Couch to 5K
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Am I too unfit to try??

I am 55, got bad knees and about 5 stone overweight.

I have been to classes at the gym, the exercise machines bore me rigid and have never managed to stick to anything for any length of time. I was going swimming before work 2 or 3 mornings before work but that just fizzled out......I really am rubbish at this fitness stuff.

I moved to a house overlooking a canal, loads of people run along it and I have got this strange idea that I could give it a go.

I'd have to go one way and then turn around and come back. I suppose that would be easy to work out where half way was.

My main question is - am I too old, too fat and too unfit ? I dont have anyone who could come with me.

17 Replies

No! Read some of the blogs on this site and you will find lots of people just as unfit as you have done it. The programme takes builds up slowly and Laura on the podcasts is really encouraging. Start on week one and if you can't manage the run go for walking as fast as you are comfortable with and repeat every 2 or 3 days and you will find you can run it. It is as much a mentl struggle as a physical one.

Being next to a canal sounds a good place to start - dead flat and no traffic. The podacsts will tell you how much time has passed. If you get it wrong there's no harm in running the same bit twice or going a bit further.

Keep using the blog and you will build up a support network.

I'm 57, was always last to be picked for any team, hadn't exercised for years, was on the border between oveweight and obese etc. This year I completed C25k and lost 2 stones and now can run 5k in under 30min. If I can do it anyone can.


No, No, and No.

But always check with Doctor first :)


Never! When I started, I could not finish some of my 1 minute runs. I now run an average of 45 continuous minutes and know I could even do longer. I have bad knees and wore a brace most of the program. Some people find to do a brisk walk in the running sections and then build your strength up to a jog/run. Go slow, anything over a brisk walk is considered "running" speed will eventually happen. In the program, you are building stamina. If you choose to do this, you will be so proud of all you achieve! This is the very first exercise program I have ever completed and still continue with. I will be 50 my next Birthday and set my goal at running a 10k by then. Gayle


Hi I am 73, started way back in June, graduated in september, it's a great program, do what Laura said and you will be fine. But do as Flute said and check with your doctor ,mine is well pleased with me, weight loss and blood pressure down . Good luck Pat :-)


I'm about the same age as you, and was always the duffer in PE at school, and have given up on other exercise before because of my knees. I've just got to the end of week 2, and have been amazed by how much enjoyment I've got out of it. This community has a lot to do with that - very good support and so much encouragement!

Checking with your doctor first seems sensible, and maybe starting off with brisk walking if you're not already used to that, but it is definitely worth getting started. There really is something very satisfying about changing your self-image to include 'runner'!

Walking/running by a canal sounds lovely - I did quite a bit of canal-side walking in the summer and really enjoyed it.


Just take it easy at first. You running doesnt really need to be that much faster than normal walking pace. The programme builds up your stamina so you can concentrate on speeding up after you build on your core strengths. It's a great sense of achievement the first time you run non-stop for 20mins. Everyone is amazed that they can actually do it. Just remember your body was built to run. It's inherent in your genes.


Choose your doctor carefully if you decide to consult one.... it'd be no help to consult one who just announced "No-one with knee problems should run" without looking at you.

As others have suggested, you could try brisk walking to start with - although I find it easier to sustain running than brisk walking! The podcasts really help to give you a structure - help to keep going during a session and a programme to progress through. Having days when you are 'not allowed' to run is also helpful! It took me a good many attempts before I completed three "Week 1" sessions - if I couldn't run I walked the rest of the session without trying to run again. That way I still had a very clear idea of the progress I was making.


Blimey, what a lot of replies and all very positive. Its not so much that I hate exercise but that I talk myself out of it. But I think I'm going to give it a go (next week) - its not an excuse but I'm going away for New Year today !.

The thought of being able to run for anything over a few hundred yards seems to be something that I will never be able to do at all. But I have been on a couple of brisk walks in the last few weeks (mile and half in 30 mins) so if nothing else this will keep me doing that.

My only excuse now seems to be that it is dark before I go to work and again when I get home.....excuses, excuses... there is no reason why I cant go round the streets where I have been walking.

I'll let you know how I go on.



I'm the same age as you and have dodgy knees too. Mine were fine all during the programme, then after graduation I probably pushed a bit too hard and my knees have spent the past several weeks protesting vigorously every time I sneeze never mind run - which I haven't been able to do. They're getting better but VERY slowly...

So - my advice to you would be - start doing knee exercises:

and stretches:

BEFORE you start the programme, and watch this video about how to treat and also prevent 'runner's knee':

I think your 30 minute walk to build up to the start is a great idea, (I'm actually doing that myself atm too) and I agree with the others - if a doc okays the programme for you there's every chance you can complete it successfully - but be nice to your knees while you're doing it! :-D

And let us know how you get on :-)


I started today - I look a little like a beetroot, but am feeling VERY virtuous!

I am very unfit as have done no excercise for years and always hated PE as never picked for anything. I have 3.5 stone to lose and at 42 I realise I need to shift it and get fit as, apart from general wellbeing, BP and cholesterol both a little high. I want to avoid heart disease and diabetes and other associated illnesses.

The blog and the answers to these questions are so supportive - honestly, if I can do it, anyone can! Best of luck :)


Start by walking!!!!! Did you know that running 5k and walking 5k burns the same amount of calories?? I say you must be able to comfortably walk 5k before you attempt the program. When you start the program you need to take it slow, I was always aiming to run at the slowest speed possible, only to complete the running time and thus building up the stamina. Also it is ok to repeat some weeks if you have to. As other folks said, see a doc about your knee first. But by all means START WALKING now! It sounds like a lovely place to walk, and in no time you will notice positive change. It does not matter if you are overweight, all you need is a bit of confidence, and c25k is the thing to give it to you!


Go for it, Kath. By all means start off by building up your walking and maybe get your gait analysed to see what shoes would be the best for you so that you can strengthen your knees - as well as all the other excellent advice from everyone else. Don't let the dark nights put you off - that's what street lights and torches are for! And if you can start this in the dark and cold winter months, imagine how great you'll feel running in the summer evenings! A lighter, fitter Kath who'll be passing some of those other runners along the canal.

I started age 50 last August and it's the best thing I've ever done. I've lost 3 1/2 stone, am fitter, livelier and have never been so proud of myself for completing the programme and then going on to run a 10k race, all in under 4 months!

I know that you can do it and that you will not regret it. All you need to do is take one step at a time, do what the programme tells you and by the time spring comes you'll be amazed at how far you've come.

Keep coming back here for support and inspiration and don't give the negative gremlins any headspace - just put your shoes and jacket on and get out that door - there's nothing to stop you now.

Have a good new year break. V xx


go for it!! honest, it's one of the best things I've done. most of us on this community have started out just like you. but we all got out there and although it's hard work sometimes, we love what it does for you- physically and emotionally. if your Dr is ok you doing this then get out there!! we 're all here to support each other.

let us know when you do

:-) Ali


I started last year after no exercise since school.. 33 years that was how long by the way. I a 48 and over the last 12 months. I. Have dropped 3 stone and can now run for 5k.... You are not too old and all I can say is do it at your pace. I actually took 19 weeks to complete by the way... Go for it and I promise you you will not regret it... Times will come when you think. WHY? But just keep going........


Same age, same weight problem (although I had been losing for a year before C25K and was only three stone overweight when I started!) same knee issues, same lack of stickability and same lack of athletic talent - it could have been me writing this blog earlier in the year.

But - I have stuck at it, my weight has continued to come off gradually, my body shape has changed dramatically and I have kept it up! My knees are somewhat better than they used to be most of the time, and no worse the rest of the time, my hip is remarkably better and I feel fit!

If the time seems right to you, go for it! If the time doesn't quite feel right, then keep it in mind and begin when it does.


Can't say much more than the other have done already. Last year I was a fat, boring old git. 56 years old, weighing 97kg, on maximum blood pressure pills and heading for, well, who knows what. To be honest I didn't start the programme to lose weight - I started losing weight first. After a month went by, I found C25K and thought it made sense to give it a go. I graduated in April and haven't looked back since. I've lost about 30 of those kilos and, though I say it myself, am looking rather trim. My blood pressure dosage was gradually reduced as I got leaner and fitter, and finally came off the pills altogether in November!

So there you go - the fat, boring old git is now a little bit older, but no longer fat and only boring everyone about how good it is to feel so good! Stick with it - and stiock with the community who will give you tremendous support as you go along.


Hello Malcy...thank you for answering. Reading all of these positive replies has at least made me think that I should give it a go. I have made the first step and taken the MP3 out of the drawer !!



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