Couch to 5K
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Needing longer rest days for longer runs, can anybody help?

I've now started week 8 and managed to complete nearly every week one after the other so far. After week 7 I started to have quite severe aches in my legs so thought it was best for me to give it a weeks rest then try week 8. The first run of Week 8 went really well and when I finished my legs didn't feel like jelly like they usually do. Since that run though i've had a lot of aching again so i've decided to try and listen to my body and rest until I feel ready to take on another run (which should be tonight). This will mean that I've had a 4 day rest in between runs.

Is it normal to need longer rest days in between the longer runs or should I just try and run ignoring the aches and pains?

9 Replies

Hmmm... I would say listening to your body is always a good idea. Personally I only go out twice a week and that seems to suit me well. You've done really well to complete 7 weeks in 7 weeks, if you see what I mean... so don't pressure yourself too much.


It depends a bit, I think. If it's just tired, slightly achy muscles because they've worked hard, then I'd go out anyway. But as soon as it's actually painful, or more discomfort than seems reasonable then definitely stop and rest up until it feels better.

Is it any better if you try running slightly slower?


The longer runs take more out on your body overall, leg muscles too will feel the strain. Are you stretching after your runs, it does help to prevent that achey feeling. The other thing is perhaps a good brisk walk the day after a run, that will loosen off those tight muscles. I'm a great believer in listening to my body and your right to do this but give the stretches and walking a try it may just help you feel better able to tackle at least 2 runs a week. You have to remember too, we are all different and this program is not a race, you do it at the pace that best suits you. Good luck, you are nearlly there and well done.


Thanks for the responses. I'm not sure if my pace is too quick or not, the last run on Sunday was 28 minutes and I did 4.67km. I was thinking that it was about right to complete the 5k in 30 minutes using this pace next week (Week 9). The pace on my last run was slightly slower than normal but more consistant throughout the run which I think was why the run felt a lot easier.

I'm hoping that going from a weeks rest to a 4 day rest is going in the right direction, so with a bit of luck if I try and keep to a similar pace tonight the recovery time will have gone down again.


I agree with RainbowC if it is just tiredness or aching in the muscles from exercising you won't be doing yourself any harm by going out while you're still a bit achey. If though the pain is in your joints or comes on sharp or suddenly then that is when you need to stop.

Everyone is different though as Oldgirl says. If you feel more comfortable waiting until the aching passes it may mean you are more confident on your next your run and not worrying about aching.


I agree with RainbowC and Didntrunthat about the pain. If muscles are aching because they've worked very hard and the pain is virtually gone then I would run. but if you still have severe pain 4 days later then definitely not. If you start running and feel severe pain, stop immediately.

The other thing that struck me is that your pace is very fast for a beginner. So I'd suggest you slow down a bit and run on the flat. that should also help your legs. The program aims to get you running for 30 minutes not to do 5k in 30 minutes, despite the name of the program. So take it easy and concentrate on running the 30 minues. You will have plenty of time afterwards to work on your speed. Good luck!


I also agree with RainbowC on taking it a little slower. A lot of people go much slower, and don't make it to running a 5k in 30 minutes by week 9 (myself included!), so that doesn't necessarily have to be the goal. Even if you go a bit slower, you can work your way down to a 5k in 30 minutes soon after completing the program, I'm sure.

I often feel the jelly legs after a longer run, but I usually just stretch and take the next day off or do light training like pilates or the Strength and Flex program on my rest day. It's hard to balance wanting to move forward with preventing injuries, though. Let us know what ends up working.


If going a bit slower makes it more comfortable, maybe that's a good idea? As others have said, despite the programme's name, actually managing 5k in 30 min seems to be pretty unusual (and those that do manage it within the 9 weeks do seem to have to really push to get there, sometimes injuring themselves in the process). I still only manage just over 3.5k, 4 weeks after graduation - but I can see the temptation to aim for it would be very strong if it seemed within reach.

If you go a bit slower, it may be more pleasant and you have another target to aim for after graduation, instead of wondering what to do next! And less likely you have to take time off to heal up injuries!


On the face of it I agree with what's been said already, however a week does seem a long time to recover if it's only aches and pains, even four days does. Perhaps you should get it checked out?


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