GNR 2012 Beginner's Help


I have got a place in the Great North Run on 16th September 2012.  I've joined the BHF Heart Runners to raise money in memory of my Dad, so failure is not an option!

I started as a complete beginner on 8th February 2012 and am using the C25K iPhone App.  The problem I have is that as the weeks progress, my breathing is becoming more and more erratic and I have had to repeat Week 4 (run 3 minutes, walk 1.5 minutes, run 5 minutes, walk 2.5 minutes x 2).  I had my worst run on Sunday 18/03/12, followed by a better run on Wednesday 21/03/12.  I would say that my breathing is regular, but challenging, for the first 2-3 minutes of a running interval but I find it increasingly difficult to take breath in after that.  I couldn't hold a conversation when I'm running and I  struggle in the walking intervals to get my breath back before the next run.  I am running at a very slow pace, so I don't think it's related to that.  I am 2-3 stone overweight (BMI 30.0) so I am sure that will be contributing to the difficulties I am facing.  I have changed my eating habits and am losing weight steadily.

I guess the advice I would like from other beginners or seasoned runners, is how I should proceed from here.  I am not giving up, and I want to complete the GNR by running the full course but I am worried I am delusional!  It's 25 weeks on Sunday until the race, so is it better for me to hold back now and train harder towards the end or should I be pushing it now?

 Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated, sorry for the huge post I just thought it would be better to try and include as much information as I could.

Thanks guys image


  • As a complete beginner, and you are having breathing difficulties, have you had a check up with your doctor? Some people have exercise induced asthma, I would really get yourself checked out first if I were you, and if all ok check out the beginners schedule on here and follow that.

    You have plenty of time and the GNR is a fantastic race and great weekend away.
  • Well done on what you've done so far. Keep repeating weeks if you need to.

    2 possibilities to help:

    Slow down! It may seem like you're going slowly, but try to go slower!

    Increase the length of your recoveries for now, then reduce them when you feel you're getting somewhere.

    Have fun.

  • I started with c25k last year and found I repeated weeks 4,5 and 6 as I still found it really hard going...... after that though progress really speeded up and so did weight loss! I think week 6 is the turning point when it felt a lot easier. My husband did it too and he is asthmatic and was really struggling with breathing and he found really slowing down helped, then when his stamina improved he worked on speed.

    I also think c25k can be disheartening for us slower runners initially as you may well not quite cover 5k at first even when you get to the full 30 minutes running..... I think the trick is to persevere, not try and go too quickly and remember that once you can run for 30 minutes continuously that your distance and speed improve much quicker.

    Good luck.... 25 weeks is plenty time image

  • I'm not asthmatic but struggled a bit with breathing when I first started.

     I found that paying attention to my breathing and making sure that I breathed in while taking two steps and breathed out for two steps, sometimes increasing to three steps when breathing out if I was going uphill for example (by "step", I mean one foot hitting the ground).

    Now, I mostly do this automatically - you may do this anyway of course, but if not it might help. I do agree with getting checked out by your doctor though.

  • Hi everyone,

    Thank you all for your replies, it's really nice just to know I'm not alone!  It's also really reassured me reading your comments that I have enough time to pull this off.

    runnersbeen - I haven't been checked by my GP but if it continues I'll definitely pay them a visit, I didn't struggle as much with the shorter intervals in the programme and I haven't had any problems with breathing when doing other forms of exercise.

    chubby bloke & Michaela - I ran on Friday night after reading your advice, I really focussed on slowing my pace...and I had my best run yet!  I was still jogging so I didn't feel like I was copping out but I managed to complete all of the runs.  Still out of breath towards the end of the intervals but I even managed to talk during the recovery walks. 

    Carpathius - I've just read your comments today so I'll try that when I head out in an hour!

    Will keep you posted with my progress, hope you're all having a great weekend.

    S image

  • I used to struggle with my breathing a lot. A seasoned runner I know told me to concentrate on the outbreath rather than the in. I used to struggle to finish breathing out before needing to breathe in again, sounds silly I know but he said if you puff out the air out quickly then you naturally breathe better. It certainly made a difference for me
  • Baby Steps

     3 years ago I tried to take up running and had a slot in the London marathon.My breathing was  so bad and had so much work to I got demotivated and gave up. I am not saying don't do the GNR just relax and place less emphasis on the deadline and your expectations. Who gives a fig about your time or even if you walk a little because in 25 weeks you will be a runner and that will be something to build on (more races more targets for years to come)

     I came back to running 9 months ago. My breathing was just as bad and as others have said I did go to the Doc's. They were brilliant, they checked me out taught me about some things to watch for but gave me confidence (I would recomend it).

    I am sure this is not correct advice but personally I find the run/walk schedules non-motivating. I spent my first two months just jogging and without going nuts I kept going until my breathing was uncomfortable (initially this was only 0.6km). Once I have stopped I would stop the watch walk for a little while then jog home. Each time I tried to make sure I was going a little further (I found keeping a log useful). Very quickly the breathing got better and now (as long as I am not going too fast) my breathing is not stopping me at all.  

  • Hi Again,

    Since my last post on 25/03/12 I have made progress image

    In total the 9 weeks turned into 16 (including 3 weeks out due to a nasty bout of Labyrinthitis).  I completed the C25K on Friday, and ran in my first 5k race on Sunday.  Elated is not the word!  I set off too fast, and had to slow right down to get my breathing under control, but I finished in 43 minutes and my pace was 13.39 mins per mile.  Very slow to a lot of you super guys but I was happy!

    So I just want to thank you all again, it made such a difference even just reading that other people had gone through the same thing and were still running. 

    Thanks again x

  • Baby Steps - Very well done, I'm sure your 5k has given you so much confidence image you are right to be very very proud of yourself.

    Build on it slowly and enjoy the GNR, I'm signed up for it too but may have to defer it.  I have found though, that determination, self believe and everything in moderation tend to help.

    Keep up the good work

  • Baby Steps, that is fantastic - well done you.  I came back to running last September and it has taken me a long time to get back into it.  Im not doing the GNR but am hoping to do the Lake Vyrnwy Half on 9th September. 

    Keep going, it is incredible what we are capable of, you are now a runner and hopefully the 5k has given you extra motivation for the GNR!


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