Couch to 5K
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How hard to push as a postgrad?

I've been looking up information about pacing, and came across this for planning what to do after you've hit the 5k target:

You put in your 5k time, and your weekly total running (minimum you can put in is 10 miles, which is more than I do, but it still gave me some very interesting ideas to think through).

For my slow (but nevertheless pretty much full-on effort-wise) 5k time of 46 min,

it suggested that most of my running should be at a pace quite a bit below that, only spending 27 minutes a week (of a 3 hr total) running at my race-pace, or faster. No wonder I've felt tired, trying to keep running at more or less my best pace for every run.

I knew this. I keep going on about slow and steady. But I still don't find it easy to actually do! As I actually only do about 1-2 hours running a week in total, 15-20 minutes a week of tempo/speed work could well be enough to still be building pace overall without getting over-tired.

I bet I'm not the only post-grad trying to run faster with every run. ??? :)

23 Replies

Who knew? Certainly not me. I'm still working on the premise that every little helps.

I'm thinking that if I'm not on the couch I'm winning. Well done for being so ambitious, you're beginning to sound like a real competitor!


ohhhhhhhhhh love it... I love a 'process'.... bit confused that my easy run is longer than my long run though...


Mmm - I was a bit confused by that too.

It seems to be because the Easy run '''will include warming-up and cooling-down before and after harder running sessions and races'', so not all in one bit. But the Long Run is a single run in one piece.

I think I will cut back on how much 'hard' running I do every week. It will be interesting to see whether it makes it easier to then go faster on the speed/tempo sessions - it was definitely easier to push myself when I'd had two non-running days, so I imagine it could well work. Now, can I actually make myself go slower - the 'easy' pace for me is actually my walking pace... Ha ha! :) All interesting to think through though.


I've been using that pace calculator since I graduated - and I've linked to it a few times on here ;-)

I've done a 'test 5k' every so often and recalculated my stats. It's never changed much, maybe about 10 seconds faster pace each time.

Lynds, the 'easy' run, is proportionally high because it can include running at easy pace before or after other runs. For example, most weeks I do three runs: 1) Speed intervals - 20 mins of fast/slow intervals, sandwiched between ~10 mins easy before and after. 2)Tempo run - at the moment this is '10 mins easy, 25 mins tempo, 15 mins easy. 3) LSD (long slow distance) - 70 mins easy.

Occasionally I'll do a 4th run - a 20 mins easy run - to fit in with other commitments.


Thanks, swanscot, I know, I know! :) That's what I meant about 'I knew this already' - I remember thinking what a sensible idea it was, and how I was going to do that! I'd even read about it...

But somehow I missed out grasping what 'easy' really meant in terms of pace for me! The relentless moving on of the c25k programme (and b210k) does encourage a feeling that if you don't see an improvement in every run, you haven't tried hard enough!

I don't think I'd quite realised that I'd upped the effort level over the last few weeks. I was so focused on parkrun and being able to do 5k, and even though I've blogged before about overdoing it, I overdid it again! I've effectively been doing three tempo runs a week, so not surprising that I've been finding them tough.

Anyway, no harm done, but I think I will need to watch out with 5x50. It's hard to hold back when others have much fitter bodies - I just need to remember all the people I know who could be going faster than me, but haven't even tried!


Ooh, this is interesting. I've obviously guessed my times for now as I'm not yet running 5k, but it's saying that I should only be doing 12 mins a week of hill running. I'd say I've probably been doing between 15-20mins a week for the past few weeks, due to 'The Hill' at the end of my circular route. I think it takes me between 5 and 7 minutes to get up it each run. And according to my mapmyrun stats, my average pace for the hill the last few runs has been about 10mins/km. I don't really know if that's accurate at all, or if it's good/bad, but probably explains my tiredness!

Thanks for posting this Greenlegs.


Interesting, isn't it! In the two weeks after I graduated, I upped from just over 3k to 5k and added in hills... as well as trying to run faster! Doh! And my icon says 'slow and steady'! Funny really!


I've just realised that I, too, am doing more than the recommended ~8% of weekly distance running up hills. But I've not been pushing myself to run at 90-100% of effort on the hills, but simply trying to get up some long inclines very slowly. I think this week I'll do my hill sessions 'properly' ie give it as much effort as I do sprint intervals, but for a shorter time. I'll still include a long, very slow hill in my long slow distance run, simply because the 10K race I've entered has a long hill.


it makes so much sense - although I say that as someone who repeated weeks 5 6 7 and 8!

Sometimes more than once. I was really concerned about building stamina slowly and decided I didn;t care if it took me 15 or 16 weeks.

I've found the speed run in the 5k+ really helpful - it's really short - but I'm working on trying to keep to the pace on the faster bits.


Looks interesting, but need more time to fully understand it and how it can be made into a programme to fit with my requirements.

As I have signed up fo 5x50, I am concentrating on running 5k every other this not reasonable? This week I ran over 20k with grad run and 3 others. Each time the max HR and total time in the max zone has decreased. So it looks like it is getting easier. Certainly tonight's was the best so far.


> I am concentrating on running 5k every other this not reasonable?

If you're happy running 5k a day, then that's perfectly ok. However, you can still do the 5x50 plan while doing the training sessions as suggested by this plan. For example, if you do a short speed intervals training you may only cover 2-3km, but can just do a longer warm-up/cool down walk, or just walk a couple of kilometres at another time in the day, maybe as part of your daily commute.

The main reason some of us have devised our own plans following the principles in this guide (and very many other training plans) is to 'train' for a longer distance an/or faster time - and to do so safely..

As it says: "One of the best ways to improve your overall running performance is to combine several different types of running into a structured weekly schedule. By doing this you will improve different aspects of your fitness, provide greater opportunity for recovery between training sessions and reduce the risk of injury. In addition, not only will it help to better condition your body for running, it is likely to provide added interest and variety to help keep you motivated."

But as I said, it's entirely up to you what you do post-graduation.


You're clearly much fitter than I am! (Maybe younger? - not that it matters, it's the fitness that counts.) For me to actually cover 5k running really takes it out of me, or else it takes nearly an hour, which is rather more time than I want to put in at the moment. So for 5x50, I'm using the 30-min equivalent as the basis for my "5k", and at least to start with, will probably only actually do 5k once a week.

It sort of feels like cheating, but it will make it workable for me, and will get me doing far more exercise than I am doing at the moment. Hopefully as I get fitter, I'll be able to actually cover 5k more often. I did a walk this morning, for an hour, stopping a few times to take photos, and only covered 4.2k, but it was pretty good exercise, as it included a steep hill and fairly deep snow!

If doing 5k in around 30 minutes isn't too massive an effort for you, and it isn't causing niggles, there's no reason at all to not do it every other day, but mixing up the paces, as swanscot says, will get you even fitter, faster. You're doing really well - lovely to see the heart rate stats showing progress every time! :) Keep up the good work!


Definately recommend this approach, the moment I changed my mind set and started to do easy pace runs ( I know, I know, easy!!) and mixed up my training all my leg niggles disappeared and my running overall improved, less is more sometimes.

PS the interval training is also fun! :D makes you feel like a kid again when you run flat out and then have to walk...


> PS the interval training is also fun! :D makes you feel like a kid again

> when you run flat out and then have to walk...

It took me a while to enjoy intervals training as it is hard work. but now I've found that by sticking to the only 2km flat stretch of road and going back and forward I can go at full pelt!

I find long slow distance runs fun too, mainly because they are run at an easy pace! Plus I like to choose lovely routes. But basically I know I'm more of a plodder than a sprinter, so always look forward to these as my favourite run each week.


Interesting reading. I have obviously been going about it all wrong - I have a pace and I've stuck to it! I am going to try to vary things a bit and see how I go - I have managed to run 10k every Sunday for the past 5 weeks but I am always really tired by the end of it, so maybe if I run it a bit slower and put in some other types of run in the week, the tiredness might improve. Mind you, this time last year I couldn't even run for the bus!


That's interesting, I have done my training program with this and it sounds, to be honest, fairly punishing (8.09 min/miles!!!!!!!!!) However I didn't go into this running lark because it is easy.


Are you sure? I remember you said you completed 5K in 32 minutes. I remember, because that is the time it took me to run 5K when I graduated.

Using the calculator, the pace you should be running is:

LONG RUN 8:22 mins per km

TEMPO 6:42 mins per km

(which are the figures I used when I completed C25K last September.)


Will have to check my figures then! Must have made a mistake.


Ah! You were right, I had put in my target for the 10k race I am doing in July rather than "my recent results"

My teachers were always telling me to read the question properly!

It is now a much more realistic training programme :-)


That's a relief. I had visions of you hurtling down the road roadrunner style with your legs cycling around at super-fast speed. ;-)


Well spotted, swanscot! Good job we all look out for each other on here!


Thanks for this. I've just spent 30 minutes on Google trying to find this info unsuccessfully, then I look on my favourite website and here it is. :D

Now I need to study the results - it appears to say I need to run more slowly than I walk. If I go much slower I'll stop!


Yup - it says I need to run quite a bit more slowly than I walk too! Funny! I suppose it's because it's really aimed at faster people than us, and the figures don't work so well at the lower end, but I still found it really useful to reflect on the fact that I'd been trying to run full steam ahead all the time.

I'm not sure I'll slow down quite as much as it suggests (despite repeatedly suggesting to others that they slow down - maybe a bit hypocritical?) but I can see much more clearly how to go forward. Not quite so fast!

Glad someone else found it useful. :)


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