. With a height of 5'7", that put me at a BMI of 34. Not good. I started Couch to 5K as a three pronged attack on the onset of middle age, and you can see that I wasn't starting out as the fittest of the fit! :-D

The other two "prongs" of this initiative are swimming (2000 meters on the days when I don't run) and dieting (not necessarily eating "right", but at least eating less). Just a few months later, I have to say that this plan seems to be working.

Now I can run 5km in under thirty minutes, and my weight has dropped to under 13 stone (for a BMI of 28).

Still have a long way to go to be where I'd like... but isn't it nice to celebrate how far we've come already?

(And yes, if you've conquered the beast that is Week 5 Run 3, then I definitely count you amongst the accomplished!)


Well done IronMatt, you sound a little bit pleased with yourself :p, and so you should :) Hoping to get to parkrun this weekend so maybe I'll see you as you go racing past me ;)


Thanks! I have to say, I am rather pleased. I know that, in the grand scheme of running, it isn't any great accomplishment... but, on a personal level, finally achieving 5K in under 30 minutes is a huge success!

Hoping to see you at the ParkRun tomorrow. Though we may need to swim 5K if the park is as bad as some suspect! We shall see...

*crosses fingers and hopes for the best*


Don't underestimate that achievement, it is HUGE!!!!! I can't wait to get there myself! Really hope I can! Great weight loss by the way too!

(also I may be being paranoid about the state of the park!)


*big big smiles* Thanks, RT! I knew you would understand! :-D

And you will get there, I have complete faith in that. For as long as we've been chatting on here, you and I have been doing the same thing that we did in the ParkRun three weeks ago: We have been making progress at pretty much the same pace, hitting our milestones at very similar times to one another. You know what I mean -- finishing the plan, doing our first ParkRuns, buying proper shoes. So I know you'll be making your own bouncy post about breaking through the 30 minute barrier soon! (Especially in your spiffy new running shoes!)

As for the park? I think you are being quite prudent. I hope you're wrong so that we can all run there tomorrow... but you may be onto something. We shall see! *crosses fingers even harder*


Hey there! Sharyn and I missed you at the ParkRun today. It was freezing cold, but otherwise went well. Looking at the list, we were the only two Couch-to-5K runners there this week. Hope all is well with you.

Although we were both there, we didn't actually meet up in person. I'm thinking the next time, let's arrange a mini-meet after the run. Even if it's only for a few minutes, it would be spiffy to finally get introduced to those of you who are local that I've been chatting with in the past couple of months.

Not sure if I can make it next week -- logistics are a bit up in the air right now. Will try to make it happen, but I'm sure I can do the week after. How's about you? Any thoughts on when you might be back for another go?

Anyway, have a good night and a good weekend, and see you soon!

(P.S. I didn't get faster than my 29:11 from Thursday, but I still came in at 29:38. Not a record for me, but I'm still chuffed to have an "official" time score showing I can now do 5K in under 30 minutes! Yay!)


Hi, sorry to miss you both again, it seems I am quite rubbish at early Saturday starts! This time it was an unexpected night out on Friday.

What a great PB and so lovely to have it officially in writing! I am getting there too now, yesterday I did 4.9K in 31 mins, so I could make it by New Year! I will try my usual route backwards as it avoids an incline right at the end which I think will help!

Not sure when I may next be Parkrunning. Possibly not this next weekend as I'm doing the Santa run on Sunday. Really looking forward to it! It won't be about getting a fast time, just about being out with my friends, dressed up, feeling festive running round town, such fun! :)


Heh. Yes, the Santa run looks very silly -- quite good fun!

Still sorry to have missed you yesterday, but a night out is certainly a very good reason to skip a Saturday morning run! ;-D

Let me know when you think you might be back, and we'll try to organize that quick post-run mini-meet! My plans for the weekend of the 8th are still very much in a state of flux. However, I shall almost certainly be there on the 15th. Hope to see you soon!

Meanwhile, it sounds like your speed is getting closer and closer to the magic number. If you're doing nearly 5K in nearly under thirty minutes, you'll be there soon enough! Do you use the Speed 5K+ podcast? I started last Monday and will be using it again tomorrow, as a once a week thing. It seems to be helping.

With the 30 minute barrier now broken, I am very excited about starting the Bridge to 10K in the new year! Yay!!


Yes I do the speed podcast once a week (I love it because it's short and I always feel like I've had a good workout), stamina / week 9 podcast once a week - this run is the one I always struggle with motivation for, especially with the cold dark evenings which limit where I can go (which is sometimes why I end up putting week 9 on) and my new favourite 5k route once a week (at the weekend, when I can run in the light)


Oooh -- nice! I haven't tried Stamina yet! How do you like it?

Thus far, I've gone through Stepping Stone to the point where I feel it isn't helping anymore, and I've done Speed once. Plus a fair number of runs on my own local 5K route around East Oxford. These days, I just use the Week 9 podcast for my 5K run. Since I seem to be consistently under in the 29 minute range now, I can use it for this run... plus it helps me to gauge my speed, since I know where I should be at various songs in the list.

Looking at the next week, I'm thinking that I may do Speed tomorrow (Monday), a first attempt at Stamina on Wednesday or Thursday, then leave Saturday available for another 5K ParkRun if my weekend schedule permits. With the 30 minute mark broken, it seems like Stamina is the natural next step for me to take. I'm mildly nervous about it, though, as several people here have written about it being a significant challenge. Guess I'll find out on Wednesday or Thursday! ;-D


I only did stepping stones once, it REALLY slowed me down which seemed pointless. Guess that is a good sign though that my pace is ok.

Stamina is good, I don't really get on with all the BPM timings, so as with speed I make my own paces up! (with speed, I do my normal pace with sprinting intervals) Stamina is 3 different paces and is a 35 minute run. It should not be too hard for a sub 30 min person like you ;) . It is good for a bit of variety and it can be tough if you start the slowest bits at your normal speed and find 3 gears to crank it up when told, but my problem is that on a wet, cold mid week evening after a long day at work, I often can't face those extra 5 mins - roll on Springtime!


That's excellent IronMatt. I graduated almost 4 weeks ago, at a simillar pace to yours. Then the following week managed my 'second graduation' of actually running 5k, in just over 35mins. So I'm now working towards my 'third graduation' of 5k in 30 minutes. Your blog has really encouraged me to keep working at it, so hopefully in a few weeks time I'll be at the same place you are now!


Thank you! It's nearly twelve hours later, and I'm still glowing! (Didn't hurt that the scales this morning also showed a new low weight, either!)

Congratulations to you, too, on hitting your first _and_ second graduations! No small feat! Sounds like we really were going at the same pace at the end of the plan -- stick with it, you'll get past that thirty minute mark, soon!

If I could offer just one bit of advice: Have you gone out and invested in a proper pair of running shoes yet? I waited until after finishing the plan and also after doing my first ParkRun before spluring ninety quid on a pair. Didn't want to drop the cash on the kit until I proved to myself that I was serious about running. Once I did, though, it made a dramatic improvement! My first ParkRun, in my worn out old all-purpose trainers, took me 34:44. Just one week later, wearing a pair of Brooks PureProject shoes, I did the same run in only 30:59. Seriously! I was astrounded at the dramatic difference that a pair of real running shoes made on my speed. I wouldn't suggest you get the same brand or type of shoe -- you've got to find what works best for you -- but if you haven't made the switch to real running shoes yet, I would highly suggest it.

Happy running!!



Yes, we really were doing the same pace, - your time of 34.44 is exactly the same time as my 2nd 5k run! What a coincidence. I've already got 'proper' running shoes, went out and bought a pair of Muzano inspire at the very beginning, so unfortunately I can't rely on that for an extra boost. Will just have to put in the extra effort!


Ah, fair enough. Well, good luck -- I'm sure you'll make it! :-D


Wow! Congratulations, IronMatt! Still only dreaming of 5k in 30 minutes ... and of 5k for that matter. Still, you inspire me to think I will get there one day!


Thanks, RR! You'll get there... and if I can offer some extra inspiration on the way, I am happy to do so. Tis what this forum is here for, yes? We all learn from and support each other! :-)


Brilliant Matt, absolutely brilliant!! I cant wait to achieve this too and writing my happy, estatic, shouty blog about it - you have every reason to feel proud and on such a high!!

So many have this as our goal so you are an inspiration Matt!

You go get em on Saturday...!!!





HI Matt....hahaha got a bit excited and pushed the enter button before I was finished....DOH !! I am rocking out to fleetwood mac while saying hello...anyway...GOOD ON YOU FELLA !!! xxxx A M A Z I N G You should be so proud of yourself and such an inspiration to me...when I am finding it tuff on my runs and I want to stop and catch my breath and dont think I can dig any deeper I think of you and everyone else here and that gets me going like this morning....I actually ran 5k nonstop first time accurately (used my new garmin watch very very happy with it) in 34.19 didnt go in the parkrun as decided I wanted to see if I could run 5k non stop and now I know that I can so in a couple of weeks I will be going in it and hopefully improve my time between now and then, I have had problems with my right knee but think its only tight muscle but in pains me and gets me down....ahhhhh....anyway thanks for your encouragement it really helps. You are a ***C H A M P I O N***


Fantastic, well done! :-D You have so many achievements under your belt, 3 graduations and the weight loss. It sounds like you are working really hard and very focused. I hope you're really proud of yourself!


That's brilliant - I love that you have logged it as three graduations, and doing it that way has obviously kept you motivated to do the 5k in under 30 minutes. Fantastic work - you deserve to be excited.

When are you doing a 10k ;-).


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