No progress!

I'm new to running, always thought I couldn't do it but managed first 5k in May. This spurred me on to joining a club and training for a 10k but I don't seem to be improving and am at the point where I don't think I can do it. I run twice a week for 25 mins each time, plus gym, but I feel I'm not improving and can't keep pace with the group - I'm always red-faced and last which is completely demotivating. Any tips/motivation for keeping going gratefully received. 10k seems impossible dream at the moment!


  • Jo, well done on joining a club and getting this far. There are lots of things you can do to make that 10K look achievable.

    Before attempting a 10K race, you should be running a total weekly distance of at least 20K and preferably a bit more. By my abacus, that's about 12.5 miles. It sounds as if you're well short of that at the moment.

    I'd suggest adding in a third run each week. Start off by doing it on your own, at your own pace, having plenty of walking breaks if you need them. Aim to make it a bit longer than your club runs - 30mins would be a good start.

    Could you convert one of your club runs into an interval session on the track? That will help your speed.

    Cross-training - doing another aerobic actibity (swimming, cycling, step class, elliptical cross-trainer, whatever you fancy, as long as it gets you sweaty) on one day a week will help your cardiovascular endurance.

    You are likely to benefit from using a heart rate monitor when you train. You may still be last initially, but it will let you use your current aerobic capacity more efficiently so you shouldn't end up collapsing (although having a red face after running is normal - see thread on "injury" forum).

    No reason to think you don't have a 10K in you.

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • Thanks for this V-rap. Another 30 min run is definitely achievable and it's heartening to know that I can take breaks too!
  • You don't have to run every run at your fastest pace in order to improve, once a week slow down, take walking breaks, enjoy it but make it longer, if you are aiming to do a 10k you will need to slowly increasing this slow run until you are doing about 60 mins with walking breaks if you want. Build up endurance first and believe me the improved fitness and speed will come.
  • Of course you can do it slowjo. You are probably improving without realising it
  • Yup, I'd second all that. I think nobody makes steady progress. In a bit of a trough myself just now. I was really chuffed to discover I could "run" for longer than half an hour.

    My discovery about taking walking breaks and going for distance/length of time out is the following. Take walking breaks early and often. Don't wait til you feel you need them. Particularly walking breaks taken early on make it possible to last MUCH longer.

    Secondly, try to make yourself run even slower than normal, only allowing yourself to run at normal pace as a treat, towards the end. It is really lovely to come back from a run feeling you could have done more..

    All the best.
  • I've been suffering with the same lack of noticable improvement myself, Slow Jo. One thing I've started to do for a pshycological boost is to run about 1/2 mile then stop and do a few minutes stretching. Not only do 'they' say this is a good time to be stretching things, it also lets me get by breath back from the initial struggle to warm up. I always find the first 5 mins or so hellish, but once I've recovered from that, I can crack off at a fair old pace and keep it up for longer. Work a go...

  • Hi Jo

    You can DEFINITELY do the 10k - if I can - you certainly can...!! I'm the same as you in that I started running early this year (and, not the same as you, 3 1/2 stones overweight). I did my 1st the 5k Race for life in May (42 mins) and (at the time, stupidly) entered the Jubilee 10k a week later (to keep me running)!!

    I also felt I wasn't improving and was running about 30mins 1x per week on a treadmill and 30-40mins 1x per week outside. But, as V-rap advises, cross training really helps and I started cycling to work. I also built up my runs, increasing them by 5/10 mins each week until I could run (v. slowly, for 1hr 10mins) 2 weeks before the 10k)...Consequently, my endurance has
    really improved, but I'm sill very slow. I've since lost over 2 stones, and the 10k was 3 wks ago, but it still took me 77 mins to complete (and that was with no stopping or walking!).

    To get faster I'm following Susies advice from this forum and I've just started doing fartleks on the treadmill (only 2 sessions so far) and on my run tonight I took 2 mins off the 5k route normally do (usually takes me 38 mins), so I'm really chuffed with that. Maybe you could try that when you're at the gym?

    I really hope you do it Jo. Don't be discouraged by others that may be faster than you - you will get faster, but it does take time. 10k it's really not as terrifying as it sounds and as I thought it would be when I was at the start line.. It was the best experience I've had this year and I'm planning to do a 1/2 marathon next! If you think to yourself that it's really not important how long it takes, you really do take the pressure of yourself and just enjoy it. Concentrate on being able to run for longer periods of time and build up your stamina and you'll be fine!

  • All advice spot-on. And don't forget, what works for some might not for others. Do what you are comfortable with. Try lots of different things - fartlek - aerobic training (the elliptical cross-trainer works best for me, and I really feel and see the benefits) - but never forget or rule out swimming - it is refreshing, relaxing, and works all the essential muscles without the force of gravity. Don't ever give up, and always set yourself stretching targets - challenge yourself. The satisfaction, well-being and future ambition of that first target achievement, will push you on to bigger and better things, even if you have doubt now.

    Never give in. That 10k may seem an impossible dream now, but so did flying to the moon - nothings impossible if you set your mind to it. Go for it and good luck.
  • Thanks to everyone for your advice which I'm putting into practice already - did a good fartlek session on the treadmill and cross training last night. Your support has given me a real boost (these forums are brilliant) and I'm sending off the entry form for the race this weekend. Even if I end up jog/walking, I'm determined to finish it. Speed isn't everything, at this stage I'm just determined to finish!
    Thanks again,
  • Jo, when it comes to walking breaks, take Marj's advice and schedule them in early in your run. Ignore my misleading "if you need them", which suggests that you shouldn't take walking breaks until you're ready to collapse.

    I've learned the hard way that I run much better if I'm ruthless about making myself walk, whether I want to or not, at predetermined landmarks on my runs. Eventually, instead of walking, you can recover by running a bit more slowly (this is where the heart rate monitor is useful).

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • Jo

    I've had the same problem, having been running since April but only once a week for most of the time (although 2 rather aerobically challenging martial arts classes per week also). Wasn't improving a heck of a lot until took advice from these forums and bumped up my runs to 3x a week. You're actually ahead of me in that I haven't had the courage to apply for a 10k yet - telling myself I don't want to set myself too high goals. But after all the motivating advice and words of wisdom on here I'm thinking that maybe I should push it myself. Then I'll be asking YOU for inspiration!!

  • Don't give up Jo, it takes time, but it will come if you remain positive and are prepared to put in the effort. I started with a slow 10km in 1993 and it took ages to improve by any significant amount. It is demoralising at the times when you begin to think you'll never get any better but you just have to stay determined and stick at it. I did, and eventually made it up to the Marathon by 1995. I'm currently in training for the Frankfurt Marathon - my 13th - with a target time of 3hrs 45mins.
    It can be done, it just takes determination, hard work and above all, self-belief. If you really believe in yourself, anything is possible.
  • You're above me in that I haven't done 5k yet. (going to) Have you tried looking at one of the training schedules available on this or the american sister site of RW. After only being able to run like a slug when I first started I've found definte improvement. I know I can do 5k because I've already reached it in the timed run of the training schedule. Check out which one suits you. It has definitely helped me by provided clear goals to be achieved. Going to up to a 10k after I've I've done my 5 in June
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